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by Rick Henn

"The Blue Flag" - 1/2016

         This is the time of the year when the cars have just finished their most busy time, especially with 44 Polar Express trips behind them. It kind of goes without saying that running that much limits the time available to work on them. (Hmm, why do we say, "It goes without saying", and then proceed to say it anyway?) What this is, is a time to plan ahead to see what can be budgeted for 2016. The biggest hope is that the society will get six transit air conditioning units donated by a local company. These units are coming off transit cars from the New York City area that are being scrapped and should be an easy replacement because all of the under-car pieces are packaged as one assembly. Let's hope it goes as well as it seems it should. A lot of the old window shades have been removed because they are no longer repairable so new shades will be purchased. The Car Department has made a lot of progress in replacing bad windows with the newer style that should last almost five times as long but there are still some windows that need replacing. And, thanks to Bill Davis, we have a pile of new window sills to install. That is something that is very much needed.

         A topic of conversation both within the WNYRHS and larger groups, such as the Railroad Passenger Car Alliance (RPCA), is finding ways to get younger people interested in railroad preservation and all of the things that accompany it, such as mechanical work, etc. I know other committees within the WNYRHS have some "new blood" but I will limit this article to the younger guys we are fortunate to have in both the Car Department and on the Safety Crew. If you were to look at the two rosters side by side you would, by the way, notice a lot of over-lap.

         MJ Lewandowski is the oldest young guy on the crews. He has been active for years especially as part of the Safety Crew where he and his dad always are willing to help out with Thomas and Polar Express. When they are not working on the cars or helping on the trains they are both active with the restoration of Central Terminal. A few years ago Anthony Fusarelli started coming out and he developed into a good worker with a large and growing knowledge of railroading. Anthony recently completed schooling on the west coast to be a railroad conductor and hopefully he will soon see his passion for railroading lead to a career.

         Brody George bills himself as a "Thomas Brat," one of those kids that became interested in railroading because of Thomas© the Tank Engine. Brody has become a valuable part of both the Car Department and the Safety Crew. Last summer he was chosen to attend the National Railroad Historical Society "Rail Camp" in Wilmington, Delaware where he got more hands on instruction in the workings of the railroad. Cody Catlin came to us after seeing what we do while he was a working as a chef for Polar Express. He asked if he could become active with WNYRHS and started with the Car Department. He quickly proved his willingness to learn and displayed his mechanical abilities. This year he served as a conductor for Polar express and did a wonderful job. Most recently Lucas Collins and Adam Puchalski came to work as first year conductors. Both did great jobs and their help was quite valuable.

         I want to thank all of these young men for their interest, willingness to learn and hard work. I also want to take this time to thank all the "old hands" from both the Car Department and the Safety Crew for their hard work and their willingness to teach the new guys. It's a team effort that works well.

"The Blue Flag" - 3/2016

         (2/28/16) - The nice mild fall and early winter weather we had has degenerated into a more typical Buffalo and Western New York winter, although as I write this it is nearly sixty degrees outside on February 28. However, as with most winters little has being accomplished on the passenger cars.

They did get to stretch their legs, figuratively speaking, when the Medina Railroad Museum used them for a Snow Princess train on February 20th. Dozens of little princesses came out for the ride and they dined on hot chocolate and cookies. Next up will be an Easter Bunny train on March 26th.

So with the warmer weather just starting and who knows what April will bring. We do know that May will bring the start of the excursion season with the arrival of Thomas© the Tank Engine and then many more trips throughout the summer.

"The Blue Flag" - 4/2016

         Because we are just coming off our long winter's nap there is not a lot to report. We had a work session in March with George Specht, Al Olmstead, Bill Glodzik, Brody George, Cody Catlin, Adam Puchalski and me. We cut all the new stair treads for the south side of the train and installed one set. Co-dy and Brody made up a list of windows and interior work to be done and it was somewhat extensive but it can be done, well most of it. There are several mechanical issues to take care of but nothing that will not allow the cars to be used. In order to replace a leaking oil hose in 2941 the injector system for the diesel generator will have to be removed making it a longer job that we had time for today. A brake beam on 2941 has to be replaced soon but first we need to get a replacement from the spare truck now in Winter's Rigging yard in North Collins. This could turn out to be a busy season.

