Lineside Legacy - February, 2003

Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western No. 63

Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western coach No. 63 has been meticulously restored by the Mid-Continent Railwy Museum into its original yellow and green color scheme.
In October, the Mid-Continent Railway Museum unveiled Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western No.63, an 1888-vintage first class coach that operated most of its life in and around Wisconsin. The car has been under heavy restoration at North Freedom for the past two years, although museum volunteers have been working off-and-on to restore the car since it was acquired in 1970. It is significant because it is the only surviving passenger car from the MLS&W, and also for its early Art Nouveau design interior by Edward Colonna.

No.63 was constructed in Dayton, Ohio, by the Barney & Smith Manufacturing Company in 1888. It was one of seven first class coaches ordered by the Lake Shore that year for service between Milwaukee and Ashland, Wisconsin, Three years before the order was placed, Barney & Smith had hired Edward Column, a German immigrant, to design the interiors for their cars. He in turn organized a new department that was given the task of creating intricate woodwork which would make Barney & Smith cars stand apart from their competitors. Under Colonna's guidance, No.63 left the shop outfitted with a mix of intricate hand-carved and polished cherry wood and oak veneer with his own specially designed brass lamps, hoppers and baskets manufactured by the Dayton Manufacturing Company. Intricate paintwork and stenciling graced the ceiling, and all 25 seats were covered in plush. The outside of the car was light yellow with tan window sashes and letterboards, and gold leaf lettering. The cars were beautiful and lavish, but it was not to last. 'Just a short time after the car was completed, Colonna left Barney & Smith for work with Canadian Pacific.

During the late 1880s and early 1890s, No.63 was used extensively on the MLS&W main line and also on the branch line pas- senger trains serving Oshkosh, Rhinelander, Oconto, Wausau and Two Rivers. In 1893 the Lake Shore became part of the Chicago & North Western, and No.63 was relettered and renumbered as C&NW No.469. It would eventually be repainted into C&NW yellow and green.

No.469 served as a first class coach until about 1906, when it was humped off the main lines by newer equipment. Some of its interior finery was probably removed at this time, but it nevertheless continued in passenger service until 1930, when it was parked at C&NW's Wood Street Potato Market in Chicago to serve as an office and waiting room for the produce buyers and commission agents who worked there. A year later it was removed from the passenger car roster and renumbered X-3000390.

Around 1935, the coach was lifted off its trucks and set upon a concrete foundation, while at the same time its interior was renovated to make it more suitable for use as an office. Many of its decorative fixtures were removed and electric lights and modern toilets were installed, along with a mid-car partition and an entry enclosure. Its polished cherry wood was painted over and its heritage as an MLS&W car was all but lost. It would be safe to say that now, the former No.63 was more a building than a passenger coach.

Surprisingly the old coach weathered out the years at the Potato Mart until 1970, when the C&NW decided to demolish the mart, as most of the agricultural business had long since gone to trucking companies. Fortunately several members of the MidContinent Railway Historical Society learned about the car's pending demise and organized to save it. In October 1970, the shell that was once Lake Shore No.63 was moved to Mid-Continent, and beginning in 1974 efforts were started to restore it. Appropriate trucks and brake equipment were salvaged from an 1874 C&NW coach, new truss rods were installed and an end platform rebuilt. Due to several factors after this work was completed, the project was put on hold, and no further work was done. It was, however, placed in indoor storage in 1990 with the thought that restoration would resume again someday.

A few years ago, a book was published about Edward Coloana and his contributions, to Art Nouveau. It seems that after his stint with Barney & Smith, Coloana had gone on to design passenger cars, depots and steamship interiors for the Canadian Pacific Railway, and later, jewelry, furniture and decorative glassware that earned him national acclaim. Upon learning that an 1888 Colonna-designed coach existed at MidContinent, the Jeifris Family Foundation of Janesville, Wisconsin (which donates money for the preservation of significant architectural treasures and artwork) offered a grant of $175,000.00 towards the restoration of No.63 if Mid- Continent could match that amount, lathe single-largest fundraising effort ever undertaken by the museum, the money was raised and the restoration of No.63 began in November 2000.

Unlike other wood car restorations performed at Mid-Continent, much of the work to No.63 was done on a contractual basis rather than by volunteers, which is one reason the project took less than two years to complete. The bulk of the restoration was performed by Glenn Guerra of Guerra Museum Services, Inc., but also included several subcontractors who provided items such as reproduction basket racks, seat upholstery, wood seat frames and even the paint and stenciling. The beautiful reproduction stoves on each end of the car were cast new from original patterns by the Strasburg Rail Road.

When I visited Mid-Continent in July, the car was still incomplete, but much of the interior restoration had been finished. Jim Neubauer, a Mid-Continent volunteer and editor of the member newsletter Steamer, was kind enough to show me the interior of No.63, and the first thing that came to my attention was the paint and stencils on the ceiling. What has been done here is remarkable. The oak clerestory ceiling is resplendent with white and maroon paint and accented with brass and aluminum leaf. As you move through the car the stencils appear to change color as light reflects off them an interesting effect, to say the least!

Another significant item is No.63s couplers. It was originally furnished with Miller hook couplers, although knuckle couplers were added around the turn of the century. The Miller couplers were an early version of an automatic coupler which were installed on freight ears and coaches before the Janney knuckle coupler gained wide acceptance. It was important to the museum that this feature be replicated, and fortunately the Nevada State Railroad Museum had in its collection a former V&T coach that still had these rare couplers. After studying V&T No.18, Glenn Guerra was able to fabricate replica Miller couplers and their associated draft gear which can be seen on No.63 today.

