Lackawanna Subscription Club Car #2454

The full restoration of this notable rail car was a long-term project. For the exterior of the car the Whippany Railway Museum utilized the services of Star Trak, Inc., located at the URHS restoration facility in Boonton, NJ. The first task was to remove all the earlier paint layers and coat the carbody and roof in primer paint. The lower, rotted portions of steel along the bottom and ends of the car were cut out and refitted with new metal work. Repairs were made to a minor leak in a portion of the copper-clad roof. The decayed steps and vestibule platforms were removed and rebuilt. Museum volunteers also cleaned the car’s underbody components.

2454 / 3454 enters the URHS / Star Trak shop at Boonton, NJ to begin its multi-year restoration. April 17, 2014.
Photo: Steve Hepler
Photo: Steve Hepler
May 19,2014. Photo: Steve Hepler
May 8, 2014. Photo: Steve Hepler
Aug. 6, 2014. Photo: Ray Clauss
Aug. 28, 2014. Photo: Steve Hepler
Oct. 10, 2014. Photo: Steve Hepler
April 20, 2015. Photo: Steve Hepler
July 13, 2015. Photo: Steve Hepler
August 4, 2016. Photo: Steve Hepler
Brake Component prior to the removal of rust and grime. September 3, 2015. Photo: Alan Wishengrad
Brake Component after the removal of rust and grime. September 8, 2015. Photo: Alan Wishengrad

A refurbished window frame complete with new glass. April 20, 2015. Photo: Steve Hepler

While the body repairs were underway, Museum volunteers removed all window frames, refurbishing them and fitting them with new glazing. A notable feature of No. 2454’s original 1912 construction is the stained-glass window panels above each large passenger window. Some time after the 1930 rebuild of the car for electric MU service, the stained-glass windows were plated over to give the car a more “modern” appearance. Museum volunteers removed this plating and found that the original 1912-era wood framing and stained glass panels were still in place and intact. The wooden frames for the stained-glass unfortunately did not age well and were all removed and totally re-fabricated.

EL (Conrail) MU Subscription Car #3454 at Gladstone, N.J. Steel plating was installed to hide the original stained glass window panels to give the car a more “modern” look. January 8, 1977. Photo: Dan McFadden
Original 1912-era stained glass window panels and wood frames still intact after 1930’s plating was removed. September 15, 2014. Photo: Alan Wishengrad
Newly fabricated wooden window frame with original 1912-era stained glass panels. October 21, 2014. Photo: Steve Hepler
Refabricated upper stained-glass window panels being installed. April 2, 2015. Photo: Steve Hepler

Also unique to the Subscription Cars were their diamond shaped windows. Several of them had been vandalized and their frames had deteriorated. Museum volunteers removed the original frames and fabricated replacement ones. New glass matching the original was cut to replace those panes which had been destroyed. Museum volunteers then reinstalled these signature windows. Finally, the interior framing around the windows was rebuilt and installed.

One of the diamond windows prior to restoration. May 12, 2014. Photo: Frank Reilly
New diamond window frames with glass ready for installation. July 28, 2017. Photo: Alan Wishengrad
Whippany Railway Museum volunteers install the new diamond windows. August 1, 2017. Photo: Terence Mulligan
Diamond window before installing the rebuilt interior framing. August 30, 2020. Photo: Alan Wishengrad
Diamond window after installing the rebuilt interior framing. August 30, 2020. Photo: Alan Wishengrad

With the repairs to the rotted sections of the sides and vestibules completed, the new steps installed and the windows reinstalled the next task was to fully repaint the exterior of the car. The standard color scheme for Lackawanna MU equipment was dark green (Pullman green) sides and ends with a black roof and black underbody. The lettering and car number were yellow.

Engineer’s end of car after body repair and installation of new steps. May 2, 2016. Photo: Steve Hepler
Engineer’s end of car with roof painted black. October 18, 2016. Photo: Steve Hepler

In repainting the Subscription Car, first the roof was painted black. Next, all the window glass was masked. The car’s “letterboards”, the areas on the car sides above the windows, were then painted yellow, as were small areas on each side centered under the windows. Stencils for the lettering (LACKAWANNA) and the car number (2454) were then affixed in the yellow-painted areas.

Car after masking of the windows. June 5, 2018. Photo: Mike Dodge
Applying the stencils for the lettering. July 12, 2018. Photo: Steve Hepler

With the preparation work finished the car body was ready to be painted. The first step was the application of a primer coat, which when dry was then lightly scuffed. After wiping down the car, two coats of green paint were applied. Once dry, the stencils were removed, revealing the lettering and number.

DL&W #2454 after the application of the black primer coat. July 17, 2018. Photo Steve Hepler
Wiping down the car prior to the start of applying the final coats of paint. July 21, 2018. Photo: Steve Hepler
Lackawanna #2454 getting the second coat of paint. July 21, 2018. Photo: Steve Hepler
Removing the stencils to reveal the car’s lettering and number. July 23, 2018. Photo: Steve Hepler

Following the completion of several detailing tasks, the exterior of the car looked as it had at the start of electrified service on the Lackawanna in 1930.

The vestibule handrails receive a coat of black paint. July 31, 2018. Photo: Steve Hepler
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western MU Subscription Car #2454. August 6, 2018. Photo: Steve Hepler

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