Skip to Content

The Restoration Posts

Fish Belly Frame

November 19, 2018 • jdonahue

I wrote before about the open air car for the Rambler Train in Knoxville.

It has a feature that’s different from all the other coaches I’ve seen. The Operations manager called it a “Fish Belly” frame, in the pictures you can see why. The other coaches have a frame that’s up under the car body, where you can’t see it. This one has a big I-beam sort of support, running the length of the car, right down the middle. It tapers up above the wheels, hence the name. What’s enjoyable for me was that I asked if I could paint it a dull silver color, to show this unique frame. The only connection I have with the company is as a paint contractor, so I have no real say in the look of things. Besides, it would make this coach different from the rest. But I got the OK, and man the black parts contrasted against the silver look nice.FISH_BELLY1_620fish_belly2_620

The Rambler Train gets a new open air car.

October 31, 2018 • jdonahue

The Three Rivers Rambler is a train you can ride in Knoxville Tennessee. Information on riding the train is HERE.

The new open air car was made from a recently purchased coach. It was completely remodeled. I did the painting and lettering. More information about the painting is HERE

Here’s a picture of it when it was nearly completed.Observat_2Observant_4.

Painted Red caboose

February 22, 2018 • jdonahue

I just painted a steel caboose; more can be seen at THIS PAGE


Experimental Walnut branch tool handle.

December 5, 2017 • jdonahue

It was one of those nights where one thing leads to another. I had a pile of nice steel cables that needed a temporary hanging place. I looked next to my workshop, and noticed the Walnut tree had a dead branch. So I sawed it off, leaving a stump to hang the cables on.

I noticed the branch had a nice little bit of heartwood, which I decided to make a sledge hammer handle from. I’ve used Walnut one other time, with good results. I couldn’t use the lathe this time because the branch wasn’t straight enough. So I removed the sapwood with a circular saw. Then i cleaned it up more with a four inch angle grinder that had a metal shaping attachment. It’s an odd looking thing, has all these little bits of metal or diamond welded to it. Man does it remove wood. I also used a flap disk and a bench sander.

it’s only a small six pound hammer, and I haven’t been able to test it yet, as I threw my back out again yesterday. That hasn’t happened in a couple years. I then hung the cables up. I saw experiment, because the branch did have a couple knots on one side, which I normally reject. But they’re only one side, and, it was supporting all the weight of the branch and leaves. That might make it a very sturdy handle.


Tool handle wedge idea.

November 27, 2017 • jdonahue

I finally found a fast way to make a great steel wedge for striking tool handles. More info at THIS PAGE.


Making 19th Century Paints

August 27, 2017 • jdonahue

This is a subject I’ve been interested in for years; I’m finally exploring it. HERE”S a page I made about it.Chef_LeVarneesh

Carbide Scraper Test

August 12, 2017 • jdonahue

Tried a very nice carbide scraper on some old planks today. Read more at THIS PAGE. plank_1

Experimenting with Oilcloth.

August 2, 2017 • jdonahue

For years, I wanted to make things out of oilcloth. It’s what they used before modern tarps. I experimented with a small one, made from Duck cloth, and Linseed oil. The stuff is DANGEROUS, so read the warnings At This page.


The Molly S. Wire Brush

July 18, 2017 • jdonahue

Serendipity can be awesome, and this time is no exception. A gal at Grainger help chat led me to make a wire brush that’s new to me. the details can be READ HERE.


Painted Rooster for Pigeon Forge.

July 8, 2017 • jdonahue

A recent project, more pictures and details can be seen at THIS PAGE