The weekend of April 2 and 3 was a good one for the Car Department. It wasn't that any major jobs were completed but it was nice to be able to check off a couple of minor ones so they are out of the way. On Saturday Brody George, Art Toale and I went to Lockport to clean up the lunch counter car. There are some folks interested in it and we wanted to make it look a bit nicer. We cleaned out a bunch of old papers and boxes, swept up some broken glass and cleaned the lunch counter and some of the stainless steel. On Sunday George Specht and I went to Medina to repair door locks on the end doors of some of the cars. George had repaired one striker that had broken so we installed that along with one that had pulled out of the frame. A couple others needed adjusting to work properly and by the time we left all were in good working order.

As of this writing, May will bring the start of the excursion season with the arrival of Thomas© the Tank Engine for four days on May 14th, 15, 21st and 22nd. We always need more people to staff these trains so if you would like to work on them please  Rick H. so I can add you to the list.

"The Blue Flag" - 6/2016

by Rick Henn

         5/24/16 - Thanks to our good friends at the Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad, the "Flagship" of our fleet, the "Francis J. McGrath," is once again back in its original livery. This former Pennsylvania Railroad Parlor Car used for charter excursions, was built in 1952 by the Budd Company and features 29 parlor chairs and a 5-seat drawing room.
Thanks again to the great people at the WNY&P RR for the excellent job in painting & lettering the car.

         6/16/16 - In a departure from the usual stuff you see here, here is something different. Art and I went to Olean today to meet with President and CEO of the WNY&P, Carl Belke, about the interior upgrades to the parlor car. The railroad will do the heavy lifting for the most part but we will have to make a couple of trips to do our part. When completed the interior will have a new look.

         It'll be good-bye to the Amtrak purples and hello to a rich color combination of browns and fall hues. FYI, this will be a far cry from the original colors. Originally this car had dark blue sculpted carpets with a dark turquoise paint below the windows. Above the windows was a pale rose color and the ceiling was an off white. However, since the railroad was able to get an incredibly good deal on new carpet that is brown, we will start there.

However, we will have to remove the contact paper that is on the underside of the luggage racks before they are ready to paint. There are several windows to be replaced and you will see a slightly different system from the NYC coaches. We will replace the slip covers on the seats with new ones once they are made and we will probably have to remove, clean and paint the arm rests and vinyl side pieces on the seats.

In order to work in the yard where the parlor car is stored we will need personal protective equipment. You have to have a safety vest, safety glasses and work shoes. Steel toes would be ideal but we can sneak by without them.

         6/25/16 - Usually I write this article in the order in which things happen and with dates. However, this time it'll be a bit different. The reason is that over the past couple of months instead of completing any big project we have done a lot of smaller things that, if written on a day-to-day basis would not seem very significant. In fact, just the opposite is true. Getting these little things out of the way has greatly shortened the "to do" list and will allow us to focus on the big things to come.

There are some jobs that come up repeatedly in the life of the Car Department. One is window replacement. Over the years the windows have gone from glass, which is easy to clean and lasts forever as long as no one hits it with a stone or a bullet. Unfortunately, this has happened much too frequently and since changing a window is not an easy matter we started converting to polycarbonate long ago.

Polycarbonate is tough. It'll stop a lot of bullets and is generally immune to rocks. Unfortunately the polycarbonate we were using only lasted about five years or so before it would discolor and then deteriorate to the point that you could not see through it. A few years ago we converted to abrasion resistant polycarbonate, which has about a twenty year life span. At the time of this writing we are awaiting delivery of a large order to install in the coaches and the parlor car.

         So, while we were waiting we brought over leftover windows that were in the spare coach, #2933. These are not the abrasion resistant polycarbonate so they cannot go on the outside but will work fine on the inside where the ultraviolet protection afforded by the abrasion resistant stuff will protect them. In the photo we see Bill Glodzik and Cody Catlin cutting a single large window into a sliding window set.