One difficult task was figuring how No.63 was originally painted. Guerra took dozens of paint samples from many different areas which were further analyzed. Remarkably, in some places inside the car 21 layers of paint were found. There were nine layers of paint and varnish on the sides of the carbody; the bottom layer of light yellow in the sample was believed to be the original 113year-old Baraey & Smith paint job. The resulting yellow body with tan trim and green trucks is the result of painstaking research, and is finished prototypically: flat paint was used, which was then coated with three coats of varnish just as was done in 1888.

On October 1, 2002, No.63 was unveiled to the media at North Freedom. The museum's GE 44- tonner No.4 (ironically, the former Pullman plant switcher) was used to pull No.63 to the top of PInch Hill for roster photos. The 'official" unveiling of No.63 to the public will be held during the summer of 2003. The car will be a prominent exhibit at the museum, but because of its age (not to mention the Miller hook couplers) No.63 will mainly be used as a static display.

For an extensive history of No.63, before and after photos, and further details of the restoration, visit www.midcontinent.org. Thanks to JIM NEUBAUER

Hocking Valley Steam

Ohio's Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad is restoring a 1920 Baldwin 0-6-0. This locomotive, numbered 3, was built for the Beech Bottom Power Company and later acquired by the Ohio Power Company for service at Cumberland, Ohio. It was donated to the Hocking Valley in 1982 and has been on static display at the railroad's headquarters in Nelsonville since then. This past fall the engine was moved into the shop, where all its tubes and flues were removed for replacement, its tender was rebuilt and painted, and a new wood cab was constructed to replace its severely rotted original. The project is still a long way from completion, though, and funding to finish the job is currently being sought.

Steam is not new to the Hocking Valley. Since its founding in 1972, the railroad relied on a large ex-Lake Superior & Ishpeming 2-8-0, No. 33, to pull its passenger trains. In 1996, the Consolidation was removed from operation after nearly 25 years of tourist service, needing about $500,000.00 in repairs to its boiler and running gear. It is now stored inside the Nelsonville engine house. Currently, the Hocking Valley trains are pulled by a former Chesapeake & Ohio GP7, which is appropriate since the railroad's right of way was originally owned by the C&O. -- www.hvry.com

Frisco 4500 Needs a Home

St. Louis-San Franscisco Railway 4-8-4 No. 4500, donated in 1955 to the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma is in need of a good home. A few years ago the Baldwin steamer was undergoing a slow restoration by the Sunbelt Railroad Historical Trust, which leased the engine from the city in the early 1980s. Sunbelt is apparently now defunct and the engine, mostly dismantled, is stored in Owasso, Oklahoma on a siding owned by the South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad.

No. 4500 was built for the Frisco in November 1942 under the direction of the War Production Board, which oversaw all new locomotive construction at that time. It was one of 25 4-8-4s built for the SLSF during World War II, most of which were placed infreight service. However, Nos4500, 4501 and 4502 were designated for passenger service on the Meteor overnight train between Oklahoma City, Tulsa and St. Louis, and to that end were delivered as oil burners in a deep blue and white paint scheme with Meteor spelled out across the tender in bold red lettering. The three passenger engines also saw service pulling the Texas Special, and all were upgraded with Franklin C-2 boosters a few years after they were delivered.

After the Frisco purchased passenger diesels in 1947 to pull the Meteor, No.4500 was bumped to lesser passenger trains such as the General Wood and the Will Rodgers. For this duty it was painted into Frisco's standard black with gold striping and lettering (as on No.1522) but remained an oil burner. Remarkably it and several other SLSF 4500-class 4-8-4s were given overhauls in the early 1950s. only to be scrapped or, as in the case of No4500, donated for preservation.

From 1955 until 1988, No.4500 resided at Mohawk Park in Tulsa. In the mid-1980s, members of a local NRHS chapter became interested in restoring the engine to operation and to that end formed the Sunbelt Railroad Historical Trust. After minimal work, they successfully operated the 4-8-4 using compressed air, and eventually moved it from its park display site to the South Kansas & Oklahoma, where it has resided for the past twelve years. Throughout the 1990s, Sunbelt made noticeable progress on the engine, eventually stripping it of most appliances, which were moved to a local machine shop for restoration. These included both air pumps and related accessories (including the brake stand), the power reverse, cylinder head covers, throttle valve, main rods, feedwater pump, headlights, hell and other critical components. Some were apparently reconditioned, although their whereabouts are currently unknown.

Unfortunately Sunbelt suffered from a critical lack of funding and leadership, and by late 1999 the project was dead in the water. A member of Sunbelt claimed, in a letter to the city dated October 2000, that "the group has no possible way of making any improvements to the Frisco 4500." In February 2001, the city of Tulsa terminated its lease agreement with Sunbelt. It also placed Mike Reel, a city employee, in charge of finding a new home for the engine.

Several organizations have expressed an interest in the 4-8-4, including the Illinois Railway Museum and the Age of Steam Museum in Texas (which has sister 4501 on display). A new preservation group in Carona, Kansas, known as "Heart of the Heartlands" also is interested in obtaining the 4-8-4, as is the Oklahoma Railway Museum in Oklahoma City.

While No.4500 is certainly restorable, it would take a great deal of funding to do so. Despite its rumored excellent boiler it still must be brought into compliance with the FRA Part 230 rules in order to steam again. Also, the fact that the engine is equipped with friction bearings might hinder its chances of running on a busy Class 1 main line. No.4500 is an impressive-looking machine with its Baldwin disc drivers and clean lines, and would make a fine display or excursion engine. Persons with serious inquiries are invited to contact Mike Reel at 918/596-7224.

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