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NH components dominate Cog's new 'Coach No. 4'

Union Leader Correspondent

June 19. 2017 12:03AM
Rob Maclay, master craftsman and car shop foreman for the Cog Railway, takes measurements in April while working on Coach No. 4, the Cog's most technologically advanced coach and the first built there since 2002. While assembled entirely on site at the Cog, the coach includes components from several New Hampshire companies. (JOHN KOZIOL/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

MARSHFIELD STATION — Underscoring its long tradition of Yankee ingenuity and creativity, the Cog Railway recently put into service a coach that uses many made-in-New Hampshire components or materials provided by companies based in the Granite State.

Wayne Presby, who has owned the Cog since 1983, estimated that between 85 to 90 percent of the things that go into a Cog coach or biodiesel locomotive, both of which are assembled onsite, have connections to New Hampshire, a fact that makes him both happy and proud.

In May, the Cog rolled out “Coach No. 4,” which is its first new coach since 2000, Presby said.

The coach boasts an air-suspension system; air-assisted brakes; extensive sound proofing; air-tight marine-grade, custom-built windows; and new, larger front and rear windows to let passengers have more expansive views as they ride up to the top of Mount Washington and then back down.

Companies involved in producing Coach No. 4 include Gasket Seal and Packing Network of Bedford; Perras Lumber of Groveton; and BOMAR-Pompanette LLC of Charleston.

To build its locomotives, the Cog relies on Presby Steel and Alpine Machine, both of Berlin, as well as two companies in not-so-faraway Maine: The Hope Group-(hydraulics) of South Portland and Rockport Steel of Rockport.

Edward A. Silvia, who with his wife, Jacqueline, owns Gasket Seal and Packing, said his company has worked with the Cog for some 30 years, adding “It’s great to see what they’re accomplishing up there” using the company’s gaskets.

The gaskets, along with BOMAR windows and endwalls, have significantly reduced the vibration as well as the noise in Coach No. 4, which went down from about 82 decibels in the existing coaches to 58 decibels, the equivalent of that found in a well-appointed luxury car going down the highway, Silvia said.

Gasket Seal and Packing has worked with BOMAR for many years, Silvia said, which is why he was happy to bring them to the Cog to work on Coach No. 4.

Presby said BOMAR is retrofitting all of the current coaches.

Coach No. 4 went into service over Memorial Day weekend. (JOHN KOZIOL/UNION LEADER CORREPSONDENT)

Paul Adams, BOMAR’s vice president of sales, said the applications are unique because “80 percent of what we do is boating and marine, both recreational and commercial boating.”

Presby said Coach No. 4 is an effort to greatly improve the visitor experience, adding that the Cog is working on ways to control temperature in the coaches so it remains a constant, comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit, whether the coach is at the base or summit.

The Cog opened in 1869 and because it is one of the oldest and most iconic attractions in the White Mountains and the United States, Presby said he has a “responsibility to make sure that we continue to improve that and position it to continue to exist for the next 150 years.”

Presby originally purchased the Cog in partnership with Joel Bedor, but earlier this year bought him out. The men also previously owned the Mount Washington Hotel, which is located in nearby Bretton Woods and has heating controls made and installed by Gasket Seal and Packing.

“We’ve been working hard to address customer comfort and customer needs,” Presby said, “and it became apparent to us quite a while ago that customers didn’t appreciate the current coaches because they were loud and uncomfortable.”

In 2008, the Cog switched from coal-fired steam locomotives to those that run on biodiesel; the railway keeps one steam locomotive in service, however, and it makes the first run of the day.

Changing from coal to biodiesel made the trip up and down Mount Washington easier and also cleaner for passengers, Presby said.

Similarly, Coach No. 4 represents the next advance in the passenger experience.

In addition to the ride-dampening and noise-deadening features, the coach has ergonomically-engineered wooden seats that the Cog developed on its own. The seats are unique, Presby said, because they have to flip one way on the ascent and another way on the descent.

Passenger feedback on social media helped optimize the comfort of the seats, Presby said, who added that in response to popular demand, cushions were installed.

Coach No. 4 is “quite an accomplishment, and it’s great that we can be working with New Hampshire companies to get that done,” said Presby, who expects to build a new coach every one to two years.

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