West Side & Cherry Valley Railbus #97

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Andrew Brandon
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Location: Grass Valley, Ca

West Side & Cherry Valley Railbus #97

Post by Andrew Brandon » Tue Sep 15, 2015 7:43 pm

Back in 2013 the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum took ownership of the former West Side & Cherry Valley #97. Having previously been stored out of service at the Northern Queen Inn (NQI) much of the body had deteriorated heavily. What was hoped to be a "couple month project" has in fact lasted nearly two years.

I had intended to post about this long ago but other projects have kept me busy (including the subject of this post). Several posts will be required to tell the story. is part 1:

In the Winter of 2013 #97 was moved into the back of our workshop at the museum. Originally the bus was hoped to be restored one day and used to ferry passengers through the yard on special occasions. Around this time the new owner of NQI inquired about museum operating something between the hotel and museum as a service for his customers. This arrangement would give us a longer stretch of operating track and be a big boost for the museum, it was an irresistible offer.

There were caveats of course. The existing track between the museum and hotel was only temporary. The track at the hotel end was 24" gauge and would require conversion to 36". The entire route had been long out of service and had heavily overgrown. To make this work, the volunteers worked in two teams, one assigned to restoring #97, the other to rehabilitate track. The struggles with nature will make for another post, another time... ;)

A few years back the museum restored a different WS&CV railbus (#9) and the restoration got away from itself. If you've ever seen #9, now affectionately named the "Sarah Kidder", you'll understand what I mean. Shortly after the #97 arrived on the property, I made a suggestion to the project manager that it would benefit from a few adjustments to give it an appearance of more historic automobile based vehicle. This suggestion was well received.

In the past the bus had always been yellow and I suggested we give it a new look. What if we painted it to look like a more respectable railroad vehicle? After some research into the old automobile and bus schemes, I created a few sample illustrations for prospective schemes. We put them to vote and we unanimously agreed on the following scheme:
From then on, as time allowed, I became more involved with the project.

As originally constructed the bus was solidly built. Essentially a wooden frame skinned in masonite attached to a welded steel frame. For the past few decades it was stored out of service and much of this body had deteriorated. Most of the skin was warped. Two doors, all of the door latches and the floor were shot. With so much material requiring replacement, it was suggested that to make a couple modifications to make a better vehicle. All of which are meant to be in the same vein as those a historic vehicle.

In the next post I'll talk about these changes and the reconstruction of the body.
Andrew Brandon - PacificNG Webmaster
An End To Red Domes In Our Lifetime!

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