Railway Preservation News

Saving NYC Observation Car "Fall Brook"
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Author:  PLATFORMCAR [ Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Saving NYC Observation Car "Fall Brook"

sww.. where to start...

The "Fall Brook" that is some story.... yep some story.... A shop fire at Kasten Railcar, burns the car out to a gutted shell, followed by litigation from the owners, an insurance settlement, and now a desperation plea for a savior from both the owner ( who owned the company during the fire ) .. and an unknowing future private car charter operator... who knows very little of what it takes to return a car to service in regards to effort and expense.. wow... and it can all be yours for 20,000.00 or so.... where do I get in line.... ?

The truth be told, the "Fall Brook" is beyond economic ( and emotional ) reason for its return to service or for that matter even cosmetic restoration.... It is a gutted damaged shell, with not one mechanical, cosmetic, or for that matter inherent reason for its return... With Babbling Brook, Bonnie Brook, Sunrise Brook, Wingate Brook, I think perhaps Plum Brook ? ( going by memory ) ... what real purpose does it achieve ?... You are better off starting with an ACL blunt end car, or a SCL round end car, or perhaps any other car then a burned out gutted damaged shell... For that matter the same owner of Fall Brook can sell you Wingate Brook.. ( both cars are in walking distance of one another ) ... then you can search the land for all the missing hardware and light fixtures, door hardware and the like.... ( like an adult scavenger hunt ).. think of it like antiquing.. ?

In addition, no matter if the "Hickory Creek" cost 825,000.00 or for that matter 1,000,000.00.... it was not the investment of an individual... it was money being given away by the State of NJ and the government.. Otherwise it would be beyond any reasonable expectation of a return to invest 1,000,000.00 in a car that likely will never be worth more than 350,000 to 400,000.00.... Would you buy a home in New Jersey for 1,000,000 and want to sell it for 350,000 to 400,000.00 ? and to those who think the Hickory Creek was likely the most expensive restoration, you are certainly way off in your estimation... I can name six cars right now that cost more than 825,000.00 to restore to Amtrak certification..

Why is it that lessons are never learned from the mistakes of others ? ( the most valuable statement of this entire thread in my opinion ) ... or is it that every day a "dreamer" loaded with optimism, opens the dutch door or platform gate of a rotted gutted shell and says "I believe in the dream".... only to find out 12 months later that the dream is unachievable and the car then rots on the weed covered siding.... awaiting the inevitable vandal to steal its remaining parts, and burn out the remaining interior....

In lieu of turning this conversation sour ( and someone throwing darts at me ) , I say you buy the "Wingate Brook"... the extra window height in the lounge alone is worth another $80,000.00....

just a free opinion

Dean Levin

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Author:  PLATFORMCAR [ Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Saving NYC Observation Car "Fall Brook"

imagine all the fun you can have and the loads of money you can make ? ( current picture of Wingate Brook is included )


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Author:  robertmacdowell [ Fri Sep 16, 2011 8:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Saving NYC Observation Car "Fall Brook"

I'll concede that dollar for dollar, the group is better off picking another car of that class if they are plentiful. However, being a poor choice among the universe of possible choices did not doom 1225, and need not doom this venture. What a lot of work, though. Their biggest risk is cutting corners and not doing a proper job.

As for numbers like $750,000 -- get a grip. That type of number is what I like to call a "J-dollar" or imaginary dollar. OK maybe doesn't quite NOT EXIST... but such money is way too scarce to imagine it's just going to fall out of the sky on your head.

But the way I see it, such wild arm-waving denigrates the preservation community by denigrating its most valuable producers - the volunteer corps.

I mean, sure it's POSSIBLE to spend $750,000 to restore a car. It's also POSSIBLE to spend $3,000,000. Just keep throwing more and more contractors at the job. I suspect many private varnish owners are in fact fractional billionaires, and they just write checks.

Those people also pay $1000 to do pads and rotors on an automobile. I pay $75.

If you can't rally a volunteer corps, then maybe - just maybe - the project is not worth doing. By illustration, clearly, 1225 WAS worth doing.

Author:  TrainWatcher [ Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Saving NYC Observation Car "Fall Brook"

Thank you for your input Mr. Levin, as well as the other photos that I had not been provided. I did speak to Gateway Rail on Friday, and was told the exact same as you have said, the car is better for scrap. It would take too much for resources and effort to attempt a heavy restoration.

"Wingate Brook" is more complete, but there is no way a small group could get $80,000 to aquire a car like that. A few of us have been trying to enter the Private Varnish area of railroading for sometime, however have had problems with finding the right car and price range to suit a project. I will have to continue to look.

Thank You everyone for your time and this proposal has now been closed.

Author:  RCD [ Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Saving NYC Observation Car "Fall Brook"

I hope someone parts this car out I see a few good parts on that car.

Author:  Gary Gray [ Sat Sep 17, 2011 11:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Saving NYC Observation Car "Fall Brook"

It is possible to restore a car to Amtrak servicability for far less money than some of the figures mentioned here. However, to do so requires patience and a large amount of "sweat equity". I have several friends who have either done so, or are in the process.

Chuck Jensen's "Kittchi Gammi Club" was the subject of a recent thread here on RYPN.




"KGC" started out as a PV as a very tired, but fairly complete NS camp car about 25 years ago. Much sweat equity by the owner, who is a shortline railroader and an Amtrak certified mechanic and inspector.

Father and son team Dave & Lewis Foster are restoring the NP "Minneapolis Club" . They bought the car as an uncompleted project from a previous owner. Much of the work was already done, and they are having the rest of the contract work done on a low priority "available time" basis to control costs. Expect to see it out there in a couple of years.


