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Hancock, Maine

Gatcomb Painting & Design

All Aboard!
The community joins in a historic railway restoration

The newly painted railroad car is a sparkling bit of history under a clear sky

Erick Gatcomb, who wields the written word as well as a paintbrush, narrates his own story.

This was one of my all-time favorite projects. First, because I’m a history geek. Second, because it allowed me to give something back to a community that has given me so much. Third, because it was truly a community effort. Fourth, I’ve just always been crazy about trains.

In the summer of 2020, I took a twohour ride on the train and felt immediate fascination, reverence and humility when the engineer informed the riders that the great Thomas Edison not only stepped foot on Coach 123 but briefly engineered it in 1930. By the time the train returned to the railyard, I vowed to my girlfriend that I was going to offer my professional  services to Downeast Scenic Railroad, entirely charitable and pro bono.

A few days later, I contacted the director with my offer and was ecstatic when he contacted me to accept and inform that, coincidentally, “The Edison Coach” needed a restoration. We made a plan to begin the project in the spring of 2021; I talked to my local Sherwin-Williams sales rep, and Sherwin-Williams agreed to donate the coatings.

The biggest challenges were the deadline and the weather — the railroad was planning to begin running Coach 123 on Memorial Day weekend, and we already had seven jobs with that same due date. Here in Maine, May was still relatively chilly — particularly in the tent we were refinishing the coach under.

The tent kept rain and frost out, but it also kept out the sun and its heat.

An additional challenge was attempting to lightly restore the coach without disturbing the old lead paint hidden under the surface. Even following proper RRP guidelines, railroads are noteworthy for an abundance of federal red tape that can be tricky to navigate. We scraped and used wire wheels on rusty areas, then treated said areas with a rust inhibitor/stabilizer. The entire exterior was then prepped, primed and painted. 

To meet the opening day deadline, we burned our respective candles at both ends, pulling long shifts and sometimes working nights in the tent using halogen lights to see. I would personally work several of our many jobs during the day and then arrive at the railroad in the afternoon to commence evening shift. On the final day of the project, some of the railroad volunteers lent much-needed helping hands.  

I didn’t make a penny on the job — and, in fact, it cost me a small fortune in time and materials — but it paid enormous dividends in personal satisfaction. I’m always looking for ways to give back to the community that has given me so much, and this coach was “just the ticket.”

Gatcomb and crew had to scrape and prep without disturbing any of the old lead paint beneath.
Thomas Edison on the rail car back in 1930.
Downeast Scenic Railroad is ready to ride — it carried inventor Thomas Edison over 90 years ago.


Erick Gatcomb, Inna Stoyanova, Jakob Gatcomb, community volunteers, Sherwin-Williams reps: Lee Ingram, Jake Fink

Key Products

  • Rust-Oleum rust-inhibiting primer and metal enamel
  • Sherwin-Williams industrial oil primer and Sher-Cryl HPA