Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Narcissus Restoration Update - 2017 Summary

Jim Mackell, Ed Dooks, and Don Curry tighten the grips on a
steamed ash roof rib to secure the rib in a specially made form
that will hold the rib to maintain a certain arch for installation
in the Narcissus. PWM photo

The Narcissus 1912 Project Blog will have its second full calendar year under its belt as 2017 comes to a close. Total page views are currently at 113,000 at the end of this first week of December (2017). The blog was 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 that operated in Maine.

The Narcissus was built in 1912 in Laconia, NH and operated on the Portland-Lewiston Interurban (PLI) between the two cities from 1914 to 1933. Theodore Roosevelt was a passenger on the Narcissus from Lewiston to Portland on August 18, 1914. 

The blog posts include updates on the restoration of the National Register of Historic Places, Narcissus, which is currently taking place at Seashore Trolley Museum's Donald G. Curry Town House Restoration Shop in Kennebunkport, Maine. Posts also include topics; on the connections that Theodore Roosevelt has here in Maine, the PLI and its connections to the communities it served (Portland, Falmouth, Cumberland, Gray, New Gloucester, Auburn, and Lewiston), the builder of the PLI, W. S. Libbey, other electric railway systems in Maine, and people of Maine that had an impact on the electric railway development here in Maine.

Click Here to go to the Narcissus Project - 2017 Outreach & Research Summary

Hopefully, these posts will generate readers to become engaged in the Narcissus project and spread the word of the project and perhaps support the Narcissus financially, as the restoration continues over the next few years. Information on donations options, scroll down the page until you come to that section.

2017- Another Year of Progress

 Ernie Eaton observing the pressure exerted on one of the
forge-welded-carlines in the roof of the narcissus. The sag in
the carline was due to the weight of the trolley pole assembly
on the roof and the weakened ash roof ribs. DGC photo

 Clearly one can see many of the roof ribs of the
Narcissus are missing. Only about 10 had to be replaced
all others could be repaired, then sanded, stained,
primed, and put back into place. PWM photo

 Most of the roof ribs have been reinstalled.
PWM photo

 On the left are a pair of ash wood roof ribs with their tenons
prepared to match up with the mortises. A forge-welded-carline
is seen between the two ribs. PWM photo

Fairing compound has been
applied to these original roof rail
segments. After the fairing compound
is sanded smooth, a final coat of
a gray-colored primer will be
applied to the rails, then these
segments, with their mortises, will
be matched to, then secured with
stainless steel screws to the
corresponding roof rib tenons.
PWM photo

The gray-colored primed rail segments have been secured to
the roof ribs on the left side of the roof. PWM

Gray-colored primed roof rails have been secured to the
right side of the roof ribs. PWM photo

A new steam-bent rail will need to be made from ash wood
to join with the original side rail on the left side. This
new rail segment bends to conform to the curve of the
vestibule roof. Mortises will be cut into the new curved
rail that will meet and match with the protruding
tenons of the vestibule roof ribs. PWM photo

Old growth poplar wood was acquired for use in making
replacement roof boards for the Narcissus. The poplar
was milled to specific dimensions, then Museum
volunteers, Jim Mackell (l) and Dick Avy (r) planed
milled lengths to a specific thickness, then ran each
roof board through the machinery to cut the
 "tongue" along one edge and the "groove" along the
opposite edge. PWM photo
Click Here for the full story on acquiring the old-
growth poplar.

In recent weeks, volunteer
John Mercurio has been
repairing, sanding, staining,
and priming the remaining
original roof boards,
as necessary. Staining is 
done on those boards
that are on the main roof.
PWM photo

Priming of remaining
original roof boards are for
those boards that will be used
on the roof where it extends
out over the clerestory
windows. The soffit. These
boards are directly exposed
to the elements of sun and
other weather conditions.
PWM photo

These original poplar roof boards will be repaired, sanded,
primed, and reinstalled. These particular boards were
originally in place on the edge of the roof. You can clearly
see remnants of the dark Pullman green paint on the boards.
The left and right sides of the roof edges extend out over
the ornate leaded stained glass windows in the clerestory.
This roof extension area is commonly called a soffit.
The undersides of the roof boards used on the soffit are
exposed to the elements, hence the need for paint.
PWM photo

Two shorter sections of original roof boards from the soffit area were used
to pull samples from for professional paint analysis.
Click Here for the full story. Image courtesy of Sutherland Conservation
& Consulting