         A second ongoing problem is window sills. They have to be replaced regularly because they take a fair amount of abuse from both people and the weather. The culprit with the weather seems to be the heating and cooling that takes place throughout the year. Eventually the glue starts to break down and the laminate comes off. The window sills are made from a plywood carcass covered with laminate countertop material. At the moment I have eight carcasses in my garage awaiting the installation of the laminate.

Seats are another ongoing problem. Even though the material used is heavy duty it gets a lot of heavy use, especially with the many trips run for children, such as the Polar Express and Thomas. They stand on the seats, jump up and down and spill things. The seats eventually start to look threadbare and worn out. The folks at the Medina Railroad Museum started a project to rearrange seat covers to get things color matched and get rid of as many of the worn covers as was possible.

In order to do that the WNYRHS is paying to have some new seat bottom covers made from an oversupply of seat backs that we have. One of the things we have to do is to remove some of the seat backs and bottoms that the Medina crew could not get off. It can be tricky and some-times they are just plain stubborn and need "convincing" to get off. We also salvaged some of the better seats from coach #2933 to aid in the process.

         So, while some of us were repairing windows, George Specht worked on door frames on the coaches and continued to install new step treads over the worn-out original vestibule steps to prevent passengers from slipping when wet.

"The Blue Flag" - 7/2016

by Rick Henn

         7/8/16 - July got off to a hot and humid start as George, Al, Brody, Adam and I spent nearly 12 hours (including travel) going to Olean to work on the parlor car. We got a lot done but not as much as I had hoped. Everyone worked hard and we didn't stop for 5 1/2 hours. The first thing, as seems to happen with the Car Department, was the generator would not start. Al and George tracked the problem to a disconnected wire so that delayed some of what we could do. Then the generator would cut out momentarily and then come back on line. They tracked that problem to a faulty oil sender and were able to make temporary repairs.
The railroad supplied us with two cases of drinking water and a hose run out from the engine house. Apparently over the years we have worked with the WNY&P we have made a good impression because they have a rule that no one can be on their property without a railroad escort. However, we were the only ones there yesterday.

Inside the car we removed all the seat backs and bottoms and set them aside. We removed the armrests and side panels from the seats to bring home for cleaning and painting. This project shows another example of how big railcars are. To remove the exterior side panels we had to removed the inside panel first to get at the nuts that hold the outside panel in place. We
then reinstalled the inside panels so they can be painted when the seat frames are painted. That all adds up to 58 armrests, 58 inside panels and 58 outside panels which takes a long time.

The biggest challenge was the old contact paper that had been installed below the luggage racks. We heated it with flameless heat guns and peeled it off but it was slow going. If you have ever removed contact paper you know the older is is the more brittle it becomes and comes off in small pieces. That was the part where we didn't get as much done as I had hoped. Maybe I was overly optimistic.

A couple of interesting things did pop up during the demolition. One was that we exposed the original "colonial blue" color that originally ran from the floor to the windows. We also exposed the original "rose" color that went from the windows up to the trim on the luggage rack.

There is much more to do so we will be scheduling future trips. For now I have left it with the railroad to decide if they want us to come back and finish the contact paper or if they would be willing to pay someone to do it. I told them the Car Dept. would cover the cost. The issue is timeliness. They want to roll the car into the shop, pull up the carpet, do the painting and then install the new carpet ASAP. So, if it's better for them to get it done before we can get back there.

7/11/16 - While the original demo work was going on an interior decorator donated her time to create a new color palette for the car. Since we were locked into a known color with the new carpet, that became the starting point for her work. Over a span of several weeks she and I picked out fabric for the seats and the draperies that will hang between the windows as well as colors for the walls, ceiling, seat frames, armrests and side seat panels. The new look won't be original but it will be a modern scheme with complimentary colors that will provide a beautiful rich look.

