Tuesday 31 May 2016

"Power on the Farm" - A Demonstration of The First Moline Tractor in New Zealand, 1918

William Watson of Heddon Bush with his
"Moline Universal Tractor", Aug 1918
[Source : Mr Lindsay Fleming, Winton]

I am currently feeling somewhat contrite as in a previous blog I misattributed two old unidentified family owned photos in my Blog about the British built Cyclone Agricultural Motor. I have now replaced those images. After even some initial confusion among themselves, eagle eyed vintage tractor enthusiasts have now positively identified the incorrectly attributed images as being of a slightly later American built "Moline" tractor, almost certainly a model "B". Additionally, newspaper reports of the demonstration, which have only become available within the last 12 months, fully support this attribution. But I should also take the view that if I had not put these historic images out there the correct attribution may never have been made. Any further input there is appreciated.

This Blog is an effort to set the record straight but again demonstrates to me the "go ahead" attitude of my Great Great Uncle William Watson of Heddon Bush in Southland New Zealand and his unshakeable belief that mechanization on the farm was the only way forward.

The First Purchase of a Moline Tractor in the Dominion, 1918

A small newspaper reference in "The Southland Times" news of the day for the 3rd August 1918 simply states;

"Mr William Watson of Heddon Bush has purchased a Moline tractor, driven by kerosine power. It is being used at present hauling a double-furrow plough, and is working very satisfactorily. It can also be attached to any farm implement."

I am now assuming that this replaced the American built International Harvester Company "Type C" 20 hp which I also wrote about Here.

On the 9th August, "Ploughman", being the paper's agricultural reporter, tells us a little bit more;

"Mr Wm. Watson, of Heddon Bush, one of our most enterprising and wherewithal successful farmers, has recently invested in a Moline tractor, which develops its power by the aid of kerosine. I think Mr Watson was one of the first in Southland to invest in a motor implement for the farm, and it is hoped that this venture of his will prove highly successful and more serviceable than his early venture. Mr Watson reports the Moline as working very satisfactorily at present in the work of drawing a double-furrow plough. It has the ability now common with most tractors of being capable of drawing any implement. In this little country of ours we have no conception of the demand that is setting in for these tractors in other lands, but it is declared that over 300,000 tractors will be sold to American farmers this year."

From these comments it would appear that his International Harvester Company "Type C" 20 hp, having been purchased in 1909, was not the great success that he had hoped but of course technology and power output would have rapidly improved over the previous nine years. While the reporter states that William Watson was one of the first to invest in a "motor implement" in Southland I believe this is actually incorrect. Robert McNab appears to have been the first to own a "motor tractor" in Southland, demonstrating an Ivel machine at the Gore show as far back as December 1904.

"Old and New" - How it was in 1913 on William Watson's
farm at Heddon Bush. The trusty draught horses would
soon disappear and by 1918 even the new "International
Harvester Company" Type C 20 hp tractor would be
replaced by the new "Moline"
[From my own collection]

The First to Fully "Tractorise" his Farm

But what appears certain, and this fact is significant, is that William Watson was the first farmer in Southland to actually "tractorise" his large farm, in other words to fully dispense with his trusty draught horses. This is also supported by anecdotal family stories but the date the changeover to fully mechanized farming occurred is unknown so I assume in 1913 when the above photo was taken or slightly afterwards. But furthermore, the "Moline" agents confirm that William Watson was the very first farmer in the whole Dominion of New Zealand to purchase a "Moline Universal Tractor" in 1918.

We now find that a public demonstration of the "Moline Universal Tractor" would take place at William Watson's farm during the week of the 12th to 17th August 1918, being organised by the agents, James Macalister Limited of Invercargill.

While there was some discussion whether it was a Moline model "B" or "C", David Parfitt, a very knowledgeable tractor enthusiast from Devon England identifies it as a "B". He states that the way to tell the two models apart is that the semicircular mudguard and control levers bent at a right angle belong to the "B" while on a "C" the mudguards have a square corner and the control levers are straight.

A full write-up of the demonstration duly appeared in "The Southland Times" on the 24th August 1918. I have reproduced the relevant parts of this article which emphasize the need to mechanize farming and embrace new technology to increase production and reduce the reliance on the Ploughman. I will let this article speak for itself as it marks the era when this fundamental shift in farming methods took place :

A reporter setting up a comparison between modern
power on the farm with the new "Moline" and the old
method of hand ploughing using draught horses
[Source : Mr Lindsay Fleming, Winton]

"Power On The Farm"

"A Convincing Demonstration (Aug 1918)" - 

"The most imperative necessity of the day is increased production from the soil. In this country the cry is for more land settlement and greater production. The problem of production is just the problem of farm labour. Production depends upon cultivation, and cultivation depends upon the labour available... The President of the New Zealand Farmers' Union, Sir James Wilson, said the other day that the ploughman is the most essential man in the country at the present time, meaning that the amount of produce obtained from the soil depends upon the area of ground cultivated. The inadequacy of labour for the farm has always been a difficulty. 

