The Curzon Story (7 of 13)
Moving the "Curzon" to Cranbrook

Contracts and precautions for the move

Security for the artifact was paramount. It was a long distance from Cranbrook, and once ownership was transferred, the question of who would be responsible for the safety and security of the car had to be determined. Once the house mover started to prepare the car for movement, it was no longer usable by or the responsibility of the family; water and electricity was cut off. Issues of possible vandalism on the site, and/or once the car started its high profile public highway move to Fond du Lac were also faced, as was potential fire, during and/or after preparation. There were also security access problems (doors and windows) for workers, but not for the public once the car was on route. And there was the problems associated with well-intentioned, and not-so-well-intentioned rail buffs. Responsibility for the artifact if the movement was held up for some unknown reason also had to be faced since the artifact would then be in limbo as well as far away from both its former and new homes. The potential problems list was extensive, but the safety of the artifact, and the protection of the museum finances were foremost.

To deal with possible threats, the following agreements were put into the master moving contract:

  1. No publicity was allowed in order to reduce the public profile of the artifact before and after it was taken off the lakeside property. This policy was extended to include the time while the artifact was in transit on the truck, during loading on the flatcar, during rail transportation to Cranbrook, and while the car was in storage in Cranbrook before being put inside the museum's security enclosure. This policy involved newspaper, radio, and any other type of publicity generated either by the owners, the museum, or others who knew about the project. As much secrecy as possible was to be maintained by all parties.
  2. The use of open-flame was forbidden around the car, unless an active water hose and fire extinguisher were available. This was particularly important while using any cutting torches or welding equipment.
  3. The moving contractor (involving lifting of the car off the old foundation, loading onto the truck, and re-load onto flat car) was given a strict list of tolerances for any possible twisting or sagging of the car, removal of the side additions, and for careful boarding up the car to cover all window & door openings to be fully secure. Special locks had to be installed, and the roof had to be made waterproof for wind-blown rain, particularly where the additions had been removed.
  4. Substantial legal work was involved due ensuring the safe entry of the car into Canada, before purchase money was finally exchanged. This was to protect the museum in the advent that some action might stop the car on route. At the same time, this protected the owners interests. The purchase money was put into "escrow" by the museum lawyer for the owner, via their lawyer in a selected bank account. Once the car safely made it across the border, and cleared customs, the money was released. Separate lawyers acted for both parties.
  5. Allotments were made to the moving contractor as that aspect progressed. Site inspections were made, and a time was designated for the move (ie. late at night to avoid publicity).

The only difficulty that arose with the loading at the Wisconsin Central Railway. The car sat loaded, but not secured down, completely on public view at the Fond du Lac yards, without moving for over two weeks. It had been arranged to move the car within a day or so of its loading onto the flatcar to reduce any potential vandalism, which thankfully did not occur.