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(Located in Western Pa.)



In early 1942, the Pennsylvania Railroad started construction of 200 new Cabin Cars and classed them N5c. They were of steel construction and featured a Streamlined Cupola on its roof and Port Hole Windows on the body sides and ends. The car was also built with heavy Crash Beams on both ends to ensure the safety of the crew in case of accidents. The N5c served the PRR well for 28 years. Then later the N5c's saw service with Penn Central and then many went on to survive into Conrail years. The Beaver Valley Jct Chapter, later renamed The Beaver Lawrence Railroad Historical Society, came into ownership of Conrail N5c 23111 in the mid 1990's. History shows that this car was originally PRR 477974. Photo evidence shows the 477974 saw service during the 1950's on the North Central Region. Photos of 477974 in PRR service can be found in Pennsy Steam Years Vol. 1 and the PRR Passenger and Freight Car Color Guide Vol. 3.

The BVJC/BLRHS, recently started work to restore the 477974 back to PRR likeness. The society voted to finish the car in the as delivered (1942) appearence. This webpage will follow the progress of this restoration. Below are prelim photos and the start of the work. Please keep checking in to see how the N5c is coming along.

  • Photo 1
  • Photo 2
  • Photo 3
  • Photo 4
  • Photo 5

    The above photos show the N5c prior to the start of restoration. After moving the car into the shop and inspecting it's condition, one can see that many items needed attention. Plans are to remove the Welded Plates that cover the Port Hole Windows and restore these back to PRR looks. As you can see PC and CR made many modifications. We have obtained 4 original PRR Cabin Car Steps to replace the late era PRR steps that were applied circa 1965. Here is a photo of the PRR Step test fitted.

  • PRR Step

    Plans are made to also back date the end platform railings to the normal configuration and the addition to a full ladder and roof walks. No Train Phone Antenna on this restored N5c as records show the 477974 did not have this feature. As you can see, the Cupola windows will need lots of restoration also. Major work on the rusted body sides is on the agenda too. The removal and instalation of many rivits and new steel sheeting should do wonders.


  • Photo 6
  • Photo 7

    These 2 photos show the first of the restoration process. The removal of the Steel Kick Plate that was welded in place on the end platform in later years. Now that this has been removed the relocation of the railings can be done.


  • Photo 8
  • Photo 9
  • Photo 10
  • Photo 11

    Saturday's Sept 14 2002 work session resulted in a bit more investigative work. Photo 8 shows an original cupola end window opening. This had been plated over with aluminum sheeting with a smaller window installed. When the time comes, framing and new glazing will be installed in all four openings. Photo 9 shows one of the porthole windows located at the end. The steel plating that was welded over has been cut away and the resulting opening now awaits final cleanup for eventual restoration. Only 7 more to cut open!!! Photo 10 shows the opening of a side window that had a newer aluminum frame aplied at one time. That frame has now been removed. In Photo 11 we see the very beginings of side sheeting removal. Aprox 220+ rivits need removed prior to the installation of new steel plating. Years of rust has taken its toll. Here we see several that have been removed and several more in the process.


  • Photo 12

    Oct. 12 work session involved the removal of about 50 rivits. Only 180+ more to go! This was acomplished by burning off the heads and pounding out the remaining shaft with a modified B&O Hammer (Back Out Hammer). This needs to be done for when the new steel sheeting is applied at a later date. Care must be taken here due to the wood construction behind the steel plated sides.

    Oct 19th work session continued with the removal of 50+ more rivits. We have this routine down pretty good. No problems encountered. The removal of 1 piece of end railing for eventual relocation also took place.


  • Photo 13
  • Photo 14

    Nov. 2nd we had a rather short work day. But, we were able to get some work done on the plated over port hole window we opened up earler. Using several styles of grinding wheels the opening is now nearing completion. A little more time is needed with a sanding disc to finalize the opening for eventual intallation of the window frames, glass and rubber gasket. For now, Photo 14 shows the inside window ring ready for glass. For now wood is installed to keep the elements of weather out. This part will be anchored shortly



  • Photo 15

    Photo 15 shows what was done on the end railings. All railing that was needed removed has been. Parts await cleanup, reconstruction and remounting in the original "as built" positions.

    Nov. 23: Completed the removal of Rivits on bottom side sheeting

    Dec 7: Finished the job of burning and removing remaining rivits on the end railings. Clean up with a grinder will have these ready in no time for restoration of original railing mounting locations. This day also found us restoring the porthole window we were working on earlier. We set out to actually replicate the riviting but couldn't get the heated rivits to flare over as planned. So we Brazed them in place. The results were good.

    Thursday Dec. 26: We took measuments of a port hole window opening and purchased a piece of Laminated Safety Glass. We placed this in the opening and tapped a piece of Rubber Gasket in place to see if everything would work for us when we actually install the glass permanantly. Looks Good! Now with all the experimentation complete, we can open all remaining welded over window openings and get them ready for restoration..

    Jan. and Feb. work sessions resulted in the remaining windows being cut open. The N5c is now starting to show a bit more signs of it's PRR heritage.

  • Photo 16

  • Photo 17

  • Photo 18

  • Photo 19

  • Photo 20

  • Photo 21

  • Photo 22

    While work on the outside is continuing, another small crew is giving the interior a quick inspection. We thought the major work involved the outside, not the case. Much restoration needs to take place on the inside as well, mainly the replacment of the floor and it's underlying problems. This section of photos will document this job.