The trend of population is not towards the farm but away from it. Instead of town workers seeking work in the country, the tendency is for the men of the country to drift into the towns. Farm work is not attractive, otherwise there would be a perennial dearth of labour. One reason why the worker is not attracted to the country is that on the farm he has to work with the most primitive form of power. To cultivate the soil, the principal work of the farm, he has to use horse labour. The ploughman is a teamster. He has to get in and feed his horses before he starts his day's work; he has to feed them and turn them out again after his day's work is done. His work is limited by the quality of his team, and is made arduous by the care which he has to give to his horses. To solve the problems of production and far labour, it is necessary to get - 

Power For The Farm 

That movement is in progress all over the world. The internal combustion engine is being adapted to farm work. By means of it, the farmer can work as long as he pleases. With mechanical traction he can, when condition are suitable, work from dawn to dusk; by using artificial light, he can work all night... He does not need to set aside so many acres of his farm to produce feed for horses. His machine, propelled be kerosine, only consumes fuel when it is working; when it is not working it consumes nothing. It pulls a heavier load and covers the ground faster than horses. It has a longer life than horses. It gives a new interest to farm work, and attracts to the farm men who would otherwise obtain employment in the town. It enlarges the market in which the farmer may look for labour... Mechanical traction, in a word, goes far to solve the problem of farm labour which is the problem of production.  

William Watson with his "Moline" Tractor and 
two furrow plough, While we can see his horse 
and cart he was in fact also the first in the 
local district to own a motor car.
[Source : From my own collection]

The Moline Tractor Demonstrated -

During last week, farmers were invited to the farm of Mr William Watson, Heddon Bush, to see at work a mechanical tractor that is destined to revolutionize the agricultural industry. This was the Moline Universal Tractor [manufactured by] The Moline Plough Company of Illinois, USA... It is light, weighing less that 30 cwt., and 98 per cent. of the weight is on the [two] driving wheels, which are also steering wheels. It is the perfection of mechanical efficiency...It turns in a 16 ft. circle, and is therefore easily operated in a farmyard and with any implement gets into the corners of the paddocks.

The plough attached to the tractor was a special double-furrow made by James Macalister Ltd., to Mr watson's order as he required a plough to turn two furrows each fourteen inches by seven to eight inches deep, The tractor will just as easily draw a 3-furrow plough [as supplied by the Moline company]. The tractor was doing perfect work in a lea paddock which had not been ploughed for several years. Although there had been a good deal of rain for some weeks previously, the tractor, combining ample power with lightness, was running over the ground with ease at a speed considerably faster than any six-horse team could travel... Experienced farmers who visited the farm to see the machine at work pronounced the ploughing absolutely first-class... 

Because of its light weight it can be used for discing, harrowing  or sowing, without unduly packing or pressing the soil. It will draw the harvester, and can be used as a stationary engine to drive a threshing mill or chaff-cutter, a belt pulley being provided for the purpose. It is in a real sense, a "universal" tractor... The demonstration of the handiness and efficiency of this tractor was a revelation, and beyond any doubt it has come to stay. Mr Watson [stated] that despite the high freight on the machine at the present time [due to war conditions] and the high cost of fuel, he was certain that he could plough land at a cost considerably less than of using horses, and when prices return to normal after the war, the saving will be materially increased.    

Complimentary -

After a few acres had been turned over, Mr Watson mounted the tractor and said that he felt he must take the opportunity of congratulating Messers James Macalister Ltd. on introducing this latest farmer's friend. Fifteen years had elapsed since he himself had first talked over the question of farm traction with Mr James Macalister [ie, in 1903]. Much experimental work had been done since then, and the machine that they were all looking at had at last been found in the tractor which the visitors had seen at work that day. He was quite satisfied that he had got hold of a good thing in the Moline tractor, and he was sure that its use would become general.   

....Mr Macaliser said he felt confident that the machine would revolutionise farm work. .. It was constructed on sound mechanical principles, and carried every device that could be thought of to increase its efficiency and make it reliable, economical and easy to handle. He had been in correspondence with the Moline Company for nearly five years in regard to this tractor, and suggestions which he had made to adapt the tractor to local conditions had been adopted by the firm.

