Construction of the Cloverdale car barn

This page records the progress of construction of the Cloverdale car barn. This has been reformatted to be in chronological order and thus is reversed in order from how it appeared on the main (index) page and previous NEWS pages.

This is intended to tell the story of the construction with the delays and the advances. Most of the photos are by Allen Aubert, FVHRS Secretary, retired Architect and our construction liaison.


June 2011; Work is underway at Cloverdale

If you are in the Cloverdale area, and look South on  176th St. you will see piles of "dirt" on the new home of the FVHRS. The Lark Group has started the site preparation for the construction of the new FVHRS Car Barn.

There will be pictures of the construction when the barn itself is started. With this digging and piling, we are looking forward to the move from Sullivan to Cloverdale this Fall.

If you are around the site, please understand that as a working construction site you are not allowed to go inside the blue fence (except with proper clothing and boots, and safety training for this site).

Site conditions April 29 - clearning

Aug. 2011

Work has started on the new home for the FHVRS. The City of Surrey has provided the society with property at 5554 176 Street, the site for a new 3-bay car barn and home for the BCER interurbans currently at the Sullivan Station car barn. {Click on the small pictures to see larger view.}

Removing organics and other unwanted items {Aug 4}

The site has undergone a complete change with old "organics" removed and a covering of structural fill ready for the construction of the new barn. Work was delayed for a short time to remove some unexpected surprises left underground, however all is now good to go on the site. Left-over construction items from a previous tenant have been removed by RDM to the various disposal locations.

Installing surface drainage

Part of the site preparation is to install site surface drainage and connect to the storm sewer system. As you can see, extensive infrastructure is needed to deal with the rains on the "Wet Coast" in B.C. Construction planning needs to include these hidden, but needed, systems to protect our rolling heritage cars.

Most of the site preparation work has been completed as of the end of August. The site is now ready for construction to start on the new car barn once the Building permit is issued by the City of Surrey and the official approval for construction has been given by city staff.

14 Oct 2011

The Board of Directors of the FVHRS are very pleased to announce that approval to start construction has been received from the City of Surrey. We expect the Building Permit to be issued shortly to be followed by construction and all the other activities that are needed to become the next operating railway in B.C.


March 15

The City of Surrey provided the Building Permit, The Lark Group & RDM provided the manpower and construction has started on the Cloverdale Car Barn.

Start of Construction

We are underway with building our new home in Cloverdale. Construction is planned for 22 weeks with many opportunities to catch the building progress here as we follow the changes in Cloverdale. Check back as we update the images - about once a week.

March 19

Site sign

We are underway! Construction is ramping up with form-work in place and concrete getting ready to pour. We would like to thank all the groups involved (please click on the Site Sign for a larger version of the list) in helping us get this far, and for the work planned over the next 22 weeks. Updates will be added each week.

Volunteers are needed for our Fall operations. Are you interested in becoming a Motorman (or woman)? Did you want to talk to the public and collect tickets as a Conductor? We are looking for people interested in those positions as well as Station managers, customer relations, and many other helpers who just like to be around trains and people. Contact us via email: volunteer (at) (Please remove the spaces and change the '(at)' to @ - our email system has been abused by robots sending unpleasant and unwanted spam.)

March 19, 2012

March 19, 2012 - concrete flooring form-work

Form-work for the rail bed supports in the car barn floor.

March 23

Foundation Rebar placed March 23 Work continues with placement of foundation rebar and the underground connections to city services.

You may see the tall cranes used for pumping concrete in the next week. The foundation and main floor should be placed very soon and then move visible changes will take place as the walls start to take shape.

Connections to services are underground, March 23

The underground connections for city services (water, sewer) and the electrical/ telecommunications are being placed March 23.

April 5

New form work, April 5, 2012

The new form work going on top of the foundation base will be for the grade beams that support the outside walls. The remaining vertical reinforcing and remaining formwork will be added next. Concrete pour will be next week after the reinforcing steel ("rebar") is in place.

April 6

Rail Foundation in place, APril 5, 2012

The first pour of concrete is now hard enough to start formwork for the next layer. You can see the foundation for the rails in place with the foundation pads for the jacking points planned for BCER 1225 and BCER 1304.

Concrete base for rail and jack pads, April 5, 2012

Work continues with building up the base for the floor slab and placing the various runs for water, electrical distribution and venting pipes. Some of the piping is visible sticking up from the sand base layer. Compacting of the base is visible in the background. As you can see the usual amount of blue sky, just another great day in Cloverdale.

April 12

Concrete pour - APril 12, 2012

The forms are prepared and the rebar has been placed. Now the concrete is arriving.

April 25

Apr 25 - rail in place

The rails have been placed on the foundations, shimmed to height thanks to PNR. This matches the height of the spur line that used to be the mainline of the Fraser Valley line.

April 27, Site visit by FVHRS executive.

Apr 27, Site inpsection by FVHRS and City of Surrey staff

Members of the FVHRS Board and City of Surrey engineering staff visit the construction site to see the progress. Here you can see the gravel has been placed and compacted in preparation for the concrete placement that will be the new floor.

With back to camera, left to right are FVHRS Superintendent Ron Powers, Lark Group Site Manager Joel Taylor, FVHRS Vice-Chair Bob Ashton and City of Surrey Property Manager Ken Woodward.

In the background you can see the city work crew repairing the street where the water was connected earlier in the week.

Apr 27, FVHRS checking the site

April 27, FVHRS Vice-Chair Bob Ashton and FVHRS Secretary Allen Aubert, looking over the corner of the future workshop and indoor washroom. They were overheard to say that Doug will be very happy with this.

April 27, RDM crew placing fill for the roof draingage

Crew members from RDM are placing fill in the trench for the roof drain pipes that connect to the storm sewer system. This system ensures the rain collected on the roof does not sit on the ground and cause future problems.

You can also see the straps from the foundation that will attach and hold the wall framing. These straps ensure the walls will stay connected to the floor in case of strong winds that can cause uplift on the structure.

Apr 27, watching the activity

FVHRS Chair John Sprung and Superintendent Ron Powers, watching the activity on site as gravel fill is placed around the drain pipe. The rail seen here will be the 'parking spot' for BCER 1304, with the washroom/workshop walls placed on the foundation in the floor. The concrete to the left will be the same height as the new floor concrete to be placed (next week) that will surround the rail base. This will be a big improvement from the Sullivan car barn where wooden plank flooring was placed on top of the ballast.

May 1

What a difference a week makes. The road edge is cut up, more and more steel scaffolding is in place and things are 'a happin' around here.

May 1 - Cutting the curb

The fence has been moved farther out in the road to allow the big (really big!) saw to cut off a nice clean edge. The compacted part will be the base for the new curb.

wall scaffolding

It takes a lot of preparation to build a tall wall. This scaffolding is needed to place the studs, and work on the wall. Once the wall is completed the scaffolding will be moved to the other side to do it all again.

Watch out for the missing curb

This is what happens once the road is cut and the fence stops farther up the road. The "off-site" work is to prepare the curb, sidewalk and median to meet the city requirements for the area.

a small bit o wood

A bit of BC wood. These 12 x 12 posts will become the end wall framing around the sliding train doors. Built using post and beam techniques some large attachments will also be needed.

May 2

Posts go here

This is where the posts are attached. The metal plates are welded to other plates embedded in the concrete. The posts are slotted to receive the 'fin' and bolts. When finished inside, these large posts will still be visible.

Wall going up

The wall goes up quickly. Using the tall 2x6 studs, the blocking helps to keep things aligned. The blocks turned to be flush with the outside are needed to attach the sheathing - 4' x 8' panels, on the outside. For trivia fans: there are over 4000 nails on this one wall - all at the bottom to attach the metal straps to the studs.

May 7

We have curbs again!

We have curbs again! The profile of the curb is seen here very clearly. This will be the entrance to the barn from the road - eventually tracks may be added to connect to to a future in-road streetcar.

Concrete curbs

The crew runs quickly to place and smooth the concrete. In just a week this will be the new road edge again.

May 11

The South walls going up.

The concrete has set enough to work over it. The scaffolding has been moved to the South side and the wall is taking shape.

May 14

East end timbers

The East wall framing is done. These timbers support both the end walls and the large train access doors. This view shows where BCER 1225 (North or left side) and BCER 1304 (South or right side) will enter the barn.

