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by Rick Henn

"The Blue Flag" - 1/2017

         As you know the winter months are a quiet time for the Car Department. During this time planning goes on for the upcoming year, budgets are detailed and contacts are made to allow us to move forward. Last year, as you know, was a wonderful year for the Car Department with the work that was completed on the Society's parlor car with an interior rehab. That work is not quite finished and one of the plans for this spring will be to get it completed. I have to thank the folks at the Western New York and Pennsylvania for their support because this could not have happened without it.

         Looking ahead there is, as I said, more work to be done on the parlor car. We will be adding drapery panels between the windows in the seating area and the drawing room will be upgraded. The aisle at the drawing room end of the car and the galley will be repainted so the entire interior will be fresh and new. The response from the members in supporting this project was amazing and a grant from the Thomas E. Dailey Foundation and has made it possible to have it completed without digging deeply into the budget of the Car Department so more money is available for the coaches, which are an important revenue source and need to be maintained.

         The plan for the coaches is to continue the replacement of the older polycarbonate windows with the newer UV resistant style. The windows are in stock so it will only cost us our labor. One coach, probably #2932, will get new seat covers. The tool room in #2906 will be redesigned with new shelving to make it neater and more efficient. And the list goes on and on but since the Car Department has the largest crew it has had in quite a while this is all attainable.

(1/23/17) - One of the first things I have to do is come up with a budget for the year but I know there are some jobs that must be done and cane be done inexpensively because, in many cases, we already have the materials or the money. Here's what's on my mind.

We have lots of money to continue work on the parlor car project. We can do the drapery panels between the windows and do the drawing room. It'll mean a trip to Olean to get the furniture from the drawing room so it can be brought back here and taken to the upholsterer.
Speaking of the upholsterer, they have offered to let us take a hand held steamer down with us that will get the wrinkles out of the fabric.
We have located a picture that will be used to replace the mural on the bulkhead and we have found a solution to reproducing the mirrors so they will not be easily damaged.
There are also windows to be replaced on the parlor car and we need to look for new oil sending units.
The store room in #2906 (coach 5) needs to be cleaned out and selves built to allow us to better organize what we have. Once that is done it will no longer be acceptable to just toss things in there.
I would like to pick a car and paint the interior.

There are mechanical issues that need to be corrected, like the installation of the hose on the generator on #2941. I have mentioned that these units can be rolled out from under the cars for servicing. Here is what it looks like with a generator rolled out and supported on the roll out legs. This allows access to almost the entire unit. In the picture you see Al Olmstead and George Specht working on the unit under car #2941.

"The Blue Flag" - 2/2017

(2/25/17) - First I want to thank Brody and Cody for taking a few hours out of their week off from school to check the cars and get a little bit done. I had them tear down the wall covering in the bathroom of #2915 where the leak had caused it come lose and peel. Now we will have to determine what we'll do to fix the leak and repair the walls. I'm thinking a complete tear out of the space and do it all up new, including a new toilet that doesn't have to be hand pumped to flush. They were also going to move some shades from #2933 to be used in the other coaches where we have removed bad shades but they could not get into the car.

"The Blue Flag" - 3/2017

As we can all see by the weather we've been having the Western New York area is certainly living up to the old joke that goes, "If you don't like the weather wait 24 hours, it'll change," and working on the cars this spring has certainly been impacted by it.

(3/5/17) - Art, Cody, Brody, Adam and I went to Medina today. It was a bit cold to spend too much time but we set up a couple of things. Art took measurements of the tool room in #2906  and then we discussed what we wanted as far as shelving and storage. We also discussed what we need to get rid of. I think we've come up with a good plan. We also looked at the shades in #2933  so that we can move some over to the cars we use and fill in the spots where shades have been removed. Unfortunately, due to years of not being used. most of the screws were so rusted that they didn't come out and it was too cold to stay there and work with no heat. If things go like they usually do we'll go back when it's 90 and humid. Then we'll complain about that.

