FEBT Restoration – Combination Car 14

Combination Car 14 is believed to have been built by Gilbert Bush & Co. some time in the 1880s. It was purchased by the East Broad Top in 1916 from the Boston Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad in Massachusetts, where it was configured as a smoker coach. The EBT converted the car into a combination car, with part of the car seating passengers and part accommodating baggage and freight. The car was used extensively in the later years of EBT common carrier operations, when the railroad’s passenger operations featured mixed passenger-and-freight runs. A combine would carry passengers, mail, and packages, and would run at the end of a train of 20 coal hoppers. Even after mail and passenger service ended in 1953, crews often used the combines on freight runs because they rode more smoothly than the railroad’s cabooses.

Restoration on combine #14
Restoration proceeds on the north end of EBT combination car #14

During the tourist era the car was a regular in the excursion train for decades. The car was run for most of that time with its baggage doors removed. This exposed parts of the interior and structure of the car to weather. Unfortunately weather and wear took a toll on the car and by the mid 2000s it had to be taken out of service. At that time FEBT undertook a restoration project to restore the car and return it to operation.

As is often the case with such projects, once the exterior of the car was removed, the issues proved to be much more extensive than expected. Several years of work were required to tear down #14 to its structural members and repair the damage. The car itself had to be jacked and cribbed to remove a sag and a twist in the car body before structural repairs could commence. Simultaneously a separate crew worked on rebuilding the car’s trucks and structural and mechanical elements, including new side bearings, center bearings, rebuilt brake equipment and other components.

As of 2020 the car is being reassembled, roof repairs are being completed and window installation is in progress. Interior restoration is also in progress. Mechanically the trucks are ready for machining work on the axles, wheels and bearings which will complete them. Work is expected to continue several more years before the car is completed.