The extent to which tractors were coming into use could be judged from the fact that the Moline factory was at present turning them out at the rate of 40 a day, and that to meet the demand, the plant was being increased so as to turn out 75 tractors a day. The farmers present had seen the work done by the machine and could judge for themselves. It would do other work just as well, from drawing loads on the roads to sawing wood at the backdoor. 

His relations with Mr Watson had extended over many years and he always found him progressive and enterprising. He congratulated Mr watson on his enterprise in buying the first Moline introduced to the dominion, and also Mr Alex. Roy, Mossburn, who had placed his order for the next one to arrive, and he was sure both would be amply rewarded for their enterprise...

After the demonstration had been concluded, the visitors were hospitably entertained by Mr and Mrs Watson at the homestead and left for home after spending an extremely interesting afternoon."  

The New "Moline" Model "D", Feb 1919

The "Moline" agents, James Macalister & Co. Ltd, had hoped to "to make an imposing display of lines manufactured by this Company, namely, the "Moline" Universal "D" Type Motor Tractor, their latest and most improved farm tractor" at The Southland Metropolitan Agricultural & Pastoral Summer Show" held at Invercargill in February 1919 but due to shipping delays they had not yet come to hand. 

Again, mention is made of William Watson having purchased the first Moline Universal Tractor imported by the firm and that Mr Watson considers it the best investment he has made. But Macalisters were at least able to exhibit their "Moline-Adriance" Reaper and Binder with the "Macalister" patent overhead picker attachment, "A novel device which overcomes the difficulty that all binders encounter in heavy and tangled grass and grain crops as it absolutely prevents choking or clogging besides reducing the draft and wear and tear on the mechanism of the binder."  

A period advertisement for the "Moline Universal Tractor", 1919
[Source : Papers Past]

A Demonstration of the "Moline" Model "D", July 1919

We now find that another demonstration of a "Moline" Tractor, being the above-mentioned Model "D", was held on William Watson's property at Heddon Bush on Wednesday the 16th July 1919;

"This tractor is of the two-wheeled type, and it seems to have great advantages over the four-wheeler for farm work; it is of American invention, and improved by a combination of French and other Continental skill. It is provided with self-starting apparatus and an appliance for locking the differential gear, therby increasing its tractive power at times of emergency, and steering attention is not necessary. It is also provided with powerful electric lights, so that a farmer can work by night as well as by day... The operator sits on his implement to watch and regulate its work; his position is also within easy reach of the controlling levers and steering wheel of his tractor.   

On the day of the demonstration mentioned the land was in a very unfavourable condition for working. The quantity of rain which had fallen and the melted snow caused the ground to be in a very soft and sloppy state. In defiance of this the tractor turned... without the least trouble, its wheels, armed with gripping spikes, kept a firm hold of the ground... The plough was a double-furrow one, cutting and turning furrows seven inches by fourteen with revolving skimmers attached in front... The tractor ran up and down the field pulling its load at a speed from 3½ to 4 miles an hour, even though the mud and water was squirting from beneath its wheels...

After ploughing for a couple of hours, Mr Watson detached his tractor from the plough and yoked it to a dray of large dimensions with a short pole. Two tons of lime were loaded on to the dray and six men got on top; the tractor pulled this load along a soft, sloppy headland round the field without any trouble at a good walking pace. It was then attached to a 15-coulter seed and manure drill, which it pulled up and down the ploughed land with ease.

The demonstration clearly showed that the petrol-driven tractor can successfully take the place of a six-horse team on a farm. It might be contented that the cost of petrol will counter-balance, and perhaps exceed the cost of horse feed per square acre of cultivation, but it must be remembered that the tractor requires no petrol when it is not working, while the horse team requires food every day in the year whether it works or not..."

William Watson's Testimonial to the "Moline"
[Source : Papers Past]

William Watson's Testimonial for the "Moline" Tractor

Thereafter I note through to 1920 regular large advertisements for the "Moline Universal Tractor" appearing in "The Southland Times", together with the following headline and testimonial;

"Read what the first Southlander to tractorise his farm has to say about his Moline Tractor -

'Heddon Bush, 12th November 1919. The Moline Tractor proves that it can do all the work that is claimed for it. It is a machine up to date and satisfactory in every way. The two-wheeled design is just first class. Implements are easily attached and operated by the driver. As a substitute for a farmer's horse-team, for road carting, it has proved itself to be more than equal. William Watson".    

