Sunday, September 13, 2015

Narcissus Restoration Report - September 7, 2015

September 2, 2015 - Donald Curry (left) working on the No. 1 end
vestibule of the Narcissus. PWM image
Surprise! Donald Curry (left) and Bob Reich, caught
off guard by me in Town House Restoration Shop
at Seashore Trolley Museum. Donald has been a Trolley
Museum staff member since 1954 and has contributed
more volunteer hours during that time than paid hours
for sure. Bob Reich has been a long-time volunteer as well.
PWM image
From Donald Curry's Town House Restoration Shop Report on the Narcissus, dated September 7, 2015, for inclusion in Seashore Trolley Museum's newsletter, The Dispatch.

Portland-Lewiston Interurban 14, Narcissus, Laconia Car Co. 1912 (Fund 816A)--Let’s move on to a car that will spend a lot longer in the Shop—The first job was to see just what we have in front of us—components, wood, hardware, and “red herrings”! (Things that turn out to have nothing to do with car 14.) The car has been worked on at various times with the most significant being 1996. During that time a number of the mahogany trim parts were varnished and since carefully accounted for (thanks, Tom Hughes) and put into storage. New tongue and groove wainscot were milled, primed and likewise stored. Project Manager Phil Morse has brought groups of international students from nearby Thornton Academy in Saco to help check and confirm the inventory of parts and re-wrap them in saran wrap until we are ready to install them. Every part was named as to location and what it was. In some cases, this took several educated guesses.

Five student volunteers from Thornton Academy's Residential Life Program.
Thornton Academy has approximately 160 international students from
22 different countries that attend middle school and high school within
a total school population of nearly 1,600. The students above are from
Vietnam, South Korea, China, and Ukraine. Four students are counting
original exterior poplar vertical sheathing from Narcissus that had
previously been repaired, sanded, and primed. One student in the
background is sandblasting square-headed bolts for Narcissus. PWM
Stained glass - The most striking components of 14 are the stained glass windows in the clerestory and big “eyebrows” over the side windows. Several years ago Tom Hughes did an excellent job of rebuilding the 26 arched clerestory sash frames, many using the original Santo Domingo mahogany[1]. Some work had been done on the stained glass itself but for various reasons, it had come to a halt. But thanks to a serendipitous connection made by Phil Morse, right in his neighborhood, he found Sundancer Stained Glass Studio in Saco, Maine and its proprietor Deb Caron Plourde.  Immediately she identified with the project both from its beauty and craftsmanship as well as its historical value. Over the winter she sorted out frame-by-frame, the original glass that could be used and identified and purchased what would be needed to replace what was missing, this from who may have been the original manufacturer. At this point, the glasswork in all 40 sashes is completed with the next step being the building and rebuilding of the big “eyebrow” frames. This will require finding the original type of Honduras (Santo Domingo) Mahogany about 2 in. thick to be assembled with the pieces remaining on the car. Fortunately, most of the mahogany on the interior was intact when we got the car in 1969.

Several leaded stained glass windows were installed
temporarily for visitors viewing pleasure during the
Teddy Roosevelt Days event early in August.
Patricia Pierce Erikson image
 On the level - The first real bodywork that was done was to make sure the body was straight and plumb. John Melanson set up a taut string down the center of the car body near the floor. It revealed some variation but that was largely corrected by some strategic jacking. Then the long level was put across the body at the vestibule and again, some small tweaking (if you can tweak a 110 lb. jack!) and things were leveled. If you sight down through the 46 ft. body, you can see for yourself. This is very fortunate because we have had problems in some of our other restorations where we didn’t make the corrections in time.

Taut string along the lower side of Narcissus. PWM image
Taut string down the center of
Narcissus. PWM image

The object for this phase of the restoration is to enclose the body including the roof, siding, and vestibules. The area around the latter has a number of sub-sections including the doorposts, window sills, the roof structure, the steps, bumpers, and couplers. (At this phase wiring, piping and mechanical components will be at a minimum in areas which must be open for access.)

