Dining Car Argyle (arrived 1976) (3 of 3)

Work Done to the Argyle at the Museum

The Argyle was the very first car acquired by the museum. The extensive work done on it determined restoration procedures used on future acquisitions of badly damaged and painted cars. Those cars found in original condition were dealt with differently. Since the museum had had no direct restoration expertise for this type of artifact, much research was done beforehand to determine the history of the car and what would have to be done technically and artistically to bring it to a presentable and sustainable display standard.

It was also determined that this car was a part of a set of the famous Trans-Canada Limited of 1929, so it was also to be considered in context with a number of other cars from this train, and the evolving artifacts collections policy of the museum.

Another consideration was that the artifacts were also to be facilities with substantial staff and public uses. This required access procedures for both groups. Environmental controls (heating, cooling, and forced air circulation) and security systems had to be discreetly installed before restoration could begin, since much of this work could easily be undone without them. New grounded electrical systems were also employed for safety and a 110 volt current was installed for light bulbs.

Finally, budget realities required a staging of the restoration to bring the car back from its altered state. Each stage permitted different uses as the museum facilities evolved, and the evolution and different uses lasted several years. A specific restoration procedure was established for the wood panels that had been badly damaged and painted.


Site work with tracks and 10-foot tall security fence, exterior walls, lettering, 42 mahogany and walnut sashed windows, floor repairs, roof work, electrical systems for heat & light, carpeting, half of the original dining room panelling was restored (the other half became a temporary exhibition gallery, and the original pantry and galley became an office area). An original walnut buffet cabinet located at the A-end of the room, was restored and installed in the car. A temporary open observation platform was inserted on the B-end for stairs into the car (to save room, dining cars normally contained no stairs since they were usually used in conjunction with other cars with stairs).


The exhibition gallery was removed and the entire original dining room was restored, although as yet no original furniture had been found. (the exhibition gallery facility was moved to a new baggage car that had arrived for that purpose).


  1. In preparation for the train visit to Expo'86 in Vancouver, the galley and pantry were re-constructed and restored as much as possible awaiting further original equipment.
  2. The open observation platform was also removed and replaced with original parts which were removed a few years earlier.
  3. 8 original chairs had also been found in the meantime and were also restored.
  4. 36 new globes were purchased for the brass fixtures to better match the original design (the same globes were also found for the solarium car)
    by this date another 8 chairs had been found and restored in blue calfskin leather,- for a total of 26
    all 32 windows were covered with special framed exterior glazing

Work Left to do on the Argyle
(in order
of current priority as of 1999)

  1. an appropriate dining car stove was recently donated by the railway, and will be installed in later 1999.
  2. only 10 walnut chairs now remain to be found, and the public can assist in finding them.
    (Insert photo of chair)
  3. a half-sized model of the buffet cabinet will need to be reconstructed for placement at the opposite (B-) end of the dining room
  4. 3 decorative bronze fandoliers, 3 large ceiling ventilator grills, and 12 smaller grills are needed to complete the dining room ceiling, but so far no original examples have been found. They will probably have to be recast in bronze from moulds made from photos. The public can also assist here
    (insert photo)
  5. the surfaces of the galley and pantry counters will be required to be covered in sheets of a special alloy called "nickleen" (the alloy mixture details and sources are not yet known, but the public may be able to help). This is a low priority project due to the cost.
  6. 12 walnut tables need to be built, however, since they are always covered with white linen table cloths this is a lower priority
  7. when the car is due to be enclosed in the new future building, the exterior will have a high quality steel paint finish with original gold leaf lettering. This will be an expensive but permanently sustainable finish once indoors

Other Notes about the Argyle

It is the only surviving A-series dining car!

To Sleeping Car Somerset