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Little Joe Repainted
From Rail & Wire Issue 114, March 1985

By Jeff Brady
About four years ago, South Shore electric locomotive 803, better known by the misnomer "Little Joe," was put on display in the station area of the Museum. This was due partially to the fact that it had no allotted space in any of the barns, and that it was too large to be put anywhere else. Unfortunately, the 803 had suffered from years of exposure, and was badly in need of repainting.

Upon inspection in 1983, however, it was noted that, although the paint was badly deteriorated, the car body itself was in very good condition. It was then decided that the 803 should be repainted to prevent further deterioration and to enhance its appearance. It was also obvious that the size of 803 (10 feet wide, 15 feet high and 88 feet long) presented a task that would far exceed the resources of an already overworked volunteer staff. Consequently bids were solicited from sandblasting and painting contractors. Bids ranged from $1,800 to $5,400 with paint to be supplied by IRM. Unfortunately, this exceeded what the Museum was able to afford that year, causing the project to be postponed.

Over the next year, Jeff Brady sought donations to support the project through letters and Rail & Wire. The result was more than $1,400 raised, and a donation of the paint from Sherwin-Williams Company, the original supplier of paint. In addition to the paint, it was also willing to supply the spraying equipment and a technical representative. The company thought this was desirable because the paint it was supplying consisted of an epoxy primer and polyurethane finish colors.

View of the CSS&SB 803 Little Joe freshly painted
View of the CSS&SB 803 "Little Joe" freshly repainted thanks to Sherwin-Williams Company. Small tasks remaining before the builder's photo can be taken include some trim painting, installation of pantographs, and relettering.

While the fund raising progressed, Rob Lake was busy preparing 803 for sandblasting by masking and stripping numerous items on the locomotive. This process took approximately one year and included the removal of all window sashes, number boards, pantographs, visors and door kick plates. The window openings were boarded up and all door seams masked. One of the most challenging tasks was the boarding up and masking of the air louvers that run the length of 803 on both sides. This was accomplished with particle board, shims and duct tape. Also taped were roof access hatches, headlights, antenna, horns, roof insulators, cables, air pipe radiators, motors, and motor blower ducts.

Removal of the windshields revealed that the glazing rubber was in poor condition, and that one window was cracked. After considerable searching, a supplier of the rubber was located. Power Parts of Chicago generously donated the rubber for the windshields and the number boards. Windshield of half-inch laminated safety glass was purchased from a local supplier and installed by Rob Lake in the aluminum frame.

By October 1984 sufficient money was on hand, and a contract was awarded for the sandblasting and painting. First, however, it was necessary to find a location where 803 would fit and where blowing sand and paint spray would pose no problem. It was decided that the lead to Barn 8, the steam barn, would be suitable, and scaffolding was collected and set up to run the length of both sides of 803 and this was done on the weekend by Lake, Jeff Brady, Rob, Carl Illwitzer and Jim McAlpin, so that there would be no delay when Sherwin-Williams and the contractor arrived on Monday.

Brady, Lake and Illwitzer were standing by to assist and relocate the locomotive and scaffolding as needed. The plan was to shove 803 inside Barn 8 at night to escape the dew. This was actually done for a couple of days, but even though the weather was perfect, the bugs proved formidable so that the last three days work was done inside Barn 8 accompanied by relocating the scaffolding.

The contractor sandblasted for two 10-hour days, and used approximately 6,000 pounds of grit. As the blasting progressed, it became evident that it was also removing filler from the weld seams on the skin, requiring last minute filling with body filler.

Eric Powerrey of Sherwin-Williams was on hand with a company van which contained the spray equipment and paint. He provided very valuable assistance throughout the five-day project insuring that the two-part epoxy primer and three-part finish coats were properly mixed and applied.

Priming began on Tuesday with finish colors of orange, maroon and silver being applied Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The whole job consumed approximately 13 gallons of primer, 13 gallons of orange, two gallons of maroon for the stripes and one gallon of silver for the ends.

The size of 803 presented special problems such as how to paint the long, smooth surf aces without leaving droopy areas, and how to get at the top of the noses (this was solved by erecting more scaffolding over both ends). By Friday the entire locomotive had been painted with the exception of the trucks. Over the next several weeks Lake, Illwitzer and Jim Blower cleaned the trucks and painted them black. Lake also unmasked everything and reinstalled the window and number boards.

Lake is in the process of painting the pantographs maroon in preparation for reinstallation in spring. Also left to be done is painting of handrails, installing the Scotch-Cal lettering, and a few other miscellaneous items. The total cost of the project was at the budgeted figure of $4,200.

We are now working at having 803 complete in time for the 1985 A.R.M. convention at Union.

The Museum would like to thank those who helped on this project, in particular Rob Lake for his many hours of work over the last two years.

We would especially like to thank Mr. Joseph DeVittorio, President, Sherwin-Williams Chemical Coatings Division, for his support that enabled us to receive the donation of the paint and technical assistance that accompanied it. Without it, the preservation of 803 would have been much further away.

From the Rail & Wire Issue 114, March 1985


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