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Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec have been busy

By June 20, 2018Features

By Aaron Isaacs, HRA editor

The Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad may be the most productive restorers of vintage rolling stock and infrastructure in North America. Although few of its members live close to the very rural C&TS, the railroad has a national (make that international) following and over 2300 members. Taking advantage of that, the Friends put together seven work weeks each year. The weeks are planned out in advance, with multiple projects scheduled for work locations all along the line. Planning includes having the needed supplies and tools in place and even extends to food preparation and delivery, so the volunteers’ time is maximized.

The work sessions are incredibly productive because of the large number of work hours. In 2017, 572 volunteers gave 22,480 hours. That’s the equivalent of 11 full time employee years.

Although some projects span multiple years, having so many volunteers at once tends to shorten completion times, and that sense of accomplishment encourages volunteering. The almost-as-remote Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum has adopted the work week model on a smaller scale, but with similar positive results. Maybe this works better with narrow gauges, which tend to have a wide fan base, but one wonders why more museums don’t try something similar.

The Friends has an online master project list called FIDO (Friends’ Integrated Data Online). From that and their newsletter, I’ve put together a list of all the completed projects since 2007.

Renew the deck on 6544 – Survey the car for additional work
Install items and information within Chama Depot telegraphy area.
Replace Cumbres storage building galvanized Iron Roof
Paint UTLX narrow frame tank cars 12918 & 13168
Complete and paint the bathroom in the Antonito Car Repair Facility
Install interior plywood ceilings in both Antonito storage reefers
Construct concrete walkway & equip. pads between the CRF to between the storage reefers
Construct Antonito apron(s) 35 – 40 ft long for outside car work
Complete the repair of drop bottom gon #859
Construct a steel and wood culvert to solve drainage problems around Cumbres snowshed
Complete restoration of Drop Bottom Gon # 724
Repairs to handrail and walkway on trestle at Lobato
Paint the exterior of the Cafeteria at Osier
Construct a concrete pad 15ft X 40ft between the two Antonito storage reefers
Repair and Paint spare rider gon 6205
Rebuild existing P-box concession car without windows for freight charters
Chama Engine House, Conduit replacement to North outside lights at the Chama engine house
Lay out and install shop equipment in Antonito CRF and prepare equipment for use
Rebuild boxcar-coach C&TS 451 to D&RGW 3533 as a museum display car
Make minor repairs to roof and siding on Friends tool car #3254
Make repairs to siding and roof of Friends storage car #3686

Replace Chama log bunkhouse roof
Renew the deck on flat car 6509 – Survey car for additional needed work
Paint the Chama Depot
Brick pointing and minor repairs to the Chama oil house
Construct a replica telegraphone booth at Lava
Construct outside shed at Antonito for air compressor and relocate compressor relocate compressor
Upgrade electrical wiring in Coal Tipple and Chama Sand House
Improvements to drainage around the Depot, Section House and Tank at Osier
Construct four additional large scrap and trash boxes at Chama
Construct outside shed for Antonito dust collector system and install system
Restoration of Jordan spreader #OU
Restore baggage carts
Scrap car 1062, saving castings and other metal parts
Paint Standard Gauge storage reefers in Antonito
Restoration of water car #W462
Install Lava tank ladder, replace pump house roof
Repair / Replace telltales at Mud and Rock tunnels
Replace the Chama scale house roof
Adjust the elevation of the scale house lead to suit the RR
Make new benches for Antonito Depot, copying style of existing
Clean up debris at Cresco tank cistern and rebuild fence
Storm Damage repairs to roof of Oil House at Chama
Temporary repairs to Chama Depot roof

Finishing touches on Pile Driver OB at Antonito
Replace Chama bunkhouse west foundation wood, portion of west wall and north and south foundation rocks and concrete
Replica 15 x 40 coal storage bin and loading platform along the Osier turntable spur
Roof, body and door repairs to sheep car 5549
Construct a tool crib in the CRF
Scrap 5510 Usable parts to 5995
Rebuild and reinstall spouts on water tank in Chama
Install doors supplied by RR in Antonito Depot
Install ladder guard on Osier tank
Test and set air brakes, service journal bearings; paint cupola on caboose 0579
Structural repair of Chama depot roof support

Restoration of caboose #0503
Rebuild the shed north of the tank at Los Pinos
Assistance to ready new parlor car for Service
New floors and handrails on Rider Gons
Design, prepare and install displays in the museum car
Siding, door and roof walk repairs to storage box cars
Complete interior restoration of office car
Survey the general condition of structures along the railroad
Door, Ice Hatch, Roof Walk & body repairs to Long Reefer 169
Replace roofing on bunk cars 04407 and 04982

Restoration of short reefer #55
Convert box car 3591 to Kitchen Car, replacing 3585
At Virginia City, MT, Remove & Reassemble spare trucks. Clear brush & Trees. Remove Track
Relocate trucks from Montana
Restoration and conversion of Osier Depot and Section House
Rebuild Chama oil house base frame and reside building

