The Spokesman-Review June 19, 1984
By Bill Morlin

Curt Andrews' preoccupation in his rail coach, the "Abraham Lincoln"

Curt Andrews smiles when he says he isn't married and doesn't own a house.

Then the Othello, Washington Industrial Design Engineer points to his life's preoccupation- a 1910 Pullman business car that once was the pride of the top executive of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.

"Its the oldest operating railcar in the United States" Andrews, 27, said Monday after arriving in Spokane from Tucson, Arizona, aboard his newly purchased coach.

Andrews saved the car from a Los Angeles scrap yard, where it sat rusting under different owners from 1964 until last October, when he bought it for $-. But saving a bit of history with technical assistance from the Smithsonian Institution is only part of Andrews' dream.

One day soon, he hopes, the 74 year old coach he has named the "Abraham Lincoln" will be leased for travel by a modern day, high speed, Amtrack passenger trains.

"I've got all my life's savings tied up in it," Andrews said as he reluctantly detailed his expenses in the venture.

"You see, I'm not married," he added with a laugh. "I'm married to this car. A wife wouldn't like the competition."

After buying the coach, he had it moved to Tucson where he spent an estimated $50,000 having it mechanically refurbished so it would meet stringent standards for travel at a maximum speed of 105 miles per hour behind Amtrak trains.


Dining car of the Abraham Lincoln seats eight and includes a china closet and electronic buttons to summon porters.

The mechanical restoration includes purchase and installation of trucks once used under an army hospital car, a new brake system for its six axles, and a 45 page engineering analysis.

"Think of it like driving it a 1910 vintage car on the freeway at today's fastest speeds," Andrews said of the exhaustive and costly mechanical restoration.

He said he will pay Burlington Northern to transport the coach from Spokane to his Eastern Washington home town, where he intends to live in the coach until his renovation is completed in about a year.

It's interior is richly finished in irreplaceable French walnut, and it can sleep nine. One bathroom with seven show heads serves its two primary bedrooms.

"It's kind of strange when you consider they could only carry a limited amount of water," Andrews said of the abundance of shower heads.

Its open air rear observation deck is the classic envy of every whistle stop politician.

"You should have been sitting out there coming over Cascades," he said of the ride.

Andrews said he will restore the interior


of its 1910 splendor and in the process add heating and electrical systems, replace windows with safety glass, and repair woodwork and ceiling damage caused by leaks.

Once this coach is fully restored, Andrews said, he intends to base it in Spokane and hopes to lease it to individuals or businesses interested in a novel way of travel.

"We were amazed the dining table and chairs were still here," said Andrews' father, Clyde, who made the rail trip with his son.

The dining area, which seats eight, includes a built-in china closet and buttons to summon porters whose quarters were elsewhere in the coach.

The elder Andrews has been largely responsible for the corresponding with Smithsonian historians and doing other research necessary to restore the 180,000 pound coach to its original design.

The car was Rio Grande's No. 101 business car until it was retired in 1964. Private owners must name their cars to have them moved, and Andrews said he chose Lincoln because he was the first person to own a private rail car. The president's son, Robert Todd, was president of the Pullman Car Co. when the coach was built.