7/14/16 - I finally got a reply from Curbell, our polycarbonate supplier. The arrival of the new windows is probably 2 to 3 weeks away. They will be including the scraps so we might be able to use them to replace the windows in the doors at the ends of the cars if we get that far. I am still waiting to hear from the WNY&P about the remaining contact paper in the parlor car. The president said he had some guys that were interested in taking it down for a price. If that price is not too high I will let them.

7/15/16 - I got a price from the railroad to remove the rest of the contact paper. It'll be less than $150 so I said to do it. Our interior decorator took the material we chose for the seats and the seat covers we removed to an upholsterer to see how much that will cost. I spoke with Roy Wullich, who some of you know and some of you don't, and we will be applying for a grant to help with the costs of the renovation work. Also, we will do a save a seat or buy a seat campaign to try and raise additional funds.

7/16/16 - The new seat covers for the parlor car will cost $6,200.00.

7/25/16 - Here are where things stand with the parlor car: The design portion is complete. The fabrics, paint color, and dye color for the arm rests are all picked out. Still to be determined is what mural to use and how to replicate the mirrors. The spray die for the arm rests has been ordered so I took all the armrests and side panels home with me to wash and clean them to remove any dirt or oils before repainting them. 12 down and 46 to go and then onto the side panels. I submitted a grant application for nearly $8,500. Let's hope for at least a large chunk of that. I'm preparing a fund raiser for within the society to raise more money. The grand total for the project is almost $13,500 and that does not include fabrics for the drawing room furniture.

7/28/16 - I received an email from Kylie at the WNY&P that the new carpet for the parlor car had arrived. I also asked Tom to send a down payment to the upholstery firm so they can get started on the new seat covers. All 58 armrests are clean and ready for paint.

7/31/16 - We got a few small things checked off the to do list in Medina today. Brody and Adam repaired the sliding window that vandals had damaged while I did some repair work to some window sills and a seat back that was reluctant to go back into place. We did a quick walk through of the train making some minor repairs as we went and then went to lunch. A good day. When I got home it was back to spraying the arm rests.

"The Blue Flag" - 8/2016

by Rick Henn

8/2/16 - Just a quick update to let you know that the stripping of the contact paper is complete. It took 11 man hours by the WNY&P railroad and cost us less than $150.

8/5/16 - The WNYRHS is launching a fundraising campaign to help with the interior restoration of our former Pennsylvania Railroad Parlor Car - "Francis J. McGrath."  Click to view or print the flyer details. Just print and mail your donation to the Society at the address on the flyer. Or you can use the PayPal Donate button located below. Thank you for any support you can lend to this restoration effort.

8/6/16 - Just to let everyone know that the Tom E. Dailey Foundation has awarded us $4,000 to put toward the parlor car project.

8/7/16 - George, Adam, Bill and I went to Medina to get some items knocked off the "to-do" list. We finished installation of the new treads on the south side of the train. We repaired some window sills (Love Gorilla glue). We removed an unbroken vestibule window to use as a pattern for getting replacements for the broken ones. A few hours of work and a bunch of things got done, a good day. We are tentatively planning to be in Medina next Saturday, weather and schedules permitting, to replace a leaking hose on one of the generators. Hopefully the new windows will be in by then so if we can get a big enough crew together we can get more stuff done. Also, a heads-up, there is the real possibility that the lunch counter car in Lockport will be sold and that CSX might move it, even with the sealed roller bearings. If this comes to be, it means we will have to do a quick COT&S and take care of the damaged windows before the move. We will probably also have to look at the bearings and be sure they are properly lubricated.

8/16/16 - Here are the revised photos Geno Daily took of the mirrors that go in the parlor car. The next step will be to send them to the printer to see if he can use them to make decals for us. All of the armrests and all of the side panels, except the missing one, are painted. I will contact the railroad to see if they can look for it either in or around the car.