As this is written the bumper on the no. 1 end is being fitted to the body—a bit trimmed here and another bit there until it slides smoothly up onto the mounts (knees).  Our period for this restoration is 1912-1916. Then the PLI changed the style of couplers from the very primitive Van Dorn to the more sophisticated Westinghouse knuckle style, meant for train line operation including air brakes. In the car’s earliest days it had straight-air brakes and probably did not run in trains [multiple-unit]) so we’re sure that Teddy Roosevelt’s feet were resting just above the Van Dorn coupler on the car’s no. 2 end, when he made his speech in Gray Maine 18 August 1914.

Work on the no. 1 end of Narcissus. PWM image
We just happen to have a pair of the correct style Van Dorn couplers that came to Seashore along with two PLI suburban style cars: 40 and 42. They came in the 1960s, before Narcissus and were cut up over time. There had been a movement to make our open cars M-U because of the expected crowds that would be carried between our present location and the new one on Rte. 1 in Biddeford. The Van Dorn couplers were just the thing for connecting two cars. 303 was being overhauled down in what is now called Shop 1. With some minor modifications and additions to the car’s framework, the mounting for a coupler was installed on one end of 303. The control was changed to a Montreal style PK and it was used for a long time (10 years???? More???) before operational problems forced us to rewire the car and return its standard K35 control arrangement. However, that mount is still way up inside under the front platform on one end. We feel we can copy the design and make two for 14 since it would be very difficult to remove it.

What do we use for curatorially correct materials? At this point, we have made the decision that, wherever possible, we will use original components even though they may not be as rugged as they once were. One of the most difficult problems is the wood. They just don’t grow trees like they used to! First, the grain tends to be open—the farm-raised woods are less dense and much more susceptible rot and require much better paint systems. Second (and this was one of the significant factors in the decline in making wood-framed cars). The giant trees were no longer available. For instance, the letter boards on 14 are about 12 in wide by 1 in. thick clear poplar.  The lower side sills are 5 ¼ in. x 7 ½ in. x 37 ft. southern yellow pine and the headers along the roof are similar lengths of douglas fir. Fortunately, these components are in good shape and will need a minimum of repairs. What we did find however was that virtually every fastener: wood screw, tie-rod, bolt, nut, and nail, was made of unprotected iron and had corroded to the point that they needed replacement. In the case of screws and nails, we’re using stainless steel. Where we can get them we’re using hot-dipped galvanized bolts. Where we can’t, we’re blasting, priming and painting them. So the general practice will be to replace every fastener.

For Narcissus - 191 square-headed bolts and 105
square-headed nuts painted with primer after being
sandblasted. Next step will be to paint them all black.
The cost for these special nuts and bolts may surprise you?
$800. This is a small fraction of the total number
that will be needed for the restoration of the Narcissus.
WM image

Sandblasting bolts
for Narcissus. PWM

All Painted and ready to go 9-13-15 PWM
What happens when the money in a project’s fund runs out? One of the questions that practically every visitor asks the workers on the floor is, “How long does it take to restore one of these cars?” Giving a straight answer is practically impossible but one of the factors that figures very high in any restoration project is sufficient funding for the materials and labor costs to keep it moving until the end. It is best to have an active project sponsor who can make the contacts necessary to encourage donations. (PWM-when funding diminishes, the restoration comes to a standstill. Please help keep the Narcissus project moving forward by making a donation to its project fund 816A, today. Click Here to make an online donation

[1] Thanks to Bill Wall of the Shore Line Trolley Museum (Branford, CT) who found them, we have the complete set of clerestory windows rescued from the Arbutus which had been preserved for many years in nearby Camp Ellis. Unfortunately, during WWII, it went to the scrap effort.

Two new I-beam sections welded into
place to stabilize the no. 1 end
vestibule. PWM image

Mark your calendars (purchase your Friday-opening tickets in advance) and plan to attend the 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days Event July 21-23, 2017

A Benefit Event For the Narcissus Project!

