It’s a boxcar again – now what? Why, move it to Kansas, of course.
By late 2010, C&S 8027 was looking pretty good. While there was still a lot to do, it at least looked like a boxcar again, and a fairly complete one at that. That said, the question of where 8027’s “forever home” would be was still unsettled.
As I said earlier, my goal was to find a place to display 8027 somewhere along the old C&S right-of-way. In late 2007 a potential opportunity to send 8027 to the Alpine Tunnel developed. The US Forest Service, which has restored some of the track and buildings at the tunnel, was interested in having a railcar to display somewhere along the route, and a local trucker was willing to haul 8027 to the tunnel. For better or worse, the idea never came to fruition. (The Alpine Tunnel, located West of Buena Vista, was on the Denver, South Park & Pacific’s route to Gunnison. The tunnel was used by the Colorado & Southern until 1910.)
My next thought was Como; perhaps the car could be displayed on a short section of track near the depot. In 2010, work on restoring the Como Depot was really just getting started, and while there was an interest in having the car in Como, no one was quite ready for it then. (Located west of Denver, Como was a division point on the Colorado & Southern narrow gauge line from Denver to Leadville. The original depot, hotel and stone roundhouse are still standing.) At this point, I figured the matter was settled – 8027 would eventually go to Como. Until then it could stay at Valmont.
Changes at the Valmont site towards the end of 2010 meant that the car could no longer stay there. No one else in Colorado was interested in taking the car then, and the only place I had room for it was in Kansas. (At the time, I was in the process of moving from Colorado to northeast Kansas. Though we would not move until June 2012, I began work to make a home for some of my railroad cars on our land in 2010 and had actually moved most of what I intended to move to Kansas there in October 2010.) I had not planned to move 8027 some 650 miles further away from where it belonged, but at the time there was no other option.
Moving day for 8027 came in late March 2011. The car was loaded by crane onto a semi at Valmont on a Friday morning. I met the truck at the site in Kansas on Monday morning and 8027 was craned onto its new track. My wife and daughters accompanied me on this adventure, using the time to visit my wife’s parents who live nearby.
Amazingly, the fact that 8027 was now 650 miles (and a 10-hour one way drive) away did not mean I was no longer working on it.
The Western Railway Preservation Society (WRPS) located in Oregon was working on the restoration of Denver & Rio Grande Western outfit car 04951 and was in search of a set of trucks for the car. They had managed to locate a set of trucks in Washington State that had originally come from the Colorado & Northwestern Railway (C&N-W), known as the “Switzerland Trail”, a narrow gauge shortline that ran west from Boulder, Colorado to the mining towns of Eldora and Ward from 1897 to 1920. The trucks were a different (longer) wheelbase than the D&RGW trucks that the WRPS needed for 04953, so they contacted me about a possible trade, as 8027 was sitting on a pair of D&RGW trucks. As it happens, the C&N-W trucks were the same wheelbase as 8027’s long-gone trucks, so they would be a good fit for the car. (The C&N-W trucks had gone, with the car they were originally under, to a railroad in Nevada after the C&N-W ceased operations in 1920. They ended up under another car on display at a casino in Boulder City, Nevada by the 1970’s. The casino sold the railroad equipment to a private collector in Washington State around 2003.)
A trade was worked out and during the summer of 2011, the WRPS brought the C&N-W trucks out from Washington to Kansas. A crane was used to lift 8027 off the D&RGW trucks and set it on the C&N-W ones; the D&RGW trucks were loaded up and sent on their way to Oregon.
One thing missing from 8027 at this point was lettering; boxcars just look better when they have the correct lettering on them. To develop the lettering for 8027, I used a photo of sister car 8038 from 1930 to determine the size and placement of the various stencils on the car. The lettering was made using a “Railroad Roman” font in Microsoft Word. The font size was adjusted to the desired size and the lettering was printed out on cardstock (sometimes one letter or number per page!) and then cut out with an Exacto knife to make a stencil. This is a time consuming and tedious process, but it yields decent results. We visited Kansas over Christmas 2011 and despite the frigid weather; I applied the lettering that I had complete to the car.
Not much else was accomplished on 8027 until after we moved to Kansas in June 2012 and finally finished our house in March 2013. In June 2013, I made stencils for the large “C&S” and “8027” on the side of the car and applied the lettering. (The “8027” did not work out well, but being impatient I painted it anyway, with the intent of fixing net time the car as a whole was repainted.) In September 2013, I installed brake beams (they hold the brake shoes by the wheels) on 8027, purely for cosmetic reasons as the car has no brake system for now. While I gathered some parts for future work on the car later that year, that was pretty much the end of restoration work on 8027 for the next five years.
In late 2016, I became involved with the South Park Rail Society and the group’s project to restore the former Colorado & Southern Railroad facilities in Como, a place that 8027 knew well. By late 2018, the Como Project had progressed to the point that it was ready to provide a home for 8027, and in December I donated the car to the SPRS and began work to ready the car for its return to Colorado.