Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Deputy director Jessie C., Visitor services 
James S., Volunteer coordinator Cristy L., 
Bookkeeper Jennifer Y. and Director 
Richard A.
Christmas and the railroad

In their roles as museum educators, staff work hard to remain truthful and accurate in creating interpretive programming. However, they must also use today's conventions to help people understand yesterday's.  Identifying the year-end holiday season as "Christmas" considers a recent Angus Reid Global poll that found 80% of people in the United States, Britain and Canada prefer to call the holiday season "Christmas." That is a pretty convincing majority!

So what do a refer car, box car, brakeman, coach car, express car, locomotive, conductor, railroad bridge, depot, and chapel car all have to do with "Christmas?"  Everything!

While examining the impact of railroads on the Northwest it is nearly impossible to ignore the role of significant cultural practices, including the celebration of Christmas. Why? Christmas and other major holidays have had - and continue to have - a tremendous impact on railway transportation including express, freight and passenger service.  Railroads brought (bring) families together, letters and packages to family members, and goods to retailers. Railroads even transport many Christmas trees from farms to your local communities.  So Christmas might not be very merry without the railroad!

Thank you to everyone! 

As another successful Santa Train program is completed and 2013 draws to a close, I am delighted to reflect upon another great year at the Northwest Railway Museum. In doing so, what is clearly evident are all of the generous contributions of time, talent and funding that have helped make the Northwest Railway Museum and its programs possible.  By the numbers, the human side of the Museum's success was a handful of management and other key staff, a dozen trustees and advisers, a gaggle of special contractors, more than 125 volunteers, and hundreds of donors. They all worked together to serve more than 90,000 guests who got to see and understand the role railroads played in the development and settlement of the Northwest.  

From all of us to all of you, have a Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

New tools of the trade

The Museum's "new" Northfield model 4
Many skilled professionals will agree: having the right tool for the task is worth at least half the effort.  And so it applies to railroad cars and locomotives, but the tools are a little bigger than most people are accustomed to. 

Recently, with funding from a heritage 4Culture fixed asset grant, the Northwest Railway Museum added a power feeder and large table saw to the tool inventory. These acquisitions improve safety and efficiency for collections care efforts performed in the Conservation and Restoration Center

The Museum purchased a Northfield model 4 table saw complete with a 7.5 HP motor.  The 1990s-vintage saw tips the scales at nearly 2,000 pounds and will accommodate a blade diameter up to 20 inches.  It was located in Kentucky and shipped to the Museum in November.

Bob models the new 1 HP power feeder

The Northfield model 4 remains in production today in their factory in Minnesota.  Parts are available and so is technical support.  A new model 4 retails today for more than $16,000; the Museum paid less than 1/3 of the new cost for its lightly-used model 4.  This newer and larger saw is more stable and will allow workers to rip thicker and harder wood than the saw is replaces, which was built in 1926 and weighs "only" a few hundred pounds.

A new Grizzly-brand power feeder now graces the spindle shaper table too.  The Museum’s Oliver shaper features a 5 HP motor and hand feeding of stock is incredibly dangerous.  The new power feeder has been sized for this application and is used to slowly feed wood into the cutter head.  It was recently used to shape the rails and stiles for new coach 218 windows.  The shaper is also used to shape the moldings used both inside and outside the coaches.

4Culture offers the fixed asset equipment program to arts and heritage organizations located in King County, and funds the awards with lodging tax revenue.  Sound systems, stage lighting, instruments, shelving, and image scanners are other examples of purchases funded by the program in King County-based museums and arts organizations. This recent award is the Northwest Railway Museum's first fixed asset grant.

Thank you 4Culture!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bridging the gap

Bridges are vitally important to railroads.  They allow trains to cross rivers and gullies, swamps and streams, roads and highways, and sometimes other railroads, too.  It was evolving bridge technology that allowed steel bridges to be built in remote areas of the west, and for the train and locomotive mass to rise dramatically.

Railroad bridges are different than other kinds of bridges because they are subjected to unique dynamic forces.  An interesting historical fact is that even today railroad bridges are designed using the Coopers loading system, a system developed in 1894 and based on the loading of two consolidation-type steam locomotives. 