Encase passenger cars in plywood w/rubber roofs
Electrical improvements at Antonito

Rebuild out buildings behind Cumbres Car Inspector’s house
Door stops, siding, roof walk, grab iron repairs to 3669
Restore the pump house at Cumbres
Clean up around Lava tank
Replace fourth header of Cumbres snowsheds; Protect headers with snow/ice guard
Install tracks to and in the Antonito pole barn
Roof, body and door repairs to sheep car 5633
Paint cars in Antonito Display Train
Replace broken deck boards on Chama station loading dock
Paint Osier station
Rebuild high side gondola 9558
Repair gon 6205

Restore Cook car #053 as a rotary cook car.
Repair High Side Gondola Car # 1232
Repair Wheel and Tie Car # 06092
Repair Drop Bottm Gondola Car # 769
Chama Wool Storage Warehouse (Carpenter Shop) Deck Board Replacement for loading dock
Repair Sublette Section House
Convert Box Car # 3585 to new Tool Car.
Build pole barn over storage tracks at Antonito Coach Restoration Facility
Restore Derrick #OP to operational condition
Siding repairs to the Section House at Cumbres
Repair Potty/Concession Box Car # 3244
Replace roof on MOW west speeder shed at Sublette
Repair Cattle Car # 5706
Replace roofing on Coal Bunker building at the Bunk House
Replace roofing on Scale House
Repair boom car 06008
Make repairs to Pile Driver OB correcting operational issues

Restore RPO 054 as a Railroad Post Office.
Rebuild Drop Bottom Gondola # 783
Roof, body and door repairs to sheep car 5841
Repair High Side Gondola Car # 1149
Boxcar 3125 Replace roof walk and repair safety appliances
Box car 3422 Replace roof walk and repair safety appliances
Repair Caboose 0579
Re-side and make porch repairs to Osier Section House
Sand Blast narrow frame tank cars # 12962 and # 13084 to prepare both cars for painting
Repair Caboose 0503
Repair MOW Box Tool Car 04549
Repair P-Box 214 for MOW Service Car 0316
Construct Cubbyhole Storage Unit at Antonito

Repair Sheep Car # 5553
Repair High Side Rider Gon 1357
Convert Box Car 3016 to new Kitchen Storage Car
Repair Friends’ shop trailer for remote repairs
Install new roofing on Annex to Cumbres Car Inspector’s house
Reroof caboose 0503
Repair 06051 Rail and Tie Car
Sandblast, Paint and Letter UTLX (Gramps) Frameless tank car 11050
Make repairs to Pile Driver OB correcting operational issues
Sandblast, Paint and Letter MOW narrow frame Water Cars 0471 and 0472
Maintain, repair, upgrade, paint and letter Concession Car 3244
Repair decking on rider gondola 6314
Repair 16 picnic tables
RPO 54 Repaint and letter RPO 54

Completed Projects
Stabilization/restoration Car Inspector House
Stabilization/repair Chama Coal Tipple
Passenger trucks for coaches
Restoration of Tourist Sleeper 0252/470
Restore UTLX Tank Cars 11036 and 11037
Restore GRAMPS Tank Car 11050
Restore Lava Tank Pump House
Repairs to Cumbres Section House
Restore GRAMPS Loading Platform
Chama Stock Pen repairs
Restoration of Long Stock Car 5995
Relocate solar panels, Osier
Rebuild High-Side Gondola Car 1357
Reconstruct Idler Flat Car 1515
Maintain Steel Frame Flat Car 6529
Restoration of Wheel and Tie Car 06092
Restoration of Water Service Car 04904
Repairs to Drop Bottom Gondola Car 787
Maintain/Repair Steel Flat Flat 6627
Extend concrete working pads, CRF
Maintain/repair Steel Flat Car 6601
Restore Jordan Spreader OU
Build four freight trucks from parts
Repairs to Caboose 05635
Repair/upgrade Concession Car 3244
Fix roof leaks on Kitchen Car 3591
Repair/reconfiguration of Caboose 0306
Repaint RPO 54 to Pullman Green
Repair Drop Bottom Gondola Car 801
Replace 3/4-in. train line on Cook Car 053
Replace wood stair steps to Terrace Ave.
Restore Chama Stand House System
Convert Box-Coach 202 to Box Car 3537
Rebuild MOW Bunk Car 04258
Repairs/maintenance RGS Caboose 0400
Repairs/maintenance Rider Gon 6205
Install 40-foot storage container CRF
Trim wild growth along right of way
Maintenance of Antonito entry sign
Paint 17 different cars and structures
Complete lettering on 15 cars
Wood preservative treatment on 11 cars and bridges and trestles.
General maintenance of caboose roofs
Project discovery of 14 future projects
Mechanical maint., wheels and trucks
Air and brake maintenance for 18 cars
Mowing grass in Chama and Stock Pens
Camera system operation and maint.
Restoration of signage along ROW
Construct lean-to addition, CRF





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