Click Here: First Post on 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days - W. S. Libbey's 1908 Stanley Steamer
Click Here: Second Post on 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days - Suzanne Buzby Hersey - "My Maine"
Click Here: Third Post on 2017 Teddy Roosevelt Days - Wade Zahares - Artist

More details on the celebration will be announced soon.
The Friday activity requires a ticket to be purchased in
advance. There is limited seating for the Friday gala
opening activity. Saturday and Sunday are
general admission public offerings at

The Narcissus Project Blog was created in April 2015 for the purpose of reaching out to a large number of folks through the power of social media to introduce them to the Narcissus. The Narcissus is a luxury, high-speed, wooden electric interurban. The Narcissus was built in 1912 in Laconia, NH and operated on the Portland-Lewiston Interurban, in Maine, between Portland and Lewiston, from 1914 to 1933. Theodore Roosevelt was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914. The blog posts appeal to folks with an interest in Theodore Roosevelt's connection to Maine, to folks generally interested in regional/local history, as well as those folks within the greater railway family. Hopefully, these posts will endear many of the readers to help support the Narcissus financially, as it undergoes a complete restoration over the next few years at Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine. 

We Did It!! 

$40,000 Raised!

Your Donations to the Narcissus Combined to Achieve the Goal Set Nineteen Months Ago. Raise $40,000 for the Narcissus to Meet the Challenge of the Matching Grant from the 

This brings the Combined Total Amount of Donations to the
Narcissus, based on the 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation's matching grants to $100,000!  

The $40,000 donation will be the 2nd donation to the Narcissus from the 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation as a result of successfully raising funds for a matching grant. A previous $10,000 matching grant challenge was achieved in 2014.

Donations made to the Narcissus Fund 816-A, for the remainder of 2017 and until further notice,
 will be used for work and materials needed to restore the interior of the Narcissus.

See below for Donation options -

It starts with YOU...
Your Donation Matters...
Make a Donation TODAY....

Please Help the Narcissus
Donations are now being raised to restore the interior of the Narcissus.

Donation Options to Help Restore the Narcissus:

The New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS)
is the 501c3 organization that owns and operates the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, ME and the National Streetcar
The NEERHS is registered with the IRS (EIN# 01-0244457) and was incorporated in Maine in 1941.

Check or Money Order ***** should be made payable to:
New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS)
In the memo please write: Narcissus Fund 816-A
Mail to: Seashore Trolley Museum
              P. O. Box A
              Kennebunkport, ME 04046

Credit Card ***** donations can be a one-time donation or you
may choose to have a specific amount charged to your card
automatically on a monthly basis. Please contact the Museum bookkeeper, Connie, via email at or by phone, 207-967-2712 ext. 5.

Online Donations - may be made by using a Credit Card: 
Click Here to make an online donation through the Museum's website - When at the Donation page: Fill in donor info, etc., when at "To which fund are you donating? Scroll down to "Other" and type in: 816-A Narcissus, then continue on filling in the required information.

Click Here for PayPal - to make an online donation: you can use email: and in the message box write:
For Narcissus fund 816-A

Donation of Securities ***** We also accept donations of
securities. You can contact the Museum bookkeeper, Connie, via email at or by phone, 207-967-2712 ext. 5,
for brokerage account information for accepting donated securities.

BONUS ***** If you work for a company/corporation that will
"match" an employee's donation to an approved 501c3 non-profit,
educational, organization, please be sure to complete the necessary paperwork with your employer so that your donation is matched :)

Questions? ***** Please contact Narcissus project manager:
Phil Morse, or call 207-985-9723 - cell.

