Re-Tarping a 1921 Decatur Streetcar

In February, volunteers Paul Grether, Nick Henderson, and Kristen Fredriksen gathered to replace the shredded tarp on the museum’s 1921 Georgia Power streetcar.

The last tarp had been applied about a decade ago, and weather and time had taken their toll. Paul Grether generously donated the materials for the re-tarping of the streetcar.

The first step was to remove the old tarp (pictured above, behind the truck). Mother nature had been slowly creeping into the streetcar’s interior and had to be tamed with garden shears and a weed eater. After clearing the brush around the vehicle and sawing down a small encroaching tree, Paul, Nick, and Kristen paused to take some photos and then loaded up with packing foam and got to work adding a protective layer to any sharp parts around the edges of the roof.

The wooden roof at one end of the car had fallen in, leaving a sizable hole that water could pool in after the tarp is applied. To prevent water from gathering in the low spot, a new wood pallet was hoisted onto the roof, held up by existing metal supports on each side within the streetcar. Coming up with creative solutions and applying the foam membrane took most of the afternoon, and daylight ran out before the tarp could be applied.

Work resumed the next morning, though the day was much windier and not optimal for a tarp application. More foam was rolled onto the wooden roof as a barrier between any rusty bits and the fresh tarp and nearly blew off several times. Finally, the tarp was unboxed and laid out alongside the streetcar. Paul then rolled the tarp up like a giant burrito to place at one end of the streetcar.

Kristen, Paul, and Nick lifted the heavy tarp onto the top of the streetcar and positioned two ladders on either side of the car to unroll the tarp burrito. Working their way down the length of the streetcar, the volunteers centered the tarp and unfurled the sides, finally cocooning the streetcar. The tarp was secured with a series of vertical and horizontal ropes, with foam insulator noodles placed between the rope and the streetcar corners and edges to prevent too much rubbing between the rope and tarp.

The tarp procedures followed in February stem from guidance from Railway Preservation Resources.

Streetcar #269 in the collection of the Southeastern Railway Museum is the only known survivor of a Decatur Streetcar and one of only a handful of surviving Georgia Power streetcars. It was sold after the end of streetcar service for use as a house in Hiram Georgia, where it was discovered by SRM volunteers in February 2002 and recovered to the museum later that year. It has been in storage behind Building #3 ever since, pending a display and restoration plan.

Learn more about the streetcar on its exhibit page.

Watch a timelapse video of the weekend below:

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply