Wood-Mizer puts ‘Strawberry Train’ back on track

Wooden passenger cars of this type (Left, now restored) were produced in Spain until the 1930s. Restoration of the wooden cars of ‘Strawberry Train’, a heritage tourist attraction, involved reverse engineering (R).


Wooden passenger cars of this type were produced in Spain until the 1930s. A total of 406 units were made and used as third-class carriages on passenger trains running along the Spanish coast.

When metal wagons were introduced, the railway companies were reluctant to order them since the summers in Spain were hot, and the wooden wagons were easier to keep cool.

In 1972, the third class for passengers was abolished, and companies faced a choice – to upgrade the wooden cars to second class status or to stop using them.

However, the upgrade price was too high, and the purpose of the wagons was changed. They turned into housing, a mobile workshop, a shop, and a school, and one such car is currently used as a meeting room in the office of Renfe Viajeros, the train operator.

Vintage wooden carriages were brought back in the ‘80s with the introduction of the tourist ‘Strawberry Train’, a top-rated journey in vintage carriages, from Madrid to Aranjuez and back, through many of the attractions of the Madrid community.

The ‘Strawberry Train’ consists of four passenger cars and two vans. However, moisture and time gradually destroyed the wooden elements of the structure, so there was a need for a complete renovation.

Planning operation

“We immediately ran into a problem: we needed drawings of the wagons so that the person who would repair them could restore the wagons while maintaining their original design,” said Juan José Peña, technical specialist at Renfe Viajeros.

“We proceeded from the Riga Charter which, on the one hand, tells us that the purpose of reconstruction is to preserve and reveal the importance of cultural heritage, and on the other hand, that authenticity must be preserved in this process (including the method, design, materials, and applications), convincingly testifying to the significance of this object,” he added.

Where the original plans indicated that the wood should be oak, that species was used. In other cases, where plans told that the exterior cladding would be in teak wood – which is not currently available – the wood of similar characteristics, Iroko (also known as African teak), was chosen.

“We opened up the insides of these cars, not knowing what awaited us, based solely on plans more than a century old, because the cars themselves are almost 100 years old,” Juan said.

The four carriages of the ‘Strawberry Train’ were built in 1920, 1923, 1927 and 1929 by different manufacturers, so they differed in design. Interestingly, the oldest one (1920) was in the best condition!

Efficient equipment

In this project, woodworker Emilio González Rodriguez was invited to work with the wagons, particularly for producing wooden elements. He arrived at the workshops of Renfe Viajeros with his Wood-Mizer LT20 mobile sawmill.

“I’m a Wood-Mizer fan! This machine is my best assistant,” said Emilio. “Thanks to my sawmill, I did most of the work to restore the cars.”

The Wood-Mizer sawmill doesn’t just saw logs; it makes precise cuts, which is very important when you make separate details. “I saved a lot of both, wood and time,” Emilio added.

The LT20 sawmill has a built-in electronic device that saves the required board dimensions in the microprocessor memory so that the machine works flexibly and quickly.

At the beginning of the project, 16 beams were required for each car. In the end, there were approximately 40. Emilio made parts for all the windows and shutters¬ – 20 in each wagon. Then he moved on to interior details: handrails, railings and floorboards.

“Do you know what is important to me? I did it myself! A typical sawmill would need at least one more person involved,” Emilio beamed. “This is a fast and accurate machine that will last you a lifetime if you take good care of it.”

Advanced engineering

The Wood-Mizer distributors in Spain taught Emilio how to operate the machine. They are always willing to be contacted if their clients have any questions.

The project also involved a restorer, Andrea Novosad. Her task was to restore the preserved elements. She also treated the wooden parts with wood-borer preservative, colour matched with dyes, and finished them.


These restored wooden carriages are an important historical heritage of the Spanish railways.


For metal parts, the process was similar; it involved grinding and painting with anti-corrosion and protective enamel.

“New parts are created with the use of the Wood-Mizer sawmill. My job is to protect them, paint them and finish them,” said Andrea.

“The great thing about these cars is that they have amazing engineering behind them. They are not just boxes covered with wooden slats. They are well-thought-out fitting, unloading,

and fastening systems that need to be learned and preserved,” Andrea said, adding: “It is incredible luck that these old carriages are not lost!”

(Courtesy: Wood-Mizer Asia).



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