For Hee's a Jolly Good Fellow
By Jeff Livingston, Historian
Mr. Randall (Randy) Hees, one of the country's foremost experts in wooden railroad car construction, restoration and repair, recently completed an assessment of Observation/Parlor Car No. 64 and our other ex-OR&L wooden equipment. Randy's visit was made possible through the gracious contribution of Ms. Regina Kawananakoa who sponsored the assessment. Professionally, Randy is the Curator of the Historic Patterson House, Ardenwood Historic Farm, Fremont, California but his passion is Carter Brother's railroad equipment. Carter Brothers, builders of wooden railroad cars from 1872 to 1902, constructed over 5,000 cars which included the first passenger and freight cars of the OR&L.
Within minutes of Randy's arrival at the yard he was under No. 64 poking around to determine her condition. What he found was encouraging. No. 64, while not perfect, is in good condition thanks to the work of the late David Lomas and the subsequent care taken by HRS. Within 48 hours of Randy's arrival a good three quarters of the discrepancies found were corrected by HRS members and those not corrected scheduled for correction.
Because No. 64 was in such good condition Randy had the opportunity over the course of the week to inspect Coach No. 57, Coach No. 2 and Boxcar No. 322. In addition to completing the assessment of No. 64, Randy will also be providing an assessment of No. 57 and recommendations concerning Nos. 2 and 322. Members who had the opportunity to work with Randy were universally impressed with his level of knowledge, energy and willingness to share both his knowledge and passion.
The week was topped off by a superb presentation given by Randy and attended by about 55 HRS members and guests including Ms. Regina Kawananakoa and Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle. Randy's visit was a milestone for HRS, the first professional railroad historian and curator to asses our collection, Randy’s enthusiasm and willingness to share information energized all who worked with him. As an organization, we now know not only what we need to do to preserve our collection, but how to do it.
The final Historic Structure Report and Preservation Assessment for both Observation/Parlor Car No. 64 and Coach No. 57 will be forthcoming along with the recommendations for Coach No. 2 and Boxcar No. 322. HRS is living up to its motto "We're Making Tracks Now".