Initial results from the paint analysis clearly show the original
dark green in the pores of the woods.
Image courtesy of Sutherland Conservation & Consulting

Same sample as seen in the previous image, but using regular light.
Image courtesy of Sutherland Conservation & Consulting

Interior of the Narcissus as seen in 2014. Samples
of the red on the floor were taken to be analyzed.
You can see the outline where the
individual seat pedestals were in place on the floor,
the interlocking tiles in the center aisle, and the
ceiling panels (headliner) in the center and along
each side of the ceiling. DGC photo
Click Here for the full story on the seats

Ornate gold leaf fleur-de-lis decorations are in each corner of the
center ceiling panels. Two gold leaf lines extend from and connect to
the fleur-de-lis in each corner of each center panel. The side
panels each have gold leaf lines that travel along the perimeter of the
entire length of each side headliner. Paint samples were taken from
a center panel and from a side panel for analysis.  PWM photo

Museum volunteers Jim Mackell (l) and Carl Mabee (r)
remove a 3-ply veneer side ceiling panel from its mold.
This particular panel is for use in the 1901 M & B No. 41,
but a similar, but much longer mold will be created for the
Narcissus side ceiling headliner panels. PWM photo

One of the very long original side ceiling headliner
supports as it is being assessed for work needed
prior to being reinstalled in the Narcissus.
DGC photo

Volunteers Mark Forman and Donald Curry install the headliner support
for the left side of the Narcissus center ceiling above the clerestory window
openings. PWM photo

There are arched mahogany strips that cover the connecting edges of the ends
of the center ceiling headliner panels. These strips are nailed to the roof ribs
and to arched mahogany pieces in the corners. DGC photo

With the center ceiling headliner panels removed, the larger arched mahogany
pieces in the corners are visible in between each clerestory leaded
stained glass window. Also, the much smaller arched pieces attached to the
roof ribs are visible above the pairs of arched mahogany pieces. PWM photo

One of the mahogany strips from the ceiling with one of
the arched mahogany pieces still attached. PWM photo

The original arched mahogany pieces
having their public-visible sides and edges
cleaned with denatured alcohol by
volunteer Dana Frisbee.
PWM photo

A few of the arched mahogany pieces with labels on their inside face. These
pieces will be repaired as needed prior to having coats of a shellac mixture
applied to the side and edges that are visible to the public.
PWM photo

One of the small arched pieces still attached to a roof rib. The small pieces
are not made from mahogany and are not visible to the public. They will be
repaired or replaced as necessary. PWM photo

The cleaned up arched mahogany pieces are ready to be repaired. The one missing piece
was still attached to an arched mahogany strip and joined the other pieces in short order.
DGC photo

Volunteer Carl Mabee repaired each of the arched mahogany pieces
as necessary. CM photo

All repaired with initial coats of the shellac mixture. CM photo

The beautiful finished product. PWM photo

Restoration shop technician, Ernie Eaton
mixes up a fresh batch of a shellac
mixture that is used on the cleaned up original
the mahogany wood  used in the interior of the
Narcissus. The mixture includes shellac flakes
and denatured alcohol. DGC photo

Volunteer Tom Robertson is working on one of the beautiful mahogany boards
from the interior of the Narcissus. Notice the contrast in the opposing ends of the
board. The board is first cleaned by using denatured alcohol to remove dirt,
grime, and old layers of shellac and or varnish. After drying, new layers of
a shellac mixture is applied as seen here. DGC photo

One of the original mahogany arched strips in the center
ceiling headliner is seen here attached to the arched
mahogany piece in the corner. Also seen is one
of the original light sockets. PWM photo

On Friday, December 8, 2017. The larger original mahogany arched strips and
the more narrow strips that needed repairs were picked up by volunteer
Carl Mabee to take back to his home workshop for corrective surgery. Carl
would also work on creating a template for making any replacement
strips needed.  The next few images are the first few steps
in the repair process. For updates on Carl's progress, look for them in
future blog posts. PWM photo

"Doctor" Mabee waisted no time in making initial repairs.
CM photo

Each piece requires various adaptions of equipment to manage the repair.
CM photo

Steps in making smaller repairs.
CM photo

Using a sharp hand plane is a must.
CM photo

CM photo

CM photo

CM photo

CM photo

CM photo

To make a completely new large mahogany arched strip
requires a lot of preplanning. Here is a prototype using
three-ply veneer as the test material. 
CM photo

CM photo

CM photo

Some of the mahogany boards from the
interior passenger compartment have
decorative inlay wood of Holly with
Ebony on each side. These boards have
been cleaned with denatured alcohol.
PWM photo

