Posts Tagged ‘historical restoration’

Detroit Depot Restoration Moving Along

January 16, 2022

Restoration of the former Michigan Central station in Detroit is well along and project managers expect it to be complete by the second quarter of 2023.

Once completed, you’ll be able to eat, drink, work and even get married in the longtime Detroit icon and symbol of urban decay, but you won’t be able to catch a train.

The depot’s days as a train station ended in early January 1988 when Amtrak ceased using it and the beaux arts building’s new owner has other plans for the area where passengers once boarded trains.

The 18-story MC station has been owned by the Ford Motor Company since 2018. For decades before Ford bought it, the structure, which opened in 1913, had seemed destined to be razed.

Nearly all of its windows had been broken and anything of value had been stolen or removed.

During a news media tour last week of the station complex, project managers said the building was missing everything imaginable when workers began their renovation five-year work.

Ford plans to locate restaurants and a luxury hotel on the upper three floor of the station.

Offices for Ford and its partners in the mobility and autonomous vehicle endeavors will be housed in the next 10 floors.

The bottom floors will be devoted to public gathering spaces, a coffee shop, a food court, and events space with a capacity of 1,000.

The former boarding area will become a mobility testing site to be named The Platform.

During the media tour, Ford’s project manager, Rich Bardelli, said the project remains within its $740 million budget. Ford bought the building and its adjacent properties for $90 million.

Much of the early restoration work at the station involved restoring infrastructure that had vanished during the years when the structure sat vacant and was a target of vandals, thieves and squatters.

This included installing 300 miles of electric wire; 20 miles of heating and cooling duct work and piping; 6 miles of plumbing pipes; and 8.6 miles of grout in between 29,000 terracotta tiles along the arching ceiling of the front waiting room.

Some of the station’s original architectural features had to be recreated and painstakingly installed.

More than 1,700 of the Guastavino terracotta ceiling tiles had to be replaced, which involved building 252 tons of scaffolding to place them 65 feet above the floor.

Engineers used 3-D printing and resin to recreate 560 new lightweight ornate floral rosettes and leafs that adorn the windows.

Most of the original iron rosettes had been removed and during the restoration process some individuals who had possession of some of them dropped them off at the construction site so they could be reinstalled.

Located in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, the station is the centerpiece of a campus Ford is creating that will cost $950 million.

Ford plans to move 2,500 of its employees in autonomous and electric vehicle development departments to the campus. There will be space for 2,500 more Ford workers from suppliers and partners in the mobility sector.

Aside from the station itself, Ford is renovating the adjacent Book Depository building for use as offices and plans to construct a third office building on the campus.

Bardelli said dining options in the station complex will be located on the top floors of the tower; the former carriage house on the west end of the building along Vernor Highway; and a food court in the concourse.

Negotiations are underway with potential retail, hospitality and hotel vendors and contracts are expected to be reached later this year.

Over the next 18 months craftsmen will be recreating some of the other historic features of the station, including wood wainscoting panels, crown molding, marble borders and wood floors in the former waiting rooms.

“We’re in the midst right now of just starting to put all of that back,” Bardelli said.

The former waiting areas are being repurposed into events space and Bardelli said Ford has already received inquiries from couples who want to get married there.

Open House Set for Restored N&W Business Car

October 5, 2021

An open house has been set for Oct. 9 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Valparaiso, Indiana, to mark the completion of restoration of Norfolk & Western business car 300.

Built in 1917 by the Pullman Company for the United States Railroad Administration, the N&W purchased the car in 1920.

It operated for N&W successor Norfolk Southern through 1987 when it was deemed surplus and sold.

The restoration has been overseen by current owner Norfolk & Western Business Car 300 Preservation Society.

The restoration work included interior work as the car sat on a siding in Valparaiso.

Bryan Lalevee of the society spent three years negotiating with the previous owner of the car who eventually agreed to donate it to the society.

Lalevee also created a plan for its restoration. “It has been intensely gratifying to save a piece of railroad history that really deserved to be saved,” Lalevee said. 

The car had been rebuilt in 1988 to meet Amtrak standards but had been placed in storage in 1991.

Although the car’s exterior was described as being in excellent condition, the interior had sustained mold damage.

Volunteers stripped the interior, painted it, installed in new flooring and carpet, and restored the window shades.

They also restored the generator to enable lights and other appliances to be able to operate again.

