Monday, April 14, 2014

Coach 218 interior paneling

Wall paneling is cut and fit inside
coach 218.  Veneers have at least nine
coats of shellac.
Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway coach 218 has been undergoing rehabilitation and restoration in the Museum's Conservation and Restoration Center.  Reports detailing this work have appeared in this blog for several years; the last report detailed the new floor.  Recently, crews began fitting interior paneling into the car, a tedious component of work that will take many weeks to complete. 

New and recovered mahogany veneers have been pressed onto new plywood cores using the Museum's vacuum veneer press.  Some veneers were removed from original but damaged solid core plywood.  Replacement veneers were acquired from Edensaw, a specialty hardwood supplier.  The flitches were carefully laid out and trimmed to match along each edge.  Special veneer tape was used to maintain indexing while glue and pressure was applied.
There are 43 windows in coach 218 so
there are a number of window panels.

After curing the adhesive, the veneer was colored using a 2% solution of potassium dichromate, an old but effective technique for darkening the wood and drawing out the figure.  Following a drying period, "varnish" was applied, which consists of nine or more coats of shellac. 

Shellac is a natural finish made by dissolving buttons of shellac in alcohol, and is available with semi-transparent color that ranges from clear to black.  (The buttons are made by melting the secretions of the lac bug collected from trees in India and Indonesia.)  It is the traditional interior finish used by the Barney and Smith Car Company on coach 218, but also chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace.

Coach 218 is using  a shellac variety called "ruby." which not coincidentally possesses a reddish hue.  However there can be considerable variation in the appearance of wood so the coach 218 crew has used other varieties of shellac when panels are too light or too dark.

There are many hours of effort remaining to fit all the panels but this stage represents an important and long-awaited milestone.

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