'Hickory Creek' Pullman observation car restoration

Check out behind-the-scenes photos of crews restoring an historic Pullman car
Fred Heide
Air-conditioning duct
I was involved in the restoration of the Hickory Creek from practically the start of the project. Raymond Clauss, president of Star Trak Inc., which led the restoration project, had already determined how he wanted to handle the layout of the interior of the car. The intention was to maintain the exterior as it was when delivered.

We had access to the original Pullman-Standard drawings as Bombardier had transferred all of the Pullman-Standard, as well as Budd, original drawings to the Illinois Railway Museum after it absorbed what remained of those two companies and acquired their archives. The drawings made it possible for us to replace badly corroded structural members, etc., with new ones that were precisely like the originals.

The interior presented a challenge as we had to design what we installed with the original window layout untouched. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus had gutted the interior to use as housing, so we started with an empty shell. We decided not to replicate the original room layout, as there were no showers in the original design, a feature that is of significance nowadays, if you want to use the car for charter service. Instead of five rooms with upper and lower berths, we changed the layout to 4 rooms, two with ensuite bath/shower rooms, and two with a more original-looking upper/lower bed layout, and a shared toilet/shower annex.

What had been a fairly simple galley, where drinks and snacks could be prepared, was replaced with a full-service kitchen, where full meals could be prepared.

The last 40 percent of the car, the lounge area, was restored as close to the original as possible, and this again was a bit of a reason for a lot of brainstorming and head-scratching.
 
During the entire project, I had my 35mm SLR with me, so that I could document exactly what we were doing, such as the way we reestablished structural integrity of the framework where the sides of the car met the floor frame. These photos proved to be invaluable when the inspectors came to have a look after we had already proceeded to a point where it was no longer possible to see some of the details.

For more about the Hickory Creek restoration project, see "Restoring a Railroad Icon" by Geoff Doughty in the January 2015 issue of Trains magazine.
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