The open house will be held

 “It was so awesome to know that this car was alive again,” he said. 

The car will be moved later this month to the Little River Railroad in Coldwater, Michigan, which plans to operate it on excursion trains.

Directions to the open house site can be at www.nw300.org./oenhouse/

Wabash Wood Caboose Restored

February 7, 2021

A wood former Wabash caboose has been rebuilt by the Indiana-based Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society.

The century-old car is one of just two wooden Wabash cabooses in existence.

Restoration work on caboose No. 2534 began in 2018 and involved more than dozen regular volunteers working over three years.

The volunteer corps devoted more than 5,000 hours and replaced more than 90 percent of the structure with more than 1,000 pieces of new wood.

The caboose had been displayed between 1957 and 1984 in Swinney Park in Fort Wayne.

It was then moved to the Society’s shop in New Haven in deteriorated condition.

Repair Work Continues on B&LE No. 643

February 3, 2020

In an update posted to its website the Age of Steam Roundhouse said it continues to study how to move former Bessemer & Lake Erie No. 643 from its current location in Pennsylvania to Sugarcreek.

AOS said winter weather and the holidays slowed the movement of the locomotive’s running gear and boiler.

The update said staff continue to work with local and state authorities for use of highways but the use of railroad flat cars is also being evaluated.

“Labor and cost are driving factors in this decision making,” the update said.

AOS staff also have inspected the tender of the 643 and made some repairs.

This included removing from the coal bunker and stoker auger system old coal, scaled rust and other debris.

Workers painted the tender with a rust preventive primer and finish coated with gloss black.

Upper elements of the tender that were removed to lower the height for road travel have been put back into place.

The brakeman’s cabin was repaired during the removal process. Workers removed rusted rusted areas in the well area in which it sits.

The cabin was repainted and then was re-bolted to the tender deck.

The eight washout plugs in the bottom of the tender cistern were removed and the water compartment is currently having scale removed. Workings are also flushing out of loose scale and flaked rust.

The update said the tender journals looked very well maintained but were cleaned and oiled.

Eventually, the tender body will be sandblasted to grey metal and repainted with high quality industrial paint.

C&O 1309 Undergoes Successful Test Firing

October 4, 2018

A stationary test fire was conducted this week of former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309.

Workers rebuilding the locomotive increased its boiler pressure to 210 pounds.

Gary Bensman, president of Diversified Rail Services, a contractor that is rebuilding No. 1309 for the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, told Trains magazine that the test firing went as expected.

“We tested the injectors and generally just inspected the boiler for leaks. There are no leaks on the boiler,” Bensman said.

Workers also opened the throttle to blow steam through the superheater units to clean out welding residue, dust, and grinding dirt from the header and branch pipes.

Bensman said that was necessary to keep the pistons and valves from collecting dirt after reassembly.

The next major step in the restoration process is to put back the lagging and jacket to the boiler, which is expected to begin in the next month or so.

No. 1309 was built by Baldwin in 1949. Its restoration has been hindered by financial problems that at times have halted the work.

Once the 1309 is restored to operating condition, it will be the one of the largest steam locomotives running in America and the only Mallet type in operation east of the Mississippi.

Michigan Steamer Being Cosmetically Restored

April 28, 2018

A 19th century steam locomotive in Port Huron, Michigan, has been moved in preparation for a cosmetic restoration

The D.B. Harrington, a 2-4-0 built in 1878 by Porter, Bell & Company, has been in storage since 1992.

The locomotive was built for the 3-foot gauge Port Huron & Northwestern Railway, which used it to haul freight to Sand Beach (now Harbor Beach), and Port Austin, Michigan.

After restoration, the Harrington will be displayed along the Port Huron waterfront.

The restoration of the engine is being done by Streamline Historic Services at St. Clair County Community College. The tender will be rebuilt by Gemini Industries in Dover, Ohio.

Funding for the restoration is coming from a $25,000 grant from Canadian National’s community impact program and another grant via the Community Foundation of St. Clair County.

Donations toward the restoration costs can be made at www.stclairfoundation.org.

PRR Steam Locomotive Print Offered to Donors

April 26, 2018

A print featuring five historic Pennsylvania Railroad steam locomotives is being offered by The Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania as a fundraiser to help pay to stabilize five locomotives in the museum’s collection.

The print is a reproduction of a watercolor painting made by artist Peter Lerro Jr.