Really big posts

Each of these posts are 12" (1 foot) on a side. The slits at the bottom go over the 'fins' that you can see in earlier photos. On the upper timbers you can see more slits where the metal connectors are attached to hold each of the timber parts.

Workshop walls started

The interior walls have been started. The framed wall on the right will be the workshop and washroom. Where the fellow (back to camera) is standing will be the entrance to the stairs up to the lunchroom.

May 15

Tie plates in the frame

The timber frames are connected with these metal tie plates.

Placing the tie plates

Each of the tie plates fit into the slots cut in the middle of the frames. Half of the end wall frame is assembled on the ground and will then be lifted into place.

Lifting the West end timbers

Each half-frame is lifted into place using a big crane. Here you can see the start of the lift with everyone out of the way.

Raising the half frame.

Choosing the right place to grab onto the frame is as much art as experience. Lifting the half-frame so it is balanced and easy to control requires a lot of coordination between the crane operator and the crew.

Placed and tie-in.

Once the frame is placed onto the 'fins' of the anchor plates, it needs to be tied-in with the bolts.

Putting it all together

The final connecting bolts are tightened and the West end timber frame wall is in place.

May 18

May 18 - Concrete walks

The large concrete trucks were back to pour the new sidewalks and curb let-downs.

May 18 - Interior walls and floor

Other work on site includes the interior walls for the workshop framing work and the floor for the lunchroom.

May 22

May 22 - New fence.

The first of the finished items, the North side of the new fence was installed. The black vinyl and black posts look imposing and secure.

May 24

May 24 - Road work

The neighbourhood may not like us, the "off-site" work required in our Development Permit means the road all along the new curbing needs to be re-surfaced and made better than new. The road is down to one lane for a few days to cut out the old road, replace the supporting base and then lay new road surface.

Upper floor walls

The upper floor framing is progressing. the walls are up and the windows (there is one from the lunch room to the barn) have the rough openings ready.

The stiars are in place.

You can now get up to the lunch room floor. The stairs are in place, although these have temporary railings and the finish tread is not yet applied. You can see the scaffolding next to the south wall on the left.

Upper floor walls in place

There is enough of the walls in place that you can start to see the rooms taking shape. The 'box' on the center-right is the west exit stair. The window to the barn is on the right.

There is a view

The South facing windows (to outside!) will have a view. Hope the plans are moved before the interior finish wall is in place.

Getting ready for the truss

This view shows some of the prep-work to raise the trusses onto the top of the walls. The trusses are piled up on the right - looks like a pile of wood. The interior structure on the right (north) wall will support a gallery to allow the crew to walk along and place/ attach the trusses without problems. There will be another gallery on the South wall as well.

May 25

Road ready

Final prep work for the road takes place. The development permit requires us to re-do the road to the center-line.

Road repaired

With the final placement of the asphalt the big toys get to play. This image taken in front of the Red Barn, shows the new barn waiting for the roof.

May 25 Scaffolding for the gallery

Similar to the side galleries, scaffolding is placed in the middle of the barn to help in the installation of the trusses.

May 25 - truss gallery

The temporary gallery is almost in place for the truss installation, safety and access for the next step.

May 28

May 28 - People on the truss gallery

This is why the truss gallery is needed. Access to the trusses once they are lifted in place to secure them. While the trusses are waiting to be errected, the gallery also supports them so they do not bend out of shape.

May 28 - view from the lunch room to truss install

Another view of the truss installation. Here you can also see the bundle of trusses that were lifted on to the top of the walls.

May 28 - truss view from east end

The view from the East end of the barn. Trusses marching into place.

May 29

May 29 - future home of BCER 1304

This bay will be the future home of BCER 1304. The rail is still covered with temporary wood to assist in the wall and gallery supports.

May 29 - connecting the trusses

The middle gallery is being dismantled as the final connections for the trusses are 'tied off' to the walls.

May 29 - sidewalk completed

Outside, the final pour for the sidewalk is completed. Sections were done to allow access to the side while the concrete cured.

May 30

May 30 - knee braces added

The side galleries are needed to install the seismic braces from the wall to the trusses. These are often called 'knee braces' and are used to strengthen the wall and roof in case of shaking from high wind or earthquake.

