Re: Whatever Happened To Accuracy?

Garth G. Groff <ggg9y@...>


Always a touchy problem, and I see it touched you!

Some of the early cars displayed at the CSRM were pretty awful. Now Kyle Williams Wyatt is trying to get
things right on the equipment he restors, but it can't always be done perfectly. He's fighting against
very tight budgets (remember, this is a state-supported museum, and the state is $40 billion in the
hole). Plus he gets to deal with a board of directors that seem more interested in train rides and
Railfairs that careful restoration. Now they have a full-sized Thomas the Tank Engine running
push-me/pull-you with their WP F-7. Go figure!

Groups that depend completely on volunteers often do far worse. Sometimes they have limited research
materials, time and money. Other times they just don't care. Recently we discussed the M&STL boxcar at
the Western Railway Museum, and there was some criticism of its paint scheme. It might be wrong, but I
was told the fellow who painted this car, its RF&P sister, and the D&RGW car tried hard to get it right,
and really did care. He was forced out of the group by petty politics. Now nearly all their freight cars
are deteriorated to the point of embarrassment because almost nobody is interested in preserving them.
Yet to their credit, the museum recently began a major restoration on one of their 100-year-old CCT
boxcars and are carefully rebuilding it to original condition, not just a repaint.

Your point about being lucky to have cars preserved at all is well said.

Kind regards,

Garth G. Groff

"Beckert, Shawn" wrote:

Fellow Seekers of Truth,
... Now before I go any further, let me make clear that I'm very
appreciative that these museums have made the attempt to save
and restore these cars. Without them we wouldn't have any
record at all of freight cars, "steam-era" and otherwise.

That said, however, I've got to ask: Do ANY of these places
bother to research their equipment? Sure, I understand it's
mostly volunteers that make these museums go, but don't they
have people on staff that check into the history of their cars?
Is it all really just a question of time and money? If they had
the money to paint the cars in the first place, why not get it
right the first time? The first two photos are at the Museum Of
Transport in St. Louis. They of all people ought to know about
railroad history (I don't know why I'm saying that, probably
because they're so large).

Why is this bugging me? If you walk into a museum looking for
info on a car, particularly paint and lettering information, you
would hope that the museum is portraying the car correctly. Unless
you're a serious historian already, you're not going to know if a
paint job is bogus. And that is bad. Someone is going to go home
and letter their UTLX model in white and say "well, the museum car
looks this way".

Do I have a point here, or am I being incredibly naive? Please feel
free to agree or dump all over me - I haven't had enough coffee yet
so I won't feel the pain. Much.

Shawn Beckert

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