Monday, December 19, 2016

Narcissus Restoration Update - 2016 Summary

The Narcissus early in August 2016
Theodore Roosevelt was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914.
The restoration of this National Register of Historic Places gem is
underway at Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.
The Narcissus 1912 Project Blog will have its first full calendar year under its belt as 2016 transitions to 2017. The blog posts are created for the purpose of reaching out to a large number of folks through the power of social media to introduce them to the Narcissus Restoration Project. 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 (PLI) in Maine, between Portland and Lewiston, from 1914 into 1933. The blog posts appeal to folks with an interest in the restoration process of an historic electric wooden interurban, Theodore Roosevelt and his connection to Maine, to folks generally interested in regional/local history, as well as those folks within the greater railway community. Hopefully, these posts will endear many readers to take action and help support the Narcissus financially, as it undergoes a complete restoration over the next few years at Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine. For information on how to do so, scroll down the page to see the donation options. All donations are currently being matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to $40,000 through a generous matching grant challenge from 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation in La Canada, CA. We are more than halfway to raising the initial $40,000. Please help us meet our goal by making a donation Today!

2016 - A Year of Progress!!

Long-time STM member, Mark Forman, snapped this image of Narcissus
project manager, Phil Morse (L) and Lead restoration technician,
Donald Curry, as they discuss the project while standing in front of the
historic Portland-Lewiston Interurban icon, Narcissus.
July 7, 2016. photo courtesy of Mark Forman
Click Here: For Project Manager Phil Morse's 2016
Summary of Narcissus Outreach Adventures!


Narcissus restoration work in 2016 started with removing the poplar exterior arches that hold the ornate leaded stained glass in their mahogany sash (frame). Throughout the following months, the arches would have their ends expertly replaced using vintage recycled poplar located in Akron, PA Three complete sets of arches would also be made from the vintage wood. Four blog posts would follow Museum volunteer, Lary Shaffer, as he works on the arches. The restored arches are beautiful.
The word beautiful is often used to describe the Narcissus, but also many, many pieces and portions of this gem.

Volunteer, Lary Shaffer removing a screw that holds one-half of 
the original exterior arches. PWM

Left: One of only two original ends that remained and could be restored.
Right: At the top of each arch half, an extension branches out.

Lary Shaffer working on the exterior poplar arches

Test-fit of first restored arch set

Left: Set of vertical sheathing that fit in the "corners" above each exterior poplar exterior arc - left and right. See above photo
Right: The tiniest pieces are tucked into the corner.

Nearly all of the exterior of the Narcissus are wooden components that are what we today generally call "vintage" or "old growth" poplar. The Narcissus and its three sister, Laconia (NH) Car Company-built, wooden interurbans were constructed in 1912. Poplar was a light-weight, inexpensive wood, that was readily available in the local market. We are very fortunate to have Rousseau Reclaimed, a local supplier for recycled lumber, be able to supply the vintage poplar to us in so many different widths and thicknesses.

Vintage poplar from a bank barn in Akron, PA, stacked in the
yard of Rousseau Reclaimed. This poplar would be milled
for many, many different sized boards for use in the
restoration of the Narcissus.

One of the most difficult tasks for the staff, volunteers, John Rousseau, and John's mill staff, was measuring the vestibule roof poplar strips. Each of strips is very narrow, very thin, and is tapered. In addition,  each were cut with a tongue and grove. Very complicated. Having so many of the original roof strips in place, even though in very rough shape, were so useful in collecting data in order to have a set of blades made that could cut the tongue and groove on the vintage poplar replacement strips for both vestibule end roofs.

Volunteers Jim Mackell and
Dick Avy mill vintage
poplar for some needed
replacement roof boards for
the Narcissus.

Volunteer Jim Mackell milling vintage
poplar for short extensions to
replace some missing from the exterior
arches on the Narcissus.

Ash is another wood that is used in the roof of the Narcissus. Many of the replacement wooden ribs of the main roof, and the vestibule end roofs needed to be steamed and then bent into a specific curve. The rib would need to be held in place for weeks, while drying, so that once released from its retainer, the rib would hold its proper curve prior to installation. 

Throughout the late winter and into spring, Museum volunteer Jim Mackell worked on restoring original passenger windows. All remaining original brass components for these windows are used.

Left: Original passenger windows with mahogany sash (frames).

Right: Jim Mackell adding brass screw to hold the wood glazing in place on a restored window.                                

Left: Newly restored original passenger window with original brass components in place.
Right: Restored original stained glass "eyebrow" in its original mahogany sash being held in place by the restored poplar exterior arched frame. Two restored original passenger windows, all in place on the right side of the number one end smoking compartment for the 2016 Teddy Roosevelt Days fundraising event to benefit the Narcissus.