May 3- knee braces in place

This view from the lunch room level shows how the knee braces attach to the walls and trusses.

May 30 - workshop

Workshop area is almost finished framing. Next stage is to get the services (electrical and plumbing) installed.

June 1

June 1 - Interior wall in place

The workshop and lunchroom wall has been enclosed. This 'shear wall' is one of the structural elements in the barn. The observation window can been seen from the lunch room.

June 1 - cleaning up

The middle truss gallery has been removed so it is time to clean up. Power washing the floor helps to remove any small bits left over as well as cleaning.

rail revealed

With the removal of the wood covering over the rail, the slots for the rail can be seen. The power washing has left a lot of water (after all Vancouver - rain forest - has lots to spare!) that will dry up quickly.

June 1 - SW corner

South west corner shows the final stages of closing in the walls and the placement of the eaves on the trusses. The lunch room windows will have a nice view out and sunlight in.

June 7

FVHRS Board visit

Members of the Board of Directors and guests, visited the car barn site before a board meeting. Left to right, Jerry Gosling, Bob Ashton, Myrna McRae, Stephen Plant, Renè Doyharcabal and staring up in to the roof is John Sprung. We were not testing the roof for leaks, it was raining that day.

June 8

June 8 - Wood on the roof

Placing and finishing the framing on the roof. Wood lifted and placed to close in the roof and the cupolas as well as the overhangs.

June 8 - wood cutting in June

Upstairs the fit pieces were cut and prepared. Recall that this is June, even if it looks like he is dressed for November!

June 8 - Plubming

Now that the workshop area is closed in, the services can start. Here is the plumbing going in to support the upstairs washroom. The pipe on the right indicate the location for the hot water tank, yes hot water for washing up.

June 8 - shear wall

The interior wall is framed, this provides shear strength for this quarter of the barn - protection from wind and other lateral forces. (We do live in an earthquake zone.) The wall will be covered with drywall (or GWB - Gypsum wall board). Sliding doors will cover the storage room (right) workshop (center - with pipe visible) while regular swing doors will be used for the washroom and the stairs.

June 14

June 14 - trailer moved

The most notable change is the relocation of the site office trailer. Moved to allow placement and compression of the site sub-base gravel. This also indicates progress on site as most of the structural work is done.

June 14 - Yard equipment

Some new machinery on site to spread and compact the gravel. The crane and man-lift have been used to get material up to the the roof and the work on the tall walls and the roof edge.

June 14 - yard prep

More yard preparations to place the gravel. Here the perimeter drains (permanent) and the construction drainage protection are cleared and protected for the next step.

June 15

June 15 - gravel spreading

The sub-base gravel is dumped, and spread out around the site. The heavy rollers are used to compact the base. The top coat - about 2 inches - will be the last thing added over the site, but this will wait until we have moved the BCER heritage interurban cars and the street car in. The heavy transports and the large crane might chew up the base a bit, but this can be smoothed to add the top coat.

June 15 - gravel placement

Getting the gravel into tight places requires more equipment, here the large back-hoe (or "Digger" as most call it) also helps to compress the south side roadway. The tamper also compresses the sub-base and provides a smooth finish.

June 15 - diggin the gravel

The "Digger" does more than press down, it can carry and position the gravel as well as spread it out. Amazing what a skilled operator can do.

June 15 - peel and stick

The roof construction requires application of a membrane between the plywood and the metal covering. This has an adhesive one one side so it is often called the "Peel and Stick" - describes the material and the process. One requirement is to have dry surface to apply, which is proving to be a challenge this wet June. Three more days of dry weather should see the peel and stick done and ready for the metal roofing panels.

June 15 - electrical panel

Inside the electrical services are starting to be placed. Here is the main electrical panel being installed. Near the "front door" this controls the distribution of all electrical services in the building.

June 20

Inside work

With a (relatively) clean floor now, the inside work is progressing. Sure beats climbing ladders!

Pressure testing plumbing

The plumbing in mostly in place and testing is underway.

Wires and Pipe, oh my!

Now the electrical wiring is in progress. The bright light is not a new lighting vest, but an indication of how well the "High Visibility" vest's reflective surfaces work with the camera flash.

