Monday, August 31, 2009

Laying Carpet and Digging Holes

Excavation for the new visitors' center has become part of the daily routine here at the Museum, but it is no less entertaining and engrossing to watch. We have therefore cleared two areas along the fenceline separating the upper and lower levels to facilitate construction watching, and we're enjoying watching our visitors picnic in the grass at the observation areas as much as they're enjoying watching the excavators, crawlers, and dump trucks.

The carpet for the Missouri Pacific observation car #750 is being dry-laid and cut by the installer. The process is laborious and time-consuming; the large run is cut not only along the sides but also up to and around the base for each parlor chair. The carpet will then be removed, and the seams will be bound with carpet binding. Brass grommets will then be installed just as those in the period carpet that was removed (due to irreparable damage and deterioration); the grommets allowed the railroad to quickly change carpets and to install and stretch carpet without gluing it down.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Movie Star in Our Parking Lot

The 1960 Peterbilt tractor parked at the northeast corner of our parking lot may not look like a celebrity; its faded primer-colored body, dingy chrome, and painted steel wheels inspired a helpful local police officer to call us, offering to track down its owner to have the abandoned truck retrieved.

Imagine his surprise when I thanked him for his generosity but assured him the truck was actually a movie star - one that appeared in Steven Spielberg's first production-length Hollywood film.

In Spielberg's 1971 classic Duel, businessman David Mann (played by Dennis Weaver) sets off on a driving trip across the desert to meet a client when he comes upon a slow-moving old tanker truck. What initially begins as Mann's attempt to simply pass the truck and move on to his appointment escalates into a day of terror as the seemingly driverless truck pursues and tries to kill Mann.

The tension-filled cult classic featured three near look-alike Peterbilts in the main role; this Peterbilt was considered truck #2 and also later played a role in a David Lee Roth video.

The Duel Peterbilt is currently on loan to the Museum from its owner, who also owns the "Rubber Duck" from the classic trucker movie Convoy. "Rubber Duck" is also currently at the Museum of Transportation.

For more information on the Duel truck, visit

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Amazing how quickly site work can progress in two short today's photos to those from Tuesday. The foundation "pit" is now being filled with rock to compress the moisture out of the soil below. When the "pit" is filled to roughly the finished grade level, an amount of surplus equal in weight to the building itself will be placed on top to speed compaction, which will be measured by pressure plates buried at the base of the pit. Some have asked if the building will have a basement due to the excavation below grade; while the building will be on a slab rather than a basement foundation, the soil conditions necessitated compaction.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Visitors' Center Progress

Site work continues for the construction of phase I of the William C. and Laura Rand Orthwein Visitors' and Education Center...

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Pontiac Rendezvous

All photos credit Ron Anderson, a fantastic photographer and new Museum volunteer.

On August 16th, the ARCH Chapter of the Pontiac Oakland Club International and the Gateway Chapter of the GTO Owners Association of America hosted the Pontiac Rendezvous at the Museum. Despite a humid day with off and on rain showers, the clubs had a good turnout of fantastic vintage Pontiacs and Pontiac muscle.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

For all the complexity and "wow" factor of the high-dollar, computer-driven, interactive exhibits, the raw simplicity of ringing a locomotive bell is remarkably appealing to our Museum visitors of all ages. While we have bells to ring in our smallest locomotive - the 30" gauge saddle tanker Laclede Christy, built by Davenport in 1907 -and one of our largest, the 1944 Baldwin-built Texas-type Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe #5011, we wanted to create the opportunity to ring one from the ground adjacent to the cab. Hence, the newest bell-ringing opportunity: the Georgia, an 0-6-0 built for the Georgia Railroad by Baldwin in 1896 and later used by St. Louis Material & Supply in Pacific, Missouri, where it was the last conventional steam locomotive operating in the St. Louis region when it was retired in 1963.

And thank you, Missouri Department of Transportation, for our growing mulch pile. While the widening of Barrett Station Road to our north near Manchester Road led to the inevitable clearing of several mature trees, we can at least recycle those trees for use in soil stabilization in construction areas around the Museum.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The New York Central #2933, one of two surviving New York Central 4-8-2 "Mohawk" steam locomotives, is slowly taking shape. The storied New York Central was the largest user of the "Mohawk" - or "Mountain," as it is more commonly known - wheel arrangement, as they were ideally suited to the nearly flat high-speed runs of the railroad's routes along rivers and the Great Lakes.

Work continues on the Missouri Pacific #750, the Raymond-Loewy -designed parlor observation car for the MoP's Missouri River Eagle. Preparations are being made to begin the exterior priming and painting, and the majority of the interior electrical work, painting, and wood work has been completed. We were lucky to find a local commercial carpet firm willing to undertake the arduous task of cutting a single piece of carpet to fit around each swivel parlor chair and then binding the carpet and installing grommets, just as the period carpet had been installed during the car's last rebuild in the early 1950s. And mid-century Modern fans can revel in the photos of the fantastic drawing room end cabinets and lamps.