As Spring approaches and the sun shines brighter, we are getting more excited to be able to continue the progress on the caboose restoration. A few small projects were able to be completed during our mild winter, but most of them have been on hold until now!
Throughout the years, almost all of the windows had been busted out or broken. We were able to get new windows installed before most of our winter storms hit, and for the first time in several years, the inside is finally sealed from the elements. Another small touch included fixing and hauling a very heavy smokestack back on top of the roof and reattaching it.
Prepping to move the caboose took quite a bit of time and endured several delays. After sandblasting and getting the painting finished we had to wait for nearly a month while negotiating with the town for approval on bringing 25251 to its new home. We lost a month of good weather waiting for this but when the town and us finalized our agreement both sides were pretty happy.
Setting up for the move brought us into contact with a professional railcar mover and their crane company. These people came highly recommended from the salvage yard and we were not steered wrong in the slightest. Highly trained railcar movers, these two companies were consummate professionals who were dealing with a family of enthusiastic geeks! Cameras in hand we drove down to the salvage yard one last time to meet the crane crew at 8am. We were more excited than 4 year-olds on Christmas morning!
As the crane crew began their work, the age and condition of the railcar was working against them. The car sat with her wheels sunk in the dirt and leaning to one side for so long that she had no intentions of moving. Rust and years of being immobile had left her wheels partially rusted to the pin and the body did not want to come loose from them. (We thought that 25251 might have been afraid that she was being sent to the scrapheap) After an hour of work and a good blowtorch she finally came loose and swung freely in the air cradled gently by a large crane. There is something wrong in watching a railcar fly through the air! Once she was nestled onto her lowboy, the trucks quickly followed.
At this point we took the opportunity to look at the trucks and saw that UP had changed them out in 1977. The casting clearly delineated this for all to see. Caboose trucks are different in that they have extra pieces added to them to power the generator held underneath the body of the ‘boose. Ours are in magnificent condition.
We left at this point to get back to the house and railbed. A small crowd of friends and family had gathered waiting for the moment. Watching from down the street we waited and sure enough spotted the caboose as it came over the overpass. We didn’t know until that morning that they were planning to SHUTDOWN the highway! The height of 25251 precluded it from going under the traffic lights so…as traffic backed up people would honk their horns until they actually SAW what was coming. All action ceased as the trailer swung across the highway and then backed into the lot.
The trucks were swung individually over the fence and placed onto the rails. We were then invited to help with placement and amazingly enough the trucks moved with just a simple light push of one hand. Measurements were taken for spacing and then the body of 25251 swung over and onto her trucks. This was THE moment we had waited six months for. She easily settled onto her trucks and to our great surprise the emergency brakes still functioned. She stood tall and proud upon RAIL for the first time in over five years. It was a fantastic moment for all of us who had been involved.
Now the hard work begins…