June 20 - New electrical panel

The new wires all lead to the new electrical panel near the "front" door.

June 22

June 22 - Building wrap

Building wrap is now in place on the roof and walls. Now it can rain outside and no water should get inside. The metal finish surfaces will be added next week.

June 25

Pulling the wires

Inside the new electrical panel the circuits need to be filled. The empty box does no-one any good. This is how each circuit gets created. Much like playing 'connect the dots' with long wires. Photo by R. Ashton.

Starting the doors

Behind the building wrap, and the tarps over the open doors, the new doors are starting to take shape. These are the East end bay doors, the notches visible closest side will be the top of the doors and are needed to allow a future catenary wire to enter the barn. We would like to have a (powered) wire to allow movement around the yard without needing either muscle power or the power cart. Photo by R. Ashton.

Behind the walls

This is the type of things that hide behind the walls. Pipes, wires, clamps and bottles. Well we hope the bottle will be removed before the drywall goes up. Photo by R. Ashton.

July 6

Upstairs wiring

The wiring in them main barn (downstairs) is just about complete, upstairs the wiring is moving along.

July 6 - Drywall installation

The drywall (Gypsum wallboard or GWB) in being installed inside. This provides the fire protection for the long side walls. You can also see the main lights installed, wiring in next.

July 6 the roof is on

Outside, the metal roof has been installed. Looking closely you might see the trim and support parts installed for the siding metal. This was a very sunny day (As Usual!) in Cloverdale. The siding should be done next week.

July 6

Upstairs wiring

The wiring in them main barn (downstairs) is just about complete, upstairs the wiring is moving along.

July 6 - Drywall installation

The drywall (Gypsum wallboard or GWB) in being installed inside. This provides the fire protection for the long side walls. You can also see the main lights installed, wiring in next.

July 6 the roof is on

Outside, the metal roof has been installed. Looking closely you might see the trim and support parts installed for the siding metal. This was a very sunny day (As Usual!) in Cloverdale. The siding should be done next week.

July 10

July 10 - Drywall in the barn

The interior of the barn is getting lighter with all the GWB (Drywall) going in. The panels are not only for increasing the light level, they are needed for the structural and fire rating of the wall assembly.

July 10 - Parts ready to be placed

It takes many parts to put together a buildings. These will become part of the sprinkler system, to hold up, join and allowing the pipes to reach the correct places

July 10 - Lunch room insulation

In the Lunch Room, all the behind-the-wall parts have been placed, and the walls are ready to be covered with their GWB.

July 10 - When you need to reach the ceiling

Before the GWB goes on the walls, it is attached to the ceiling. Reaching up can be a problem with ladders, scaffold or standing on boxes. This is how the professionals do it all day long. Behind his head you can see one of the sprinkler heads that will extend below the ceiling.

July 12

July 12 - It's not easy being green

We are not allowed to advertise product placements, so the "Tyvek" name needs to be covered. Continuing with our corporate colours, the larger metal panels have been placed on the South wall. Kermit said that "It's not easy being green.." and this goes for the walls too: flashing around the windows means returning another day to complete the wall.

July 12 - Why you need to reach

Support for the ceiling means installing strapping, lots of it. This is why the long reach is needed.

July 13

July 13 - A long reach

Inside the barn the stilts just would not work. The "Man lift" is needed to reach the barn ceiling - well the underside of the trusses - to finish the GWB and the lights.

July 13 - Lunch room drywall

The GWB is installed on the ceiling and the walls. The seams have been "taped" and "mudded" and any low spots have been filled in - these are often where the wall screws attach to the backing joists and strapping. After cleaning up the pile of cut-off pieces, the paint will go on.

July 13 - Not just green

It's not just green! The soffit (under the roof) has white metal panels and the flashing is our engine-red. We have almost all our colours in place.

July 13 - where the part go

This is where just some of the pipe parts go... you can see some of the parts (earlier photos) in place on joints, and many of the valves needed to make sure the water goes to the right locations.

July 17

July 17 - doors added

The Interurban cars are a lot bigger than a truck or car. The doors are also larger than any of the stock parts available so they have to be made to fit. Here the frame is mounted on the rails. This is done before the end wall metal is added to make sure all the parts fit, and the wall is not marked up during the installation and alignment.

