It has been more than two years since Car 790, the last vintage trolley in Northeast Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley, was “found” and moved to Baut Studios in Swoyersville, Pa., for restoration. The story of the Rebirth of 790 was published in the October 2019 issue of Railpace (out of print).
What has been done since? First was a major clean-up, along with a special high-pressure wash, utilizing over 10 volunteers headed by Conrad Dismas Baut of host Baut Studios in Swoyersville. The ultimate goal for this massive job is to put 790 back into operating condition so that one day it will run again, this time on the tracks and under the overhead catenary of the Lackawanna County Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton, adjacent to Steamtown. Thankfully, donations of various amounts have help defray the enormous expense of this project. As an example, moving Car 790 was a major cost, but that expense is paid off. At the end of renovation, a donor board will be installed in the operator’s cabin.
One of the unforeseen problems discovered early in the restoration was asbestos, and its removal. Fortunately, a local retired craftsman applied his expertise and removed the unhealthy material; he donated his time and expense. Taking care of this situation, along with the coronavirus pandemic, added delay to the renovation timeline. But the spirit remains, reigniting the passion to fix Car 790 so it gets back on-track. With the collaboration of many volunteers – the Anthracite Trolley Committee members, including Conrad Baut’s sons and daughter Emily – we are delving into the volume of work that’s still facing us to meet the objective of 790 operation.
The side panels are being reworked. The flooring installed for cottage use by former owner, Walther Krakowski, was removed. The canvas roof is gone. Work groups are replacing window posts that will require new cherry wood, since the old woodwork is not useable; and they are fixing the spring brass fitting window support and sashes. The interior wood was stripped down to bare bones. The body is a metal shell.
When conditions were safe, some sandblasting of the exterior was done, with a lot more to do. Workers, including Conrad’s sons, Peter and James (their names go along with the Baut business of manufacturing church stained-glass windows, doors and other custom aluminum products), are learning the mechanical characteristics and construction methods of the 1920s, the nuts-and-bolts of yesteryear. It is an eye-opening experience reliving the techniques once employed, the craftsmanship and wisdom of that era. It is a vivid reminder of history, exploring the myriad ways Brill employees resolved engineering needs…