Arthur Schnabel will present a program on Railfair
99, with slides taken during the 1999 NRHS convention in Sacramento, CA.
Maine Central Railbus
By Robert A. LaMay
Saturday morning, November 4, 2000 started out as
a drab and cloudy day. I
arrived at the museum a short time before Maurice Bisson of Hampton,
Connecticut arrived with his dump truck and trailer.
Plans called for loading the Connecticut Eastern Railroad
Museum’s 1930 vintage Fairmont Railbus onto his trailer.
Once loaded he would take the railbus about ¼ of a mile west to
a place where it would be unloaded onto the old New Haven Railroad’s
‘Airline’ track and it would make a combination of photo and test
runs to be sure all systems operated properly. The bright yellow railbus first headed
east around a curve and out of sight.
A short time later you could hear the old familiar “clickity
clack” long before you saw it round the curve.
What a sight! The gas powered Chevrolet engine purred quietly and the only
sound heard was that of steel wheels rolling along steel rails.
The railbus ran flawlessly.Built for the Maine Central’s
Engineering Department, this bus was used extensively all over the Maine
Central Railroad system. When
the Maine Central Railroad discontinued its use, a local Maine resident
with hopes of restoration purchased it. Unfortunately this never
happened due to various circumstances.Richard Arnold, a resident of
Manchester, Connecticut and owner of Arnold Millworks decided to
purchase the railbus with the idea of restoring it to operating
condition. For almost
fifteen years it sat inside his warehouse.
Time was never right to work on its preservation, so sometime
during 1995 he approached the museum and offered it as a donation under
the conditions that it be restored to operational condition and stored
inside to protect it from the elements. The railbus, basically just a
shell, arrived on the property in 1995 and a special storage building
was constructed. During the
next five-year period, museum volunteers Bill Voorvaart, Paul Shamonis,
Duke York, and some other museum members took on the responsibility of
restoring it to running condition.
The railbus was taken apart and rebuilt from the ground up,
including a new Midas muffler. Richard Arnold was on hand November 4th to see
it run on the ‘Airline.’ He
was all smiles and said, “I thought I would never see it run again.”
Well, he not only saw it run, but he also had the opportunity to
ride in it a couple of times.
Pasiuk, Scotland, CT
of Upcoming Events
Sunday, June 10th has been selected as the
date for the dedication of the roundhouse.
In order to get the museum ready by then, we have a lot of work
to accomplish including general grounds cleanup, track laying and
building repair. If you
would like to serve on the planning committee, contact any of the
National Director’s Report