July 17 - doors align

Once the doors are hung they need to meet just right. The alignment ensures they won't rub or leave a gap. The "cut-out" section at the middle-top will, hopefully someday, allow a real wire to be added to power the cars.

July 20

July 20 - Fans and finish

Getting near the end of construction, the exhaust fans are next to be installed in the square holes above the doors in the East wall. The lights are just about finished and clean-up of the GWB cuttings is ongoing.

July 20 - a touch of colour

Painting the "man-doors" with our corporate yellow completes the colour scheme. It is just about all ours!

July 24

Lights on

A milestone - the lights are on! The building is now powered up.

July 26

the New old sign

The front sign from Sullivan is now in place in Cloverdale. Just about finished.

July 27

Painting crew

The paint crew at work. This should be brighter than Sullivan.

July 30

Ready for lunch

The cabinets are in and the final paint is applied. Just about ready for lunch.

July 31

All the comforts

You can tell when the job is almost finished: all the comforts of home are in place! Photo: Bob Ashton.

Aug 9

Before the big cars arrived, Car 30 known as "CloverBelle," was brought to its new home. CloverBelle is part of the Surrey Heritage Society collection. The City of Surrey requested as part of the provision of the new barn to house CloverBelle inside for future restoration and use on new tracks in Cloverdale.

Car 30 arrives

Car 30 - CloverBelle - arrives on the PCC special rail bed transport.

car 30 fits in the door

It fits! The truck drove inside as the trailer will bend down to align the rails to let CloverBelle roll onto the new tracks.

Car 30 at her new home

With a little help, CloverBelle arrives on the rails in the Cloverdale car barn. The PNR crew were most helpful at just the right time.

Aug 16

Lots of parts

Have you ever put together a very large puzzle? A rail switch comes in pieces that go together in just one way. Here the PNR crew pause to consider the next move.

Aug 20

Eng and Crew

Gary Farmer, the track Project Engineer, from Hatch Mott Macdonald - the rail designers- and John Lima, crew chief for PNR check the location of a curve. Yes these are tight curves, and are not intended for large locomotives - the Interurban cars can negotiate a very tight curve. After all they ran in downtown Vancouver and turned the corners with traffic.

Track laying

The PNR crew get to use modern tools - no more need for the large gangs working on the track.

Aug 24

Setting the level

More modern equipment - the laser level (on the tripod) allows the rails to be set exactly at the right height. The loader is used to bring ballast and then help lift (large distance) or the crew use the jacks for smaller lifts of the rail.

More equipment

While the PNR crew called this "old technology" it does great work - the ballast tamper helps to get the ballast around and under the ties. Sure beats a lot of guys with shovels!

Aug 27

Bit o ballast

Just a bit of ballast needed to fill in near the door. A careful hand on the controls!

Final level

In the rest of the compound, RDM is placing the final "top" to the yard. The crushed limestone is compacted to create the yard surface.

aling the curve

A tight bend to get the Interurban cars into the barn with a straight as possible section so the sides do not rub the door frame. The fence line is not the complicating factor here, there is room needed on the right to install track 3 later.

Hand work

No matter how much technology is available, there are still some things that are just better done by hand!

Aug 29

Aug 29 - yard work

The yard work continues, final top coat and finishing work on the doors.

Aug 31

Concrete truck and dirt

Concrete trucks deliver concrete for the completion of the curbs, even though it looks like they bring piles of dirt! The piles are for the new grass slopes where the streetcar lines will be placed.

HMM Engineer and FVHRS Donkey

Hatch Mott MacDonald project engineer Gary Farmer and FVHRS Chair John Sprung (acting as the donkey) check the curves with the frame for the new power cart. There were some tight spots, but the cart made it through.

No automation here

The plants arrived and there is not much automation that can help here. Each tree and shrub is placed by hand.

Sept 4

Sod and trees, oh my

The front is looking much better. Both the fencing and the trees are going in.

Sept 5

Trees in place

All that hand-work is done. The north hedge and grass line is in the ground.

Sept 11

All done - we are here

The final inspection is done, the certificate for Occupancy is signed and we are officially here!

2012 July 9