Museum returns covered hopper to original appearance

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A cosmetically restored Gulf, Mobile & Ohio covered hopper is now proudly on display at the Monticello Railway Museum in Monticello, Ill.
Steve Smedley
MONTICELLO, Ill. — Volunteers at the Monticello Railway Museum have completed a cosmetic restoration of a Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad covered hopper No. 80129, built in October 1953. The museum, located in Monticello, Ill., received the car in 2000 from Canadian National. Work on the car was completed in the last week of July.

The car was part of the Illinois Central Gulf’s diesel sand car fleet, being used at the Centralia, Ill., shops for several years. It came to the museum in the Illinois Central Gulf’s solid orange paint. It had been used for the last several years as a static billboard for the museum’s popular Polar Express train.

Built by the Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Company plant in Michigan City, Ind., the car was used to carry cement.

A volunteer team began working on the car in May 2017. The cars' roof walk and grab irons were heated and straightened, damage that had happened prior to museum’s ownership. The surface of the car was sanded, and a high-quality alkyd enamel was sprayed prior to lettering.

“We uncovered an original paint chip beneath the face of the body bolster, which adds provenance to the car's correct color, says Kent McClure, chief mechanical officer of the museum. "We could see shadows from the original lettering of the car during preparation work. We feel the car is a nice representation of a classic late 1950s to 1960s freight car."

The car will see use during the railroad’s annual Railroad Days event Sept. 15 and 16.

More information is available online.
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