Donald Curry applying a coat of the shellac mixture to original mahogany
boards from the interior of the Narcissus. PWM photo

Donald Curry applying a coat of the shellac mixture to original
mahogany boards from the interior of the Narcissus. PWM phot

An original mahogany "button". These decorative buttons
were used to cover holes in the original mahogany boards
that was for additional light bulb sockets
that were never installed by the builder of the Narcissus,
the Laconia Car Company. PWM photo

Interior mahogany on the interior of the Narcissus where the
ornate leaded stained glass clerestory windows are was cleaned and after
drying received coats of the shellac mixture. PWM photo

Donald Curry cleaning the mahogany in the clerestory area.
PWM photo

Seen here in the smoking compartment of the Narcissus during the
opening of the 2016 Teddy Roosevelt Days event is Dan and Rose Vallee.
Some of the restored mahogany pieces were temporarily put in place in the
window opening for the special photo opportunity. Sadly, Dan Vallee
past away on September 1, 2017. Dan was a great friend and will be missed.
Dan, literally, grew up in the Narcissus. His father, H. Henri Vallee purchased
the body of the Narcissus in the late 1930s and used it as the family summer
camp for nearly 35 years. While dating Rose, Dan first introduced Rose to his
parents while they were living in the Narcissus. Rose and Dan were married
for 50 years. Patricia Pierce Erikson photo
Click Here for the full story of Daniel A. Vallee

In this photo from the 2016 Teddy Roosevelt Days opening tour of the
Narcissus, you can see the original mahogany sash, with their original
brass components in place in the bulkhead window openings. The glass had
not been installed, nor had finish coats of the shellac mixture been applied.
Patricia Pierce Erikson photo
Click Here for the full story on the 2016 Teddy Roosevelt Days Event

One of the eight original bulkhead
windows from the Narcissus that
have now completed their
repairs and restoration and are
ready to be reinstalled.Volunteer
Jim Mackell did the exemplary
work on the windows.
PWM photo 

Volunteer Jim Mackell also repaired the eighteen original passenger
window sash from the Narcissus. The sash was in varying degrees of
disrepair, most without glass.  Jim is now making the remaining
eight passenger windows from scratch. The brass components seen
in the image above are original. Several of each of the three components
will need to cast in order to have the quantities needed for all twenty-six
passenger windows. PWM photo
Click Here for the full story on the passenger windows
Click Here for the full story on the brass components

Volunteer Lary Shaffer will be making the eleven mahogany
sash needed for the large, ornate leaded stained glass
"eyebrows" that are held in place over each pair of
passenger windows by the arched poplar exterior frame Lary
repaired the original frames (seen in this image) and made
two sets of frames to replace the missing frames.  Making the 
poplar frames and the mahogany sash is a complicated,
time-consuming task. PWM photo
Click Here for the first of four posts on repairing the frames.

During the 2016 Teddy Roosevelt Days event, the right side of the smoking
compartment had many original components temporarily put in place. The
large leaded stained glass "eyebrow" in its original mahogany sash
held in place by one of the repaired exterior poplar frames (seen here in
gray primer).  Many of the vertical tongue and groove sheathings boards
above the "eyebrow" and next to the restored original passenger windows
were in place. PWM photo

Later in 2016, plans to start assembling estimates for materials needed to restore
the interior of the Narcissus began to formulate. As all twenty cross-over
seats will need to be made from scratch, the costs associated with having
metal components to construct the seats were a high priority. The interlocking
tiles on the floor of the smoking compartment and down the center aisle
of the passenger compartment needed additional research. As work has started
on removing the bolsters, a thick, dense, tar substance was cleared from the
center of the floor approaching the number two end, where there were no
interlocking tiles in place. It is not known when the tiles were removed from
the floor on that end of the body. Based on the deteriorated condition of the
tiles that remain on the smoking compartment floor, one can easily assume
the tiles in the passenger compartment had become brittle and broken up
into pieces that had to be removed. The number two end of the Narcissus was
where the main entrance was located when the body was the Vallee summer
residence. Perhaps that increased the breakdown of the tiles on that end?
DGC photo

Making access to the bolster meant curring through the
tar-like substance on the floor. PWM photo

Tar-like material removed from the floor along the center aisle
where interlocking tiles were once in place. PWM photo

The interior of Narcissus sister PLI coach, Arbutus, showing the cross-over seats, 
the interlocking floor tiles, the ornate fleur-de-lis in the corners of the center ceiling
panels, and luggage racks along the entire length of both sides over the large
leaded stained glass "eyebrow" windows. Work on smaller mahogany components
of the interior has been ongoing for some time. The work on the major components
will become more of a focus later in 2018/2019. You can see the mahogany
boxes positioned over teach passenger window. Each box holds a curtain
that can be pulled downs or retracted. We have most of the original boxes and
a number of curtains, though their individual condition has not been evaluated yet.
Current fundraising efforts will now and in the foreseeable future be for
materials and work needed to restore the
interior of the Narcissus.

