Restoration Reports 2005
May 2005: Work has progressed on St. Nicholas Mountain. Most of the car has now been sealed from the elements. Last winter has not been kind to the already bad roof edge of St. Nicholas Mountain. More rust spots were discovered or had broken open. It was therefore decided to seal this area right away. A roofing product was found to seal the rusted-through areas until more permanent repairs (replacement of sections of sheet metal) can be made. It has become clear that almost 75% of the lower section of the roof will have to be replaced eventually.
Further, the second folding step was made to operate so now the car is easily accessible from both sides. The Gyralite housing was opened up to replace the closure bolt. After this was done the door was closed and caulked eliminating one important area where water was being admitted into the interior.
The old patch repair that was sealed in October had opened up again. The area was again filled and sealed and should now hold better. All windows that needed it were sealed and cracks were duct-taped. Work has progressed nicely on patch-painting rusted areas on the car body. For the upcoming move "Do not hump or kick" warnings were stenciled on.
The interior paneling at the smaller hole in the side was removed to inspect the area. It turns out that the former window opening in that area was enlarged vertically sparing the posts. This means that the area will be fairly straightforward to repair, needing only the horizontal members (like for instance the window sill) and the short vertical post under the middle of the window.
September 2005: September marked another work session on St. Nicholas Mountain. It also marked a visit to the car by Amtrak inspector Steve Zuiderveen who gave St. Nicholas Mountain a general looking over. Steve confirmed that St. Nicholas Mountain's only serious problems are indeed the holes in the side, but that these are fixable. Other common passenger car problems like rusted through collision posts, side sills and side sheets were not found. The side sill underneath the large patch has indeed sagged a bit but this is expected to come out during the rebuilding of the side. This sag makes the car look twisted but this has been checked and found not to be the case. Steve also indicated how to go about fixing the side and the amount of engineering required for it.
Work has continued in the meantime. The hole in the roof was addressed by taking out the old air-conditioning duct and covering the remaining hole with a piece of galvanized sheet metal sealed with roofing caulk. This should keep water out until permanent repairs can be made. While on the roof the antenna was temporarily fastened where needed.
Work on the sides has also continued. All rust spots and flaked off paint areas have now been sanded and repainted, creating a 'nice' patchy look on the car. The duct tape applied in May over the cracked windows turned out to be of bad quality as most of it had already peeled off. This was all replaced with better quality clear duct tape which should hold quite a while longer.
The makeshift grab irons on the skirting at the round end were replaced with the original stainless steel grab irons.
Inside the car the last part of the restaurant ceiling was removed and turned into a pile of wood. The only part saved was the original backlit St. Nicholas Mountain sign. Removal of the ceiling revealed the top part of the original bulkhead separating the lounge room and the bar room. During the conversion workers had just torched through the bulkhead. It remains to be seen if the remaining part can still be used or that the entire bulkhead will have to be rebuilt.
Efforts to gain access to the water damaged areas at the smaller patch in the side revealed that the wainscoting underneath the windows is still the original Red Birch Formica! The fake leather material that the restaurant used was glued straight onto these panels. It appears that it will be possible to reuse the original wainscoting as the fake leather peels right off and the glue underneath releases reasonably well.
It was already apparent that the windows around the patches had at one time been removed and reinstalled. What was not readily apparent before was that they were reattached with only a few screws. More screws, stainless steel ones this time, were added to more securely fasten the windows and to make them more water tight.
St. Nicholas Mountain also received its first original part. Donated by Eric Hopp an original Adlake coat hook was mounted at its original location on the wall of the former car attendant's roomette. More parts to follow...
Finally a small workbench was constructed at the vestibule end, a fire extinguisher mounted and a first aid kit hung.
This concludes more or less Phase I of the restoration process. St. Nicholas Mountain is now ready for the bigger repairs. Next year will be all about windows...
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