McKeen Restoration Update
The McKeen car restoration continues albeit slowly. Fortunately visitors comment on how far it has come since their previous inspection. This gives us hope.
Developments with the car that are of note include the discovery of a car number in the correct place and correct magnitude to cause us to think the car number (i.e. the serial number) might be 77. Page 78 of the McKeen study indicates that the builder's number is 70. Physical research has not confirmed this and it is understood that there is some debate regarding this issue.
Re-examination of some of the drawings are now beginning to make sense in light of what we are learning, however the one we want is always the one that has the smudged detail or ambiguous reference. As an example, restoration specialist Lee Hobold has been spending a great deal of time trying to decipher the construction details of the engine room woodwork. Examination of the existing components and their location in the engine room has caused some confusion. Examination of the McKeen drawings prior to any work leads to additional confusion. But after the reconstruction is completed the drawings make perfect sense, even though the design doesn't. It would appear that the carpenters in the McKeen plant didn't have a clear idea how everything was going to go together, and added bits of wood until McKeen was satisfied that enough work had been performed. Then they quit. Anyway, Lee is doing a great job in the nose of the car.
Restoration Specialist Rick Stiver has picked up the rear truck project and has completed the truck bolster, spring plank, springs, and sundry. Leaf spring set were take from the rear truck of the car purchased from Wisconsin for this project. They were too wide so Rick unbanded them, cut them to width, and rebanded them. Rich endured the pain of attempting to make sense of the McKeen drawings of a rear truck, and has interpreted them nicely. In his quest for an appropriate finish he has driven the shop crew to distraction with the incessant hammering required to distress the weldments, thereby giving the appearance of a casting.
Restoration Specialist Jeremy Harding has focused on the baggage section. Given the small amount of information available, he has executed a good deal of interpretation of the way it most probably appeared. It is a wretched color, but McKeen didn't seem to have a very good fashion sense. The doors are in the works and soon the baggage section will be finished.
We have acquired a shop volunteer, Bev Smith. He comes in every day of the week, and works a full shift. He has been working on foundry patters for McKeen components, notably, the ceiling register and the driving centers for the power truck. He also edge laminated the baggage and engine room doors. He typically moves so rapidly that he appears to be standing still.
The castings for the window frames were picked up and most of the machining is done. They are soon to go out for power coating, a faux brass finish.
We determined a color for the under frame and sent a paint chip out to be matched. When it came back it was a perfect match to the new paint. It was causally noticed that the paint chip appeared slightly different than when it went out. Close examination revealed that the paint store had painted the chip, thereby allowing for a perfect match. This was excellent work on their part.
Update: September 9th, 2003
The restoration shop staff is proud to announce that the McKeen car will
be completed by 2010, the 100 year anniversary of construction. But seriously, the
progress is moving forward in small steps as the work becomes smaller and finer
Currently Lee Hobold, Restoration Specialist, is fitting molding to the inside of the car. It would appear that Mr. McKeen ' s workers put molding in without careful consideration. Moreover, as the work done prior to molding had flaws, as was the McKeen standard, much of the molding was ingeniously fitted to cover these flaws.
Lee Hobold has completed the salons, both front and rear. When we received the car, we found only footprints of the walls. There are some drawings showing details of the salons and a concept of standard practice. From these Lee constructed what is believed to be an accurate representation of what would have been there. We call this interpretation. Needless to say, the work is excellent.
We know there were hoppers in the salons or why would they be salons? Rick Stiver, Restoration Specialist, fabricated two hoppers in steel. The design is taken from a McKeen drawing. Following completion they were powdered coated in a porcelain white. Bev Smith, Restoration Shop Volunteer, milled two seats in ash for them. They (the hoppers, not Rick and Bev) await installation.
The wheel center pattern was sent out and two cast iron centers returned. They are out to bid for the machining. Following machining tires will be ordered. Milt Nielson, Restoration Shop Volunteer, has been working diligently on the design of the drive system for the front truck. He has arrived at an elegant design of a hydrostatic system. See the Sagebrush Headlight issue 86, Fall 2003 edition for further details regarding this. We shall commence construction this winter.
A seat design has been selected. We have followed the recommendation of former NSRM historian Kyle Wyatt lo these many years ago and gone with a fixed seat design lifted from a McKeen drawing. It would have been more fun to have walk-overs but inaccurate. Patterns, left and right are being made. The bezels for the lamps are back from the foundry, as are the final window parts. Both await machining.
We project a 92-95% completion by July 1, 2004 and will hit it, if nothing ugly rears its cavernous jaws.
Chris DeWitt, Restoration Shop Supervisor
September 9, 2003
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Edited, Sunday, September 7th, 2003