FEBT Restoration – Generator Room

Project Years: 2003-04, 2006, 2011

The Generator Room is a small lean-to addition to the Machine Shop. The room houses the EBT’s primary electrical power supply in Rockhill Furnace, a 120V DC Westinghouse generator. Powered by steam from the shop boilers, the generator supplied power to not only the shops, but also the station, the EBT president’s house and a fair portion of the town of Rockhill Furnace. When the railroad shut down in 1956, so did the power. According to stories, residents were forced to replace their DC appliances with AC equivalents and convert to utility power.

The low pitch of the roof on the generator room has caused it considerable trouble. Water and weather slowly penetrated the shallow roof and rotted out the roof boards and joists. By 2002 the situation had gotten so bad that during any rain water poured into the room and onto the antique generator.

In 2003 a crew began working on the room by documenting thoroughly the method of construction, the layout and the location of all fixtures and components. Work then proceeded with the removal of all fixtures and components that were mounted on deteriorated portions of the room. The entire roof, including joists, had to be removed from the building and reconstructed from scratch. This required many hours of custom cutting joists and roof boards to fit around the many pipes and to match the design of the originals as closely as possible. By mid 2003 new rolled roofing was installed and sealed together to form a long lasting, weather tight roof. The soffits of the room were enclosed to match the originals.

In the following year the exterior walls of the room were primed and painted and the windows rebuilt or replicated. A replica of the original insulator bar that guided electrical wires out of the building was constructed and installed. As other more pressing projects badly needed attention, work did not proceed on the interior for several years, though a replica tongue and groove ceiling was installed in 2006 and later primed and the original cafe doors tot he room were rehabilitated.

In May 2011 work began again on the interior with the entire interior being primed and painted with two coats. By August, the ceiling mounted hardware was reinstalled. Work has also begun on restoring the shops generator.