Saturday, April 23, 2016

Narcissus Restoration Update - Exterior Poplar Frames - Part 1 - 4-22-2016

License plate on an interior wall in Seashore Trolley Museum member/volunteer
Lary Shaffer's Scarborough Marsh Fine Furniture woodworking shop. Lary's father
was an admirer of Franklin D. Roosevelt and had this license plate on his auto.
As luck would have it, recently, Harvard University commissioned Lary to replicate,
in detail, several significant pieces of furniture as part of the restoration
of FDR's dormitory room at Harvard. Lary is currently restoring/rebuilding exterior poplar
window frames for the 1912 Narcissus.
Theodore Roosevelt was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914.
Lary's grandfather was a conductor on the maiden trip between Portland
and Boston of the Flying Yankee on April 1, 1935. See more on Lary and his
Railway & Railroad family heritage below.
Image PWM
Click Here - Link to FDR's Dorm Room Renovation work by Lary
Click Here - FDR Foundation & Adams House at Harvard

Each of the past two days I had the pleasure of spending some time with Lary Shaffer in his Scarborough Marsh Fine Furniture woodworking shop in Scarborough, Maine. Lary allowed me to take pictures and video of him as he was working on rebuilding, and in some cases restoring, the exterior poplar frames from the Narcissus. The exterior poplar frames hold the ornate leaded stained glass windows and their mahogany sash/frames. Videos below.

Closeup of the first and second eyebrows. Notice the leaded stained glass sash
being held in place by the arched, exterior frames.  STM

 Lary Shaffer, working to remove the 100+-year-old iron screw
from up inside the exterior frame that holds the large eyebrow sash and stained
glass windows. PWM

Several video clips were recorded over the two days. Each takes the viewer through the various steps Lary has developed and is implementing in his efforts to rebuild/restore/recreate the various segments that make up these poplar frames. These clips are not shown here necessarily in the order they were taken. So, you may hear a reference here and there to points made earlier, when actually, you may not have seen the referenced footage yet :) There will be more than one blog post to share all the work being done by Lary on the Narcissus exteriors poplar frames.

This first clip (below) will give you some background on the first
steps of dealing with the original exterior poplar frame segments.

A few of the "tails" that Lary refers to in the above video. The tails are
the extensions that run from the top of the exterior poplar frames and
are horizontal with the body of the Narcissus. They each are removed
in the initial dismantling of the frame segments. The tails in this image
are in great shape and will need very little attention as they are prepared
to be reconnected to the restored/repaired frames segments.PWM

A poplar frame segment after having it's "tail" removed. PWM

The same poplar frame segment as above. You can see the tiny triangular
piece of vertical sheathing in what was the corner where the tail extended
away from the top of the frame segment. Lary mentions in the video
above and shows where this tiny triangular piece is tucked in tightly in
the corner. PWM
This second clip (below) is of Lary's mid-to-late 1800's lathe
and his use of it for turning wooden "plugs" for the exterior
poplar frames. PWM

Finding wood materials for the restoration that is as close to those used originally is very important. The Museum is very fortunate to have found a local supplier in southern Maine that has had great success supplying the Museum with period wood for previous restorations like the 1906 electric locomotive, Atlantic Shore Line No. 100. John Rousseau of Rousseau Reclaimed Lumber (formerly Barnstormers) has been able to supply the Town House Restoration Shop with some wonderful vintage Poplar for use by Lary to repair/rebuild the exterior Poplar frames of the Narcissus.

This third clip (below) is of Lary giving some background on
how he became a volunteer working with Seashore Trolley
Museum and the Narcissus.

Click Here - to see Part 2 of exterior poplar frame work
Click Here - to see Part 3 of exterior poplar frame work
Click Here - to see Part 4 of exterior poplar frame work
Click Here - to see story of finding the reclaimed lumber for use in Narcissus restoration

Seashore Trolley Museum Member-Volunteer Lary Shaffer

 Seashore Trolley Museum member/volunteer Lary Shaffer, in an earlier career
in a BBC publicity, shot at the camera with Niko Tinbergen, who directed
some of the programs. The monster lens was a Nikkor 800mm that
was very useful in getting closeups of shy animals.
Image from LS
Railway and Railroad Roots in Lary's Family

Ernest Moody was Lary's Grandfather and worked for the B & M Railroad
for 55 years. Image from LS
Lary speaking of his grandfather: "Grandpa's 55 years at the B & M did not seem amazing when I was growing up but I certainly appreciate it now. He worked for two years on the Boston Elevated before he went to the Boston & Maine and that is my tiny streetcar blood stream. He had sufficient seniority at the B & M so that he was the conductor on the first Portland to Boston run of the stainless steel diesel-electric Flying Yankee on 1 April 1935. Here he is (above) and also his log book for that day. It shows how stoic he was that it simply recorded as "6000 Motor". I think I would have had to put an explanation mark or something after that entry. The Yankee must have looked like something from the futuristic space travel among all the steam engines. He notes "5-speed restrictions" in the log. Without those, the Yankee made the trip an hour faster than the current Downeaster. However, the Yankee was nonstop, so I guess that was cheating."

Lary's Woodworking Shop at

From Scarborough Marsh Fine Furniture Website:

When I was growing up on the Southern edge of the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, there was a family legend that ancestors of mine had been furniture makers in Bleeker, NY. The amount of hard evidence that exists to support this contention is, rounded off to the nearest whole number, zero.
My father was not a woodworking professional, but he could have been. He could make anything. I grew up working with him and still use a lot of his tools.
I have a B.A. Degree from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh in Psychology. I must admit that I was attracted to Psychology by the lovely machine shop that the department used to make equipment for research projects.
walneyAfter my graduation from SUNY in 1968, I was privileged to be accepted to do a graduate study with Nobel Laureate Niko Tinbergen at Oxford University in England. While I was earning my Doctorate in Zoology, I joined Niko in filming and photography. Again, I was drawn in by the beautiful machines. When I finished my degree I continued to work with Niko as a cameraman on a variety of Natural History film projects for the BBC and Independent Television in Britain. I returned to America in 1976.
teachBack in the USA, I bumbled into a 25-year career as a college professor. There were no longer any machines to attract me to that position, so I was forced to acquire my own woodworking and metal working tools at home. I retired earlyish from academia as a State University of New York Distinguished Teaching Professor. I loved teaching and gave it my best, but I was ready to move on.
bikeI have been indeed fortunate to have had many other wonderful life experiences. Two highlights: I became interested in the bicycle as a machine. I later bicycled across the United States from California to Maine in 33 days. On that trip, I had a great deal of time to think about my values and to reassess my life a bit.
congoTravel writer and friend Redmond O'Hanlon invited me to accompany him on a three month long trip in The People's Republic of Congo as a companion and photographer. This trip is recounted in his book No Mercy: A Journey to the Heart of the Congo (Knopf, 1997). No machines there, other than the ones I brought with me.
sandedI have had no formal training in furniture making and I regret that. I have a profound respect for the interaction of teachers and learners. In the past 10 years, I have read extensively and intensively about my craft. I have studied the construction of furniture whenever I have had the opportunity. I believe that my woodwork embodies the high standards and attention to detail that were required by my film and academic careers.
truckwoodI now use machines to do the things that they do best and I do the rest with my hands. The furniture pieces that I make are solid hardwood coupled with traditional joinery. I use the best hardware that I can find or forge.
I was talking with a customer once about a cabinet and he asked: "Can you do anything to make it look like walnut?" "Yup," I answered, "I can make it out of walnut."
Above all, I want my furniture to be honest.

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 into 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 to 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 Libb(e)y 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 - Libb(e)y 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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