COACHES


In November, 1990 the Lake Erie Car Co. of Painesville, Ohio leased the old AC&Y Diesel House from the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad as well as the surrounding area and opened a railroad coach repair shop here. The owners say it will eventually be a "heavy repair facility" In August 1991 they began to expand the facilities here by adding several new tracks for car storage and later added a new building used as the paint shop.

By 1993 as many as 17 people were working in two shifts and 15 coaches were stored nearby awaiting to be repaired. A 25 ton GE locomotive was added along with the small Plymouth locomotive to move the coaches around to where they needed them. Many of the coaches they repaired were from museums and private owners from all over the country as well as tourist operations. The Norfolk Southern Railroad sent their coaches here from their tourist trains to be repaired. Several coaches of the Barnum and Bailey Circus were repaired here after a train wreck in Florida damaged several of the cars. One of the coaches was even sent to California to be used in an upcoming Paramount Studio movie. Some very nice looking coaches left the plant here in 1994 and 1995.

Some of the coaches brought in were just for storage and were never rebuilt here. A Seaboard Railroad private car brought here in 1991 was still here at the end and never rebuilt or repaired. An idea to have a private "Tourist Train" just for Ohioians was brought to life when a leased Wheeling and Lake Erie locomotive 2913 and two ex-Burlington commuter coaches were rebuilt here and lettered "Rails For Ohio". Not enough customers were found to keep the train going. The locomotive was later leased to the Ashland Railway and today it is on the Ohio Central Railway at Morgan Run shops near Coshocton.

After the CSX bridge accident of Amtrack Sunset Limited on Sept.2nd, 1993 near Mobile, AL, the railroad's insurance rates tripled and private owners found it too expensive to maintain their cars for railroad operations and the Lake Erie Car Company's business began to drop off. With a little "pressure" from the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad they decided to close the New London plant and in November 1996 the business was closed.

In 1998 the W&LE abandoned the old AC&Y line through New London and today all the tracks are gone though both the old diesel house and the paint shop buildings still stand and are used by the W&LE maintenance of way department for vehicle storage. Although it was a "short lived" business they did put out some very good work and some nice looking coaches while they were here.

V.K.Neel from New London Record articles.




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