Once the exterior work on the car was completed, the time had come to move it from Boonton to Whippany so the interior restoration could be started. In September, 2019, a few weeks past the 35th anniversary of it leading the last MU train into Dover, the Lackawanna #2454 was again under the wires as it traveled the Denville to Morristown segment of its trip to the Museum.
With its arrival at Whippany, work on restoring the interior got underway. Restoration began with WRyM volunteers removing the carpet and clearing the car of debris. The interior finish of the car was constructed of mahogany, much of which was in remarkably good condition considering the three decades of non-maintenance and exposure to vandalism and the elements, although the interior doors needed to be rebuilt and many of the window surrounds and other finishing pieces needed to be replaced. In a process which took four months, all of the interior’s cracked and soot covered varnish was stripped and the wood refinished. Meanwhile, the damaged panels forming the car’s air-conditioning duct were replaced and followed by the prepping and repainting of the car’s ceiling.
Nearly all of the metal fittings, both large, such as the baggage racks and lighting fixtures, and small, down to the match strike plates, had been removed over the years, requiring replacements to be acquired or manufactured. With the refinishing of the interior mahogany completed, all of these various pieces were reinstalled. Interior lettering was then applied. At this same time the car’s electrical service was converted to be compatible with modern HEP systems and the interior of the car was rewired, down to each of the annunciators which were used to alert the car’s porter that a member wanted service.
The original heating system was was designed to operate on DC power. This set-up was replaced with one able to operate with on AC power. The radiators were installed within the original floor mounted heating ducts, thus maintaining the original look. The metal plates covering the system were repainted and reinstalled.
The concrete floor of the car was resurfaced, and a 1910-era railroad-design carpet was manufactured and installed in the main sections. The entranceways, galley and restrooms received new, dark-green linoleum.
When in service, another distinctive feature of the Subscription Cars were their individual wicker seats. When received by the Museum, a few of the original chairs were still in Lackawanna #2454. One was shipped to a firm located in New Delhi, India, which was able to use it as a template to make the forty exact replicas needed for the restoration.
While the interior work was underway, a few finishing touches to the exterior were also addressed. A correct headlight, donated to the Museum, was refurbished and installed and the car’s marker lights were repaired and rewired.
On June 20th, 2021, DL&W #2454 returned to service following a celebratory dedication ceremony featuring an appearance by the Lackawanna Railroad’s iconic Miss Phoebe Snow. Now visitors to the Museum will have the opportunity to experience how some of New Jersey’s wealthiest businessmen commuted from their suburban homes to New York City. The restoration of this car helps to further the Whippany Railway Museum’s mission to preserve New Jersey’s railroad history.
The Museum is grateful to the efforts of the numerous individuals and organizations without whom the restoration of this car would not have been possible. We are especially grateful to Frank Reilly of the New Jersey County Transportation Officers Association and Captain Bill McKelvey of Liberty Historic Railway for their role in providing the funding needed for the successful completion of this project. We thank Star Trak, Philip Paris Restorations, AA Metal & Glass, Frank Minorowicz and Vikas Khurana at Interex Company for their expertise. We also thank the many Whippany Railway Museum volunteers who contributed countless hours of their time to the restoration of this car. We also wish to thank the many good people at URHS. We appreciate their arranging the transfer of the Lackawanna #2454 to WRyM and offer them a big round of applause for, without their efforts, it is very likely that this car would have been lost to the scrapper many years ago.