Monday, November 25, 2019

Upgrading coach 213

Sister coach 214 as delivered in 1912.
Coach 213 was built for the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway by the Barney and Smith Car company more than 100 years ago.  It carried countless thousands between Portland, Vancouver, and Spokane, then later between Portland and Seaside, OR.  Service to SP&S successor Burlington Northern continued as an outfit car for railroad track, bridge, and building workers.  The car was retired and purchased by an individual and donated to the Museum in 1973.

Michelle F. cleaning open car 213 in 1995.
The 213 has been a fixture on the Museum's interpretive railway since the mid 1970s.  Early visitors might remember it as the open car, the one you had to bundle up in during Santa Train, and the most popular car on a boiling summer day.  It was popular, yet not historically-accurate, and an open car built of wood does not improve with age.

213 windows are now fully operational.
Almost 20 years ago, the 213 received a set of new windows and it again became a fully-enclosed car.  Those Honduras mahogany windows continue to shine, but now they have fully-functional hardware so they can open and close.  (Incidentally, the window hardware components are a combination of originals from the car, duplicates purchased from collectors, and replicas produced by Harry Nicholls.  They represent an investment of more than $100 per window.)  Last year the upper sashes were renewed, and the excellent zinc came and art glass work that Larry F. performed is now on display.

The natural canvas color is white;
bronze tacks fasten the edges.
Now the 213 is receiving additional attention, and soon will appear almost identical to coach 218.  The first work completed this fall was a new canvas roof on the upper deck.  (The lower decks will be replaced over the winter.)  #10 cotton duck was stretched across the roof, fastened with bronze tacks, and then waterproofed with three coats of canvas stain.  This roof coating system behaves similar to Gore-Tex fabric in that it does not trap water vapor but keeps out the water.  (However, unlike Spike's Gore-Tex jacket, the 213's roof doesn't leak!)

Veneers are quarter-sawn, which
exhibits this striking pattern.
In the 213's interior, betterment is underway, too.  Panels to replace those missing above each window have been fabricated and have been finished with Awlgrip varnish.  These panels were funded with a grant from 4Culture and consist of a modern Baltic birch plywood with Honduras mahogany veneer.  Original panels were made from solid cores of yellow poplar, and it is not cost-effective to replicate this method of construction.

The traditional restroom is becoming
an electrical locker.
Meanwhile, the 213 has been rewired to accept the train's 480 volt electrical service.  Now, electric baseboard heating is being installed, and in the corner of the coach the original restroom is being recreated to enclose all the electrical equipment including breaker boxes, transformers, and relays.  This is a nearly identical installation to the effort Brent completed earlier this year inside coach 218, and it is destined to make Santa Train and shoulder-season travels much more comfortable.

Coach 213 is an historically valuable object in the Museum's educational collection. It is slowly but methodically being returned to its former glory as a first class passenger coach.  Meaningful progress is being made, thanks in no small part to contributions from 4Culture, the Schwab Fund, and almost 100 individuals.

Please consider an end-of-year contribution to help allow this work to continue in the new year.  Giving Tuesday is on December 3, but you can make a Giving Tuesday contribution anytime from now through the end of the year: donate now!

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