Andrews plans refurbishing Pullman car just 'home'
UNIQUE HOME -- Parked at Bruce, Curt Andrews' new home is a 1910 Pullman car called the Abraham Lincoln. Andrews plans to refurbish the car in the next few years.
You can almost see the ghosts in Curt Andrews' new home. Walking through the mobile home, one can imagine bustle skirted women and waist coated men dining in the elegant dining room, or serious businessmen consulting in the "observation" room.
Andrews' home, you see, is truly mobile. It's a 1910 Pullman car.
Andrews, 27, is an industrial trouble-shooter and said a mobile home would fit his living and work needs perfectly.
Stainless sink -- the tiny secretary's room, just to the rear of Pullman includes a stainless steel sink which unfolds from the wall.
Small but elegant -- The eight foot car features walls of dark walnut.
He had originally intended to buy a railroad car, but lingering dreams of a popular 1960's Wild Wild West television program -- and the elegant Pullman the characters lived in -- sparked his interest in Pullmans.
He began looking for a railroad car in the late 1970's.
"I finally came across this car in 1981, but mechanically it was in bad shape -- it couldn't be moved on today's tracks," he recalls.
"This car" is the oldest operable Pullman car existing in the United States. Eighty feet long and featuring a sleek, newly painted dark brown steel exterior, Andrews named it the Abraham Lincoln.
The assassinated President, he explained, was the first person to have a private railroad car, and all such cars today must be named instead of numbered. Lincoln never used the car -- he was killed before it was completed -- but his body was carried to Springfield, Illinois in it.
Coincidently, after Andrews purchased his car and named it, he discovered that Lincoln's surviving son, Robert Todd Lincoln, was the president of the Pullman Company when his 1910 model was made.
As a trouble-shooter, Andrews found it "quite a challenge" to solve the mechanical problems enough for it to be moved to Tucson, Arizona, shop for further repairs.
The car was brought up to modern specifications and Amtrack pulled it to Spokane. Late last week, the car was taken to Bruce by a freight train.
Entering through the beautiful observation room, visitors are greeted by the beautiful French veneers which are featured throughout the living quarters.
Andrews noted that the car was built as a restaurant car in 1910, but remodeled to a business car in 1929 for Denver and Rio Grande Railroad executives' use. "In those days, there weren't the hotels to fly to and stay in," he said. "These (cars) were quite common".
The observation room features a glass topped desk, a couch which folds out into a Pullman bed, and four 1960's chairs Andrews hopes to replace.
A small but comfortable secretary's room is next, and has a fold down bed and tiny fold down sink with gleaming fixtures.
The stateroom -- two bedrooms on either side of a "large" tiled bath -- has two "regular" non-folding beds build into the wall. Each also has a small chest of drawers. The bath, with its intricate tile work, has a small shower with seven shower heads.
The crowning glory of the Abraham Lincoln is its dining room.
The dining room set and china cabinet -- made of the same walnut as the car's walls -- are beautifully carved. The
eight chairs have faded turquoise colored pads riveted to the backs, and the table is covered with a heavy hand sewn cloth. The lights on the wall have etched patterns.
Beyond the dining room is a less luxurious porters' room and the kitchen, which is wood, stainless steel lined cabinets, and an electric stove.
Andrews plans to refurbish the entire car "to 1910 as a private car" which can be towed behind most modern trains.
New light fixtures, chairs, carpeting, drapes, and shades will be purchased. The wood walls, although in good shape, need retouching. "I need craftsmen to do the woodwork and other specialty people to do the other work," he said.
Andrews said he hopes to do a lot of the indoor work this winter. The most expensive concerns, though, will include installing air conditioning, and new heating, modern safety equipment, and completing outside structural work.
The Othello resident said he hopes eventually to travel in the Abraham Lincoln from one job to another, but the expected high cost of the refurbishment work will force him to lease it for income for a while.
He also plans to take it to shows because it is the oldest car of its use.