When the Narcissus was the Vallee's summer camp at Sabattus Pond (late 1930s-1969) a number of mahogany panels in the vestibules were painted white. These and other painted components were stripped during the winter. All panels, window sash, left and right passenger doors, and the train door were later temporarily installed in the number one end vestibule for the 2016 Teddy Roosevelt Days fundraising event to benefit the Narcissus.

Many of the restored mahogany components were temporarily
in place on the right side of the smoking compartment so
guests like Dan and Rose Vallee could have a special photo
taken during the 2016 Teddy Roosevelt Days fundraising
event to benefit the Narcissus.

While work on the exterior components continues throughout the winter, planning and research for future work on the interior takes place as well (Ceiling panels decoration and floor tile). The ceiling panels of the Narcissus are veneer, made of layers of birch. The panels were originally painted a soft green and include intricate gold leaf lines and fleur-de-lis. These panels were painted over with white in later years and were in very poor condition. The delicate gold leaf lines and fleur-de-lis can be seen in the image below (left). Recording these was a priority.

The center aisle and the floor in the smoking compartment have some remnants remaining of the interesting interlocking rubber tiles. Research turned up this information that will be very helpful as we prepare a plan to replace tiles.

Meanwhile, the beat goes on with work on the exterior components....

The original poplar exterior vertical
sheathing for the number one end dasher
was also receiving attention over the winter.

Left: Lead Restoration Technician,
Donald Curry, applying a fine filler that
will be sanded prior to a final coat of primer prior to the finish coats of paint.

Right: The number one end vestibule
received a lot of attention in 2016. This image is from earlier in the year.

Original sheathing for the number one dasher
drying after application of the final coats of
Pullman Green.
Along the way there are volunteers and staff doing many tasks such as; sandblasting components that are then primed and painted, repairing wood components that will be reused, and then preparing the pieces to receive primer, and perhaps paint. To the volunteers and the staff that each commit to working on the project. Thank you! :)

Left: Thornton Academy (Saco, Maine) Residential Life Program student sandblasting

Right: Components sandblasted and primed

Right Below Center: Vertical iron through-rods
were removed from the clerestory roof. The lower ends of each were severely rusted and were cut off. A new section was added to the sandblasted, primed, and painted rods prior to being reinstalled.

Clerestory roof lag bolt, carriage bolts,
w/washer & nuts were sandblasted,
primed, painted, and reused. Iron
roof rib were wire brushed and
rust inhibitor paint was applied.

The original iron screws will all be replaced and in many cases the original iron or steel bolts are too corroded or worn to reuse. There are hundreds and hundreds of small pieces in this interurban :)


One of the challenges we had over the winter months was the fact that the Narcissus was tucked into the eastern most track of the former "Quonset Hut" section of the Town House Restoration Shop. The ceiling is much lower in that portion if the shop. The 600-volt overhead wire is quite close to the roof of the big interurban, which restricted roof work from happening until the car could be moved into the larger portion on the shop. This could not happen pending anticipated roof work. So, we were relegated to more peripheral component work. The right-side clerestory window openings and roof work did take place during the late winter and on into the spring.

Turnbuckles were added to strengthen the support system of
Town House Restoration Shop's main roof. New roof was
fully installed by late May, 2016. Electrical upgrades and
new LED lights completed the roof work in late September

Right-side clerestory window openings and roof received a lot of attention during the late winter into the late spring
Right: Donald Curry

Left: Once all the wooden clerestory roof ribs were removed, the iron ribs were wire brushed and painted with rust inhibitor paint, then the copper flashing was removed. Right: Face-boards removed, paint removed, sanded,
primed, painted and will be reinstalled.

Left: One complete stretch of copper flashing from the right clerestory windows.

Right: Right-side clerestory roof with most of the wooden roof ribs removed, but before the copper flashing was removed. Also, before the ceiling panels were removed from the interior.

Donald Curry preparing to remove the right-side
clerestory ceiling panels.

The three sections of the heavy letter boards were removed from the right side, repairs made, primed, and reattached.

Below: All the right-side clerestory wooden ribs were removed, repaired, primed, and reinstalled.

Tucked into the shop area affectionately called the "quonset hut" extension,
the right side of the Narcissus is seen with the letter boards removed. Sanding
the ends of the ash roof ribs and the the face and interiors of the clerestory
window openings took a lot of time, patience, and good ol' elbow grease.

Ah yes, sanding the clerestory window openings and surrounding all comes back to me now! Thankfully, that work is but a not-so-fond memory :) Cleaning and sanding and stripping the area and the removed cover boards (see images below the below images :) was one of the many challenging jobs at this stage of the exterior work.

