The Curzon Story (12 of 13)
Continuing work on the Curzon

The curved temporary section of track had to be removed and re-aligned with the second inside track on which Strathcona and Redvers were then parked. The lead in tracks were then removed off of the site, from across the street, and through the museum's parking lot. Everything had to be returned to normal by the end of the day in order to return highway traffic to use, and to provide the fenced security for the museum at night. The whole move had taken about 9 hours.

All cars were placed within an inch of the chosen locations in order to line up access doors for the new corridor. This was done as well to maximize public viewing through windows from the corridor, and to line up with the baggage door of the lead car of the "Trans-Canada Limited" set... This in turn provided direct access from the main viewing corridor & audio-visual area.

In this configuration, the open brass railed observation platforms of both Curzon and Strathcona faced towards the station as if on two garden tracks. They were off set from each other by about 15 feet, with Curzon the one further back, with more of the car on view. This also gave the best view of the dining car Argyle's dining room windows as well as for dining patrons from within the car. The gardens, the station, and the rest of the Trans-Canada Limited cars, were also better exhibited this way.

23) Exterior work continues on Curzon - details

Although the Strathcona looked fairly presentable, the Curzon did not. And, since winter was arriving, limited exterior work could be done until the following March (which was also near the end of the Job-Creation Program). All major work therefore had to be completed by March 31st, and any remaining work to prepare for the re-naming ceremonies in June would be subject to the availability of more Job-Creation personnel; this was not guaranteed.

The Curzon's brass railing had been removed in the 1930's. The rear centre gate had later been given to Russ Porter, who had in turn donated it to the Mid-Continent Railway Museum not far from Madison, Wisconsin. This gate was then donated to Cranbrook when the Curzon was acquired. However, the rest of the railing had been disposed of. As luck would have it, the x1413 still had the two rear side railings, but the rear centre gate was missing. There was now enough of the railing to reconstruct the Barney & Smith style railing at the end to make the Curzon appear as original. However, because the two side gates were still missing, this could work only if the side stairwell gates appeared to be opened for access to the stairs. The rear end gate was in good condition, needing only buffing and minor repairs. However, the end side railings had been bent outward and upward, and they were cracked in several places. The end steel buffer had also been hit on the right side, with the whole alignment out about six inches.

One of the Job Creation crew was taking a welding course at the local College of the Rockies. He spent nearly three months removing, repairing, straightening, and re-assembling the units, as well as replacing the damaged end buffers. The railing was re-attached in a more secure manner. The whole thing looks today as it appeared in 1907; only one side top railing cap needs yet to be refabricated. In 1993, for the renaming ceremonies, the Inland Empire Railroad Historical Association of Spokane, Washington, had a new drumhead constructed and electrified as per the original on the "Soo-Spokane Train Deluxe". It is attached, as originally done, to the centre gate, and is automatically illuminated at night.

We now go back to the state of the Curzon as it was placed on the museum site. All windows were still covered, the roof needed work, and most of the letterboard was still covered with steel sheathing added in 1926, which covered all of the original stained "gothic sash" of car. The two door openings were still visible in the sides of the car, but were covered with plywood, and the A-end stairwells were boarded over. The open platform had no stairwells, or floor past the stairwell, and the railings were badly bent and damaged. The original B-end glass door and deep windows were also covered.

The new "viewing corridor" construction took place from late November through early January of 1993, with several simultaneous projects being done on Curzon. First, the car had to have all of its wiring re-done to permit new 110-volt and grounded circuits to safely light the car. This was difficult, although once access to the gothic sash was obtained, holes could be drilled between the windows and through the interior frame of the car for new wiring to all lights along the inside walls of the car. This was completely invisible and did no damage — cosmetic or structural. It even allowed for hook-up to future small lights to help illuminate the stained glass from between the inner and outer gothic sash. It also allowed all lower berths lights and side wall lounge lights to be connected with ease. All ceiling lights were serviced from the original 1907 exposed conduits on the top centre of the roof. The old wiring was removed and new wiring inserted and connected. Dimmers now control all lights to hold them at appropriate levels for exhibition (low), or cleaning (high).

When the steel covering the was removed, it was discovered that all of the original exterior elliptically-shaped windows had been removed. The openings had been filled by solid 1& 1/2" thick blocks of wood approximately 10" x 58". The restoration crew then re-contoured these blocks to simulate the original curves which had contributed so much to the architecture of the car and gave it the period distinction. The blocks were also vertically-grooved at the sides to match the exterior tongue and groove sheathing on the car. Textured glass was then installed to simulate the original exterior leaded glass windows. The new frames were then remounted, with a few screws to hold them in place. With this method, these windows can be easily removed at any time to give access to the area between the window for cleaning, repair, and bulb replacement.

The damaged letterboard was then repaired and pieced in where the two side doors had been cut out. The ends of this board, which were cut away when the large windows were installed as a cottage, were extended back over the open platform and curved up to join the end trim. The roofing and eaves were repaired at the same time, and the inside of the small platform walls containing the small window opening, were re-sheathed. The door openings cut into the side for the two additions to the car as a cottage were also re-constructed. They were then sheathed in tongue and groove whitewood sheathing salvaged from the x1413. It matched exactly, and is therefore very difficult to be seen today as a repair.

As for windows, the Curzon originally had six large lounge windows, seven small short curved top windows, and thirty-four regular windows. All windows in the car were double sashed to reduce noise transmission, and heat loss in the winter. The interior sashes were made of walnut, with all exterior storm sash made of mahogany, for a total of ninety-four windows along the sides of the car. In addition, there were also irregular windows and doors at each end of the car

Nearly all original interior windows remained in the Curzon, except for two regular ones removed when the side doors were installed. One curved A-end window was missing, and all seven of the short single curved windows had been removed when the steel was applied across the original gothic sash. Many window frames were salvaged from x1413, and although in fairly bad shape, most were restorable. Ultra-violet filters were applied to the inside surface of the glass to protect the car interiors against sunlight and heat build-up. Cranbrook is exceptionally sunny in both winter and summer.

Stairwells and striped coloured canopies were applied at the platform ends. The underframe was painted flat black, and the exterior body paint was re-done with original style letters. Since the car had to interpret both the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Soo Line the car was lettered on each side in the two slightly different liveries. The side facing the street is done in the CPR livery with the small letters "Canadian Pacific" over each wheel set. The name Cranbrook was used in the centre of the car, since the Cranbrook and Spokane were the only two cars done in that scheme.

The other side of the car carries the Soo Line livery, with the number "750" over each wheel set and the name Curzon in the centre. Both livery schemes had the name "Soo-Spokane Line" along the top letterboard. There were no markings on either end of the car, so the two schemes can be done together without being seen at the same time. In the naming, the interpretation tried to connect the words, Cranbrook, Spokane, Soo Line and Canadian Pacific for clarity and context. It was also important to connect with the Canadian Pacific lettering on the other Trans-Canada Limited cars on site. Yet, it does not physically, or materially, change the artifact, or its providence. It just ads to the interpretation of the collection.