  • Interior Photo 1

  • Interior Photo 2

  • Interior Photo 3

  • Interior Photo 4

  • Interior Photo 5

  • Interior Photo 6

  • Interior Photo 7

  • Interior Photo 8

  • Interior Photo 9

    May-June 2003 Work Sessions

    This period of time finds our work on the removal of the rusted out bottom side steel. We had removed the rivits in previous months. To get a clean straight line a straight edge was anchored to the side and a circular saw with steel cutting blade was used to cut the long horizontal cut. Then a cutting torch was used to make short vertical cuts. The end result was a nice clean cut. Now we need to repeat this process on the other side. Eventually it will be rather easy to attach new plate steel. That will be done in the future as we now need to build up the interrior rotted walls. Nothing easy as this restoration goes along.

  • Horizontal Cut

  • Vertical Cut

  • Vertical Cut

  • Resulting Work


    November and December 2003

    After several months of taking a break on the restoration and tending to other chapter equipment, we are now back, hard at work, on the N5c Cabin job. We went right back where we left off by cutting off the bottom of the 2nd side where rust had done its damage. After several saturdays we had it removed.

    The following saturday found us looking over the floor. That too is rusted and weak. Our original plans called for cutting out the bad spots and welding patches here and there. The more we investigated, the more rot we found. We made the decision to go all out and remove the entire floor. To do this, many more rivets needed torched and plate steel cut as well. We ended up removing the floor from the outside main angle to the main center sills. At this time we have nearly one side removed. It is unbelievable what years of water can do to Steel. The bottom of all locker walls are rotted away as well. That too needs to be looked into when the time comes to put everything back together. We have plans on this but it just takes time to get to it. In the mean time, work to remove the rest of the rotted steel floor continues. Now that parts of the floor is gone, one can see better how an N5c was put together. Amazing how many rivets! Here are some pics, with more to follow.

  • Steel Floor Removal Work

  • Steel Floor Removal Work

  • Steel Floor Removal Work

  • Steel Floor Removal Work

  • Steel Floor Removal Work

  • Steel Floor Removal Work

  • Steel Floor Removal Work

  • Steel Floor Removal Work

    Late 2003, early 2004 work seesions found us still dealing with the floor removal. Just so much can be done in winter months when the tempature reaches 10 degrees and dealing with bitter winds that just won't quit. Having a restored PRR N8 on hand to get warm in helps keep ones toes and fingers limber! After consulting with the car shop owner where our N5c is located on what else needs done prior to reassembly, we found that more prep work was needed before the new floor and sides were installed. At this point, early April, we are nearing the completion of that prep work. Several more weeks of clean up and then we can sand blast the underframe. Then our plans are to give the underframe steel a coat of epoxy primer. Once that is applied the steel sub-floor can be fit into place. So that is where we stand at this point in the restoration. More updates in the months ahead.

    After several weekends of sandblasting we were able to start applying the Primer to the underbody, pipes and appliances such as the Air Tank, Triple Valve and Cylinder. Many more hours of brush painting remains.

  • Cleaned Triple Valve

  • Triple Valve Primed

  • Cleaned Air Tank

  • Air Tank Primed

  • Sandblasted Center Sill

    The recent work sessions of May and June found us continuing to sand blast the remaining underframe. It is now mid June 2004 and we are nearing completion of this job. Just a little more Epoxy Primer to be applied in several areas. Once this is done we can start the under frame finish color of Freight Car Color. We are having a special mix made of this color. Here is a test shot of this color.

  • Freight Car Color Test This color was test applied to a portion of the car body just to see what it looked like in the sun. After drying, the color met with our satifaction. This is the color that will be applied to the underframe as well as the body of the cabin when that time comes.
  • Underframe Freight Car Color

  • Underframe Freight Car Color

  • Underframe Freight Car Color

  • Underframe Freight Car Color


         Late September 2004..... Work on the N5c is once again under way. After several months of vacations, festival's, etc. the "974" was again pulled into the ISS shops. Today was the first day for a new set of hands to get dirty. Well, actually 2 new sets of hands were seen active. Chapter member Nora stopped by to give support and a little "push". The reason some work was able to be started today is Matt Hill assigned us one of his workers to help on the heavy steel work, which included the handling of 4'×10' steel sheeting. We were able to get 2 floor pieces sized and notched for corner fitting. Those 2 pieces are now leaning against the N5c so we can apply some Epoxy Primer the next time we have a work session. Four more floor pieces will need sized and cut as well and Primer applied to those before actual postioning and welding into place. Matts's employee (Rich) will try to tackle some other prelim work during the upcoming week. He will then have our help again when it comes to the other steel sheet floor work. So, maybe in 3-4 weeks the new steel floor will finally be in place. While we have Rich's help we plan on getting the new steel sides sized, cut, holes punched and primed. Rich is experienced in all kinds of welding and has the know how to use all the machines in the shop. This is exactly what we needed to move forward on the restoration. We put in about 4 hours of work today and afterwards had to actually push the N5c, by hand, into the shop a bit further to clear the overhead doors. Seems their fork truck was tiedup with other shop work. Thank Goodness for Roller Bearings!!!. All for now....

    This next work session was fairly quick. We spent 3 hours cutting two more pieces of the floor steel and the application of a coat of epoxy primer to the underside of these pieces. Next up will be coat of FCC on the underside of the floor pieces prior to final installation. Then the sizing, cutting of the last two center pieces of the steel floor sheeting. With this work planned is completed, a nice new steel floor to replace the once wet, rotted rusted floor will be in place.....

