FC&G Motorcar M4

Making a station stop is the former Fernwood, Columbia and Gulf Railroad’s motorcar, number M4. She is presently undergoing restoration, and is in operation at the Southern Forest Heritage Museum located in Longleaf, Louisiana. She was donated to the museum some years ago by railfan and historian Louis Saillard. The museum sports a large oval of track running around the perimeter of the compound, and they like to run the motorcar on special occasions.

FC&G Motorcar M4

This photograph was recorded in April of 2011. The restoration of the car had slowed considerably for a number of years. However volunteers have been quite busy recently in the process. She now has glazing in her windows, and much work has occurred in the interior with a new roof liner and a new permanent dashboard for the operator. The exterior sports a new air-horn and rear view mirrors.

SP #745 at the Bonnet Carré Spillway

Ex-Southern Pacific steam locomotive #745 steams over the Bonnet Carré Spillway during its break-in run in December of 2004. The engine had just been restored by the Louisiana Steam Train Association. The 745 is a class Mk-5 Mikado (2-8-2), and was built in the Espee’s shop in Algiers, Louisiana back in 1921. She operated on the Texas and New Orleans subsidiary of the Southern Pacific.

SP #745 at the Bonnet Carré Spillway

The Bonnet Carré Spillway is a flood control operation in the Lower Mississippi Valley. Located in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, about 12 miles west of New Orleans, it allows floodwaters from the Mississippi River to flow into Lake Pontchartrain and thence into the Gulf of Mexico. Both the Kansas City Southern and Illinois Central Railroads built trestles spanning the spillway, and they provide an interesting place to photograph a train. This scene of the 745 was recorded by a small, but dedicated group of railfans during this “historic” run.

The Floor is Down!

A major milestone has been reached in the restoration of the Louisiana Central Railroad layout room with the installation of new flooring. Initially I’d planned to simply show a few snap-shots of the finished installation. But I then decided that maybe some would be interested in how the project was accomplished. So I’ve put together several photos that I took along the way.

I had to install flooring in the room to replace the tight-pile carpet that was formerly in there. That carpet was pulled out after the Great Flood of 2016. But the hardened glue remained on the concrete slab, and I decided that it was impractical to remove after speaking with people with experience doing just that. Also compounding my flooring problem were the 55 legs supporting the layout benchwork.

I ultimately decided to use a “floating” floor of Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) as I reasoned that it could be laid over the glue. I also decided to use a foam underlayment with a vapor barrier on it’s bottom. I used a floor scraper to remove chunks of drywall mud, and to smooth the floor surface as best I could. The LVT “planks” I used are 9″ wide x 60″ in length. However I would have to provide temporary layout support to allow the 43″ width of the underlayment to be rolled out. I thought about how to do that for some time, and finally came up with a solution.

This view shows all of the permanent legs and bracing removed from a layout section along the wall, and the temporary legs and cross member set in place . The spacing is wide enough to allow for the 43″ wide underlayment to be rolled out. The legs against the wall have support plates attached, these explained in the next photograph.
The first problem I had to overcome was how to support the layout at the wall side. Obviously I couldn’t have a leg where the flooring had to be laid. I also noted that the flooring requires a 1/4″ gap from the baseboard for expansion purposes. I pondered and prayed about this for some time, and this solution came to me. Those black steel plates are 3/16″ thick and they’re screwed to the wooden legs allowing the leg to be a couple inches off of the floor. With the plate against the baseboard, I’m able to lay the flooring and allow for my 1/4″ gap. The solution worked perfectly!
I’ve laid four rows of LVT planks down, and I’ve started reinstalling the permanent legs and bracing. I’m holding off installing the bracing along the wall side to make installing the quarter round molding against the baseboard a bit easier. That molding will cover the expansion gap. When complete, I’ll add the remaining bracing.
Here I’ve installed temporary supports across the aisle between benchwork sections, and extending under the edge of one of the two peninsulas of the layout. I’ll get five rows of planks down in this setting.
I’ve gone to the other end of the room for this view. Here the planks have been laid completely beneath that first peninsula and are already up to the edge of the second peninsula. In the foreground the first temporary supports have been installed and will take things to the center of another aisle.
And now I’m back at the rear of the room looking at the same area as the previous view.
As the flooring advances, it’s necessary to keep relocating the temporary supports so that the next roll of underlayment can be rolled out. I’m ready in this view to do just that.
We’re jumping nearly to the end here. The second peninsula at left is complete, and all the permanent supports are back in place. The final set of temporary supports span all the way across the aisle, beneath the benchwork and up to the wall. Note that only one row of planks remains to be installed.
The last row of planks is down, and the flooring is done! I’ve reinstalled several permanent supports, and have a few more to go (one right in front of me).
Going to the opposite end of the room again, here’s the view of the completed flooring. The temporary supports will soon be replaced by the permanent ones. As seen, much of the cross bracing hasn’t been installed to make it easier to access the wall for the installation of the quarter round molding that will overlap the edges of the new floor. When that’s completed, I’ll reinstall the remainder of the L-girder support bracing.

