Author Topic: Bridgton railbus no. 2  (Read 3481 times)

Ed Lecuyer

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Bridgton railbus no. 2
« on: December 21, 2008, 07:59:07 PM »
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Bridgton railbus no. 2 has been converted from the pre-July 2008 WW&F Discussion Forum.
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Bruce Wilson wrote:
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I've been curious about why railbus no. 2 was left behind at Bridgton Junction following the removal of other equipment there to Edaville.
The bus appears to have had a conventional freight car wheel set for a pilot and some unusual style drive wheels towards the rear of the car body. I have not been able to make out any of the frame details from photos I have seen in TFTTL.
I read somewhere that the Bridgton Historical Society has one of the doors from the bus, presumably on display?
Is it possible that someone else took the frame from the bus and the drive wheels back in the 1940's? Maybe another railfan bought this hardware with an eye towards building something two foot gage for a backyard railroad? Anyone remember Linwood Moody writing about a guy doing two foot, by the name of Hum Reynolds and his 900' long "Sunnyside Central"?
I've looked at the remains of railbus no. 2 and there isn't much of the former 1927 Chevrolet sheetmetal left. I can't help but wonder why she wasn't hauled off to South Carver with most everything else though...
Anyone got any thoughts on this?
Has anyone seen the door from the bus on display at the historical society?

Mike Fox replied:
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Bruce,
I tried to go to the Historical Society Tuesday but they never opened. I'll take a look when I can get in. Supposedly Saturday afternoons they are open too but I have not gotten an e-mail back from them yet.
As for the frame, Glenn had said earlier he thought it was wooden. But looking at the photos, you can clearly tell they were steel. I to wonder where the running gear, motor etc. went. Maybe in someones barn??
Mike

Dana Deering replied:
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Didn't someone, Glenn maybe, on another thread say that Bus 2 was cut up by the scrapper?  I do recall that Moody said that even after Atwood bought most of what was left some things got cut up until a watchman was hired to keep it from happening again.
Bruce, the Sunnyside Central appears in the original Big Dreams and Little Wheels.  I wrote to Ruby Wiggins back in the 70s to find out where he lived so I could go see it.  She wrote back telling me that since the book was written the little backyard railroad had been dismantled.  Hum Reynolds had a car dealership, I think.
Dana

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Mike,
I haven't heard back from B.H.S. by e-mail either. Going to have to break down and sign up for an annual membership in that organization. Maybe then I will get their attention...
Yes, the frame of no. 2 was steel as the photos show. There is still one piece of framing left at the Junction from the bus, but it is from the automotive body and light weight.
I wondered too, if the railroad frame may have been purchased by someone and the automobile body left for junk. Hum Reynold's railroad came to mind, but there were others doing things in their own backyards such as Lawrence Brown. How I wish I could ask these (and other) questions now of Mr. Brown...
Dana,
I don't recall the posting by Glenn about no. 2 being cut up. I must've missed it. I like your explanation of Moody saying that Mr. Atwood had to hire a watchman to protect his equipment from the scrapper. I do remember that, but my mind was more leaning in the direction of a railfan buying that bus, or at least the railroad framing that was used under it.
I think you've hit the nail on the head and I'll accept that no. 2's frame was cut up. The carbody must've been pushed off to the side as it did in fact contain wood, and glass, rubber too. All things that make "light iron" unattractive to a scrapper looking for "no. 1 steel". The labor to clean the contaminates (wood, glass and rubber) from the "light iron" car body, wouldn't have been worth the time to a scrapper.
Atwood lucked out to get the two Ford railcars from the S.R. & R.L. and the bus that Edgar Mead had brought to Bridgton from the Sandy River. Maybe he was content to own those three two foot vehicles, and leave the remains of Bridgton bus no. 2 to rot away.
Bus no. 2 was kind of an ugly contraption, and as Atwood was a man who enjoyed a fine automobile and a fast locomotive, maybe he just wasn't interested...?

