The BVJC recently started work to restore the 477974 back to PRR likeness. The Chapter 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.....
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 posiotion. The two photos below show the resulting cuts.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks, Gary