"The Blue Flag" - 9/2016

by Rick Henn

9/3/16 - George Specht, Cody Catlin, Brody George and I were back in Medina. First we went to the Railroad Museum to pick up the windows that were finally delivered and take them to the cars. George did some preliminary work on one of the generators, preparing for the big job sometime in the near future. Cody and Brody removed the small window the vandals had smashed and then we took turns working on it and got it reinstalled with polycarbonate on the outside so it won't happen again.

In case you didn't know, the local vandals discovered that one window still had glass on the outside and they literally destroyed it with rocks. They also broke four of the five vestibule door windows on the south side of the train. They were Plexiglas and not polycarbonate. I was told by our supplier that Plexiglas is approximately 10 times stronger than glass but polycarbonate is 100 times stronger. The Parlor Car is in the engine house in Olean, all of the seat frames and carpet have been removed and the painter is ready to start his work.

George and I removed the vestibule curtain from the end of car #2906, which is connected to a locomotive when we run and replaced the damaged curtain on #2941, which is connected to the table car. When the railroad separated the cars to shuffle them, the automatic release handle on the curtain on #2941 did not release, and the curtain was pulled all the way out with some force and the rewind mechanism broke. So now, the curtain just hangs in folds instead of being tight across the buffer plates. We have until the end of the month to get that and other work done before the weekends will be taken up with excursions. And soon, we will have to plan a trip back to Olean.

9/10/16 - Well, today did not quite go quite as planned. Art, Adam, Cody and I went to Medina with the intent of replacing more windows. Note that is plural. We did get one replaced but even that one still needs some work. The other window we tried to do was much worse. Twenty four of the thirty six screws that hold the window assembly together would not come out even using an impact driver. In fact, I drove the impact driver right through the head of one of them trying to get it out. UGH! Otherwise, the weather was nice and our late lunch was good.

9/18/16 - Today was a much more successful day than last Sunday. Art, Cody and I removed a window assembly from coach 2933 to replace the one that had so many screws that wouldn't come out. We used the frame that holds the window into the car body to replace the one that would not go back into another window. So, we fixed two problems with one window. We put the bad window back in 2933 so it is secure. Felt good!

Here are some other updates. Adam stuffed envelopes with the parlor car fund raiser fliers a few weeks ago and today I finished putting address labels on the small envelopes people can use to send in their donations. Just need to get together to put the little envelopes in the big ones, stamp them and get them in the mail.

I got a call from the guy on the WNY&P that is working on the parlor car. He is in the process of painting and should have it done in a week or so. We don't have a lot of time before the fall trips start so it would be great if we could get a big crew together for next weekend so we could be working on several things at once.

9/20/16 - The seat covers are ready for the parlor car.

9/22/16 - Today Art and I installed the missing (damaged) vestibule windows including new gaskets.

9/25/16 - Brody George, George Specht and I got a few things done today. George did the bulk of his work at home and came out today to install the finished product. He machined a new roller for the roll-out mechanism of the generator under 2941. This allows the generator to be rolled out from under the car for servicing. He assisted Brody and me to finish up replacing a window in one coach. We also did a variety of "little" things to get the cars ready for the fall excursion rush. One not so little thing was getting on the roof of 2915 to seal a leak. It's hard to do because you kind of have to guess where the leak is starting from. We'll know if we got it the next time it rains.

Since that time the cars were in service every weekend day in October so it won't surprise you to hear that not a lot was done. However, Art Toale and I were able to get out for a few hours on a couple of Thursdays to make some progress. We spent one day cleaning out the lounges that the museum staff will use for hot chocolate and cookies for the Polar Express trips. A lot of it was straightening things up and moving things to other locations in the train, such as the conductor's closets but we did get rid of some things that been around forever with no apparent purpose. During the month of November we hope to get more windows done on the cars in Medina as well as getting Olean to work on the parlor car.

9/28/16 - The fellow from the railroad that has been working on the parlor car found our missing side panel, we didn't remove it from the seat. He will remove it and set it aside for us. Art has offered to pick up the seat covers and deliver them to the railroad in Olean. They will store them until we get down there. The mailing for the fundraiser will go out today.

