MLS&W Restoration Report #3
July 2001

by Don Ginter, Curator, ©2001 MCRHS

With spring making its annual return to Wisconsin in April, Glenn Guerra, our MLS&W #63's contractor, returned from a winter sabbatical in California. On his return cross-country trip, Guerra made another visit to the Nevada State Railroad Museum at Carson City. From their Virginia & Truckee (V&T) coach #18, built by Barney & Smith in 1890, he reexamined and verified under-car dimensional data regarding end platform construction from drawings of our #63 he had made earlier. Also verified was his design of the Miller hook draft gear. Guerra's original design was adapted from the book, Railway Car Construction, written by William Voss in 1892. Voss' book, written while he was Superintendent of the Car Department for the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway, is today considered the definitive work on railway car building during the 1890 period. This book was recently reprinted by the Orange Empire Railway Museum, Perris, California, and is now available from our Gift Shop.
One of the new replica Miller Hook couplers was placed on display during the open house at the museum's Car Shop in May. The pin in the coupler head is to allow connecting the car to others with link and pin, or a chain.
Guerra's initial attention was turned to contacting his subcontractors and assembling their fabrications at the museum. Various subcontractors had been working on casting patterns, wood platform components, blacksmith work, and Miller hook components. The subcontractors continued work in their shops throughout the winter under Guerra's supervision. However, before spring work could commence on the coach, it was necessary to move it within the museum's Car Shop to a more convenient work location. This was completed on the museum's Spring Fling weekend (April 28-29), a weekend the membership gathers each year to ready the grounds and rolling stock for the museum's opening day. Our Operating Department spent one of these days switching the coach from its storage area over to a more spacious and better-lit work area. This was the first time in the last ten years the coach had been out in the sun and it offered a chance to take some "before" photographs.
On April 28, 2000, MLS&W #63 was pulled out of Track 2 at the Car Shop and moved over to Track 1. This was the first time the car had been outside in ten years, and the last time it would see daylight before it is fully restored. For more photos of it during this move, click here.
Some of the steel parts that were manufactured over the winter have arrived at the museum for installation on the car. The long narrow rods are the veritical stancions for the end platforms.
The next order of business was to get ready for our first Open House (May 19, 20) featuring the Lake Shore coach. While Guerra began reconstruction of the coach's north end platform, railing and steps, and adding new interpretive displays for this work and Miller hook draft gear, volunteers were cleaning the Car Shop.
The north platform of #63 hosted several displays describing the end wall construction of the car's body, end beam, and railings, and the Miller Hook coupling system. Below at left can be seen the wooden pattern used to make the casting to its right.
The weekend of the Open House featured several beautiful days of sun and perfect temperatures, and a group of member hosts never before seen so clean and neat. We received between 200 and 250 visitors for the weekend, many were amazed that a coach in this condition could be restored to the living jewel we all envision. The hosts did an excellent job of explaining the basic construction of a wood coach with a cherry wood interior design influenced by artisan E. Colonna and his Art Nouveau styling. After a tour through the Lake Shore coach, they were invited to the Copper Range #60 coach where they could now examine a nearly-completed restoration and hear the story of this coach and its railroad. The visitors were treated to a light refreshment of lemonade and cookies and could partake in a more hearty bowl of Mulligan stew served by our First Class Dept. From the questions we received, it was felt that our visitors left with a better understanding of the transportation system of the 1890 period and many asked when the next Open House would be so they could watch our progress. We consider our first Open House a success.

Work now continues on the exterior of the car while at the same time the scholarly research into the coach's construction and modifications continue to be documented. To date, nearly 40 pages of notes, 480 color photographs and 60 assembly and detail drawings have been produced.

The next Lake Shore Open House will be held September 22-23, 2001.
The May 20th Open House docents were (from left to right) Ray Buhrmaster, Dick Goddard, Don Ginter, Jim Neubauer, Cindy Haertlein, Karl Laegeler, and Chris Roeben. Ken Breher and Jeff Haertlein also participated.