Glenn Christensen replied:
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Hi Dana,
Ernest Ward!  Yes, he was a very interesting guy.  Mark Hall and I got to meet him during one of our B&SR tracking jaunts to Harrison some time in the early 70s.  I bought 3 books from him (signed naturally!): "My First 60 Years in Harrison, Maine", there was also one about being a juror and one about a cat.  The first one is stored with all my books.  The other two are around here someplace.
Having family on Hancock Pond, you probably know where this is.  Mark and Dave MacDonald used to own the old Usher farm up on the hill above the east side of Southeast Pond in Convene.  We spent many hours building a little footer in the field on the north side of the barn.  Mark and Dave had bought a bunch of old bog equipment and track from United Cranberry Growers.  (I'll bet Bruce knows all about them!)
Anyhow we had two sidings under the barn to keep the locos and a few cars under cover.  The siding extended north out of the barn and connected to an oval of bog track that we built around a little hillock in the field.  I'll bet if you go there you could still see our old roadbed!  Mark also built a second siding and trestle (made of cross-stacked. RR ties) across the brook and up the hill to make it easier to harvest some of the small growth for firewood.  I remember sitting on the porch and hearing the late-afternoon MEC train going through Hiram.  I'll bet they could have heard the old B&SR trains in the day.
Good times!
OK, Guys,
I don't know where to find my earlier posting, but I just wanted to clear up some misconceptions.
When I got my door hinge, it was clear that the interior of the railbus was lined with wood.  This was what the hinge had been screwed into.
I theorize the door my hinge supported had been left partially open because the hinge is fused solid in a partially open position.  The individual threads look like one solid mass so I theorize that water had been seeping into the supporting wood for some time.  I expect that eventually the rotten wood couldn't support the weight of the door and the whole kit and kaboodle feel to the ground.  I only saw the one hinge, so I picked it up.
I left the door where it was and I believe this is the one that was eventually donated to the BHS.  The photo I saw of the guy who dropped it off, showed that all the interior wood was completely gone, only the sheet metal remained.
Regarding the partial scrapping, in my post I was only theorizing that the scrapper (when scrapping stuff that didn't belong to him) may have taken the running gear and left the remaining sheet metal.  But I do not know this for a fact, so please don't take it as gospel.
Regarding the BHS.  I belonged for a number of years.  They never returned any of my inquiries either.  But if they have any remaining copies of their 636 page book "Bridgton, Maine 1768 - 1968", I highly recommend you do so!  (I bought mine from the late Bob Dingley!)
Best Regards,
Glenn

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Glenn,
I'm glad you posted and explained your thoughts and observations on the railcar.
I've had a good laugh about your recollections of the Usher Farm. I too spent many a happy weekend at that farm as a teenager. I remember well the railroad. I was unsure of the location of the property and on my drive down to the Junction this morning, made sort of a half-hearted attempt to find it after all these years. I think I was last there in 1971 or 1972.
And yes, I do know about United Cranberry and the two footer equipment that they had. Not only did Mark purchase his equipment from them, but Bob Werner did as well. The W.W. & F. "cranberry special" Brookville no. 51 is a nearly identical mate to the Brookville that Bob Werner had. Bob's machine still had the original (under the hood) gas tank and operators seat the last time I saw it though. The W.W. & F. Brookville was used on a bog in Harwich (Cape Cod) however, and was brokered to the farmer by a dealer in this cranberry bog rail equipment.
As I explored the Bridgton grade at the Junction this morning, I wondered if any trace of Mark Hall's two footer was left up at the farm. Good memories Glenn!