  • Freight Car Color on Steel Floor

  • Freight Car Color on Steel Floor

    As you can now see we have applied both the Pitt Guard Epoxy Primer and our special PPG Freight Car Color mix to the underside of the steel floor sheeting. After this was done we were able to fit the 4 corner pieces in place the following weekend. At that time we also measured and cut the 2 center pieces to fit. They are now installed as well and are at this time being welded into place. Soon this step of the restoration will finally be completed.

    October and November 2004:

    These 2 months found us accomplishing the major steel work on the sub floor. All 6 pieces are now welded in place. The resulting work has given us a sturdy base to work with. To anchor these floor pieces to the end walls we welded steel angle where they meet. Here is a crew member afixing these in place and the final look.

  • Welding End Angle to Floo/End Wall

  • End Angle

    Next up is the reconstruction of the four main upright posts that support the entire center of the caboose and cupola. These 4 posts were rusted away at the point where they attatched to the rotted steel floor. We have cut short sections of new pipe and bases that will be welded to the remaining posts material and floor. Once in this will once again tie evrything together back to the way it was originally.

  • New Post Flange

  • New Post Flange

  • New Post Flange

    Next up is the repair work on the locker walls. The bottom of the walls were rusted to the point where they no longer had any strength at their anchor point with the steel floor. We had cut away the bad sections months ago and now our plan is to use 1/8th inch steel plate to repair this. We have 16 pieces sized and cut for 8 locker walls. We will sandwich each locker wall bottom, aproximately 10 inches high or so, with 2 pieces of this steel plate. Each plate will have a 1 inch, 90 degree angle bent into them to act as a foot when it is welded to the steel floor. This is the job we are working on now. Photos of this and some previous work will be posted shortly.

    When we had a batch of Epoxy Primer mixed up we went ahead and gave the steps a coat. These sure look better then what they looked like when we first acquired them:

  • Primed Step

    Mid November found our N5c making a breif appearance on TV. KDKA Channel 2 out of Pittsburgh stopped in for a visit. Dave Crawley, host of "KD Country" and his camera man shot footage and took notes for airing. The episode viewed on Friday November 19th.

    All wrapped up for the coming winter months work sessions.

  • N5c Ready For Winter

    We are now nearing March of 2005 and work continues welding in place the new portions of the lower locker walls. Just one more wall to be adjusted to the proper position and a few passes with the welding stick will anchor it in place. Our shop worker assigned to help out with the welding has been ill lately and this non-work was slowing us down a bit. I have learned enough that I am now able to weld to keep us going until our regular welder returns.

    We have also been finishing up little jobs started earlier. The Triple Valve and Brake Cylinder are now bolted back in place on the underside on the new floor. We are also at this time welding the end walls to the angles that were attached to the ends of the floor earlier. With the help of a bottle jack we were able to push the end wall back into the proper place and weld a bead along the inside seam. When this little step is finished on all 4 corners, the body will be more rigid. Once we wrap up with these steps, we can concentrate on prelimanary subfloor work then on to the mounting of the new sides. Photos will be posted soon of these most recent accomplishments.

    With most of the work mentioned above finished or nearing completion, the warmer weather is dictating our next steps in the N5c restoration. Up next is some prelimanry sub floor work. It is our plans that the floor be constructed of several layers. Originally the PRR built the floor using a 3/16" steel base, then they attached steel runners to accept the final layer of Oak. We will be rebuilding the floor in a slightly different way. We already have the 3/16" steel floor in place. We will now work on attaching 3/4" runners made of Plywood. On top of this we will lay the entire interior surface with 3/4" plywood sheeting. This will be finished off with a layer of 3/4" oak planks. All of this is done in steps. First up is to apply Epoxy Primer around the perimeter of the floor. The warmer tempature is needed for this to properly cure. We will then anchor the outside perimeter of the floor with the plywood runners. That is as far as we will go on that step. When we reach that point it will be time to attach the lower side steel sheets. These 6 sheets of steel have been purchased, cut and jogged and are ready for test fitting. Once we are satisfied with the fit, the marking of the rivet holes will be done and then those aproximately 200 holes will be punched. This step is fast approching so we need to get that epoxy applied and runners mounted. More later.........

    It is now mid April 2005 and we have come to the point we have been looking forward to. We have been able to test fit the new steel sides on one side of the car.

  • Test Fit

  • Test Fit

    As you can see, the new side portions were nearly a perfect fit. The "jog" placed on the top edge fit neatly behind the present body sheet. This is where a weld bead will connect the pieces together. On the bottom edge of the sheet we marked for the locations of nearly 110 holes. These holes will match those found in the side sill. This is were it will be anchored by rivets. We then removed the 3 sheets of steel and set up a drill press and started the drilling procedure. After using 3 sizes of drill bits to work our way up to the size hole needed to accept the rivets, this job was done.

  • Drilling Holes

    This is where we stand now. We have to anchor some wood runners around the perimeter of the floor prior to installing the new side pieces.

    After applying a little more epoxy primer around the perimeter of the floor we then anchored the wood runners that our first layer of the subfloor will attach to.

  • Wood Runner to Corner

  • Wood Runner on Floor Edge

    Well, May 10th 2005 ended up being the day the work crew has been waiting for to arrive. After many many months of demolition, prelimanary work and even more prep work, something really positive occured. This was the day that the new side sheetings started to be applied. With the help of the shop where the cabin car is located, all the needed tools and machinery was brought into position. This included the Welder, Huck Machine for applying "Rivets" and Reamers for sizing the holes. After a quick lesson on "Hucking" with the shop boss, we were on our own. After an hour or so and about 100 Rivets later the west side of the cabin car had a new lower portion applied. Larger rivets now need to be applied in specific areas but this will only take several minutes to complete. Up next is the east side. We will have to duplicate the fitting, drilling and riveting just as we did on the west side. Hopefully within several more weeks, the hucking will be finished resulting in a more complete looking cabin car.