As you have probably imagined, yes, this was a massive undertaking. Over six weeks have been consumed doing this work (working 4-5 days each week). By far, most of the work was building up the temporary supports, removing the permanent supports, then reversing that after the flooring was down. I estimate that only about 20% of the time spent was actually installing the floor.

But I’m pretty pleased with the result, and hope I get many years of good service from this floor.

Photos Past: SP #745 at Hammond, La.

In 2005 the #745 and her train were on a tour around the State of Louisiana. It’s the month of May, and the train had been on display in Hammond, Louisiana for the day. In late afternoon I captured this view as the train departed for Baton Rouge, the next leg of it’s trip. Looking north, we see the train backing down the Canadian National’s McComb Subdivision mainline (this is the line between Chicago and New Orleans). The switch in the background is the beginning of the Hammond Subdivision, where she will stop and reverse direction, then head west for Baton Rouge.

The #745 is a class Mk-5 Mikado (2-8-2), and was built in the Espee’s shop in Algiers, La. back in 1921. She operated on the Texas and New Orleans subsidiary of the Southern Pacific. She has been restored back to operating condition by the Louisiana Steam Train Association (LASTA) in New Orleans.

SP #745, Hammond, La.

Photos Past: Southern Pacific #745

It’s February of 2007, and the Southern Pacific #745 is passing through City Park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has just embarked on the return leg of her shake down run following fairly extensive repairs. She is headed for New Orleans, her home terminal.

The locomotive had been restored some years earlier by the Louisiana Steam Train Association in New Orleans. The 745 is a class Mk-5 Mikado (2-8-2), and was built in the Espee’s shop in Algiers, Louisiana back in 1921. She operated on the Texas and New Orleans subsidiary of the Southern Pacific.

S.P. (TN&O) Loco #745

Photos Past: Reader Railroad 2-6-2 #108

In early September of 1970 I visited the Reader Railroad up in Reader, Arkansas. Even though it was a weekday, the railroad was shut down for the day. I was able to peruse the railroad’s shop facility though, located maybe a quarter mile from the depot. Here is a photo taken with my trusty Polaroid camera of their #108, a nice little 2-6-2 “Prairie” locomotive.

This locomotive was a product of the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1920, and she had an extensive list of owners over the years. The little Prairie first worked for the San Augustine County Lumber Company in east Texas, then later for the Angelina and Neches River Railroad. In 1954 she was purchased by the Reader, where she was in service until 1976. From there she went to the Conway Scenic Railroad, but after just a couple of years, was sold to the Blacklands Railroad. She was moved back to Texas, and was supposed to be overhauled to continue operation. The last I heard, she was sold yet again to a corporation, but was still stored in a somewhat disassembled state on the Blacklands Railroad. If any of you folks have any news of it’s present situation, please post a comment about it.

Reader RR 2-6-2 #108

Photos Past: Colorado & Southern 2-8-0 #60

I’ve been going through a lot of old photos that my mother had, and came across this snapshot. This locomotive is Colorado & Southern 2-8-0 #60, and she’s on display in Idaho Springs, Colorado. The following is from the display plaque by the engine:

“Was built by the Rhode Island Locomotive Works in 1886. Number 60 began her career on the Union Pacific-owned narrow gauge Utah and Northern Railroad as No. 263. In 1890, the Union Pacific transferred U&N Engines No. 260-265 to its Colorado-based Denver, Leadville, and Gunnison Railroad, where the original engine number was retained until the Colorado and Southern assumed operation of all Colorado-based Union Pacific narrow gauge lines. This included the Clear Creek branch. At this time, the C&S renumbered all of its narrow gauge engines and No. 263 became No.60.”

That’s my mother posed in the cab, the photo probably taken in the early 1940s by my dad before he departed for England with the Army Air Force. My mom stayed in Denver until he returned to the States after his tour of duty.

C&S 2-8-0 #60 Early 1940s

Photos Past: Carrollton Station, New Orleans, Louisiana

An intermediate stop in New Orleans, the Carrollton Station was located at Carrollton Avenue, just a very short block from Tulane Avenue. One could board or disembark from certain trains here if convenient, rather than go all the way downtown to the Union Passenger Terminal. As a kid, we sometimes road the rails from New Orleans to either Ponchatoula or Hammond to visit with family, then back a day or so later. And Carrollton Station is where we usually met the train as we lived just a few miles from here.