Thank You :)

Thank You for our Current Funding Partners
20th Century Electric Railway Foundation - 2017/2014 Matching Grant Challenges
Thornton Academy (Saco, ME) - Staff & Alumni - Matching Grant Challenge 2014
* New England Electric Railway Historical Society (Kennebunkport, ME) - Member Donations
Amherst Railway Society - 2015 Heritage Grant
National Railway Historical Society - 2016 & 2015 Heritage Preservation Grants
Enterprise Holding Foundation - 2015 Community Grant
Theodore Roosevelt Association - Member Donations
John Libby Family Association and Member Donations
* The Conley Family - In Memory of Scott Libbey 2017/2016/2015
The W. S. Libbey Family - Awalt, Conley, Graf, Holman, Libbey, McAvoy, McLaughlin, Meldrum, O'Halloran, Salto, - 2017
* The Hughes Family 2017/2016/2010
New Gloucester Historical Society and Member Donations
Gray Historical Society and Member Donations
Gray Public Library Association - Pat Barter Speaker Series
* IBM - Matching Employee/Retiree Donations
* Fidelity Charitable Grant - Matching Employee Donations
* Richard E. Erwin Grant - 2017/2016
Seal Cove Auto Museum

The Narcissus, with interior back-lit, stained glass windows are majestic.
Make a donation today to help restore the interior of this Maine gem.
Help Theodore Roosevelt's Maine Ride get back on track! Once restored,
you will be able to ride in luxury on this National Historic Treasure at
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.
PWM photo

Please Consider Making a Donation to the Narcissus Restoration Project. We are currently raising funds to restore the interior of this Maine gem.

Various News stories during the summer of 2015 about the
Narcissus and its connection to Theodore Roosevelt. TR
was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914.

Click Here to See the list of All Previous Blog Posts - 100-Plus

Link to Libby/Libbey Family connections

Click Here - Portland Public Library Presentation - History of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - W. S. Libbey - The Man and His Mill
Click Here - W. S. Libbey - His 1908 Stanley Steamer K 30-hp Semi-Racer
Click Here - W. Scott Libbey's 1908 Stanley Steamer History to be Featured - July 21, 2017
Click Here - Scrapbook Celebrates the People of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - May 18, 1914, Newspaper Story on the Passing of PLI Builder, W. Scott Libbey
Click Here - 102nd Anniversary of the Opening of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - 83rd anniversary of the Closing of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban
Click Here - Sophia, W. S. Libbey Descendant Visits the Narcissus
Click Here - Libby/Libbey Family Connection to Narcissus becomes Personal
Click Here - Ode To the Grand Old Interurban
Click Here - The Portland-Lewiston Interurban "Bouquet" is Ordered (1912)

Links to Narcissus Restoration Work:
Click Here - Ornate Leaded Stained Glass Work
Click Here - Narcissus Enters Town House Restoration Shop
Click Here - Sorting and Cleaning Materials on Interior of the Narcissus
Click Here - September 7, 2015, Restoration Report
Click Here - December 7, 2015, Restoration Report
Click Here - December 14, 2015, Restoration Report
Click Here - Beautiful Brass of the Narcissus
Click Here - December 28, 2015 Restoration Update
Click Here - January 4, 2016, Restoration Update
Click Here - Vallee Family Photos of Narcissus 1960s
Click Here - February 11, 2016, Restoration Update
Click Here - A Wooden Interurban - Restoration Info
Click Here - NRHS 2016 Heritage Grant Award to Narcissus
Click Here - Announcement of 2016 Teddy Roosevelt Days Fundraising Event for the Narcissus
Click Here - Series of Restoration Posts related to work on exterior poplar frames
Click Here - Vintage Poplar used in Narcissus restoration
Click Here - Mahogany Sash passenger windows being restored
Click Here - "A President Has Ridden in My House!" - Video of Dan Vallee
Click Here - Teddy Roosevelt Days 2016 - Weekend Event Benefits the Narcissus
Click Here - August 2016 Restoration Update
Click Here - Mid-September Restoration Update
Click Here - Theodore Roosevelt & the Narcissus: Connecting Maine Communities
Click Here - How to Make New Seats for the Narcissus?
Click Here - 2016 Summary of Research and Outreach
Click Here - 2016 Restoration Summary

Narcissus - July 31, 2015. Make a donation today. 
 Help Theodore Roosevelt's Maine Ride get back on track!
Once restored, you will be able to ride in luxury on this
National Historic Treasure at
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.

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