  • New West Side Steel

  • New West Side Steel

  • New West Side Steel (with coat of paint for rust protection)

    On May 18th and 19th a total of 32 man hours were spent on the N5c. These days found us repeating the new side steel sheeting application on the east sde that we had done previously on the west side. Aagin, once we had the 3 new sections test fitted, marked for rivets and all the drilling finished, the tools needed to attach the pieces to the cabin car were once again gathered and positioned. Within a short period of time we had the second new side installed. But this side sheet metal work is still not completely finished. We now await the application of a bead of weld where the new sheeting contacts the original remaining exterior wall. We also have to install the lower corners. These pieces have been cut and formed to match the contour of the exsisting pieces.

    For now and to protect from rusting, a coat of red paint has been applied to the new side steel pieces. Evetually this will all be sand blasted off when preping for the final finish coat of Freight Car Color.

  • New East Side Steel

  • New East Side Steel (with coat of paint for rust protection)

    Now that the sides are all hucked on the bottom sill, one of our next steps to complete is the addition of the lower corners. The originals were rusted away like many other parts. We had a local company called Armour, cut and form 4 new lower corner pieces that could be installed in place. We had one test fitted and drilled then had it temporarily installed using bolts. Eventually the bolts will be removed and anchored for real using Huck Rivets. It is also a must that the side handrails be mounted at the same time as well. We mounted one in an afternoon and worked on all 3 other corners during a second day. Once all 4 are mounted we wil have the top seam welded and ground smooth and end up with what we ope is a seamless corner.

    Here is one pic with more to follow once we progress a little more.

  • New Lower Corner Work

    Our recent work sessions has shifted to some interior developments. Because the sides/walls are not in perfect shape and before we can weld the new lower steel sides to the original steel siding, we need to make sure we have a relatively straight and bump free seam and overall smooth wave free side. To accomplish this a combination of steel angle lengths and 2"×4" wood studs are being installed to the interior walls. The metal angles are fixing most of the problems and the wood studs will act as part of the wall interior just like seen in house framing. Wood sheeting will later cover all of this interior wall to replicate the way it was finished originally.

  • Interior Wall/Side Bracing

  • Interior Wall/Side Bracing

    Seen above are the angles and wood studs installed on the interior of the wall. One can see the original and new steel. The wood at the bottom of the wall is a "runner" that the sub floor and later the hard wood floor will mount to. This area is basicaly complete, for now. Later foam insulation will be installed between the studs and then new wall sheeting can be applied. Now we need to repeat this three more times in the other side areas.

    Now that the work to the sides is nearing completion, we turned our attention to another segment of the restoration, the Ladders. During the N5c's days of service under Conrail, the ladders were removed so crew members could no longer climb to the roof. I guess an FRA safety issue. We needed to reinstall what was removed. This included the top two ladder rungs and the uper half of the rightside upright angle. We acquired a section of 2×2×1/4 steel angle and duplicates of the ladder rungs. The company that supplied those duplicated the orignal rungs quite well. After fabricating and mounting a bracket to the roof edge which will evetually anchor the ladder in place, we test fit all the parts until we got what we were after. For now all parts are attached with nut/bolt assemblies and a weld seam. Later this will become more secure with the use of rivets. Most of the holes seen in the collision posts and other angles not needed for the eventaul mounting of the end railings are also being filled at this time. Soon the ends will look pretty much how they were origianlly built.

  • Fabrication of Ladder

  • Fabrication of Ladder

    Up next is the ladder on the oppisite end. Sure enough, we run into problems. Stay tuned to see........

    Sept 3 2005. Well, we took a look at the ladder situation on the opposite end. If we duplicated our effort that was achomplished on the first ladder, we would have ended up with a ladder that had quite a "kink" in it as it reached to the roof. Evidently in past years of operation, the Brake Stand may have been used as an anchor point for winching or whatever. The result was that we had a brake stand that was out of plum, leaning towards the outer edge of the porch. This also pushed the ladder out of plum. So if we attached the upper part of the ladder as we did on the first end, a far from perfect ladder would result. So we had to decide our next move. We could either remove all the rivets that anchor the brake stand to the porch and place a wedge on the outer bottom, forcing the top of the brake stand in to a more plum position and re-rivet everything back together. Thats a lot of work! Or we could do what we did, use a torch and cut a wedge in both "legs" of the brake stand and use a come-a-long to yank it back into the plum position. The two photos below show the resulting cuts.

  • Brake Stand Foot

  • Brake Stand Foot

    Once the stand is in the corrected position, the cuts will be welded together and ground flat, resulting in a smooth finish. After this is finished we can then continue with the reconstruction of the ladder. That is our next work session.

          Today we nearly finished the remounting of the north end of the railings and ladder reconstruction. At least it is all to the point where we can finish the temporary buildup with bolts holding everything together. Sooner or later everything will get "Hucked" for permanent assembly. If we would have had the welder today we would have gotten the north end assembly to the same point as the south end. Here are the latest pics. Note the semi-completed ladder and railings on the southend and on the northend, the railings are in place but the ladder needs a bit more work.