The Northwest Railway Museum has a collection of bridges representative of those that transformed the west.  Timber trestles, open and ballasted decks, a pin connected truss and even a voided-slab concrete span are all critical structures on the Museum's railroad.  All these structures are inspected annually by an independent railroad bridge inspector, and periodically by Museum staff.

During bridge inspections components are inspected and rated.  Elements that remain effective but show any signs of deterioration are placed on a watch list.  On each subsequent inspection, the "watch" parts can be closely examined and an informed decision can be made about when to replace a part.

To change a cap, the stringers and
bridge deck are jacked and supported
from adjacent pile caps.  This removes
the weight from the affected cap and
allows it to be changed.
During the 2013 inspection, two pile caps were identified for replacement.  Caps are large timbers that sit on top of the piles and support the stringers, the long beams that run from one pile cap to the next and support the deck.  The inspection team estimated that they each had less than two years of life remaining.  So in Fall 2013, two recycled old growth timber caps each 14 inches by 15.5 inches and 14 feet long were purchased from a dealer and installed.  Each cap took approximately 7 hours to exchange and work was completed without delay or incident.

With the weight off the cap, the old one is removed and a new one is inserted. 
Shims are inserted to make up any difference in height between the old and
new cap.  Then the weight is placed back on the cap and everything is bolted
together again.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A floor for coach 218

Rehabilitation of coach 218 is involving nearly every aspect of the car. This fall, the focus has been returning the floor to its former grandeur. The solid maple floor was badly deteriorated and the decision to completely replace it was made early in the project.  The completed floor is now ready to receive its first guests!

New sugar maple flooring was supplied by a regional wholesaler and installation began in late August.  (A botanist confirmed that samples of the original flooring were hard or sugar maple.)  A layer of roofing felt was applied below the flooring.  To help stabilize and strengthen the floor, a 3/8 plywood underlay was installed over the sub floor.  This feature was a departure from the original design but was added to improve stability over the bolsters at the car ends.

Each 1x4 was carefully positioned and hand nailed.  Then, many hours of sanding ensued to assure a smooth, even and attractive surface. To finish the floor, the Glitza floor finish system consisting of two seal coats and a semigloss top coat was applied. Funding of this work was made possible with the generous support of the Snoqualmie Tribe and 4Culture.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Day of Caring 2013

Each September, United Way of King County organizes Day of Caring, an event where thousands of volunteers take the day off from work and volunteer in their communities.  United Way asks non-profit organizations to sponsor projects, and group leaders from the supporting businesses select projects and organize volunteers.  This year, on September 20, 2013, the Northwest Railway Museum participated in Day of Caring by sponsoring a series of projects. 

This year there were a variety of projects at the Railway History Center to help preserve and share railway history.  Teams of volunteers set up more than 1,200 cubic feet of new collection shelving, moved a substantial number of additional shelving pieces, planted native plants and gardened around the Train Shed, worked on window screens and seats for the Spokane, Portland and Seattle coach 218, prepared windows for painting on coach 272, did a thorough cleaning of the Chapel Car, and generally had a fun time of helping care for the Museum.  A total of 35 volunteers from Microsoft participated, and they were assisted by several regular Museum volunteers who helped coordinate the event.

The Northwest Railway Museum thanks all of the volunteers from Microsoft and the Northwest Railway Museum.  It was a very successful day that allowed projects to be completed in one day that would have otherwise taken months to complete.  If you have a group that would like to volunteer for a day, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Cristy Lake.  Volunteering as a group for the day can be a fun way to serve the community and have an enjoyable time with friends and coworkers too. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Copper for a coach roof

Individual copper sheets were attached
with a folded seam and soldered.
Most early 20th Century railroad coaches had canvas roofs.  Some railroads specified that the entire roof be clad with canvas while others preferred copper cladding on the car ends. Copper was not an afterthought but an option specified when the cars were built.  Oxidation and the limitation of black and white photography often make it difficult to identify this in the 1912-era photos, but the Museum is confident that coach 218 was built with copper hoods. 