The ultimate "low buck/sweat equity" restoration out there would have to be the "National Heights", a Pullman observation owned by and under restoration by Rick Rader. Rick aquired the car as a gutted & severely rusty camp car from NS about 10 years ago. The body work is now complete and running gear work is in process. The interior will be finished last. It was originally a sleeper/observation on the National Limited, but none of the original interior was left when he aquired it. He's restoring it as a buffet-lounge/observation, and has all original 1920's Pullman fixtures for the interior. So far, he has spent less than $20,000 on the car, but he and a few friends have provided all of the labor. Everything is being done to Amtrak specs. It'll probably be another 5 years or so before she is done, but she'll be a beauty. Rick's metal work is as good as I've ever seen.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Nation ... 7637194260

All of the aforementioned folks are Roanoke Chapter NRHS members, and Rick and Lewis are regular mechanical dept. volunteers also.

Author:  oldschoolhotrodz [ Sat Aug 09, 2014 6:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Saving NYC Observation Car "Fall Brook"

OK, the article posted Dave Levin is so full of errors, it's beyond belief. First off, the Colorado was not "gutted by fire". The car had a small fire in the the last bedroom next to the kitchen. The car had been severely modified by Casablanca Fan Company. Illinois Transit Assembly Corp. had been choosen to completely gut the inside of the car by it's new owners. ITAC was also to rebuild and/or replace the trucks, do repairs to the center sill and side sills and make the car railworthy to get it to South Carolina where a "boat" interior shop was to install a new interior. The was jacked up and the underside stripped. In doing so, a spark went thru the splash pans on the underside and sat for about 4 hours before the fire started. I discovered the fire about 8:30 PM on Febuary 3rd, 2003. The Madison Fire Department was told NOT to open the doors to the shop however they did not listen. Up until that time, the fire was smoldering in the floor only.

OK. the only damage done to the car was right around the side loading door in the hallway. The car was not "gutted" by fire. Cars that have been gutted by fire have huge ripples in the roof and are burned brown. The fire did more damage to the inside of the shop building than to the car. The owners of the car along with ITAC's insurance company wanted to know the extent of the damage so ITAC totally removed the entire interior of the car except for the the two closet-restrooms at the vestibule end of the car. I broke my wrist removing the a/c ductwork in the car. Once the car was totally tunneled, the car was inspected by myself, Clyde Hentz (General Foreman at ITAC) and Pete Messina (Amtrak PV Inspector from New Orleans). The car was deemed repairable by all of us. The side loading door however, was deemed a loss. The fluting was removed on the left side of the car to inspect the inside of the side sill. The damage was contained in a very small area. The window band was to be removed anyway as it was to be replaced with new stainless (as this is a truss car). Pete Messina said that ITAC could do the needed repairs and that he would sign off on the car. ITAC changed the way Budd cars were being repaired anyway with its side sill, center sill and collision post repairs that still continue to the day until Gateway Rail Services. It should be noted that this repair was the brainchild of myself and Clyde Hentz. Others copied it but ITAC designed it and received Amtrak approval in the process. The small areas where the stainless was burned blue above the window band and on the roof, can be returned to normal with a process using phosphuric acid and a small battery charger.

The owners of the car decided to walk away from the project and accepted the insurance money for the car. This was propbably a good thing as we found out that they wanted to increase the width of the car by some 2 feet! They had no idea what you can and cannot do in a railcar. The "blacked" area you see in the photos of the Colorado is inside EVERY Budd car. It's called Insulmat, a black goo stuff sprayed on the inside of every postwar Budd car by Budd. Every car looks like it was on fire once you pull the interior out. This material water-proofed the car and cut down on road noise and rattles. The wood floor was removed mainly becasue of the reason the car burned. When Casablanca removed the 5 original bedrooms in the car, they took up the original floor and installed verticle particle board stacked tight within the recesses of the floor to insulate the car. This is where the spark started and smoldered for hours. BTW, the damage to the car (once it was tunneled) was deemed to be $88,000 retail by Clyde Hentz in 2003. A figure I still strongly disagree with as being way too high. The photos of the car show the car on some crap trucks. The original trucks are still stored elsewhere on Gateway's property in Madison, IL.

The car can either be returned to service (not making round-end Budd observation cars anymore, especially with vestiblues) or could be used as something stationary. The car is too light to be moved by rail even if the air gear was installed back under the car, however it can be loaded onto a TTX by Gateway and shipped anywhere via rail. All the window frames still exist as do the side sill covers and removed fluting. Perhaps the real value ofthe car is the curved rear fluting. When the Budd Company went away in 1987, so did the ability to make not only Budd straight fluting, but especially the curved round end fluting. Those molds were scrapped. What happens when some othe round end car get smacked or side swiped and the insurance company starts looking for fluting? The NYC 61 (which I used to own) is still running around with one side having smooth stainless. It looks stupid, huh? A person could pretty much ask what they wanted for this fluting. The price for the car is less than what the car and trucks would scrap for, considering all the "fluff" and hard work of stripping the inside is done. You know, it's amazing what one person who is totally mis-informed can do with his mouth. BTW, I am Les Kasten, owner of Illinois Transit Assembly Corp. and I owned IAC and other passenger car repair facilities for some 27 years. My son Kyle owns this car, the MP 150 Speedbox and the Wingate Brook.

Author:  Rainier Rails [ Tue Aug 12, 2014 4:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Saving NYC Observation Car "Fall Brook"

Thanks, Les, for all the info on the NYC #10562 Fall Brook!

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