Rockhill Furnace Restoration Projects: 2003 Year in Review
Nine regular sessions were held in 2003 by the FEBT Rockhill Restoration Crew. A number of members performed work in their home workshops, in support of FEBT's efforts.
The FEBT set several records for participation during the year. The second Rockhill work session, May 3 and 4, had 23 volunteers on Sunday, breaking all 2002 records. The session of September 27-28 had 25 volunteers on both days, making them the largest sessions ever.
Overall, 57 volunteers contributed 2642.25 work hours. This far more than doubled the mark of 1182 hours established in 2002. The work accomplished this year covered a wide range of endeavors.
The glass crew salvaged donated windows to create properly sized panes for the restoration effort. All cleaned glass is now properly protected in wooden crates fabricated by an FEBT member. The crew ended the year by completing their self-assigned goal of salvaging and cutting to size over 500 panes of glass this season for the shop repairs. Since panes of this size sell for over $3 each, this represents an enormous contribution to FEBT's repair efforts.
Machine Shops Interior
In between leading shop tours, an FEBT member initiated a thorough cleanup in the Machine Shop. This job, which will continue into 2004, is focused on the cleaning of machines, tools and the shops interior.
Coach No. 8
A crew performed work on Coach No. 8, which included the installation of new window sills fabricated over the winter and also extensive repairs on the roof. The work FEBT did to this 121 year old car has largely ended the leakage during rain storms, which had begun to endanger the fine woodwork of the interior.
Car Shop/Windows and Doors
The entire north side of the building was power washed, scraped and sanded. The wall and doors were then primed and painted and repaired windows were installed in the doors, completing the north side. The windows on the east side that were begun last year were completed and work was started on the windows repaired in the original FEBT work sessions of the early 1980s. This work will continue in 2004.
A crew started repairs in the area of the double door of the main shops. The work included righting a large tank leaning against the wall, jacking a portion of the wall, repairing and reinstalling several sashes and putting a new lintel over the main door. This work will continue in 2004.
An EBT employee led the process of replacing some badly damaged floor in the Machine Shop under a pair of leaking skylights. The old flooring was removed, new supporting timbers were laid, and the new floor was reinstalled.
A highly detailed documentation job was completed and then the collapsing ceiling, roof and fixtures were removed. The crew then installed new window sash, custom tapered rafters, roof boards, soffit and roofing. Siding repairs were also done and the new wood was painted. The repairs at the main door dovetailed nicely with additional roof repairs and the installation of the remaining soffits on the Generator Room.
Repairs to this building turned out to be much more complex than originally anticipated. Excavation around the shed finally revealed the extreme state of deterioration in the underpinnings of the front building. (This Section Shed is actually two structures loosely held together by some battens!) A pair of temporary braces were fabricated and installed to take the weight of the roof off the failing side sheathing. The siding was then removed and numbered for reinstallation. Then the old floor was removed and the usable timber salvaged from the underframe. Concrete-block footers were placed at a proper level, and a new underframe for the front shed was fabricated. The bottom layer of old flooring was relaid and then studs were installed to support the roof. The roof was then lowered into place, resulting in a level roof line for the first time in many years. The temporary braces were then removed and the lumber was salvaged for reuse. The two halves of the shed were then leveled and fastened together permanently. The shed was straightened to stand vertical and the walls and doors were reinstalled with the original material. The crew installed a new window and applied a first coat of EBT building red, completing the planned work on this building for the season. Roof and chimney repairs will be done in 2004.
At the request of the EBT General Manager, FEBT began the work for the year by repairing a portion of the main shops roof where winter snow caused some corrugated roofing to fall off. Based on this experience of working on the roof, roofing ladders were designed and fabricated to facilitate future roof work, and a load of corrugated iron roofing formerly used on the Mt. Union engine house was brought on site.
Approximately 600 feet of track were returned to service, extending from the Meadow Street crossing to the south switch. This work involved installing over 200 new ties supplied by EBT. The switch was also returned to service with the help of Rockhill Trolley Museum crews. The track was back in service for the Fall Spectacular and was used by the railroad for end-of-the-season switching. This is one of the largest projects FEBT undertook and represents the first time in many years that derelict EBT trackage has been returned to service.
FEBT work crew thoroughly documented the structure and the extent of decay, and then recruited a local retired mason to perform repairs. Several special trips were made to bring properly sized brick from a source located in Ohio and also secured the remaining masonry supplies needed. Meanwhile a carpenter crew completed temporary repairs to the Boiler House roof. This involved attaching extensions to the solid portion of the rafters to replace rotted sections at the eaves, and then applying new sheathing and roofing asphalt. Patches were installed over holes higher on the roof, and anti-bird screens were reinstalled. Other volunteers cleaned up the rubble inside the building so that repairs to the masonry wall could continue. As the work progressed, the rubble from the cracked boiler casing was removed and the brickwork was jacked up to allow masonry repairs to be done. The season ended with pouring a new concrete sill for the side door, which is now functional. In one season, the Boiler House has gone from probable imminent collapse to a solid foundation on which FEBT can continue repairs next year.
This small but prominent building displays a diverse range of architectural styles, to put it politely. (The east side is drop siding, the north is sheathed in slab clapboard, the west side is board and batten, and the south end is batten over tarpaper!) Tongue-and-groove reproduction siding was created in an FEBT member's home shop to allow FEBT to fabricate a replacement for the damaged door, and reproductions of the drop siding and slab siding were milled locally to FEBT's specifications. The sagging northwest corner was jacked up and a new foundation sill and floor were installed. Window, siding and batten repairs were performed all around the structure and it was primed and painted. Additional window sash work and roof repairs will complete the job in 2004.
At FEBT's final session, several teams prepared work plans and materials estimates for a variety of projects for the coming year, including track repairs, repairs to several of the operating cars, drainage improvements, roofing work, structural repairs to buildings, and more.
As EBT owner Joe Kovalchick remarked one Saturday during an inspection of FEBT's work crews, "We follow what you are doing here and we greatly appreciate it. No one knows exactly what the future holds for the EBT, but you are doing everything you can to save it. Thank you very much."
Rockhill Restoration Coordinator