  • South End Railings & Ladder ready for Hucking

  • North End Railing & Ladder

  • North End Railing & Ladder

              We need to heat and bend 2 ladder rungs to meet with the other short portion on the north end. That is probably the next work session.

    On a side note, we located and purchased an original PRR Caboose Stove and will eventually restore and place in the N5c. That means we can now remove the oil burning stove and associated fuel tank and lines presently installed to make room for the PRR coal stove. A little bit of cleaning up and black heat resistant paint will do wonders for this relic needed to help back-date the N5c to the late 1940's time frame we are shooting for.

    PRR Cabin Car Stove

    PRR Cabin Car Stove

    PRR Cabin Car Stove

    PRR Cabin Car Stove

    November 2006 found us back on the new sides that we previously riveted in place. With the help of shop owner Matt Hill, he supplied us with a gasless mig welder that operates on 110 volts. With this welder we were able to spend the day preparing the horizontal and vertical seams of the old and new steel. Mid afternoon we completed one side. Not bad for us novice welders. With some clean up and a possible second bead of weld laid and even more grinding, this side should be completed.

    Side Welding

    Side Weld

    ******* Latest Updates, 2014 *******

    Time warp to 2014. Hello, I'm back on this blog of the 477974. After a hiatus of several years, restoration is back in full swing. Circumstances beyond anyone's control kept the N5c from moving forward with its rebirth. Many things have taken place since 2006, the last time I reported. Most notably the N5c had been forced to relocate, by truck, to a display track in West Pittsburg, Pa. On the grounds of the Beaver-Lawrence Railroad Historical Society. Yeah, we are the same group as the BVJC, but we went through a name change. The cabin move occurred a few years ago. Luckily we already had most of the heavy steel work completed when it sat at the rail car shops in Mahoningtown, a few miles north of the present location. Much work has already been done while at its present location. Most of the car's body work is now complete. Current work is restoration of the underside of the deck overhangs. Rust along the edges have been ground away and the sheet metal repaired. It is hopeful that the 477974 will be wearing it's new paint job before summer is over. Once that is done, work on the cupola windows and roof can take place. Below is a sampling of what work has been finished over the last several years. More updates on a timely manner will be posted on a regular basis.

    West Side

    North End

    Northeast Corner

    East Side

    Don Grinding Upper Corner

    Primed Upper Corner

    East Side

    East Side

    West Side

    East Side

    Brake Stand Cleaned

    Brake Wheel Primed

    Clark Cleaning Rivets

    South End

    West Side

    East Side

    West Side

    East Side

    North End

    South End

    Trust Plate Mounted, East Side

    June 2nd work continued repairing the underside of the roof overhang above the porches. All the bad areas were cleaned of rust, debris and paint last fall. Recently coats of putty were applied to fill in the rough spots. Some light grinding and sanding followed by spot putty smoothed out the problem areas. Then a coat a primer was applied to protect until painting.

    Roof Overhang

    Roof Overhang

    Finished overhang

    Finished Overhang

    June 9th saw most of the work inside. The repaneling of interior walls continues. Here are a few photos documenting that.



    Interior Interior




    June 16th, work continued on the interior wall paneling and touch ups on the exterior surface in preparation for the final Freight Car Color that will soon to be applied. We also had a visit from a local metal fabrication shop owner who stopped by to take measurements for two new doors we want to install, complete with porthole windows. In the meantime I brought a door latch set home to clean and prepare for installing in one of the new doors.

    Restored Door Handle/Latch

    June 21, 2014. Wow, can't believe after nearly 12 years of restoration work, well, off and on restoration work, on our PRR N5c, the final color coat is being applied. Today we had all the materials on hand and the weather cooperated. 2 part epoxy paint from PPG, with color made to order was applied to the bottom sides, steps and end sills. Next week we will attack the upper sides, ends and all the railings. Second coat may be needed, not sure yet. This finish cures to a very hard shell and should last for years. Maybe in a few weeks the yellow safety color can be applied as well. Very satisfied with the color. Just wished the roof and cupola work was already finished. We also have two new doors being constructed. Once those are finished at the shop and installed, all signs of Conrail Blue will then be gone for good.

    First Coat of FCC

    June 26. More time was spent applying the first coat of FCC on the rest of the N5c. Both sides above the belt line and the ends below the belt line received the paint today as well as all the rivet lines on the porches. This step will make it easier to apply the paint to the flat surfaces on the next work session. Here are some pics as of June 26, 2014.

    Clark painting the end details

    East Side

    Rolling the West Side

    1st Coat Applied on West Side

    Had to do it. Was kinda anxious so I applied a coat of white on the west side railings. After that had dried I applied a coat of yellow. Starting to look like what we have in mind for the finished N5c.


    June 30th we stopped by the shop who we contacted earlier about making the new doors for the cabin car. The fabrication of them look great. Steel doors with reinforced areas for mounting the hardware have been welded into place, the area where the porthole windows mount have been cut in and everything looks great. They will rivet that window in place and place the outer skin on soon. They will mount the hinges so all we will need to do is mount the doors when we are ready.

    Door Construction, Interior Side

    Door Construction, Exterior Side, minus the Skin

    We also achieved more exterior painting on the N5c. Both the 1st coat of FCC and some more safety yellow. A few more panels went up on the inside as well.

    Clark on the South End Porch

    North End

    West Side

    The week of July 7th saw two work sessions. The first day was spent on the interior. Two more wall panel sections were installed. The first finished the end wall and the second finished the lavatory wall.

    Rege Applying Adhesive

    A few days later we went back and finished applying the yellow trim on the handrails.

