Bellefonte

On Centre | Around Bellefonte: Rail car on track for much-needed restoration

The Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society is sending its 1953 Budd Co. RDC to Columbia to be refurbished. The car was moved off the tracks on the Nittany Bald Eagle Railroad on Monday in Julian and loaded onto a truck for the move.
The Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society is sending its 1953 Budd Co. RDC to Columbia to be refurbished. The car was moved off the tracks on the Nittany Bald Eagle Railroad on Monday in Julian and loaded onto a truck for the move. CDT photo

When a rail car needs some work done, it can’t simply be driven to the closest mechanic. It becomes a process.

When the Budd Rail Diesel Car of Bellefonte needed restoration, it kicked off several years of work for the Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society and its supporting partners to find the funding and right agencies to do the work.

“It needs, basically, what any aging vehicle would require — brake work, work on the air-conditioning system, general rehabilitation of the engine and a quick look over everything on the car to make sure it’s within current (Federal Railroad Administration) guidelines,” BHRS President Dan Durachko said.

Thanks to several years of work, the car will get its much-needed repairs and is expected to be back in service by the summer, Bellefonte Intervalley Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Gary Hoover said in an email.

Funding for the restoration came from a federal transportation enhancement grant, Durachko said. Typically, the grant is awarded for sidewalk improvements or other pedestrian walkways, he said, but the society was able to successfully apply.

“It was a long battle, and a lot of work was involved,” he said. “We have a few dedicated people with our organization who took this all the way to fruition.”

On Monday, the car was lifted by crane onto a set of highway wheels to be transported to Rail Mechanical Services Inc. in Columbia for heavy restoration work. The move took place just west of the Bald Eagle Area High School on the property of Blazer Enterprises, Hoover said.

The car, RDC No. 9167, operated in commuter and short-haul service in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island until coming under Penn Central ownership in 1969, according to a Chamber of Commerce email.

After service in the Philadelphia area and a time in storage, it was transferred to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which subsequently transferred it to the Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society.

Meetings are scheduled in January to work out details of an operating agreement to resume car operations, Durachko said It could work on the Bellefonte branch line from Milesburg to Lemont initially.

“Hopefully,” he said, “we would be able to gain the confidence of the powers that be that may allow us to go out on the main line.”

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