Completed lower hood.  One improve-
ment over 1912 materials is the use of
marine calking to seal edges.
Certainly one of coach 218's distinguishing features is this copper cladding on the roof ends, but unfortunately the original surviving copper was brittle and riddled with perforations.  So restoring these to their "as built" appearance and condition has been one of the project priorities. These "hoods" feature compound curves and are areas where it is more difficult to keep out rain water on this design of railroad car.  The copper cladding improves durability and reduces long term maintenance. (Some years ago, Spike had an opportunity to work on two Canadian Pacific Railway passenger cars that featured full canvas roofs and can attest to the fact that the canvas fails first on the compound curve at the ends of the cars.)

Bob M. attached the last of the clere-
story cladding to allow the final piece
of copper to be attached.
The design of the hoods is simple but the tin smith skills to install it are no longer common.  Fortunately, Gary J. is a highly accomplished marine carpenter and this work was an easy adaptation for him.  To begin, copper sheets were cut into small rectangular sections that would conform to the roof curve.  The edges were bent up or over to allow a folded seam with the adjacent roof panels.  All the seams were tapped flat and then soldered to provide a watertight seal.  The final product mimics the original roof but the appearance of the soldered seam is slightly different, probably because of the difference in performance between an internally and externally heated soldering iron.

Completed copper hoods debuted dur-
ing Railroad Days 2013.
Work continues on coach 218 but completion of the copper hoods allowed its use during Railroad Days 2013 where it carried an estimated 120 additional passengers.  Work is being funded with the generous support of 4Culture, the Nysether Family Foundation, proceeds from GiveBIG 2013, the Snoqualmie Tribe, and individual contributions from people just like you!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Smoke or heat?

A critical responsibility of every museum is the general protection of the Collection.  Broadly defined, that could mean protecting it from everything, which is unrealistic.   However, prudent steps can be taken to protect the collection from things that could reasonably occur.  Examples may include exposure to bright sunlight, rapid changes in heat or humidity, small to moderate earthquakes, and fire. 

An articulated lift allows a fire alarm
technician to exchange fire detection
sensors inside the Train Shed, high above
chapel car Messenger of Peace.
Inside the Northwest Railway Museum's new Train Shed exhibit building, some of the most important and representative objects in the Collection are protected with UV-filtering windows, R-30  insulation, a structure designed to the most modern seismic code, and a fire detection and suppression system.  Yet no system is perfect and unfortunately the Museum has had a variety of issues with the fire detection system. 

Local codes required smoke detectors in the original construction because, as Spike has been advised, they often detect a fire sooner than a heat sensor.  However, in a building with fans running all the time and nearly 750,000 cubic feet of air, there have been problems with these sensors.  Since completion in 2010, the Train Shed has experienced as many as 50 false alarms.  Fortunately, the Snoqualmie Fire Department has been very understanding and supportive, and several fire fighters now know almost as much about the Collection as some of the regular docents.  However a problem like this cannot be allowed to continue. Aside from the story about The Boy Who Cried Wolf, what if the fire department is responding to a false alarm when your house is on fire?

The Museum and its contractor partners have worked hard to determine the cause of the false alarms from the smoke detectors.  The Train Shed is not particularly dusty - in fact a lot cleaner than the Conservation and Restoration Center, which also has a number of smoke detectors.  There are no sudden changes in temperature that could cause condensation to form inside the detectors. The model of sensor does not have a history of issues.  There has even been consideration as to whether an infestation of insects or spiders is causing the problem. However, without being able to pinpoint an exact cause, it has been determined that smoke detectors are not reliable inside the Train Shed, and the local municipality approved a change. 

Early in August 2013, E Squared Systems was on site to replace the smoke detectors with heat sensors. This is quite a feat in a structure filled with artifacts, with ceilings as high as 35 feet, and not a lot of floor space to operate a 14,000-pound lift.  Now the Museum looks forward to improved reliability, and the Snoqualmie Fire Department looks forward to fewer late night museum visits.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Keeping track safe and reliable

The grade immediate below the track
structure is called the subgrade.  It was
disturbed by an excavator during a
recent construction project conducted
adjacent to the track.
Good track is easy to take for granted, but a safe and reliable railroad depends on it.  And good track requires a stable subgrade, especially within the 1:1 live load zone beneath the track.  (The 1:1 live load zone is the area that extends downward from the ends of the ties at a 45 degree angle.)  Steep slopes, poor soils, seasonal flooding, adjacent uses, earth quakes, and heavy annual precipitation are all among the conditions that must be considered to ensure stability.  So when recent construction activities were found to have affected the subgrade at Snoqualmie Falls, immediate steps were taken to protect the track and trains. 