    Porch Railing

    North East Side

    South East Side

    South West Side

    North West Side

    The weeks of July 7th and 14th work involved more interior paneling.

    Table Mount, Wall Side

    Lav Wall and Vent

    Bunk Interior

    July 16th the new doors were picked up from the shop where they were being built. They are Heavy! All the major work was done on the doors there at the shop. Now we need to finish them. Spot putty will fill in the fabricating process marks, sanded, primed and painted. Reuse of the hardware and new hinges will finish the doors. Then comes the mounting.

    New Door

    July 21st we started to paint the two new doors we had made. Coating them with a couple coats of primer before hanging and eventual painting. As the primer was drying I went ahead and installed the refurbished lav vent back into the west side of the cabin.

    Primed Door #1

    Primed Door #2

    Lav Screen Vent

    July 25th we had a short work session at the station. Grass cutting and cabin car door priming. In between primer coats I temporarily taped some letters to the side of the 974 just to see what it will look like someday. Those are just quick handrawn paper letters close to the style lettering the N5c will have. Can you tell we are getting anxious to get to that step in the restoration? I'm sure the couple of train crews that passed by finally have a clue now what this will look like when finished.

    Sneak Peek

    Monday July 28 the work session resulted in no photos. I forgot to take some. Hinges were installed on the new doors, so they are getting close to be installed on the cabin car. On another front, we did some exploratory investigation on the cupola window situation. We know there is a lot of work up there. Today we looked closely at one of the large angled corner windows on the side. Basically found out how they were constructed. Actually made it easier to figure out how replacements can be built. There is an interior window frame made out of some sort of brittle cast metal. It cracked into four pieces taking it out. But, it can be used to get a new one built up. Sandwiched between that will be glass and an exterior frame that will be seen on the outside. Now we just have to remove that and the plate steel that is currently sealing the window opening. That is our game plan for the next work day. Pics to be posted then.

    July 31st we added an extra work day on the cabin car. This day we concentrated on installing one of the new doors. Several months ago most of the spot welds that held the door hinges to the frame were cut through. That left only two holding door in place. After several minutes with the grinder, those last two welds were cut through and the door was free. We cleaned up the frame so we could test fit the new door. Near perfect. After 72 years the N5c isn't very square anymore, but the doors fit in nicely. These doors weigh about 120 pounds so it was fun trying to hold it in place while marking for the new hinges. But after several long minutes, we accomplished hanging the door. It still needs the door latch installed and given its new coat of FCC paint. Maybe in a week or two we can install the north end door as well.

    Door Removed

    Door Frame

    Door Installed

    Door Installed

    August 4ths work session included some painting. The exterior of the door that was mounted several days ago got its first coat of Freight Car Color. Also, the second door, which has yet to be mounted, the two brake wheels, piping for the backup whistles, triple valve and airtank received a coat of FCC. Except for the two thresholds, the basic body shell, below the roof line, has now received their first coat of color.

    Painted Door

    South End

    South End

    That leaves us only the north end door showing any remnants of old Conrail Blue. It will soon be removed as well.

    North End

    August 11 and 12 the doors seen the most work again. The already mounted south door received the previously restored door latch mechanism and we now have a working entry. The north door was next. The final two spot welds holding the hinges in place were ground off and the door was off. That ended the era of the Conrail Blue paint that was hiding this PRR gem. Once off the door frame was cleaned up with the grinder and sander. The door was installed, all hardware attached and then we waited for a welder to arrive. We made arrangements earlier so he could do some needed work. He placed beads of weld to permanently secure the hinges to the doorframe. He welded in some steel so we can secure the door with a lock. He also filled in a couple of small holes with weld. It started out as a rainy morning but turned out great, both weather wise and cabin car wise.

    Rainy Morning

    Welding Hinges

    North Door

    North End

    August 18th we took a break on the cabin car work. But during the day I received an email from a local company I contacted about helping with the lettering that will be applied at a later date. First proof attempt looks pretty good. Possibly some minor corrections prior to having them cutting the stencils for us.

    First Proof of Lettering

    August 25th work session involved finishing up some minor work on the doors and a bit of roof work. Rege got on top and did a little preparation work for a small amount of putty application. Just a few minor depressions in the roof sheeting needed filled and leveled. Next week a little more work prior to some sealing we want to get done before another winter hits. Here are a few pics from this day.

    Rege on Roof

    Rege on Roof

    Roof Work

    Roof Work

    Sept 2nd a little more cleaning off of old paint around both door frames was accomplished. Primed and ready for a coat of epoxy FCC. The two recently painted brake wheels were also reinstalled. Yeah, we know they are of different design. Evidently sometime in the cabin car's life, one was swapped out. A casual search will someday find us a match for an original wheel. Its the more fancier one.

    Brake Wheel, North End

    Brake Wheel, South End

    September 8th work session included some roof work and grab iron repair work. First the grab iron. At one point in the history of the 477974, it appears one end sill grab iron was used as a winching or towing point. The result was a very deformed grab. Couldn't leave it like that so we tried to reform it with a torch and sledge. It actually didn't take long and the result turned out OK. Next week I will clean it up a bit and have it primed until its final coat of FCC is applied. It will fit right in.

    Bent Grab

    Straightened Grab

    The roof work included some sanding of some body putty that was applied last week. After it was smooth it was lightly primed. Next week several small areas will be fiberglassed to strengthen some overlapping steel seams above the porch decks. A high quality caulking material was also applied to several seams and along the porch drip edges.



    Drip Edge

    Drip Edge

    The last few work days included some additional painting, mainly giving a second coat of FCC to the 974. Both deck under structure members, end railings, door sills and door frame have now been painted for the last time. At some point the wooden deck boards will be installed.

    Porch Support

    Door Sill

    Door Sill

    Recently I received a UPS delivery. I had worked with several individuals to help get some lettering needed to eventually apply to the cabin car. Thanks goes out the John Frantz for supplying the files for the letters and numbers, and thanks goes to Mastro Signs for turning those drawings into stencils. They look great. Now to put the to good use! Here are the stencils and a test shot of the PRR that will go above the doors.


    Stencil Test

    The most recent work session was Sept 22nd. The cabin car's bottom half, below the belt rail was scrubbed down of any dirt and grime that had settled on it since the first coat of FCC was applied. Once dry another batch of epoxy FCC was applied. The car body ends and other areas all got their second coat of paint. This leads us to the next work session. In a few days we will be lettering the N5c. That was our goal for 2014. So, if all goes well, updated photos of the lettered N5c will be posted soon.

    Scrubbing the N5c

    Ready for Lettering

    Sept 24th was an added work day. It was time to start lettering the cabin car. The second coat of FCC that was applied several days ago had cured so we proceeded to apply the stencils. We gathered all the tools and equipment needed, made measurements on the car body so everything could be laid out as even, up and down and centered side to side as could be. Six hours later we had one road name applied, one small PRR above the north end door and both right hand corner build dates/N5c sprayed. Just tiny amounts of bleed under on certain areas of the stencils due to rivet heads. Will go back and hand touch up those areas later. We were pleased with the results. Next work session we will try and finish at least one side by adding the car number, assignment region and the two white lines. Here are today's photos.

    Build Date Stencil

    Build Date

    Road Name Stencil

    Road Name

    Build Date, west side

    North End Door PRR

    Sept 29th and 30th work continued on finishing the lettering and stripes on the east side of the N5c and the start of the lettering on the west side.

    Number and Region Stencil

    Road Number Region

    Closeup Lettering

    East Side, Finished

    PRR, South Door

    Westside Stencil

    Westside Roadname/Number

    The next work session should bring us to the end of the lettering, for now. Small stencils still need to be found to add some lettering under the build date and car class.

    October 6th work session consisted of a little more roof patch work, cleaning up the inside of the N5c and finishing all the lettering. I located the appropriate small stencils needed for the RPKD and COT&S info. Luckily the rain held off just long enough to get the stencils applied and the paint sprayed. With all the lettering now out of the way we plan on working on the wood decks and installing some windows in the weeks to come. Here are photos of the finished 477974's lettering.

    East Side, the morning of Oct 6th, prior to finishing the lettering

    Completed East Side

    Completed East Side

    West Side Region and Stripes Stencils

    Completed West Side

    The 477974 and CSX

    October 13th not too much heavy stuff this day. Rege was on the roof doing some more minor patching. I touched up the yellow paint on the hand rails. The previous day we acquired an original and unused PRR slanted H Chimney for eventual installation. Thanks goes out to Pat McKinney for donating this to the historical society. Just not sure when we can get it installed. We also received delivery of the 1 3/4 inch thick oak lumber for the porch decks. Hopefully we can get them installed before too long as well. It all takes time. Several photos of today's progress.

    Rege Patching

    Slanted H Chimney

    Porch Deck Tongue and Groove Planks

    October 27th was the most recent work day. Another porthole window was installed. One of the previously removed "rings" was cleaned of old debris, sanded smooth and painted months ago what will eventually be the interior buff color on one side and car body color on the other. Once the window opening was readied the newly restored porthole window assembly was anchored in place with nuts/bolts and the proper rubber gasket that we had located years ago. That completes the south end windows on the N5c. Next work session we will try and get a few anchored in place on the east side.

    Over a three day period this past week, painting on the roof also occurred. Reasons for this is because the primer that was applied several years ago was causing chalky streaks to appear on the now finished car body. We realize there is a lot of roof work and cupola window work yet to be started. That work will come at a later date. For now the black paint on the roof makes everything kinda "look" better.

    Restored Porthole Window

    Installed Porthole Window

    Black Roof

    Black Roof

    November 3rd was our most recent work day. Our goal this day was to install the four east side porthole windows. Four newly refurbished window assemblies were brought to the site along with the bolts, washers, nuts and gasket material needed to mount them. After scrubbing down the side to clean it, two wooden covers were removed from the window openings. These were installed to help keep the weather out, and purposely made to look like windows. Once those were off the restored window frames were placed into the opening from the inside and while the gasket material was placed into its groove, everything was secured with the nut/bolt assemblies. They appear to be well sealed. We continued on installing the other two southern end side windows. Next work session we plan on installing the west side port hole windows.

    East Side Prior To Window Installation

    Removed Wooden Window Covers

    Rege Cleaning Window

    Closeup of Installed Windows

    Completed East Side Window Installation

    November 10th was another very nice day weatherwise here in western Pa. Mid 60 temps allowed us to install four port hole windows on the west side of the cabin. That leaves us only two more to go. Those will go in the north end. Hopefully we can squeeze them in before the weather turns cold.

    Completed West Side Windows

    Closeup of Northwest Side Windows

    Closeup of Southwest Side Windows

    November 17th was the first wintery work day of the fall. When we arrived in the morning the snow was still falling from the anticipated night time prediction. The N5c looked cold. But it was a nice photo opportunity. Since it was too cold to work outside on installing more windows, we went inside and installed a few of the interior window trim rings. Pretty much straight forward. The sheet metal rings slip over the previously mounted window frames and are screwed in place. We managed to install three today. We already had one mounted, so of the twelve needed, eight more need installed.

    N5c and Snow

    An East Side Interior Window Trim

    A West Side Interior Window Trim

    November 24th and December 1st saw a little work on the inside of the N5c. Mostly experimenting with the removal of several coats of paint on the walls. Just trying to figure out the easiest way to do this. I started with an orbital sander and 40 grit sandpaper. It does remove paint but it is a slow process. We probably don't have to get the paint entirely removed, just sanded smooth so we can apply the appropriate primer and interior buff color later. While sanding one end above a window, evidence of the old PENN CENTRAL number appeared. I thought we got rid of all signs of PC and CR months ago! Oh well, it will be hidden forever soon. The surface came out fairly smooth and a few areas needed spot putty applied. I continued over to a side wall and removed a little more paint and again applied spot putty where needed.

    Today's weather started out near 40 degrees and dropped throughout the afternoon. A portable propane heater fired up keeps the N5c nice and toasty during these winter work sessions.

    Old Penn Central Road Number

    Side Wall

    Side Wall

    Propane Heat!!!

    Interior work continued over the past few Mondays. Finding out the fastest way to remove the old paint is by using a sanding disc with 36 grit pad. Still time consuming but we have all winter to do this. Nearly all the paint was removed from the outer end locker wall, holes filled with steel putty, sanded smooth and then spot puttied. Will finish that wall on the next work session. Paint from the curved masonite ceiling panels was started as well. Half of one of 4 panels was completed, the other half will be finished on the next session as well.

    Locker Wall

    Locker Wall

    Ceiling Panel

    Ceiling Panel

    Christmas Cabin!

    December 22nd saw continued work on the curved ceiling panel and outer locker wall. The remaining gray/green paint was entirely removed from this ceiling section. Small areas of damage need repaired prior to primer being applied. Finished sanding the steel outer locker wall as well. I also removed aluminum strips that covers the seams of the hard board ceiling/wall panels. I brought these home to prepare for primer and reinstallation.

    Cleaned Ceiling Panel

    Prepared Outer Locker Wall

    December 29th's work session ends another year of work on the N5c. Today work was fairly light stuff. I installed two recently cleaned aluminum strips that cover seams in the hardwood wall paneling. Need to finish installing a handful of screws to permanently attach. I also mixed up several batches of body putty to repair some damaged areas on those walls. First work session of 2015 will see final sanding to this area prior to applying primer.

    Aluminum Strips Attached

    Lower Strip

    Upper Strip

    Lower Strip and Table Mount

    Putty Filled Holes

    The past two Monday work sessions continued to be concentrated on repairing walls. Bondo here, spot putty there. Getting close to prime one area soon. Yesterdays work session included a little experiment. The PRR work force in Altoona back in 1942 included the carpentry trade. In the corners walls and ceilings of the N5c the carpenters trimmed out the seams with quarter round. To get the trim to form the curvature of this seam, they had to cut "slices" into the trim board. This would help the board bend. With a little practice on some scrap trim we duplicated this technique, more or less. Once we had the notches cut we then soaked the wood to allow it do curve more easily. If we didn't do this I am sure we would have heard a crack. Next time we go back to the N5c we will soak this trim piece a little more to get the near 100 degree curve needed to fit the seams.

    Quarter Round Trim, notched

    Quarter Round Trim, slight bend

    Quarter Round Trim, near full curve

    After a few months off due to a snowy period here in western Pa., the 2015 restoration season is once again back on. March 9th was the first time I had a chance to stop in at the N5c since early January. Basically a look see to see what the next few months of work will include. Still going to concentrate on the interior. Last work sessions were removing paint from one of the end sides and its curved ceiling panel. The opposite side is up next. Once again peeling and chipping paint on the curved ceiling panel, the repair of damaged areas and the steel partition where the stove will sit needs stripped of paint too. And while we are down at the end of the cabin, may as well do the door frame and continue on the end wall. Not much to show today except for what the areas look like currently. Maybe in a few months this area will all be repaired and primed.

    Steel Partition




    Door Frame

    March 16th's work session continued with the cleaning of the south end interior door frame. After paint removal and grinding off imperfections some putty was used to fill in the cutting wheel scars that occurred when the old door hinge was cut away. Next week this area will be sanded smooth and readied for primer.

    Door Frame Cleaned

    Door Frame Putty

    Door Frame Closeup

    After the door frame work was done I went back and placed another coat of putty on the ceiling corner where I started to repair a rather large hole during last weeks session. I'm pretty sure it will be enough in the cavity now to sand smooth during next weeks work session.

    Ceiling Corner Repair

    March 23rds work session was a rather short one. I spent two hours removing the last of the old paint from the south end door frame. To get to several of the rivet heads the grab iron needed to be removed. Once that was off it was taken to the work room, placed in a vice and cleaned of paint. The door frame and vertical rivet line was then cleaned of all paint. The grab iron was then reattached. The rest of the day was spent cleaning up.

    Door Frame

    Grab Iron

    Reinstalled Grab Iron and Door Frame

    Please keep checking in for future updates!

    The final appearance of the restored N5c 477974, if all goes as planned, should be similar to the large scale model N5c shown below.

  • N5c Model


    If you are an owner of a RESTORED N5c, please email if you can offer any pointers you think the chapter can use during our restoration. I can be reached at Thanks, Gary

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