Submitted by Rich Brinkley & DJ Depanicis
On Friday Tom and I with help from John removed the rest of the roof from the west half of the car along with the plywood siding as far as the door on the north side. This exposed the support beams. In addition to the expected rot a great deal of termite damage was uncovered. This will require the replacement of all but one of the vertical and diagonal support beams in this section of the car. The bottom sill beam has some damaged areas and will need some remediation, but we do not expect it to require replacement. The upper sill beam is in poor condition and 12 feet of it will require replacement.The biggest problem we have encountered is the removal of 100 + year old nuts. It becomes tiring cutting and prying them off. The next boxcar work day will be Friday March 8th
Volunteers Jerrad Bennet, Tyler Kester, Kaylee Bennett, and Kelly Lynch spent the early morning hours Saturday ensuring the preservation of one of our more unique pieces of rolling stock. Tarps were secured over the rolling post office to ensure it’s viability for preservation in the future.
This weekend saw the most new wood the caboose has seen up to date. I got to the shop around lunch time, so work began after lunch. Glenn began the day by fastening a string across the top to see where we needed to adjust to compensate for the bow caused by the rotted wood. After lunch, we cut the notches in the header to accommodate the tenons that were in the end beams and the wall beams. We were able to keep a few original boards in the wall under the cupola. Whatever waterproofing was done in that area worked, because much of that wood is still strong. Soon we were ready to hoist the beam into place. With the help of a few 358 guys, we had the beam set and in place in about 15 min.
Tyler and I stayed at the shop so we were able to keep working after dinner. We cut each wall beam to length with a few alterations to eliminate a slight sag in the header. Next, we moved on to framing the windows. We spent much of the time leveling and squaring the fames to ensure a good fit for the existing windows.
The next morning Saw Glenn, Tyler and myself fastening all of the new wood together. We also started attaching the “L” brackets that hold the diagonal beams in place. When you look at the picture, not all of them fit up against the vertical beams. This gap is left on purpose to accommodate the tension rods. Each new screw and new board is adding strength to the overall structure.
On the drive home, while getting blown all over the road, I was thinking about the next few big steps. With the new lumber and fasteners, the north wall is getting stronger. We need to begin focusing on the south side with preparation to get some new wood there as well. The best plan, I feel, is to work from the bottom up, just as we did on the north wall. Once that bottom beam is in place and secured, we can begin to prep wall lumber. Before we replace the header, I feel that the next step is to begin to remove the roof west of the cupola. Once this is done we can evaluate rafters, and hopefully find a good one to make a pattern off of.
I will not be a the shop for a few weeks but if someone is in need of something to do, they can begin work on the south wall. The grey interior vertical wall boards can be removed as well as the bench and table. Keep in mind, that with the removal of more material, the car may need to be braced and supported as needed.
Let me know if you have any questions or concerns!
Protecting our NKP RPO from the elements will help potential future restoration efforts.
With both main beams replaced the patching of old wood and installation of new wood progresses on the Wabash Caboose