One of the curtains from the Narcissus. PWM photo

The cross-over seats in the Narcissus were originally made by the
Heywood Brother's and Wakefield Company.

The interlocking tiles of the Narcissus PWM photo

The Narcissus body was raised up to separate its trucks
(wheels and motor assemblies) from the body so that trucks
could be moved out from under the body. The body could
then be secured so that work could safely begin to remove
the bolsters and many other components in advance of
removing the side sills and channel iron. PWM vid clip

The 1912 Portland-Lewiston Interurban shortly after having its trucks removed.
PWM photo

The trucks for the Narcissus are not original to the Laconia-built coach.
These trucks were found in Ontario, Canada and with the help of then 
Maine Governor John Reed, the trucks were donated to the Museum as a
gesture of international goodwill in 1965. PWM photo

All the metal components under the
body of the Narcissus will be removed
for closer inspection. 
PWM photo

We will save this piece to display in an exhibit. A cast of the
component will be made to replace this one. PWM photo

One of the bolsters. Each is made up of a number of
metal components whose nuts and bolts are rusted to a point
where the placement of certain nuts or bolts may talk
hours of effort to remove. PWM photo

You can see the buildup of rust between the top of the bolster and the body.
The combination of the rusty bolt, nut, expansion of rust in the area, makes
removal of the nut and or the bolt, a task for individuals that are creative,
 determined problem solvers. PWM photo

Successes are briefly celebrated when components do finally
succumb and are freed from their rusty prison. PWM photo

In many cases, the build-up of rust
has literally, pulled the head of 
bolts down into the sill a significant
depth, making removal
difficult (I'm kind in my choice of
words describing the degree of
difficulty removing many of these
nuts and bolts. PWM photo

In some cases, one must drill up
into the bolt body an inch or two
so that the body of the body can then
released of pressure and make for
a somewhat easier removal. The
location and  position of the bolt
under the body of the Narcissus
in whatever metal component the
bolt/nut may be in can make it
less than comfortable in drilling
up into the body of the bolt.
PWM photo

A rusted bolt that has been drilled 
out for removal.
PWM photo

Rust is not a friend to the Narcissus or to anyone working on removing the
metal components from the Narcissus. It is a challenging task, to put it mildly.
PWM photo

Where the bulkhead is secured to the left side sill which is encased in
channel iron. There is a concern as too the degree of wood and steel
deterioration along the thirty-seven-foot southern yellow pine sill and the
channel iron. We won't know the extent of the deterioration until the sill and
channel iron is removed, separated, and inspected. PWM photo

Restoration shop technician Ernie Eaton used a 20-ton hydraulic jack
(on right) and the persuasive attributes of a pneumatic hammer and various
chisels to persuade the side bearing casting bolts out of the upper bolster.
Ernie Eaton photo

Ernie has a breakthrough on December 6! The bolster on the
number one end finally releases its final holdouts.
Ernie Eaton photo

Success on December 6.  Bolster on the number one end is on the floor.
Ernie Eaton photo

The rust grows under extreme pressure. When the component
is removed, the build up the compressed rust is in layers. 
PWM photo

A job learned well and can now be applied to removing
the bolster from the number two end...ugh.
Ernie Eaton photo

This bolt and nut will need to be removed from this 
unbroken component so it may be tested for reuse, or
used to make a cast for having a replacement made.
PWM photo

Another image that generates the ugh response.
PWM photo

The lower half of the bolster from the number 2 end
after being removed. 12-22-2017 Photo PWM

Early December 2017 photo of the number one end and the left side of
the Narcissus. PWM photo

Early December 2017 photo of the number one end and right side of the
Narcissus. PWM photo

Thank you goes out to restoration shop technician John Melanson (and
everyone that may have helped him) for tarping the pair of trucks (wheels
and motor assemblies) that were removed from the Narcissus. 
PWM photo

Thank you to everyone that has helped me and the Narcissus during this year. 

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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