A rock slope was constructed to stabil-
ize and strengthen the subgrade for
more than 200 linear feet.  Geotextile
fabric was placed below the rocks to
improve performance of saturated soils.
First, for trains already operating, speed was immediately reduced to a crawl to reduce dynamic forces on the track and subgrade.  Second, a licensed geotechnical engineer was called in to inspect the subgrade below the track and determine if and under what conditions trains could continue to operate.  Third, rehabilitation work was performed to mitigate the issues discovered in the affected area using a design that was reviewed by other engineering professionals. 

A new rock slope below
the track at Snoqualmie
The long term rehabilitation plan was developed by the Museum's geotechnical engineering consultant at PanGEO Inc and reviewed by other knowledgeable professionals including Museum volunteer Dave H., who is a civil engineer - thanks Dave!

The design uses "heavy loose rock," which are large rocks 30 inches and more across.  It relies in part on prior stabilization work performed when soil anchors were driven under the track and a retaining wall was installed at the toe of the slope.  To address the current issue, the slope on the subgrade below the track was covered with geotextile fabric and the heavy loose rocks were keyed into the sloped using an excavator.  This design places several hundred tons of rock on the subgrade slope and restores integrity to the 1:1 zone beneath the track.  However work did not stop there.  Areas affected by construction activities that were outside the 1:1 zone but within the 2:1 slope of the railway grade are being strengthened with a foot or more of quarry spalls three to six inches in diameter.

Work took three days to perform and was completed between scheduled trains.  What is most impressive to Spike is that the total elapsed time between discovering the issue and implementing final rehabilitation was just four days!  Trains are continuing to operate and will resume track speed when authorities determine that stability has been fully restored.  So a stable subgrade once again supports good track.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A day of firsts

Coach 218 pauses outside the Train Shed prior to being switched onto the train.
The first passengers since the 1940s and the first five-coach train since 1988!  On July 13, 2013, coach 218 was marshaled into the passenger train in Snoqualmie creating the Museum's first five-coach passenger train since 1988.  Coach 218 then carried its first revenue passengers since the 1940s! 

218 prepares to depart for Snoqualmie
Falls with 30 passengers, its first
revenue run since the late 1940s.
Coach 218 first entered service in August 1912 for the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway.  By 1948 it had been replaced by more modern cars and relegated to work train service where it served as rolling accommodation for railway workers.  It was purchased at auction by Museum supporters in the early 1980s and stored.  In 2007 the Museum made the decision to rehabilitate the car and work began soon after.  The primarily volunteer-led effort completed much of the carbody work and beginning in March 2013 several grants have funded two full time carpenters to continue work on the car, but with continued substantial volunteer support.  Support from 4Culture, The Snoqualmie Tribe, the Nysether Family Foundation, proceeds from GiveBIG! 2013, and other private funders is helping advance this important project.

Temporary "parlor" seating is in the
coach 218 to allow Day Out With
Thomas visitors to ride inside.  An on
board docent explains the state of the
project and a diagram shows the name
and function of all the exposed wooden
A project of coach 218's complexity always involves a few surprises.  On July 1 the Museum learned that the paint supplier "lost" the formula for the deep coach green paint that had been accurately matched from original samples.  To move the project forward, the car has been temporarily painted with a similar color created from one part jet black and five parts jade green.  The correct color will be matched and applied later this summer.

After years of effort, 218's carbody rehabilitation was substantially completed earlier this month.  Considerable effort remains to complete the interior appointments and lower window sashes, but with a visit from railroad royalty (Thomas the Tank Engine) it was difficult to resist the opportunity to "try out" the 218!  And after Thomas departs for his next museum venue, coach 218 will return to the Conservation and Restoration Center where work will resume on the interior.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Thomas the Tank Engine arrives!

