The first phase of restoration on the presidential railcar Ferdinand Magellan is now underway thanks to the National Railroad Historical Society (NRHS). We really appreciate our recent
grant award from NRHS to assist with painting and upholstery work. An interior restoration has long been overdue for this valuable railcar. Visitors are now seeing historically appropriate upgrades to the car’s interior.
In the last three weeks painting has begun on the presidential stateroom, presidential bathroom and first lady’s room. Prior to painting, paint chips were removed from underneath fixtures or on the insides of closets to attain the original color used in the rooms. Then, those paint chips were scanned on a computer and the pigment adjusted for the age and natural fading to attain a paint mixture that would be completely accurate to the original paints used.
The painting has been going very slowly because the walls are so cracked from age and scared from years of mildew buildup. Thus, a great deal of preparation, repair and priming were necessary. Amazingly, the walls were still stained with coal dust residue from over sixty years ago. There were also a large number of miscellaneous fixtures which had to be removed for painting as detailing around them simply was not practical.
It has been very interesting to be working in those rooms. There is an overwhelming sense of history as one spends time in those spaces. For example, it is amazing at how many specialized handles and inventive detachable railings that still exist in those areas which had been installed years ago for President Roosevelt to facilitate his disability. All of those many handles and railings have to be removed before painting, then cleaned and finally reinstalled.
While the painting is going on we are finalizing bids for the upholstery work and some minor carpet replacements as well as designing some protective runners.
The Museum also thanks board member and volunteer David McFadden for installing plexiglass panels over the openings of the staterooms. These panels allow visitors to view the interior of the rooms without damage to their historical furnishings.