"The Blue Flag" - 10/2016

by Rick Henn

10/6/16 - Today, Art and I went to Olean to deliver the new seat covers. The ceiling of the parlor car has been repainted and looks great. It is bright and clean. The railroad sent the carpet out to a carpet installer who will cut the carpet lengthwise so it fits with nice straight cuts into the two sides and the aisle.
The carpet guy also thought he had brown rubber strips to use in place of the black ones along the edge of the aisle strip. It'll cost about $700 to have it cut. The railroad will pick up that cost. Once that is done, the seat frames will be re-installed and our crew will put the new seat covers on the parlor car cushions. We have had a great response to our "Save a Seat" campaign with approximately 20 of the 29 seats having received the $100 donation. We also got huge compliments on how the car rides, the person said it glides!

With 9 seats needing sponsors, help us reach the goal and get your name inscribed on the brass tag for one of these remaining seats. Just print the application and mail it with your check. Pennsylvania Railroad Parlor Car - "Francis J. McGrath." Or you can use the PayPal Donate button located below. Thank you for any support you can lend to this restoration effort.

10/18/16 - I just received an email from Carl Belke. The seats should be painted tomorrow and the carpet and seats installed next week. That should work out well for us to plan a weekend trip to Olean in November. We owe a big thank you to the Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad for there help and support of the interior restoration of the car.

10/27/16 - Art and I spend a couple of hours in the coaches in Medina today. My hope was to repair the sliding windows that have frame issues but the weather sort of precluded working outside. Instead we cleaned out the lounges and prepared the cars for Polar Express. As I said earlier after this weekend we have three weekends before Polar starts and I would like to get windows done as many windows as possible done in that time.

"The Blue Flag" - 11/2016

by Rick Henn

11/6/16 - It was a good day in Medina. Brody brought a couple of folks that needed some community service time and they worked with him to change out a window. Adam and I tried using a polycarbonate cleaner (the mildly abrasive paste stuff not a spray) to clean up the exterior of some of the windows and it worked pretty well. It gained us some time before they will have to be replaced. The one Brody and company worked on was too far gone. George came out to do the annual preventative maintenance on the generators. And we replaced a brake shoe, we got a lot done.

11/17/16 - Carl Belke called and informed us that all the seat bases are installed and ready for our crew. Here are the latest pictures of the work so far. Art, Mark and I are go for a road trip to Olean on December 1st to do seat covers, side panels and arm rests.

11/19/16 - Cody and I spent a couple of hours in Medina today. We finished the window installation that gave us so much trouble a week ago. Cody polished the outside of a couple of windows, which helped visibility but replacement will happen in the future. we repaired a couple of sliding window frames and called it a day when it started to rain.

Thanks to everyone that has responded so generously to the Parlor Car Restoration Fundraiser. I had truly expected a good response for this project but even I was happily surprised with the amount of interest people have shown. The money raised will allow us to complete some aspects of the job that had been put on hold so the restoration should be complete, hopefully by the end of the year. A LIFE member has tentatively offered to cover the entire cost of restoration of the drawing room, so a big thank you there.

"The Blue Flag" - 12/2016

by Rick Henn

12/1/16 - Art and I spent a long day between drive time and working on the parlor car. We took all the arm rests and side panels back and got most of them installed. The railroad will have to finish the job and do the seat covers since they need the car next weekend. Unfortunately this will not be a freebie from the railroad. We'll get charged for the number of hours the guy works. But, it has to be done. We measured again for the mural on the "back wall" and for the mirrors on the galley bulkhead. We also discussed painting the hallway by the drawing room and the drawing room itself. That will wait for warmer weather, it was a good day but a long one.

12/8/16 - The parlor car restoration project is nearing completion. The seats frames have been reinstalled, the newly painted armrests and side panels have been put on and the new seat covers were installed over the seat cushions. We still have to renovate the separate 5-seat drawing room and have the reproduction mirrors and large mural made. The interior looks exquisite!

