FEBT Restoration – Combine 16

Combination Car 16 was one of the EBT’s earliest surviving passenger cars. A combination car has two compartments, one for passengers and one for baggage and cargo. In addition to use in passenger trains, the EBT also used some combines as cabooses on mixed freight trains. This gave the ability to haul a few passengers without the need for a dedicated passenger train. Combine 16 was retired in 1941 and passed through a number of different owners until being purchased by the New Jersey Museum of Transportation. By the time the car arrived there it was missing its trucks and had been stored outside for many years. In 1986 FEBT acquired a 99 year lease on the Combine 16 with the intention of restoring the car to operating condition.

The car is currently stored in New Jersey under cover. Cleanup and preliminary restoration was performed on the car in New Jersey and numerous parts for the car were fabricated, pending the transport of the car to Pennsylvania, such as window sashes and seat parts. The car’s trucks are long gone and are necessary for the car to be returned to the EBT (The NJMOT is keeping the freight trucks the car is on now.) FEBT leased an original set of EBT passenger car trucks from the Tweetsie Railroad in Boone, NC. Those trucks originally ran under EBT coach 5, which currently runs on other trucks due to the deterioration of the originals. Coach 5’s trucks acted as a template for constructing replica trucks for Combine 16. During most of the 1990’s, FEBT had the various components of the trucks fabricated as funding allowed, including all of the major wood and metal components. FEBT received a grant of $5,000 from the National Railway Historical Society for the contract work of making four new wheel sets to fit inside the truck frames. The components were then transported to the Strasburg Railroad where the components were finish machined and assembled.

The completed trucks were transported to the EBT in September of 2006 and the #5 trucks were returned to Tweetsie the following month. Primer and paint were applied to the trucks by volunteers after their arrival. They still need brake gear and a center bearing plate. The brake gear will be contracted to Strasburg in combination with volunteer work and installation. The bearing plate will not be fabricated until the car body is returned to the EBT.

FEBT is currently attempting to re-negotiate the lease on Combine #16. It is hoped that #16 can be returned to the EBT in the coming years. In the meantime the trucks can be temporarily pressed into service on other cars if needed.