Thomas the Tank Engine has returned  to the Snoqualmie Valley for Day Out With Thomas 2013!  The really useful engine arrived at the North Bend depot today for a visit from the Island of Sodor.  He will be visiting with young children and their families in Snoqualmie on July 12 - 14 and 19 - 21, 2013.  Tickets are $21 and are available via the link or phone number here.  You may also purchase tickets in person (and avoid service fees) at the Snoqualmie Depot, 38625 SE King Street, Snoqualmie daily from 10 AM - 5 PM.
Day Out With Thomas is a fun-filled event for young children and their families.  Admission includes a ride on a train with Thomas the Tank Engine, but also a variety of activities including a bouncy house, story time, a puppet theatre, motor car rides, locomotive cab tours, model trains including live steam, temporary tattoos, and live music by Eric Ode, Nancy Stewart, and Brian Vogan and his good buddies.  Check out the accompanying video images from one of our recent Day Out With Thomas events (this year will be similar, but even better!) and see what you have been missing!  Why not join the fun this year?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Winning the lottery?

Well, sort of. Two new lottery commercials were filmed in Snoqualmie, and one of them featured a locomotive from the Northwest Railway Museum's Collection.  So for several local businesses, a church and the Museum it was sort of like winning a small prize in the lottery.

A film crew sets up the interior shot of
"Jim" operating his locomotive.
The Museum hosted the Washington State Lottery and their film production partners on a recent warm and sunny day.  (Those days have not been plentiful this year, but that is another story.)  

The commercial filmed at the Museum features "Jim," a character who wins the lottery and upgrades his HO scale locomotive to a full size model.  Of course the real locomotive happens to be the Museum's locomotive 201, a model RSD-4 built by the American Locomotive Company in 1951 for Kennecott Copper.  This 1,600 HP locomotive is similar to the once ubiquitous ALCO road switchers that operated on more than a dozen railroads in the Northwest.  The bright orange behemoth was pulled by one of the Museum's Baldwin RS4TC locomotives, which was "removed" from the film in post production.  An actor sat in the engineer's seat pretending to operate it.  A home and garage were also added in during the post production process.
Locomotive 4012 pushed and pulled
the 201 but was rendered invisible
during post production.

Thanks go out to the many Museum volunteers that met or exceeded the client's expectations and made it all come together for a clever and amusing ad.

The commercial is now running on local television; watch for it!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Coach 218 windows, part 2

Clerestory windows are a distinguishing feature of early 20th Century coaches.  Obviously, these windows let light in but their primary function was - and is - to provide ventilation in an era before air conditioning, not to mention daily showers! 

Coach 218 was built in 1912 and has 41 of these attractive windows.  Rehabilitation and reinstallation of these windows is an important part of the coach's rehabilitation so that museum visitors traveling in the car will experience it like travelers did in the 1920s. 

Dedicated volunteers repaired, rebuilt or recreated all the color glass glazing, which is set in zinc came and soldered together.  In May and early June 2013 all 41 windows were reinstalled into coach 218.  Rehabilitation and reinstallation took nearly 800 person hours of labor, a significant amount of it performed by volunteers!

The clerestory window hinges are unusual; the design dates from the 19th Century.  They were produced by Dayton Manufacturing, the hardware manufacturer owned by the Barney and Smith Car Company in Dayton, Ohio.  Later, similar hinges were produced by Adams and Westlake, a company that remains in business today.  A few of those "replacement" hinges are in the car and were likely installed as a result of a broken hinge.

So another milestone is achieved.  Rehabilitation of coach 218 is moving towards completion when it will enter service on the Museum's interpretive railway. Remaining work includes rehabilitation or repair of lower window sashes, exterior painting and lettering, metal work on end roof hoods, interior floor (maple) installation, interior paneling (mahogany) panel rehabilitation or replacement and installation, lighting and seating.
Clerestory windows
separate the lower and
upper clerestory.
Clerestory windows swing into the car.
Windows fit snuggly in the openings.

