By Mike Wertman
Medina Journal-Register — Bolstered by last year’s inaugural sold out trips, Medina Railroad Museum officials are bust prepping for the rapidly approaching holiday season series of Polar Express excursions.
Highlighting the busy preparations has been the restoration of a vintage 1940’s dining car which will be utilized as the first class car on the Polar Express trips which begins the weekend after Thanksgiving.
“It’s a beautiful car,” said Railroad Museum board member Hugh James who noted that the 1948 era car, which came to the museum from Canada, has most of its original furnishings including the dining tables and most of the chairs as well as the wall coverings and decorative aluminum panels.
“I think it was redone once, probably in the 1980s, but it still has most all of its original appointments,” said James, who noted that the car was last used in British Columbia, Canada.
The restoration work has included considerable hours sanding and painting the exterior of the car as well as doing some interior sanding, touch up painting and cleaning.
The first class car will have seating for 68 passengers and will be part of the Polar Express train that will also include five coaches and a generator car, which is also being renovated.
“We’ve removed a lot of junk that was on the generator car when we acquired it. We have put in a new fuel tank and we’re working on the generator,” James said. “It’s a lot of work.”
“It’s a big time project,” said Museum founder and Director Marty Phelps. “We’re complying with all the safety regulations. We have to be very particular about the condition and appearance of our cars, locomotives and building.”
The Polar Express excursions are slated for five weekends (Nov. 24-25 and Dec. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16 and 22-23) with three trips a day (3:30, 4:40 and 5:55 p.m.).
‘“We sold out last year and the tickets are going very fast for this year’s excursions,” Phelps said. “People were very impressed last year with the excursion, the museum and the village. We got a lot of very positive comments about the village and how friendly the people were and how nice it was decorated. We’ve had a lot of repeat business. They like what we’re doing.”