Depicted are M1b No. 6755, K4s No. 3750, L1s No. 520, H10s No. 7688, and B6sb No. 1670.

Those making a donation of $250 or more will receive a limited edition, signed and numbered reproduction of the painting, known as “Ready For The Roundhouse.”

The Friends group has $190,000 of the $250,000 needed to have the five locomotives media blasted, painted and repaired.

A form to be filled out in order to make a donation can be obtained at the museum’s website at http://www.rrmuseumpa.org or by calling 717-687-8628.

Bellevue Museum Gets Grant for Dome Car

December 21, 2017

The Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum in Bellevue has received a $10,000 grant from Trains magazine that will be used to restore the nation’s first dome car.

The money will be used to restore the dome section of the Silver Dome, a Chicago, Burlington & Quincy car that was modified from coach Silver Alchemy at the railroad’s shops in Aurora, Illinois, in 1945.

General Motors Vice President Cyrus Osborn is credited with coming up with the concept of a dome car while riding the head-end of a train through Colorado’s Glenwood Canyon in 1944.

The museum acquired Silver Dome from Amtrak in 1978. The Trains grant will be used to replace trim and Plexiglas that has become discolored. The museum also plans to restore the upholstery and carpets as well as do window sill work.

Trains received 40 applications for its 2017 Preservation Award. The grant program is now in its 18th year.

In another development, the Mad River museum said on its website recently that it has raised more than $70,000 toward its goal of $100,000 this year to use to acquire Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive 757.

The locomotive is currently at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg.

The Mad River museum plans to place No. 757 on static display once it arrives in Bellevue.

No. 757 had been set aside by the Nickel Plate Road to donate to Bellevue, but the city lacked a museum at the time. It therefore wound up being sent to Pennsylvania.

Mad River has said its overall fundraising goal is $250,000 of which $150,000 will be used to move the 757 to Bellevue.

On its website, the museum said if it raises $150,000 by next spring it will be able to move the 757 to Bellevue as early as next summer.

In recent months, Mad River volunteers and contractors have traveled to Strasburg to prepare the locomotive for shipment.

More information, including how to donate to the cause, visit  https://www.madrivermuseum.org/news.html

Narrow Gauge Combine Moved to EBT

November 29, 2017

A combine car from the former Tuscarora Valley Railroad has been moved to the East Broad Top Railroad in Pennsylvania.

Car No.101 is in temporary storage on the EBT at Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania, where the Friends of the East Broad Top are helping to restore the car, which ran on a narrow-gauge line in another part of the state.

The car is the last remaining piece of rolling stock left from the 3-foot-gauge Tuscarora Valley, which ran for 27 miles from Port Royal to Blairs Mills in Juniata and Huntingdon counties between 1891 and 1934.

The Tuscarora Valley had intended to connect with the EBT’s Shade Gap branch at Richvale but never did.

The combine was built as a coach in the 1880s by Billmeyer & Small of York, Pennsylvania, and converted into a combine in 1916. The Tuscarora bought the car used in 1895.

In recent years, the car has been serving as a woodshed on a farm whose owner, Bernie Rowels, donated the carbody to the Friends of the East Broad Top.

After the Friend group was unable to move the car from Rowels’ property, the Darrow family acquired it and began restoration work.

The car has since been bought by Stephen Lane, a part-time steam engineer on the Everett Railroad, who arranged to have it sent to Rockhill Furnace.

The EBT is for sale and a long-term storage agreement cannot be achieved at this time. The EBT has not carried passengers since 2011.

Dennison Museum to Unveil Restored Locomotive

October 21, 2017

The Dennison Railroad Depot Museum will conduct an “unveiling party” on Nov. 3 of its recently restored Chespeake & Ohio steam locomotive No. 2700.

The event will begin at 1o a.m. at the museum, which is housed in a former Pennsylvania Railroad passenger station on the Pittsburgh-St. Louis mainline.

The cosmetic restoration used more than 320 parts that were recreated by Jason Johnson of Gemini Industrial to complete the restoration.

Prior to restoration, No. 2700 had one of the most vandalized steam locomotives in the county and been stripped of many of its parts.

The engine sits on the east end of the Dennison Depot, which has been designated a National Historic Landmark as the best example left in the country of a World War II Servicemen’s Canteen Site.

Those who join the 2700 Club Membership Program for $27 will help ensure the upkeep of the engine. Members will receive a print of the engine.