Then there was a need to reward one's self by test fitting the restored clerestory stained glass windows (in their mahogany sash) to their respective openings. Photo opps...these are the little things that help us refuel our mojo and inspire us to move on to the next challenge :)

Next moved on to repair each of the clerestory openings' poplar filler boards. Every single one of them had failed at the narrowest part of the arch at the iron roof rib where the copper flashing is nailed into the board. Good grief! You may notice that one the inside of an opening, there is a break in the mahogany cover board in the same place on the inside! We will deal with those at a later date. Making replacement pieces for the exterior from the vintage poplar acquired from Akorn, PA via Rousseau Reclaimed, took some patience and finesse.

All right-side clerestory window openings and surrounding
areas repaired, sanded and in some cases, primed. Letter
boards and clerestory roof ribs are all repaired, primed and or
stained and reinstalled.

Image above: Left to right - Several
repaired exterior poplar arches
and short extensions ready for primer.
Several right-side clerestory cover
stripped, repaired, and primed.

Stripping, sanding the left-side
clerestory was a time consuming task.

Working on the left-side clerestory window opening and surrounding area was next on the list.

The beautifully restored (Thank you Deb at Sundancer Stained Glass, Saco,
ME) original leaded stained glass were each test-fit in their openings. 

Next up....removing all the roof boards.

Need to clean up and vacuum after making
a mess

The roof ribs were removed. Each was assessed for need of repairs, replacement, and measured for degree of curve. Each of the thirteen ash roof ribs that will be made for replacements will be steamed and formed to fit prior to being installed.

Roof ribs had any attached materials removed prior to
being assessed for reuse.

Restored original ash roof

Roof ribs that were being reused were stained and primed
prior to being reinstalled.

Early this fall, Donald Curry and volunteer Ernie Eaton researched various styles of Heywood-Wakefield seats, in preparation for developing a budget for use with grant applications. Twenty reversible, Mohair plush, walk-over seats, plus seats for the smoking compartment and next to the bulkhead will need to be made from scratch.

Donald Curry researching
various seats
Volunteer Ernie Eaton (right) holding a pedestal that will be
left at the foundry with all the other seat parts that will need
to have patterns made prior to having individual parts cast
for the Narcissus seats.

Now The Heavy Lifting Begins

Preparation began in advance for separating the body of the Narcissus from its trucks (the wheels, axles, and motors assembly). The actual separation will take place early in 2017.

Donald Curry is the lead restoration technician working on the Narcissus in the Town House Restoration Shop at Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, ME. Donald has been on staff at the Museum since 1954. Donald has been the author of hundreds of "Shop Reports" over those many years. Here is (with some edits from this blogster) an excerpt from one of his shop reports that begins to describe the serious corrosion problems discovered when inspecting the side sills on the Narcissus, referred to here as #14:

  • Steel bars (channels and I-beams in #14's case) are often used to reinforce the long wood beams as well as give an easy means of fastening hardware. We have found that even on rot-resistant woods such as the southern yellow pine (SYP) they used on #14, the moisture does its dirty work, with the rust forming in the interface between wood and steel. (It should be noted that if the wood-to-metal fit is good, with surfaces given a good coat of paint, there is little corrosion or rot) One of #14's heavy angle-iron bumpers came to us in excellent condition, but the other, because of its orientation on the car while in Sabattus (ME), has large holes and thin spots which will require it to be replaced. [For those of you who always wanted to know: exfoliation is a form of inter-granular corrosion which involves selective attack of a metal at or adjacent to grain boundaries. In this process, corrosion products are formed, forcing metal to move away from the body of the material and giving rise to a layered appearance. Exfoliation is also known as layer corrosion or lamellar corrosion.]

Some significant corrosion problems weren't discovered until recently as they were hidden under other frame members-usually wood-forming the side sills. These 40-foot SYP beams are extremely important because, with the help of trusses, they tie the whole floor area together. As we looked down into the area beside the channel, we saw some chunks of rust. As Ernie Eaton continued to work on the channel with thin punches and eventually the pneumatic needle scaler, we discovered the magnitude of the problem. Major portions of the exfoliated steel had built up, stretching the 5/8" bolts holding the wood beams to the channel and causing a wide gap. Finally, after hour of strenuous chipping, he dug out most of the pitting formed from exfoliated steel and the flat side of the channel, showing depressions of up to 1/4". Fortunately, we have a good supply of 5/*" machine bolts all sandblasted, primed, and painted.

What to do now? First, we made room inside to the body along the entire 40-foot stretch of the sills. This gave us more room to work to knock off as much of the rust as possible along the entire length of the channel. 

In addition, each of the 102" metal rods that pass through one side sill all the through to the opposite side sill, must all be replaced as well.

The replacement channel (C8-2.37" x 40') will each cost $350 for a total of $700. 