We knew that kids had been in the car and had used it as a "club house" but today we found some sort of white substance in a baggie. After a brief discussion we decided to notify the police. A young officer came over, looked at it and declared that it was, in fact, a crushed Oreo that was eons old. We all had a good laugh about that and I assume we were the butt of jokes back at the police station. A few weeks later two of our guys dropped by the cars in the evening to check on them and while they were walking down one side of the cars they heard people walking down the other side so the called the police. They were informed that the people on the other side were the police looking for them because someone had called. So, I guess we will soon be on a first name basis with much of the Medina Police Department.

(3/12/17) - George and I made a quick trip to Medina to do two jobs and then headed home because it was bitter cold up there and the wind was brutal. Coach #2915  needed a new battery for the diesel generator. Once it was installed the unit grumbled in the cold but started. The same coach was leaking air from the emergency portion. One of the studs that hold the portion to the pipe bracket was gone, not broken or loose, it was gone. We found a new one in the tool room, installed it and the problem was solved.
(3/18/17) - Road Trip: We are still working on the interior work in the parlor car which is located in Olean So we had to make a trip down with today for George, Cody, Adam, Brody and me. George and Adam started by re-placing the faulty oil sending units on the generator. The oil pressure gauge needle would bounce all over before but now it stays right where it should. The rest of us dismantled the furniture in the drawing room and moved the frame for the couch out into the hall so it can be repainted by the railroad while we get the
cushions upholstered. The couch, by the way, is large. It measures seventy inches long. While the some of the guys loaded the cushions into George's truck, George looked at some light fixtures that weren't working and determined we need starters for the tubes. I cleaned out a storage locker and got rid of stuff that had been buried for years and wasn't useful anymore. What was nice was the railroad had a couple of guys painting in the shop so they had the car running and warm when we arrived. That also made it nice for our Alco "foamers" (avid fans) to walk around and look at the locomotives of the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad, which is all ALCO.

(4/2/17) - George S, Adam P., Brody G. and I went to Medina today and got a few things out of the way like inspection of the running gear and checking oil levels. It was a relatively short day but a good one. I have already repainted the armrests for the two chairs from the drawing room of the parlor car. The upholsterer will recover the armrests for the couch at no charge. I think that pretty much gets rid of the Amtrak purple. George made and installed new hold down brackets on the new battery that was installed in coach #2941. 

(4/8/17) - Art and I got an early start today and covered a lot of ground. First we went to breakfast, which is always a good way to start. We took the seats from the parlor car drawing room to the upholsterer. It'll be about $1500.00 for the work, which should be finished in 4 or 5 weeks. Then we went to Home Depot to pick up supplies and then on to Medina. We removed the old steel shelving from the tool room in 2906 and started construction of new wood shelving that will save some floor space and make thing more efficient. We worked until about 2:00 when Art's cordless drill went dead so we cleaned up and headed home satisfied with a very productive day.

(4/23/17) - Bill G. and I spent a couple of hours today repairing some of the sliding windows on the coaches. As most of you know a number of the screws that hold the frames together have broken off or the piece they actually screw into is gone. We made up six small plates and installed them to hold the windows together. They worked well and there are only a few more to do.

"The Blue Flag" - 5/2017

by Rick Henn

(5/1/17) - I am writing this on the 1st and that means the upholstery should be done soon and the weather should be improving, although to look at it today with 1.29" of rain, you wouldn't know it, Ha!

(5/13/17) - This Saturday was a good day in Medina. First, a bunch of people showed up so we were able to get a lot completed. George, Brody, Cody, Bill, Art, Dave and I were all there. We were able to replace two windows, which for the most part went smoothly as compared to some windows we've had to replace. What helped was having someone like George there with the right tools and know how to drill and tap new holes for some stripped screws. We got on the roof to seal two bad leaks, a yearly issue we have to deal with. Between the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter the stainless steel expands and contracts and seams open up usually where the stainless roof meets the vents. The problem is that you really cannot see if there is a leak by looking at it so you end up cleaning out the old sealant, applying new sealant and hoping for the best. The next time it rains we'll know if we were successful. One leak was so bad that it had soaked the carpet in the restroom, which had then become mildewed so we removed it. Add a couple of minor maintenance things to the bigger jobs and it was a good day.

(5/18/17) - Art and I finished the new shelving in the tool room in of coach #2906.  Now they have to be neatly stocked and kept that way.

This page was last updated: March 19th, 2017

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