FEBT Restoration – Machine Shop

Project Years: 2003-2009, 2020-Present

The Machine Shop is one of the oldest buildings in Rockhill Furnace. The oldest portion likely dates from 1882, when the railroad began building shops separate from the roundhouse. The building has been added on to about three times, as well as having other shops buildings connected to it. The building holds the cream of the crop of the EBT’s belt driven machinery.

The Machine Shop is the center of the shop tours given at Rockhill Furnace. Although the interior was in better condition than most of the other buildings, this building also had many structural issues. As it is tied in with the Boiler House at the east end, the beam supporting the west end of the Boiler House roof also supports the east end of the Machine Shop roof. In the 1980s cribbing had to be erected because the beam had failed. In the same area, leaks around former skylights damaged the roof joists, and the floor below had rotted out. Although there were no other major structural problems, there were multiple sagging walls where the sills had rotted. Virtually all the windows had many broken glass panes and were boarded up to keep out vandals and vermin, resulting in a very dark interior.

In 2003 work began to rehabilitate the exterior, including windows and siding. Initial work was centered on the main shops entrance and included the repair and repainting of most of the windows on the north wall of the shop. Also in 2003, the largest section of rotted flooring was removed and replaced in cooperation with the crews of the EBT. In 2004 the remaining windows on the eastern portion of the north wall were repaired, along with the siding, and painting began. In the spring of 2005 the west wall was power washed, primed and painted, and the windows repaired. In the summer of 2005 the focus moved to the western portion of the north wall, where all the windows were repaired and the wall was power washed, primed and painted. Work on puttying and painting of the west windows continued into 2008 as access to those was limited by train movements. Also in 2008 a crew began repairs on the roof structure where the building meets the Boiler House. Additional support posts were installed. The roof trusses were reinforced with gusset plates, additional diagonal trusses and tension rods. Finally in 2009 the main support beam was replaced by laminating several sections of 2×10 timber together, and the support cribbing was removed. The eastern slope of the roof was then rebuilt with new sheet metal.

In 2020 the EBT Foundations contracted with Woodford Brothes to perform sill and post repair of the south wall of the Machine Shop and the north wall of the Boiler Shop, including tying new material into the existing floor joists. Prior to that work an FEBT crew moved all machinery, supplies, and other artifacts away from the walls. They also cleared out wheels, driver boxes and many other very heavy items out of the alley between the buildings. Once the contracted work was completed, the EBT crew installed new siding and flashing. From there an FEBT crew began reinstall flooring and performing repairs to the roof eaves over the alley between the buildings.

The FEBT crew will complete the re-installation of the flooring, move all machinery and supplies back to their original locations and complete restoration of this side of the building.