Vendors and visitors at the downtown farmers’ market on Saturday were greeted by an unusual sight, courtesy of Richard Lawrence and a popular, locally filmed auto restoration television show.
As the final summer Downtown Salmon Arm Farmers Market was getting underway at the corner of Hudson Avenue and Ross Street on Oct. 22, a portion of Hudson often occupied by vendors was given up to a royal blue semi tractor and trailer which, from the outside, looked as though it had been converted into a large recreation vehicle. Painted on the side of the trailer were the words “Notch Hill Express Railway Show Case.” Moving about the trailer, inside and out, was a camera crew and Mike Hall, Avery Shoaf and Cassidy Mceown of Rust Valley Restorers fame.
Posted at the rear of the trailer was a “General Notice of Filming,” stating: Please be aware that this event is being filmed for the purpose of producing and publicizing a television program called “Rust Valley Restorers.”
The main star of this attraction, however, was Sorrento resident Richard Lawrence who is responsible for the creation of the Notch Hill Express.
Dressed as a conductor, Lawrence said he began working on this project about a year ago. It began with an empty moving-company trailer he’d planned to use for his antique cars.
“I have some antique cars and I needed a car trailer, but then I decided I needed a roof on the car trailer, and then from the roof on the car trailer it grew a little bit longer and turned into this,” said Lawrence, who based the design of his repurposed trailer on a late 1800s, early 1900s Pullman railway car. The interior is furnished with floral carpeting, tasseled curtains, mahogany siding, a dining table, a chandelier and velvet upholstered furniture.
“I bought 30 sheets of ribbon grain mahogany plywood, $8,000 worth of mahogany, 140 feet of velvet, 500 feet of tassels and all of these antiques,” said Lawrence. “I had this carpet custom printed.”
Lawrence said he used to live in West Vancouver, where he was a shop teacher.
“That came in handy,” he said of the effort he’s put into the project, which remains a work in progress.
“It will never be finished, there’s lots of touch ups.”
Anyone who wanted was welcome to walk through the road-ready railcar during its downtown stop.
“It’s quite exciting that people like it,” said Lawrence of the public’s response. “It’s nice to see people enjoy themselves.”
Hall said Lawrence received a bit of help, and encouragement, from his fans at Rust Valley.
“Cass helped out with some of the painting, we did a little bit of sandblasting…,” said Hall. “So basically, Richard, we wound him up and watched him go and just came back and documented the process. Richard did 99.8 per cent of it himself – with a little help from his friends.”
Hall called Lawrence’s trailer transformation “amazing.”
“He’s got to have put in 2,000 hours in labour,” said Hall. “I think building a car is a pain in the ass; I couldn’t even comprehend this, cutting and fitting – it’s labour intensive.”
Lawrence said the Notch Hill Express will be available to rent for photo shoots or special events.
Season 4 of the History Channel series Rust Valley Restorers aired this year. Hall wouldn’t say if another season is in the works.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter