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Niagara Railway Museum Blog

September 4, 2017

4 days to go!!

It’s now just 4 days to go until Rail Days 2017 and this weekend we had 2 good work sessions at the shop to get things ready.  We’ll still be out there a few more times this week to finish off some things, but everything is starting to look great.

Saturday was a big cleaning day mostly, with some painting being done on 46 as 6 members were out, Wayne G, Jim, Nolan, Mike, Ken & Ken. Monday however was much busier. Ken, Wayne G & JT worked in the office, cleaning, painting, and organizing things for the weekend. Need to make rooom for 3 more small layouts and a few vendor tables. Elsewhere in the shop, Wayne M cleaned, primed, and painted our ex-CNR steam locomotive rerailers, and they will be on display from now on. After that he started working on the TH&B gondola, masking off and getting a basecoat on the TH&B logo on the one side. Hope to have that done by the weekend.

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Wayne M cleaning the rerailers.

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Primed and ready for paint.

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All painted for display.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Masking the TH&B logo.

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Base coat on the logo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ken and Glen worked on 46. Stencils were cut and the striping was masked off and painted. It was a very long project, but it turned out fairly well.  It’s not perfect, but it really doesn’t make a big difference in her appearance.

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Glen masking the cab stripe.

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Engineman’s side.

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Fireman’s side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to everyone who came out to work this weekend.  We’ve been making some great progress the last 2 months, and it’s really starting to show. Really pleased with the amount of work on HEPC 46, she’ll be looking good for the night photo shoot during Rail Days.

August 4, 2017

The gondola has arrived!!

On July 21st, the Niagara Railway Museum successfully moved the last Toronto Hamilton & Buffalo gondola to the shop. It brought to end a very difficult time trying to preserve and move this car.  But after a year and a half, the car is now safe inside and the cosmetic restoration will begin. The car was unfortunately tagged with graffiti while in storage, but that has since been painted over. The 2676 is in relatively good condition. There are no holes in the body, and the sides are fairly straight. The car will receive a proper coat of black paint and have its lettering applied after that.  There is no time frame for this work, it will be done as time permits.

The Museum extends its thanks to Marcel Bill and Steve at Martech Rail Services in Welland for storing the car since the start of the year, Parkway Towing for moving one of the wheelsets from Martech to the Museum, and OWS Railway Contracting for handling the actual move of the car. The unloading didn’t go completely as planned, but Dan and Clayton from Attar Metals came down and saved the day with their help in unloading the gonola. They are the best neighbours we could ask for.

Thanks also to members of the TH&BHS (Lance Brown & James Gamble), for helping negotiate with CP to save this car. And finally, to our many donors who gave funds to assist with the movement of the car to the site, and also with the restoration.

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Pulling the car onto the float.

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Loaded up at Martech, ready to head to the Museum.

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Backing into the north track at the shop for unloading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First night in its new home.

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Painting over the graffiti.

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A couple of hours and the graffiti is gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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December 11, 2016

Less than 24hrs…

And the flanger is already getting worked on. Spent about 5hrs removing the old paneling from the inside the car to expose the original tongue in groove wall boards. This was necessary in order to inspect the boards for any serious damage, and to put a plan together for the restoration.  Luckily the interior is in pretty good shape, with only a small patch of boards that need to be replaced. The exterior will take more work, but one step at a time.

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The Flanger inside the Museum.

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Before the paneling was removed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lights were temporarily wired up and replaced with LED bulbs, which provided more than enough light to be able to work inside the car. We’ll be going over the electrical system to see what can be run off the generator. The walls were painted before the car was gutted and the original items that were mounted against the walls show in the paint. With the walls exposed, we can now put together a plan to fix up the interior, as well as the exterior. The 4th window was also reinstalled where the AC unit used to be. The car now also sports a CNR marker lamp.

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Halfway through the paneling removal, bad section is at the right.

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The finished product, all the paneling is gone and the car has been completely cleaned up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 3, 2016

Just one week left…

As we get closer to our final event, our Fall Rail Days, 5 members spent Saturday moving some of our un-restored maintenance equipment and cleaning the shop. 4 pieces were moved, including our 2 ex-TH&B motorcars, into our other building, and are tucked away, stored with 4 of our 5 ex-CN Fairmont A4d gangcars.

170163sm 170277smThe cars were purchased in a group a few years ago by one of our members. There were parts and motors included, but the cars are not currently in the plans for restoration at this time. One car originally had the Fairmont 2 cylinder opposed piston engine. Sadly, that was no longer with the car.

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Both cars tucked inside the other building.

After moving the cars, other equipment in the shop was repositioned and cleaned for display.  The floors needed sweeping, and the equipment will be cleaned off during the week.

 

Landscaping is a never ending job at the Museum, and with the big tractor down, everything is being done with the weedeater, push mower and riding mower.  The site is looking fairly decent, but we’re glad the season is winding down.  Milton and Clayton from Attar Metals came over on Friday and moved some old pvc pipes that have been sitting between the old roundhouse and turntable. This will allow us to cut more of the grass down and improve the look of the site. Some work will be done with the foundation of the old roundhouse in the off season, mostly just clearing some of the dirt, brush and grass so we can better interpret the history of the site.

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June 11, 2016

Not a small project!

It was a simple job, or so I thought. The wood between the concrete and rails is worn/rotten and was causing a major tripping hazard. So, Wayne M decided to do something about it. And Wayne being Wayne, he never does something half way. So out came the pick and out went the bad lumber.

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Wayne M picking and shoveling out the old wood and dirt.

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After being cleaned out, the clips holding the rail can be clearly seen.

It turned into a much larger task, but one that will greatly improve the safety of our members and visitors. While he was removing the old timbers, we were able to see the different layers used to secure the boards. The boards will go back in the same manner they came out, and part of the work should be completed by the July 9/10 open weekend. The job requires various sizes of lumber from 2×4’s, 2×6’s and 4×4’s.

Wayne G and Ken were working in the office, starting to frame one of the walls as we work to make a more permanent office for our operations. With the acquisition of a used riding lawnmower, we were able to cut some of the grass, but with our main tractor being out of service for repairs, cutting the big stuff can’t happen without the bushhog mower. So our site isn’t looking as decent as it usually does, so if anyone has a tractor/bushhog that they’d like to bring down to the shop to help cut some grass, that would be great.

 

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The live steam pacific in its new location in the display car.

We also decided to move the live steam pacific from the display area into the second display car for safety and protection. The locomotive now resides under the HO model train cabinet, and fits right in.

 

The Museum is working to get ready to be open Saturdays, starting on June 18th, 10am to 2pm until the end of September.  A lot of stuff happening at the Museum in 2016. A new announcement will be coming soon as well.

May 7, 2016

We have a store, sort of…

By the end of our work session today, we actually had a partial store set up in the boxcar.  We installed lights in the other end of the new display car in order to work out how the new store set up was going to work.  We don’t have a whole lot of stock, but we’re working on that. So while we weren’t expecting to have the store actually set up in the boxcar before opening weekend, it looks like it will in fact be ready to go!!

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Just a few items that will be for sale on opening weekend.

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New cover panels on the side and door have been installed and will be painted before opening weekend.

Wayne M continued painting and working on patching the holes in the brick near the entrance. He also installed the cover panels inside the cab of the CN F7.

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NYC, TH&B and Wabash make up the first cabinet.

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CN, CP, GO and other local railways are represented in the second cabinet.

 

 

 

 

 

Ken and Aaron were working on the display and store car.  Some of our HO model railway collection is now on display for the first time. We have a very extensive HO scale model railway collection and we are just not able to display even a fraction of it. The majority of the collection is related to the Niagara Region and features a lot of New York Central equipment, including steam and diesel locomotives, and freight and passenger cars that would have run on the NYC across Southern Ontario.  Other equipment is from CN, Wabash, and Lehigh Valley, with freight cars also seen in the Region. We look forward to eventually having a proper layout of the area to be able to run these items on.

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Wayne started repainting some of the yellow safety lines on the floor of the shop.

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Our Canadian Flag is flying back in its proper place for the season.

Everything is starting to come together for opening weekend. Our members have been very busy over the last few months making sure everything is looking great.  The new lighting in the office area is a vast improvement over the previous lighting, and all the new paint has really dressed everything up. Artifact displays will be finalized next week, and will include some all new displays from some local railroad families.  The display upgrades are ongoing and we will be changing some things throughout the year to rotate items from the collection through for viewing. Thanks to our members, Jim, Wayne M, Ken, Ken, and Aaron, who showed up Friday and Saturday to keep the progress going.

A big thanks also goes to Mark Wikobrado from Cogeco Niagara for paying the NRM a visit and shooting this short clip for The Source. Really pleased with the outcome, and Cogeco has always been a big help for promoting our event.

 

April 23, 2016

Checking some projects off the list

With just 3 weekends left until opening weekend, our members have been busy again this week trying to get things done.  Wednesday 4 members were out working on electrical, installing more fixtures for the new LED floods, and finishing painting walls and railings. The office area is really looking great, very bright with a fresh coat of paint.

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Our 3.5″ gauge live steam pacific poses for a pic on the GHLS track in Hamilton.

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The Trolley is now complete with its new LED headlight.

On Friday, Ken and Ken took the NRM’s live steam pacific up to the Golden Horseshoe Live Steamers track in Hamilton to have the boiler tested. Unfortunately the test couldn’t be performed due to an improper fitting (a new one is being made for the next test). However, we did put the engine on the track and rolled it back and forth a bit to see how it looked, and of course take a few pictures. Looking forward to being able to fire it up (after passing the boiler test) and running it on the GHLS track. Information on their operation can be found at http://www.ghls.ca/ghls-home.

Saturday was another busy day with 7 members (Wayne G, Wayne M, Ken, Ken, Aaron, Jim, Peter) out working on different projects. The trolley from Niagara Central Hobbies finally got its new headlight, and it looks great.  It started out as a ditch light from an ex-Ontario Northland F unit. It was cleaned and repainted, and has had a frosted lense and low watt LED bulb installed. It’s a nice bright light and now makes the trolley look more complete. The switch stand, which used to sit out at the back stairs with the store address on the target is now up with the rest of the Hobby Shop items.  It’s coming together well, and we hope to have that display completed in time for opening weekend.

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Wayne adding a second coat of primer to the stair railing.

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The railings on the ramp glow with fresh yellow paint.

Wayne M. continued painting the railings, first applying 2 coats of primer, and a top coat of yellow.  Every bit of paint Wayne has done has really improved the look of the shop, and has amounted to hundreds of hours of cleaning the old paint and rough spots off to get a nice smooth finish. All the fresh yellow (and much of the grey & silver) that is seen around the shop has been done by Wayne.

The second display car is coming along very well.  Some major changes were made to the first car as all of the Great Gorge Route items were moved into the new display car to keep everything in one spot. The GGR display will also be expanded a bit with a few more artifacts, pictures, and some history.  Taking the place of the GGR items in the first display car  will be an expanded Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto electric railway display. This new display will feature more photos of the NS&T from across the system, as well as a few more of our artifacts.

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Jim and Aaron working on a stand for part of the Great Gorge Route display.

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The GGR display at the end of the day. Still some work to do, but really pleased with it right now.

We are always trying to improve our displays for our visitors and we feel what we have planned for 2016 will really show how hard we’ve been working to get things done. Our work days are generally Wednesday and Saturday, and we’re always looking for new members to get involved.

Be sure to stop by the Museum on opening weekend, May 14th & 15th, 10am to 4pm rain or shine.

 

 

April 9, 2016

Another great work day today, with a lot of work getting done.  5 members were out, continuing the painting in the office area, and working on the new display car.

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Wayne M working on the interior of the new display car.

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New covers made for the drop table.

Wayne M and Ken Sr. were working on painting in the office area, as we work to getting it all painted before the May Opening Weekend. Eventually a lot of this will be covered over with insulated walls, but for now, we just want to clean it all up. Wayne G was working on the office door, having had to make some adjustments to the frame. The doors to the shop and storage room have been given a coat of CN blue as well, as that’s what would have been there when the shop was in service. The majority of the painting should be done next weekend if the weather stays fairly decent. More will be done between the open weekends. Once Wayne M was done painting in the office he moved into the display car to do some repair work to the old tongue in groove boards on the walls. One of the steel bottom panels was also broken away from its weld, so he secured that back to the wall.

Thanks to our friends over at Attar Metals for cutting us some covers for the various access points on the Whiting drop table. These holes have been covered by wood recently, and we felt it was time to make some proper panels to make walking on the drop table safe for our members, and in the future, our visitors.

Ken Jr. was working in the new display car, hanging the temporary lighting in the display end (one end will be for displays, the other will be for the Museum store), as the store end won’t be ready before opening day (we don’t think anyways).  Once the lighting was installed, Ken and Aaron worked on getting 2 display cabinets installed.  These are the 2 N scale cabinets that used to be at Niagara Central Hobbies. and will display some of our HO model railway collection.

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Aaron installing the glass shelves.

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The cabinets hung and ready for trains.

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The first artifact displayed in the new car, a sneak peak of what’s to come.

At the end of the day, the first artifact was hung in the new display car.  Last year we were given items from relatives of the Van Alstine brothers, twins who worked for CN out of Niagara Falls. A few years back we were given a picture that was done for William VanAlstine, but I didn’t actually realise it until just this year. The items from the family of Murray and Morley Van Alstine will make up a part of this new display, and will help tell a bit of the story of these 2 brothers.

Still lots going on out at the shop. If you think you’d like to lend a hand, please drop us a line, we’d be happy to hear from you.

 

 

 

March 26, 2016

Another great Saturday

It was almost an 8hr day out at the shop today, as 6 members spent the time switching equipment around, getting it in place for the coming season, and to get some work done as well.  The movements started just after 10am and wrapped up around 3pm, but by the end of the day, everything was repositioned where it needed to be. At the end of 2015 we were able to move equipment between 2 of the 3 shop tracks. It was functional, but does need some work. This was an even bigger test of the track as the electric weighs in at about 50tons, and there were multiple back and forth movements involved.

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First move, shove the boxcar to the end of the tail track.

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Jim, Wayne, Garry and Aaron remove the bars to switch the track.

The number 8 turnout is a bit odd in construction. In order to get done what needed to be done, it was constructed with 100lb rail and interlaced 8ft ties. There are no points, as it’s a different form of a stub switch.  The tail track is barred/bolted to the route to be used. When the other track is needed, the bars are removed, the track moved over and the bars reapplied.  Yes, it is a very time consuming job, but it is functional.  In 2016 it will have 16’6″ points added to make things easier.

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CN working the main line.

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CN 2246 a 2006 built GE, passes our 1948 GE.

It was a pretty busy day for train traffic as well.  First up was a CN which came into Fort Erie, set out in the yard, then took it’s 3 6axle units and 6 boxcars of shingles over to the lumber transload off Gilmore Rd. It was an interesting comparison of a modern, 2006 built GE, with our 1948 built GE. After that came a CP heading to the US with another GE, followed by a westbound CP ethanol train lead by yet another GE. Final train was the NS transfer.

 

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Westbound CP with 2002 built GE 9717.

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Westbound CP with CP 2001 built GE 8605 and CEFX 2004 built GE 1055.

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The NS transfer lead by GM 3311 (with a CP GE in the consist).

It was neat to see all the trains that went through this day had GE power in the consist. This was also the first time that Hydro Electric Power Commission E-7 (Ex-Inco 102) was outside since it was moved into the shop some 5yrs ago. E-7 posed for some pics with the GE and Plymouth.

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HEPC E-7 in the sun.

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The GE, Electric and Plymouth outside together for the first time.

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The train before shoving back into the shop.

 

 

 

 

 

The weather was fantastic for doing all this work, and it sets us up right where we need to be for this display season. The GE performed very well and handled the job with ease.  There is still some minor work to do on the GE, and that will continue over the summer.

This week we also received a few more items from Fred Mills, the donor of the live steam Pacific. We were able to get copies of a few of his personal pictures, such as the Niagara Falls Car Department from 1942 to 1986 (when Fred retired), along with the picture of the retirees in 1986.  Fred also very generously donated a clock he received when he retired.  We look forward to having all these items on display at the shop this year. Fred is a 3rd generation railroader,  his Grandfather Frederick Mills worked on the GTR as a Baggageman in Niagara Falls, his father, Wilfred Mills worked for the New York Central as a Yard Clerk, and Fred himself spent 40yrs with the CN as a Carman at Niagara Falls.

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Niagara Falls CN Car Department group shot from 1942 to 1986.

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The early retirees in 1986. Fred is 3rd from the right.

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One of Fred’s retirement gifts.

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Fred with CN 6060 at Niagara Falls.

A big thanks to our members who came out to help get this very important work done, Jim, Wayne G., Garry, Aaron, Ken and Ken. The Museum is a very complex plan, and every bit of help we are able to get is of great benefit to us.  We are always looking for new members who want to get involved with the many projects we have on the go. And remember, the Niagara Railway Museum Inc. is a Charitable Organization registered with the Canada Revenue Agency.  We are able to offer Charitable tax receipts for donations received. Come out and see us in 2016, lots going on and lots more to come.

 

January 30, 2016

Wrapping up January

With just a 3 man crew today, we still managed to get quite a bit done. The main goal of the day was to get the 4 ex-CN Fairmont A4d Gangcars unloaded from the 3rd boxcar, where they’ve been stored for more than 10yrs. The boxcar had to be moved into position for unloading, so the GE was fired up for the job.  Having a working locomotive is an incredible asset to the Museum.

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The GE smokes under the exhaust hood, charging its air, ready to move the boxcar forward.

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Unloading the first car from the boxcar.

The cars can’t just be taken out the door due to their size, so they have to be moved into a position to come out the door on an angle, which can still be a bit tight. Of the 4 cars, one of them will be cosmetically restored and be sent to the Northern Ontario Railway Museum in Capreol for display, one will remain with us and be returned to operation, while the other 2 are more or less parts cars.  One may be converted to a rider car of sorts to allow short rides on the Museum track.

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CN 187-49 sits outside for the first time in over 10yrs. This car will be restored by the Museum.

 

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CN 186-70 is the last car out of the boxcar.

The work took about 3hrs to complete, and all 4 cars saw daylight before being put back into the shop. CN 186-70 will be the car for Capreol. The NRM has had these cars for about 13yrs, so it’s good to finally have them out of the boxcar.

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CN 186-70 sits outside for a picture

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All 4 cars are together inside the shop awaiting movement to secure storage and eventual restoration.

Before and after the cars were unloaded, Wayne was working on stripping paint off the walkway railing. The shop was fairly mild, above zero, and he also got a coat of primer on the railing. Wayne has done a lot of painting around the shop, and it’s really helped to bring the place back to life.  The new refurbished headlight (a locomotive ditch light) was test fit to the front of the Hobby Shop trolley, and looks pretty good.  It should work out quite well for display.

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The empty boxcar, ready for cleaning and conversion to a display/store car

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Wayne cleaning the railing for painting

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The trolley has a new light. (used the flashlight on a cell phone to light it up for the pic)

The Niagara Railway Museum would like to extend its thanks to Ted Lucas and his staff at Lucas Lift Truck in Thorold South.  Ted has helped us many times, and even provided the forklift when we loaded these cars into the boxcar over 10yrs ago. The job couldn’t have been done without this forklift, and we appreciate all the help Ted has given us over the years.

 

With one month down now in 2016, progress continues at the shop.  Some new displays are being worked on, and there will be even more to see this year.

 

 

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