I have noticed over the past reports that it has become increasingly difficult for me to come up with articles that are exciting to write and therefore I suspect, for you to read. After some thought I realized it was the fault of the fleet, of the coaches. No, they aren't out to get me but the problem is that they are big. That size results in a numbers game that the Car Department is constantly fighting to win. How many times have I talked about replacing windows. It has been a lot because there are a lot of windows. Each car has seven window sets that slide open and seven large double pained fixed windows. Multiply that by five coaches and add in the smaller windows and it is a lot of windows. The same holds true for window sills, window shades, seats (56 backs and bottoms per car) and seat covers.

Then there comes the every third year brake valve work in which all the valves have to be removed, sent for rebuilding at a certified shop, reinstalled and the brake systems tested. That means six valves on each car for a total of thirty and opening and inspecting the brake cylinders, four on each car for a total of twenty. When I try to put this into articles it is no wonder it comes out being repetitious, It is! However, without all this work, the cars do not run and if they do not run they do not earn money for the society. It's a big job and I have to give a lot of credit to the folks that make up the Car Department crews.

So, what makes this article exciting for me is that this time I can summarize about the success of the restoration of the interior of the parlor car. As most of you know the Francis McGrath has long been considered the queen of the fleet and is in somewhat elite company. It is the last known Pennsylvania Railroad Congressional parlor car still in its original configuration. Well, almost original configuration. Long before the society got it the galley was installed in place of the men's restroom and luggage racks and the ladies lounge was made into the only bathroom. However, it still retains its original 29 swivel chairs and a five person drawing room.

About a year ago the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad (WNYP), which has had use of the car for several years, approached us about doing an upgrade to the interior of the car. It was to be a collaborative project and it has come off "without a hitch". The intention was to make it a total interior modernization. That meant getting rid of the Amtrak purples and finding a new color scheme that would be appropriate for the car and in line with modern tastes.

I asked my wife, Judy, who used to be an interior decorator, if she would put together a color scheme. She graciously donated her time to do this. She has the ability to see the finished product in her mind while I am struggling to see how color A goes with color B. The starting point would be the carpet because the railroad found a remnant of Amtrak dark brown carpet at a very reasonable price. With that in place and an idea of where we wanted to go she put together a color scheme and did all the legwork to find fabric for the new seat covers and drapery panels as well as a new paint color for the walls and ceiling. It came together beautifully and the car presents a rich, sophisticated look as seen in the photos above.

Of course, all of this costs money. The Car Department allocated money and the WNYP provided labor and did some of the planning work to see what things would cost and what would be the best way to do them and also absorbed certain costs. I have to thank Chief Operating Officer and President Carl Belke, General Manager Kylie McLaughlin and Eric Bochman for their support in this project. The Thomas E. Dailey Foundation pro-vided a grant for $4,000.00 that went a long way toward making the project feasible in the early days. Many thanks to the board of the Thomas E. Dailey Foundation. Then the society did a fund raiser to "Save a Seat" and the response was overwhelming. I cannot thank enough the many people that donated. The fund-raiser brought in more than $6,000.00 and that will allow completion of the entire interior project.

What's in the future of the Francis McGrath. Well, in all honestly, that's hard to say. The ideal scenario would be to see it upgraded to meet Amtrak standards so it could be leased to organizations and used on trains like the one that was behind Nickel Plate 765. What's the problem? I'm sure you guessed that it's money. The cost would be over $100,000.00, most of that in the required truck work that would have to be done. Then there would be running Head End Power cables and other upgrades. In the meantime it will continue to run on the WNYP and perhaps other local railroads where it will, no doubt, impress a lot of people as it has done throughout it's career.

Since November 26th and 27th our passengers cars have been in revenue service carrying hundreds of young and old on the Medina Railroad Museum's "Polar Express" rides. Almost every train has been a sell out with snow on the ground to add to the excitement. Society member Geno Dailey was out with his camera on the December 18th trip and captured these beautiful pictures, thank you Geno! The Buffalo News was there on the 26th to capture some wonderful photos.

Wishing all of the you the Best of the Holiday Season and sharing your joy with Family and Friends!

This page was last updated: January 26th, 2023

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