Here is a typical view of the station back in the early 1960s. I believe that before my time, there was actually a small depot building here in addition to a covered platform. When I made my visits, there was simply a small, narrow glassed in shelter in which people crowded on rainy days. The large Fontainebleau Motor Hotel was a fairly new landmark at this time, having been constructed on the site of the old Pelican Stadium baseball park.

Seen here is one of the Illinois Central’s beautiful chocolate and orange streamliners stopped to pick up passengers on the outbound portion of it’s journey. The train is heading west by northwest at this spot, and judging from the sun angle, this was likely late afternoon. Those bridges in the foreground take the tracks over Carrollton Avenue.

Carrollton Station, New Orleans, LA

Photos Past: Washington & Western #72

Steam locomotive #72 has quite a storied history behind it. A product of the American Locomotive Company in 1914, the 4-6-0 steamer saw it’s first service on the New Orleans Great Northern Railroad as their #72. The line eventually became controlled by the Gulf, Mobile & Northern, which later itself merged with the Mobile & Ohio Railroad to create the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio. She continued to serve as #72 during those years. When the GM&O began dieselizing, the locomotive was sold in 1946 to the Gaylord Container Company in Bogalusa, Louisiana. In 1960, she found her final duty at the Washington & Western, operating in gravel pit service for the Green Brothers at their pit near Franklinton, Louisiana.

Today she rests at the Washington Parish Fairgrounds in Franklinton, where she is displayed under a shed roof wearing her GM&N paint.

The photo below was captured by Rick Boutall probably in early 1964. I understand that she was retired from active service later that year.

W&W 4-6-0 Loco #72

LCRR: the 11th Anniversary and a Restoration Progress Report

Yesterday was the 11th anniversary of the start of construction on the Louisiana Central Railroad in 2012. Unfortunately 49 months later, construction came to a rapid and grinding halt with the Great Flood of 2016 that consumed the vast majority of my community and surrounding areas. In the aftermath, while my home was fully restored 15 months later, the building housing the railroad lie almost dormant, with only necessary work occurring to stabilize things. Add to that several “false starts”, where I did bits of work from time to time, primarily electrical, but mainly “cleaning up” the demolition to aid with the eventual reconstruction.

However about a year ago I finally started the reconstruction of the building in earnest, and it has come a long way since. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an update, that being right after the new shop cabinets were installed. But with so many other tasks to complete, I didn’t start painting the cabinets until perhaps a month ago. Painting cabinets is a tedious and time consuming affair, with the initial sanding, then primer and finish coats of paint (inside and out). I’m happy to announce that the painting is complete, and offer the photos below as proof.

This view is the storage area and secondary work surface. I applied two finish coats, and I’m pleased with the result. Pulls matching the drawers will be installed on the cabinet doors later this week. The counter-top will be receiving plastic laminate soon.
This view is the primary work area, with that open area being my work bench. I use a drafting stool on wheels while seated there. There will be a small utility sink down near the left end.
A glimpse inside a typical drawer, and the storage area below with an adjustable shelf.

As I mentioned above, I plan to have plastic laminate installed over the counter-tops. I used that on the earlier cabinets, and it worked out very well, hence I’ll use it again. The only other things remaining in the shop are the baseboards and shoe mold. After that, I’ll start laying the flooring down in the train room itself. I’m going to use LVT “planks” of 9″ x 60″ in size. It will be a challenge with 55 legs supporting a layout in the way. But I have a plan, and I’ll report on that later (if the plan works 🙂 ) along with pics.

There have been many items and issues in the restoration that I haven’t documented. But for those interested, here’s a list of postings detailing the progress of the larger aspects of this restoration project completed thus far:

Rising From the Ashes
Rising From the Ashes (Part Deux)
The First Progress Report
Repairs Started in the Train Room
Recent Drywall Progress
Final Sheet of Drywall Hung!
Drywall Installation Completed
Walls Painted
Last Progress Report of 2022
Shop Cabinets Installed


Photos Past: A Mystery Heisler (Solved)

Here are a couple more photos given to me by Rick Boutall back in the mid sixties. This Heisler was likely photographed in 1964 or 1965 (based on the “65” imprinted on the right edge of the photo borders), and the backs are stamped with Rick’s typical property stamp. She’s obviously “hot” as small wisps of steam can be seen around the steam chest.

But I needed help on these, as I had no other information about this locomotive. Well, the mystery was solved when friend David Price provided the answer. This is Chicago Mill and Lumber Company #5, and the location is Tallulah, Louisiana. Thanks, and a hat tip to David.

Mystery Heisler #5 - 1
Mystery Heisler #5 - 2