Back Home Where They Belong - EBT #18 and #29
Can FEBT "bring 18 and 29 home"? (May 2002)
By R. Lee Rainey and Robert R. Farquharson
Directors, Friends of the East Broad Top
We have a unique opportunity to bring two complete East Broad Top Railroad passenger cars home to our favorite railroad. Near the end of EBT common-carrier operations, passenger-baggage combine no. 18 and baggage-mail car no. 29 were sold for tourist service. For the last several decades these cars have resided in Fort Lupton, Colorado. Now they are due to be sold at auction on July 20, 2002.
Though suffering from many years of exposure to the elements, both cars are complete with trucks and ironwork. Combine no. 18 even has its interior seats. While these cars require significant work, it appears quite practical to recondition them for service on the EBT.
At its April 6 meeting, the FEBT board of directors agreed to pursue the acquisition and return of these cars. We have obtained estimates for moving the cars to Pennsylvania and have an agreement in principle with the East Broad Top Railroad for outdoor storage at Rockhill Furnace.
The auction rules are simple. To buy a car, we must have cash in hand when we bid on July 20. To qualify as a bidder, we must have the financial ability to remove what we buy from the site within six weeks of purchase. This is an auction, and money talks.
No one can predict the going auction price for complete narrow-gauge passenger cars. We do know it will take approximately $30,000 to move both cars back to Pennsylvania and to protect them from the elements. Our board of directors can temporarily adjust some timelines for work on the current projects in our restoration program to provide part of the funds needed to bid on the cars now in Colorado, but we cannot cover the complete cost. Nor can we divert funds FEBT members have already donated to us for work on combine no. 16, our buildings in Robertsdale, or other restoration and development work. We need your help. The only way to bring these cars home to the EBT is to approach this auction with as large a war chest as possible.
Your directors believe strongly in this project. We ask you and other FEBT members for the generous support we must have to add this project to those already addressed in our current fund-raising campaign. Pledges are welcome, but funds must be on hand before the July 20 auction. If FEBT cannot successfully purchase at least one of the Colorado EBT cars, all donations to "bring 18 and 29 home" will be applied toward the restoration of combine no. 16 (unless your donation is accompanied by a written request that it be returned to you).
Please send your contributions for this initiative to FEBT restoration fund treasurer Nancy E. Jacqmin at the following address:
Friends of the East Broad Top
Restoration Fund Treasurer
513 Shady Avenue, No. 12
Pittsburgh PA 15206-4447
Mark your check (or indicate on the return envelope) that your donation is to be used to "bring 18 and 29 home." Note that contributions to support our effort to acquire these EBT passenger cars will be treated as part of our current fund-raising campaign. Thus each donor who contributes a donation of $50.00 or more will receive one of our art reproductions of Ted Rose's Mount Union Train.
Combine no. 18
As EBT historian Lee Rainey observes, the early history of EBT passenger cars is murky. Combine no. 18 may have been constructed by the railroad in 1876-which would make it the oldest EBT passenger car still in existence. Like the other passenger cars that spent any length of time on the EBT, no. 18 appears to have been rebuilt by the railroad at least once. For example, Lee suggests that between 1908 and 1916 the car's earlier radial roof was replaced by the clerestory roof it now exhibits.
Combine no. 18 is similar to combines nos. 16 and 17, although at 35' 2" long (excluding end platforms) it is about a foot shorter and slightly narrower. Unlike the other two similar combines, EBT no. 18 features poling pockets at the corners of its car body.
Baggage-express no. 29
In contrast to combine no. 18, the provenance of baggage-express car no. 29 is much clearer: It was among the second-hand passenger equipment the EBT purchased in 1916 from the Au Sable & Northwestern Railroad when that railroad converted to standard gauge. (In the same year the EBT acquired more passenger cars from the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad; today these cars comprise the bulk of the passenger equipment still on the railroad.) No. 29 is 36' 2" long (excluding end platforms) and features board-and-batten style side sheathing. It was used in work-train service during its final years on the EBT.