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Glenn,
I meant to say that I found a door from the railcar. It was a tangled mass of roots with glass that had totally decomposed. I carefully lifted it from the ground to look at it and underneath was a large lump of coal and the head of a shovel. The door and the shovel I left leaning up against a tree, the coal (a huge piece) is here with me...
What I left behind might be interesting for others to look at though, too far gone for preservation unfortunately.
Bruce

Glenn Christensen replied:
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Hi Bruce,
To get to the "Hobby Farm", take Sebago Road from Hiram, through Rankins Mills and just keep going toward "downtown" Sebago .  Bear to your left whenever you come to an intersection with a paved road.  The farm is near the top of the last hill just before you get to "downtown" Convene.  "Downtown" Convene is were Sebago Road turns into Convene Road (coming from Sebago) at the intersection with Hogfat Hill Road.
BTW, if you follow Hogfat Hill Road beyond where it turns to dirt, you eventually intersect with the B&SR right-of-way at Twin Lakes.
Best Regards,
Glenn

Mike Fox replied:
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Bruce and Glenn,
I got a reply from the BHS today with a contact number for the woman that runs it. I plan on calling her in the morning and hopefully go over in the afternoon. If there is any of those books left, you can bet there will be one less when I leave.
Mike

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Thanks for those directions Glenn, maybe on my next trip to Bridgton country, I'll look up the old farm. One of these days for sure as I'd love to see the place again. It was the perfect setting for Mark's railroad, especially having the basement of the barn to use as an "engine house".
Mike, if you are able to make a contact at B.H.S., maybe you could post that information? I'd like to get a membership there and begin some sort of communication with them. Thanks...

Mike Fox replied:
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Bruce,
Right now I have a phone number of a contact person. This time of year they say it is best to call. I could not make it over today because she was having trouble with a pet. Had to take it to the Vet. But she is very willing to accomodate me and when I get to meet her I will ask for some info. I can probably even pick up some membership info and send it to you if you'd like.
Mike

Bruce Wilson replied:
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Mike,
I'd appreciate that very much. Maybe you could leave a few of the B.H.S. membership forms with Eric in the freight shed and I'll get one on my next visit to Sheepscot?
Bruce

Dana Deering replied:
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Hey You Handcar and Railcar Experts,
I need an opinion or your thoughts, or both.  I was reading Two Feet to the Lakes this snowy Sunday morning and I happened across a paragraph that talks about Joe Bennett and his building of his cottage on Hancock Pond.  It mentions that he had a Fairmont Speeder that he used to commute to Bridgton when he was staying at the Pond.  Now, look on page 104, the very bottom photo.  It shows three sectionmen who have just put their railcar on the tracks at the Lakside Section House, which was just north of the watertank.  Tell me, what is that car?  Is that the speeder?  It sure isn't a handcar or velocipede.  Do you suppose the sectionmen used the car after Bennett retired?  What happened to it?  I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts.
Also, if you read page 56, please know that that whole page was "lifted" from Ernest Ward's book, "My First Sixty Years in Harrison, Maine" and there is no credit in the bibliography!
Thak you all for participating in this B&SR forum.  It is great fun!
Dana

Mike Fox replied:
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OK.
I have made a trip to the BHS. I met a very nice retired lady named Evelyn Lamb. She got the books of photos out that I needed and showed me the other memorabilia there. No door for a railbus. Maybe at the Bridgton Chamber of Commerce? I'll check there sometime.
Mike

Mike Fox replied:
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Dana,
That is an interesting section car. Am going to have to scour for pictures of that. Did you notice the footboard on the back? And hard plywood seat? Would be nice to see that now.
Mike

Duncan Mackiewicz replied:
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For what it's worth guys, the BHS has been in different hands every time I visit the area.  And I assure you, I visit the place at least once or twice a year.  Very little continuity there, especially regarding the B&H and it's unfortunate since there is so much history thereabouts. They seem to have lost the folks who tended their website, most notably Judy Blake with whom I spent a few afternoons several years ago when we created the B&H pictorial on the BHS website.  If you haven't been there yet, check it out at the fopllowing link.  Might be a few pics you are not familiar with.
http://www.megalink.net/~bhs/nginv.html
Duncan

Duncan Mackiewicz replied:
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Just an update on the website I referenced.  It has been changed to http://www.bridgtonhistory.org and the B&SH website is now completely swapped over.
Duncan

Mike Fox replied:
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Thanks Duncan. I had found that earlier but never thought to post it. A couple of things of interest I noted, they provide a link on the page to the NERail site and also speak of this discussion forum as a place to find out info. Pretty good idea.
Ed Lecuyer
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