MLS&W Restoration Report #4
October 2001

by Don Ginter, Curator, ©2001 MCRHS

WOW, WHAT A DIFFERENCE a couple of months has made in the rehabilitation of Coach #63. With the Copper Range coach nearing completion and the Lake Shore coach sporting a new exterior just in front of it, entering the museum's Car Shop makes one feel like they are stepping back in time and walking onto the Barney & Smith coach assembly floor!

lenn Guerra and his assistant have reconstructed both end platforms and applied new coach steps to the north end platform. It is no longer necessary to enter the car over makeshift stairs or stepladders, the new steps now give an authentic feel to entering the 1888 coach.

Next came the residing of the car. All the old, and in some cases original, siding was removed up to, and including, the letterboards. Some of the original siding material was added to the archive storage pile for later study. After repair of any structural problems, the sides were sanded to remove all glue residues, and made ready for the new siding. All new siding wood was milled from yellow poplar, identical material as the original. Attachment of the new siding to the coach was done in its original manner--first glued to the framing, then nailed to the purlins (horizontal framing ribs). Just before the September open house, the east side was painted with a tinted primer close to the colors our paint analyses research indicated were the original MLS&W coach colors.

While all this was progressing, Glenn's assistant was removing the coach's original tin roof. Glenn is now working on repairing the end roof drops--an interesting complex of overlapped, thin and narrow, tongue and groove, boards pulled down to complete the end roof curves--and areas of wood rot around roof openings. The old drip cap is being replaced along the edge of the roof, all in advance of subcontracting for the replacement of the tin roof.

Prior to the September MLS&W open house, Glenn volunteered his time, after his normal workday, to construct three oak exhibit cabinets. The cabinets are four feet long, approximately seven feet high, and 16 inches wide. They consist of a four-sided glass display case sitting on an oak cabinet base, the wood is stained 'Golden Oak' and varnished. The exhibit cabinets are a very welcome addition to our display capabilities and were immediately filled with Lake Shore material for the September open house.
The car shop building provided a refuge from the rainy weather on September 23 during the MLS&W open house. Visitors were treated to snacks and a guided tour of both car restorations currently underway in the shop. MLS&W #63, seen at left, was spruced up with tinted primer to approximate the finished colors it will receive when all exterior wood is installed.
The MLS&W open house (September 22-23) featured the coach with its new exterior siding and east side primed in a light yellow body and tan trim paint scheme close to the original colors of the car. The weekend started off with a beautiful fall sun-drenched Saturday, but soon clouded over. Sunday was spent with cool temperatures from an overcast sky and light all-day rain. A Courtesy car, provided to us by Don Larson Chevrolet-Cadillac of West Baraboo for the weekend shuttle service between the depot and Car Shop, was certainly appreciated by our visitors on Sunday. Our guests numbered approximately 250 for the weekend, a number that we had originally hoped would be higher. However, it was felt that attendance was affected by the wet weather, slower economy and the tragic happenings in New York City earlier in September. Later remarks from our member hosts indicated an overall feeling that our visitors were more enthused in learning about the history of the coach and seeing its preservation than during our earlier May open house. Many were repeat visitors from earlier trips to the museum or the May open house, several were from the museum industry, and all asked some interesting, and knowledgeable, questions. The new exhibit cases provided an additional teaching tool. While the visitor count may not have been what we had hoped for, we considered the open house a success from the increased visitor enthusiasm they showed for the project, and donations were up considerably.
Project manager Glenn Guerra looks over the two Miller Hook couplers. In December the pieces (top and bottom plates, and middle casting) will be riveted together.
Balinski Tool & Machine of Kenosha, WI, used a prototype seat frame to take digital readouts on a mill machine. The data was entered in a CAD program and enlarged the geometry to account for shrinkage. A mold was then cut from a mahogany wood pattern (see photo) with a numeric control mill.
The pattern was then sent to Winnebago Foundries in South Beloit, WI where the new frames were cast in ductile iron. The legs then went back to Balinski for drilling of floor holes (the hole pattern on the prototype leg perfectly matched the existing old holes in the floor of MLS&W #63).
The north end of #63 with new wood work on the end roof eave. The new wood structure replicates the original. Floor decking inside the car is made of basswood.
Research continues on the coach. We feel a recently-located photograph of a Lake Shore passenger train verifies the light exterior colors we found on the coach from our paint analyses. Glenn has begun work on forming and gluing the plywood needed for the interior ceiling and headliner panels. When these are finished, they will be delivered to the artists for stenciling and painting.