The removal of the channel from the side sills will be a very complicated maneuver. In preparation of the developing the steps needed to remove the channel and bolster, Ernie Eaton has done a thorough analysis of the relationship between the bolster, the side sills and the floor of the body. In order to do this work safely, the body of #14 will need to raise a few inches to clear the way for the Baldwin trucks and the air compressor to be moved. Once the truck assemblies and the compressor are cleared from under the body, the body will be lowered to rest on supports that will leave about 3.5' of clearance to work under the body of #14.

Volunteer Ernie Eaton working on removing materials on the
right side of the Narcissus in preparation for the "big lift."

We have been doing a lot of research on the 40 ft. long side sills, as to what goes into repairing the wood and replacing the steel channels. In his curatorial report on them, Ernie Eaton did a number of calculations to be certain it won’t collapse. This week we started gathering the materials needed
to support the car while much of its structural integrity is being removed. First were the five - five in. heavy structural steel tubes, which we located, thanks to the efforts of Charlie Publicover and Chuck Griffith’s running the Pettibone to bring them from out on the property, back into the Shop.

There you have the summary for much of the work done in 2016. Thank you Thornton Academy Residential Life students for all your help in 2016!Thank you to all the staff and volunteers that participated in 2016 :) And also a big thank you to all the folks and organizations that contributed financially to the project in 2016!!

Click Here: For Project Manager Phil Morse's 2016 Summary of Narcissus Outreach Adventures!

Click on: "Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride," to learn about the young reader historical fiction chapter book due for release this fall. Proceeds will benefit the Narcissus Project :)

Please Consider a Donation to the Narcissus Project
to help us tell the incredible story of the Narcissus through the interpretation portion of the Narcissus Project.
Thank You

   Inside the Donald G. Curry Town House Restoration Shop, the Narcissus is in the midst of major work as we strive to complete its restoration. With our estimate to have the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Narcissus in the fall of 2021, we are now planning the interpretation portion of the Narcissus Project. Donations to the Narcissus Project may be used in the future to help tell the incredible 100-plus-year-old story of the Narcissus. Your donation to the Narcissus is helping to make the dream of the project's success, a reality.

The 2015 publication of, The Illustrated Atlas
of Maine's Street & Electric Railways
1863-1946, was published by the Library
at Seashore Trolley Museum, Kennebunkport.
Copies are available for purchase from the

Seashore Trolley Museum, - Museum of Mass Transit, is celebrating its 80th Birthday year in 2019! 
Special Events are scheduled  - Public operations start on May 4, 2019. 
Click Here for the 2019 Events & Special Activities for the 80th Anniversary Season, with hot links

Click Here for 2019 Special Events 

Click Here for 80th Anniversary Year - Seashore Trolley Museum 1939-2019 post
Click Here for the post - 80th Anniversary Year -A Look Back at the 50s - Seashore Trolley Mus.
Click Here for the post - 80th Anniversary Year - A Look Back at the 60s  - Seashore Trolley Mus.
Click Here for the post - 80th Anniversary Year -A Look Back at the '70s - Seashore Trolley Mus.
Click Here for The Birth of Seashore Trolley Museum Blog Post
Click Here for STM's Ten National Register of Historic Places Electric Railway Vehicles post
Click Here for 1901 Tower C Boston Elevated Railway to STM in 1975
Click Here for No. 38 - 1906 Manchester & Nashua Street Railway - Acquired March 21, 1940
Click Here for No. 60 - 1895 Manchester Street Railway - Acquired April 11, 1941
Click Here for No. 4387 - 1918 Eastern Mass. Street Railway - Acquired August 29, 1946
Click Here for No. 100 - 1906 Atlantic Shore Line Railway - Acquired 1949
Click Here for No. 108 - 1904 Portsmouth, Dover & York Street Railway - Acquired 1949
Click Here for No. 14 Narcissus 1912 Portland-Lewiston Interurban - Acquired 1969

See below for Donation options -

It starts with YOU
Your Donation Matters
Make a Donation TODAY

Please Help the Narcissus. 

Donation Options to Help the Narcissus Project:

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 - 2018 - Major Gift, 2017/2014 Matching Grants
Mass Bay RRE - 2018 Railroad Preservation Grant 
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 2018/2017/2016/2015
* The W. S. Libbey Family - Awalt, Conley, Graf, Holman, Libbey, McAvoy, McLaughlin, Meldrum, O'Halloran, Salto, - 2018/2017
* 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
* LogMein - Matching Employee Donation
* IBM - Matching Employee/Retiree Donations
* Fidelity Charitable Grant - Matching Employee Donations
* Richard E. Erwin Grant - 2017/2016

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 Register Treasure at
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.
PWM photo

Please Consider Making a Donation to the project of the National Register of Historic Places member, Narcissus. We are currently raising funds to tell the incredible story 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 - Index

The 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
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.

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