DULUTH Restoration 2020 Year-End Progress Report

The DULUTH’s sleeping compartment showing work in progress as well as the veneer headlining panels that have been removed.

In 2020 worked progressed on several fronts on the DULUTH project but the overall progress was less than planned due to the pandemic. The primary focus continues to be working on restoring the 10-section sleeping compartment. The three month shut down at the museum impacted work on site and the off-site contract work on the berths. While the work onsite was negatively impacted progress on projects being worked on by volunteers at their homes proved to be productive. Following is a brief summary of the progress made on the DULUTH sleeping car during 2020. The list includes work performed on the car (at North Freedom), in contractor’s facilities and by MCRM volunteers at their homes.


  • The “Buy-A-Berth” fundraising campaign that kicked off in 3Q 2019 met its goal in the 1Q of 2020 by raising $25,687.
  • The Giving Tuesday Fundraising Challenge held on December 2, 2020 raised a total of $2,240
  • A total of $10,044 was donated by (19) donors to the DULUTH project in 2020


  • Completed the construction of (6) new upper berths
  • Completed the construction of (4) new lower berth seat ends
  • Stripped the old finish off of (4) original upper berths and (2) lower berth seat ends
  • Removed existing sleeping compartment hardware (i.e.: hinges, pulleys, latches, curtains, etc.) from the car for reconditioning
  • Cast and polished replica brass claw feet (Qty. 8) for the seats ends

Sleeping Compartment:

  • Removed the deteriorated veneer headlining (lower roof) panels from inside the car
  • Removed all of the existing seat cushions (backs, bottoms and head rests) from the sleeping compartment of the car
  • Secured samples of missing woodwork and parts that need to be reproduced
  • Cut and fit the prototype berth partition overlay pieces


  • Removed all of the window sills from the car. The window sills were very deteriorated and in need of complete replacement
  • Removed the wood and vents that covered up the clerestory window openings
  • Began to remove the roof material (rolled asphalt and tar) off of the car. The majority of the wood on the roof deck appears to be in very good condition
  • Removed three of the original oval window frames from the car. These window frames will be used as samples for making a new set (qty. 9) of oval window frames and stained glass inserts

Air Brakes:

  • Finalized the air brake system design
  • Installed the air cylinder in the appropriate location under the car
  • Completed the installation of all of the air piping to the air cylinder
  • Develop prototype levers for the air cylinders


  • Completed the restoration of the nine oil lamp roof vents
  • Acquired and restored a Barney & Smith corner sink that will be used in the Men’s Smoking Room
  • Acquired an Adams & Westlake two-burner oil lamp for the car
  • Acquired berth hardware from an ex-Milwaukee Road sleeping car in Alberta
  • Sourced a door for the stateroom toilet room
  • Cleaned and restored over 300 pieces of berth and sleeping compartment hardware

Men’s Smoking Room:

  • Started to develop the drawings for the missing Men’s Smoking Room walls and partitions
  • Developed the design and size for the missing mirrors (qty.2) to be reproduced


  • Developed a detailed list of the sleeping compartment work tasks and sequence of activities
  • Obtained a proposal for reproducing missing wood parts in the sleeping compartment
  • Updated the three year restoration plan
  • Developing a grant request to submit in 1Q 2021


  • Total expenses paid for materials, labor, and contract since Jan. 1, 2020 is $5,448.51


Report prepared by William Buhrmaster, MCRM Restoration Department. Dec. 4, 2020.

Related links:

Comments are closed.