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The Sierra #3 Locomotive: A Star is Reborn

The Sierra #3 is possibly the most famous steam locomotive in the world. She has been in continuous service at the Jamestown Railroad in Northern California since 1906, surviving a wreck in the ‘20s, and the scrap yard during World War II. After the war, and with the advent of diesel locomotives, her fate seemed sealed. But Hollywood came to her rescue, and she was featured in hundreds of films and television shows, with stars such as Gary Cooper in “High Noon”, and Clint Eastwood in “The Unforgiven”.  The beautiful 110 year old engine finally needed a complete overhaul so it could keep operating. The restoration team is as unforgettable as the locomotive itself, and this “Ultimate Restorations” hour is a suspenseful, yet heartwarming adventure in living history. (54 minutes/NTSC format.)

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Cangarda: The Last American Steam Yacht

In our premier episode, we follow Bob McNeil’s four year restoration of the 136’ “Cangarda”, the last American steam yacht. Built in 1901, and salvaged 103 years later from a mudflat in Boston Harbor, with pieces scattered up and down the East Coast, Bob McNeil and the colorful crew of Rutherford’s Boat Shop in San Francisco pull off the most important yacht restoration in American history ­— so far. Old construction techniques are revived in some of the most fascinating “how-to television” ever assembled.

The size and scope of the undertaking, the dramatic moments of dealing with the unknown, and the great characters involved, were to set the stage for the popular “Ultimate Restorations” series. (54 minutes/NTSC format.)

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The Lysander: Canada’s Unsung Hero

At the Vintage Wings Museum in Ottawa, Canada, a priceless spy plane from World War II is restored by first-time restorers, young and old. Under the direction of experts, we are with them as they “learn on the job”. The Lysander will be one of only 4 remaining in the world, and as with all “ultimate restorations”, is restored to fly again.

For Canada and England, this plane represents the best of their ingenuity and courage: its unique landing and take-off capabilities saved hundreds of lives behind enemy lines during the war, as we see and hear in rare historical footage. The Lysander exemplifies a restoration which preserves a critical moment in time, both to honor those few still alive who lived it, and to inspire future generations to never forget. (54 minutes/NTSC format.)

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The Ahrens-Fox: A Kansas City Treasure

In 1926, when only the best would do, Kansas City ordered a small fleet of Ahrens-Fox fire engines. They were the finest, most expensive fire engines ever conceived or built, magnificent pieces of functional art, never to be duplicated.

At his own fire engine museum in Estes Park Colorado, volunteer fireman Doug Klink and a small group of volunteer experts restore the last Kansas City Ahrens-Fox back to operating, showroom condition.  Klink and his crew are as disarming and likable as they are knowledgeable, and this hour is filled with fascinating “how-to” segments. The drama of getting the old machinery operating again, combine with the emerging beauty of the Ahrens-Fox to create a memorable viewing experience. (54 minutes/NTSC format.)

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The Schooner Coronet: Racing Into History

Once again, host Bob McNeil joins with yacht restoration expert Jeff Rutherford to tackle a huge project with a colorful past, the 135 foot wooden schooner, “Coronet”. Built in 1885 for American industrialist Rufus T. Bush, during her first five years “Coronet” earned fame as a trans-Atlantic race winner and circumnavigated the globe as one of the first U.S.-registered yachts to round Cape Horn.  Her design is credited with changing U.S. commercial ship standards forever. All the pieces are there, including a custom Steinway piano. With the help of young apprentices from the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, Rhode Island, Bob and Jeff set off on a restoration journey that will take them from the jungles of Guatemala to the forests of Denmark.

When completed, she will sail as she originally did: without an auxiliary engine, a living tribute to American expertise and craftsmanship. (54 minutes/NTSC format.)

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The Midmer-Losh: Breathing Life into the Beast

In 1929, Atlantic City, under the expansive reign of gangster “Nucky” Johnson, set about construction of one of the largest convention halls in the country. But it wasn’t the hall itself that was the prize. It was being constructed, literally, around the world’s largest theater pipe organ. With over 33,000 pipes, and blowers requiring hundreds of horsepower, the now deteriorating goliath is still the largest musical instrument in the world, as well as the world’s most complicated mechanical system.  Atlantic City’s colorful and single- minded restoration team is being buoyed by our story and its attendant press, which is helping to provide the nearly $10,000,000 cost. (54 minutes/NTSC format.)

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Badger #2: The Last Remaining Fish Car

At Avalon Rail in Wisconsin, we follow the intricate, multi-million dollar restoration of one of the world’s rarest railroad cars. During the Depression of 1911, when the West was expanding at a rapid rate, bringing fingerling fish out West from the East Coast and Midwest to stock lakes and streams as food sources was a huge business. Railroad cars were designed with tanks to carry the small fish, and elegant Victorian accommodations for the crews delivering them to the waterways.

The ornate “fish cars” disappeared ­— all except “Badger #2”. It’s story, and the story of it’s unique and difficult restoration, are a glimpse into a rarely seen chapter of American history. From duplicating lost patterns in floor coverings to rebuilding the ornate heating stove, the research is as astounding as the work itself, and the drama of getting this massive and priceless piece of history back onto the tracks is riveting entertainment. (54 minutes/NTSC format.)

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The Illions Supreme: The World’s Most Beautiful Carousel

What begins as the restoration of one carousel, soon became the story of 2 fascinating restorations. From the turn-of-the-century until today, there has been one carousel that has stood out from all of the rest­ ­—The Illions Supreme Carousel, the ultimate creation of the renowned master carver, Marcus Charles Illions.  But as work began on the Supreme in Los Angeles, another world famous carousel began its restoration in San Francisco; the magnificent Playland Carousel created by Charles Loof.  We decided to record them both.  These machines represent the ultimate in the woodcarver’s art. This episode truly is an ‘ultimate restoration’. (54 minutes/NTSC format.)

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Save 20% and purchase the complete set.

Own all 8 episodes, and save 20%.

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