We need your continued support (June 2002)
In the month since we announced our intent to find the funds needed to bid on one or both of these unique pieces of the EBT's heritage, we have received over $10,500 provided by 67 donors to "bring 18 and 29 home." (In the same period we have also received over $3,750 from 51 other donors to support our general restoration program.) If your contribution was among the 118 donations we received since early May or among the several hundred previous donations we received since we launched our fund-raising campaign last August, please accept my thanks for the important support you have provided to Friends of the East Broad Top.
However, the funds we now have on hand are not yet enough to support a realistic effort to acquire one or both of the EBT passenger cars in Colorado and to continue our progress on the other projects now incorporated in our restoration program. If you have not already contributed to our current fund-raising campaign, we need your financial support now to "bring 18 & 29 home." We will also welcome additional contributions if you have already given a donation to our ongoing fund-raising campaign. Since the resources in our hands before July 20 will determine how seriously we will participate in the auction of EBT 18 & 29, we do not have much more time. And, unfortunately, I cannot now state a dollar amount that will assure our success. We simply cannot know until the actual sale what each former EBT passenger car will cost the winning bidder.
On the other hand, we do know that the additional expenditures required to transport and store one or both cars now in Colorado will not be cheap. The most recent estimate for transporting one of these cars from Fort Lupton to Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania, is $6,500. (The East Broad Top Railroad has agreed in principle to provide space on an outdoor yard track if we successfully acquire EBT 18 or 29-or both.) Since one end platform was removed from each car for the trip to its present location, we expect to incur immediate costs of at least $1,000 per car to repair the missing end platform-and its coupler-so the car can be moved once it is at Rockhill Furnace. Recent information indicates that the two cars are in extremely fragile condition. This not only complicates transportation, it also reinforces our need to come up with a realistic plan for storing any passenger cars we move to the EBT under shelter. We are now exploring with the EBT a proposal to erect a FEBT storage building on railroad property that could accommodate any cars we successfully purchase in July-as well as passenger-baggage car no. 16 (which we already hold under 99-year lease). At this stage we do not have any firm estimate for the cost of such a building, but it could easily exceed $15,000.
The decision by your directors to request your support for the effort to "bring 18 & 29 home" was not made lightly. We are well aware of the financial demands of our other current restoration projects: our rehabilitation of the railroad depot and old post office buildings in Robertsdale, the reproduction trucks needed to restore combine no. 16 to operating condition, our assessment of the Saltillo station building, and the new work we are undertaking this year at Rockhill Furnace. But we believe this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Bringing 18 or 29-or both historic passenger cars-back to the EBT is a challenge our mission to preserve and restore the East Broad Top Railroad does not permit us to ignore. Combine no. 18 is probably the oldest surviving piece of EBT rolling stock. Baggage car no. 29 is the sole surviving example of its type of EBT passenger equipment. Since we do not wish to jeopardize our ability to move forward on our other projects, we must rely on you and other FEBT members to provide the additional funding necessary for us to bid on the two EBT passenger cars in Colorado.
All directors of Friends of the East Broad Top are encouraged by the response we have so far obtained to support our attempt to bid in the July auction. We continue to explore possible strategies to find additional funds for this endeavor. For example, we may be able to borrow temporarily from contingency funds held in our Life Member Account or negotiate short-term loans from interested lenders. But as a practical matter, the donations we receive between now and July 20 will decide what we can accomplish.
And that's where you come in. Only you-and other FEBT members like you-can provide the actual cash in hand we will need not only to bid on 18 & 29, but also to transport any cars we successfully acquire to Pennsylvania, to make any immediate repairs required, and to assure secure storage at the East Broad Top Railroad. The other directors of Friends of the East Broad Top join me in urging you to commit your resources to this project. Only with your active participation and financial support can we proceed.
Once more, please accept our thanks if you have previously contributed to our fund-raising campaign or if you have already mailed us your donation to "bring 18 and 29 home." If you have not previously decided whether to assist us, I again ask you to send us your contribution now.
Auction Results (July 2002)
FEBT was successful in their bids to purchase both cars. We thank those of you who have made donations for your support. However the fight to save these relics is far from over. We are now attacking the daunting tasks of moving the cars back to Rockhill in one piece, within 30 days of the auction. This is an expensive and complex process and it remains important as ever to continue to raise funds for the cars. In addition, immediate repairs and bracing to make the cars movable and the cost of transportation itself, as well as the protection of the cars once they arrive in Rockhill Furnace and their eventual restoration into narrow gauge showpieces still lies ahead. I continue to encourage you to share what you can with the Friends to assist us in this project.
Moving the Cars to Pennsylvania (August 2002)
Photos by Kevin Strong
Prior to beginning the actual physical move, it was necessary to brace and reinforce the two fragile cars, so that the rigors of the move did not damage them. FEBT members Kevin Strong and Don Dissinger, who reside in the Denver area, assisted a crew of professional railcar movers from Venezia Enterprises, Inc. to prepare the fragile cars for the journey back to Pennsylvania.
Venezia Enterprises, Inc, one of the best railcar movers in the business, was chosen to perform the move. They were hightly recommended, having done work for the Strasburg Railroad, The Durango and Siverton and the Smithsonian. Because of the fragile nature of the cars, their transport was not cheap. At present the "Bring 18 and 29 Home" campaign is about $10,000 short of covering the anticipated cost of acquisition and moving. Those funds have been borrowed from other accounts but need to be recovered. Additionally, we will need to begin gathering funds for the restoration of these two cars and construction of a building in which to perform the work. The EBT is providing temporary storage over this winter, but to protect their own equipment this can only be a temporary situation. We need your continued support to return these artifacts to service on the nation's oldest narrow gauge railroad.
Arriving in Pennsylvania (August 2002)
(exerpts from the
September 2002 Newsletter)
photos by Bil Adams
On September 5, East Broad Top Railroad baggage-passenger combine no. 18 and baggage-express car no. 29 returned to the East Broad Top Railroad. In July Friends of the East Broad Top purchased the two cars at the auction of the assets of the Sundown and Southern Railroad in Fort Lupton, Colorado. Transportation of the two historic wood passenger cars was handled by Venezia Enterprises, Inc.
Concerned about the deteriorated condition of the two EBT cars, we engaged Michael J. Venezia to inspect the two passenger cars the week before the auction. Only after Mike's assessment did our directors agree to attempt to purchase one or both cars. As reported in the last FEBT Newsletter, FEBT director Robert R. Farquharson acted as our agent at the Colorado auction, and we successfully purchased both cars. On August 30, Mike Venezia flew to Colorado, and the next day he, with three associates and help from two FEBT members, started five days of tedious work to prepare the two fragile nineteenth-century wood passenger cars for their trip to Pennsylvania. The preparation and loading of combine no. 18 proceeded relatively smoothly, but the awkward position of no. 29 at the site forced Mike to rent a crane at the last minute to lift this car onto its trailer. (Mike had hoped to avoid using a crane entirely, since he was afraid the EBT cars could easily fall apart if lifted.) After all this, only an uneventful drive along I-70 to Pennsylvania and the EBT remained.
The East Broad Top Railroad has agreed to provide temporary storage space for our two "new" passenger cars inside the car shop building at Rockhill Furnace. We are now exploring for long-term storage and restoration facilities.
The total expended so far on this project is $52,300, which includes our purchase of the two cars and our payment to Venezia Enterprises for their transportation. Of this amount, $42,300 came from donations received during the first year of our fund-raising campaign, while the remaining $10,000 was temporarily borrowed from our reserve account. Unreimbursed expenses incurred by FEBT officers and staff volunteers and $750 in materials and labor contributed by the East Broad Top Railroad are not included in this total.
Additional Photos can be found at Bill Adams' website.
In storage (June 2003)
The cars have been stored inside the EBT car shop since arriving at the EBT. They are still covered up and will remain so until their restoration begins. They are on their own trucks, but have been propped up where there is damage to the trucks or bolsters. No date for beginning restoration has been set as the FEBT's other restoration projects must currently take priority.
However, Linn Modenger of the Strasburg Railroad has evaluated #18 and #29 to determine what work will be needed and what the order of restoration should be. As expected, they will need extensive work and will tie up a lot of resources while being restored. Thus restoration work has not begun yet.