These windows have
unusual hinges made by
Dayton Manufacturing.
Each is custom fit for an

Flashing is formed and soldered under
and around each window opening to
keep the water out.  Note the window
hinges, a segment that looks like part
of a wagon wheel, and a spring

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Chapel car photo opportunity

The chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace achieved substantial completion in April.  This 1898-built mobile church has been under rehabilitation in the Museum's Conservation and Restoration Center ("CRC") beginning in February 2011. 

In May, though a little dusty, the car was temporarily moved to the Train Shed to allow coach 218 to occupy track two in the CRC so it can have some of its new windows installed.  Later this season the Messenger of Peace will return to the CRC for lettering.  But on a beautiful sunny day in May just a few days short of the 115th anniversary of its dedication in Buffalo, New York, the chapel car posed for outdoor photos in Snoqualmie, Washington.  And its first trip outside the CRC in over two years!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Chapel car organ plays on!

In March Spike reported on the acquisition of an organ for the chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace.  In April Brian Tate and Wes Spore offered to rehabilitate the "new" organ by cleaning the reeds and repairing anything that wasn't quite right.  Wes put many of the rehabilitative hours into the organ and in the end even replaced the bellows, the heart of a pump organ.  The results are spectacular; check out the unique and awesome sound of this newly rehabilitated Estey pump organ!
The work that Wes has performed is truly remarkable.  Although the organ was functional when it was acquired, his work has restored its brightness and clarity to how we believe it sounded when it was new over 125 years ago.  His skill has prepared the organ for use during the chapel car's next 100 years!

Here is a brief description of some of the work Wes and Brian performed:
  • Dismantle and blow out accumulated dust.
  • Clean reed chest, action parts, keyboard, etc. to best remove old stains and previous tape repair gumbo.
  • Clean reeds (gentle brass brush) replacing one previously ruined.
  • Remove and clean all pallets – no insect damage noted.
  • Repair several wood/felt rod bearings.
  • Redo cloth hinges on front wood swell and back swell (two inner and two outer)
  • Rebuild Vox Humana – removing old cardboard from grooves in center stick and glue in new cardboard.
  • Replace broken drawknob end and replace action rod wood yoke.
  • New spring wire felt pads and two new spring wires.
  • Repair damage to two white key tops (hole carved into two adjacent keys).
  • Clean and remove old cloth from pump feeders and main bellows. Redo with new rubber cloth.
  • Redo flapper valves and main gasket. (This consumed half the labor!)
  • Casework – cut away portion of previously added plywood at lower frame to allow for normal pedal travel. Add felt stop for pedals. Glue down portions of pedal covering and oil pedal hinges.
  • Rework under keyboard front middle panels for correct alignment and removal.
  • Tune reeds that are out of tune with majority pitch (about 12).
  • Level keys – looks quite presentable but there is some slight twisting of a few keys.
  • Test drive organ to discover any problems (usual couple of reeds sucking in dust and going silent; one reed slow to speak; otherwise working fine).
Thank you Wes Spore and Brian Tate!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Coach 218 windows, part 1

Bob McNall begins a
window installation
Coach 218 was built in 1912 and is now being prepared for its second century of service. Historic rehabilitation of this former Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway coach has been underway for several years, but is now moving at a rapid pace with both a dedicated crew of volunteers and a full time crew advancing the agenda. Priorities for one of the last wooden coaches built for service on an American railroad include completion of the roof, installation of a new floor, and installation of exterior upper window sashes on.

Closeup of colored glass lights.
The exterior upper sashes are one of the distinguishing features of the car and include colored glass panels mounted in zinc came. Volunteers have been rebuilding the zinc and glass panels and they are now being installed in the carbody. Volunteers Tom Powell and Larry Fischer are responsible for the excellent job of rebuilding the panels and mounting them in wood frames. Each glass panel is individually soldered in place and sealed with glazing compound.

Bob drives in large wood screws just
like the original car builders, except he
uses and electric drill and impact 
screw driver.
Windows are attached to the carbody with large wood screws - #14 slotted screws just like the original Barney and Smith car builders used in 1912.  One change from the original installation is the use of acrylic latex calking around the perimeter of the window sash to improve water resistance and keep the sash from rattling.

Rehabilitation of the 218 is now underway in the Museum's Conservation and Restoration Center.  The project is being supported in part by King County 4Culture and the Nysether Foundation.  Substantial completion is planned for later in 2013.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Organ donor

Well, not quite, but at a price that felt like a donation! 
A "new" Estey organ arrived at the
Conservation and Restoration Center
on a warm March 27, 2013.

"One (1) Estey reed organ, cottage or school house model, mahogany, circa 1885.  Fully functional but missing one knob.  $125."  This is "pretty close" to the reed organ from the chapel car Messenger of Peace that the Estey Organ Company donated to the car in 1898, though the original was likely made from white oak. 
Mr. Dennis Shadduck offered his family's Estey Organ for sale through Craig's List; supporters Jay S. and Brian T. helped keep the Museum informed of available organs on that service and elsewhere. So locating a suitable organ has been another important milestone towards completion of the Chapel Car 5 Messenger of Peace rehabilitation.  Thank you Mr. Shadduck!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Main Street crossing reconstruction

"We've been working on the railroad" and there is another new highway crossing to show for! 

Railroad crossings represent one of the bigger funding challenges for the Northwest Railway Museum.  With a total of 18 roadway crossings, the Museum devotes significant resources towards maintenance and reconstruction.  This latest project cost was in excess of $51,000 and replaced a double track crossing in downtown North Bend, which was required to continued operating trains into the North Bend Depot.

Concrete panels arrive and await
installation on Main Street as an
excavator sets the grade.
Main Street was last reconstructed in 1988.  Normally, a new double track crossing of that size would have cost over $100,000 and there was no funding to perform work on that scale.  Fortunately, the Museum was able to leverage several opportunities to make the project viable.

The Museum learned about a small track removal project in the City of Redmond, about 20 miles from the Museum.  There, two concrete tub crossings that were installed in 1997 were being removed to allow installation of a new sewer.  Often, used tub crossings are scrapped because they are difficult to remove without damage.  So with little commercial value, the City of Redmond was able to donate the panels to the Museum.  In the end, of the 70 panels removed, 40 were reclaimed, repaired and reused.  This “saved” the Museum over $35,000 versus the cost of new crossing tubs.
The new crossing takes shape on Main
Street in North Bend.  Concrete tubs
eliminate the use of railroad ties in the
The Museum was able to secure a grant from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (“WUTC”).  The WUTC is one of the agencies that provide regulatory oversight of the Museum’s railway.   They maintain a Grade Crossing Protective Fund, which awarded a $20,000 grant towards the cost of new welded rail and its installation. 

Other important project support came from the City of North Bend, which provided all the traffic control required to close the road and detour traffic, and forgave three years of user fees for the North Bend Depot for a combined benefit of over $11,000.
The crossing has been completed; it opened as soon as the
asphalt cooled.

And the Museum was able to secure some relay rail for the side track (new rail was used on the main).  As well, the Museum's dedicated volunteers were able to perform the required repairs on the used crossing panels.

The project allowed for six days of construction but it was completed in less than five.  RailWorks Track Systems, Asphalt by George, and Snoqualmie's Imhoff Contractor Crane Service performed the balance of the work. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

quid pro quo

Pavers at east end of the
Train Shed.
In December, Spike reported here on the disposition of an object removed from the collection.  A small steam crane was moved to Ballard where it will become part of a French bistro early next summer.  As part of the disposition, the new owner of the crane provided and installed pavers for part of the Railway History Center campus.

Workers from Pavingstone Supply were on site in January 2013 to complete the installation of paving stones.  Approximately 500 square feet of decorative concrete paving stones were placed along the east and southeast portions of the sidewalk just outside the building.

Worker from Pavingstone Supply
installs pavers in front of the Train
The pavers were called out in the original design but were not installed during the original construction.  Rapidly increasing costs lead to a cost containment program and the pavers were deleted.  A short time later, the disposal of the crane to the owner of a paving stone company presented an opportunity to get some of the pavers installed.  Something for something.