I have (as yet) no record of what tractors William Watson owned after this date up until his death in 1931, but "In spite of his advancing years he was always looking forward to “next season,” and laying plans for further improvement in farming methods." [a quote from his obituary]

My grateful thanks to :

- Mr David Parfitt of Crediton, Devon, England.
- Mr Lindsay Fleming, Winton, Southland
- Mrs Sharman Bennetts Dykes, Heddon Bush  

Sources :

- "Papers Past" [National Library of New Zealand / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa]
- Watson Family Papers and Photographic Collection (held by the writer)

Tuesday 24 May 2016

'H.M.S. New Zealand' and the Battle of Jutland, 31 May to 1 Jun 1916

"Good Old New Zealand"
Patriotic Sheet Music, featuring
'H.M.S. New Zealand', 1914
[From my own collection]

The 31st May to 1st June 1916 marks the hundred year anniversary of that great sea battle between two well armed and resourced naval adversaries, the Imperial Germany Navy High Seas Fleet ["Hochseeflotte"] and the British Royal Navy Grand Fleet, at Jutland off the coast of Denmark.

New Zealand can proudly claim to have played a part in what is one of the great naval battles of modern times through the inclusion of 'H.M.S. New Zealand'. This indefatigable-class battle cruiser had been funded by the New Zealand Government as a gift to Britain in 1909 in response to a growing naval threat to the British Empire, particularly from Germany (we had in fact offered to pay for two battleships were this deemed necessary). The Battle Cruiser cost New Zealand £1,783,190 (over NZD$240 million in today's values), mostly raised by way of a loan.

The Battle Cruiser 'H.M.S. New Zealand' in 1913
[Source : Alexander Turnbull Library]

Assigned to Admiral Beatty's squadron, the fleet, including H.M.S. New Zealand, steamed out of the Firth of Forth to join forces with Jellicoe's squadron which had been anchored in the Moray Firth and at Scapa Flow. Lady Victoria Wemyss, who died aged 104 years in 1994, recalled dining one evening at Hopetoun House and hearing the "eerie rattle of chains" as the battleships weighed anchor. The party then went up to the roof terrace and watched Beatty's fleet depart on the eve of what would prove to be a great naval battle.  

The fleet had been called to action after enemy radio messages had been intercepted and decrypted confirming that the large German High Seas Fleet had left port and were now heading for the North Sea. No less than 28 Dreadnought class battleships, 9 battlecruisers, 8 armoured cruisers, 26 light cruisers and 79 destroyers of the British Royal Navy would engage with the 16 Dreadnought battleships, 6 'pre-Dreadnought' battleships, 9 battlecruisers, 11 light cruisers, and 61 destroyers of the German High Seas Fleet.

An oilette postcard of "HMS New Zealand"
[From my own collection]

During this fierce battle the German Imperial Navy, with a 99-strong fleet, sank 115,000 tons of British ships, while the 151-strong British fleet sank 62,000 tons of German ships. In total the British Navy lost 3 Battlecruisers, 3 armoured cruisers, 1 flotilla leader, and 7 destroyers while the German Navy lost just 1 battlecruiser and 1 pre-Dreadnought battleship, 4 light cruisers and 5 heavy torpedo boats (destroyers). The British lost 6,094 seamen while the Germans lost 2,551. The battle itself, in which both sides claimed victory, is complex and best read in detail on Wikipedia. Errors on the part of the Royal Navy command and a lack of accurate naval intelligence contributed to a virtual stalemate.

The main 12 inch gun turret on 'H.M.S. New Zealand',
taken at Port Chalmers, New Zealand, 1913
[Source : "The Otago Witness"]

Considering their own losses as "severe", the German High Seas Fleet would only mount a further three "raids" in open waters but were unwilling to risk another major encounter with the British Royal Navy. Their attempt to decisively cripple the Royal Navy had failed. Thus they confined their activities to the Baltic Sea for the remainder of the war. The original goal of operating the Imperial German High Seas Fleet in the Atlantic Ocean could not be achieved and no further attempts were made as the possible losses and damage to the fleet were considered too risky in comparison to what might be achieved. The German naval emphasis would now be placed on submarine warfare and operating by 'stealth'.

But what part did 'H.M.S. New Zealand' play in the 'Battle of Jutland'? Surprisingly, and considering she was fully engaged with the enemy, she only received one major direct hit to a front gun turret. 'H.M.S. New Zealand' fired no less than 420 twelve-inch shells during the battle, more than any other ship on either side. Despite this, the Battlecruiser is only credited with four "successful hits", three on the Battlecruiser 'SMS Seydlitz' and one on the pre-Dreadnought 'SMS Schleswig-Holstein'. By "successful hits" I take this as inferring actual indentifiable major damage of a critical nature. 

The historic Piupiu presented to Captain Halsey in 1913
[Source "RNZN Museum]

The most intriguing aspect of the battle is the relative lack of damage to H.M.S. New Zealand. In 1913 an elderly Māori Chief had presented Captain Halsey with a piupiu (Māori warrier's flax skirt] and greenstone hei-tiki (pendant) and prophesied that while the Captain wore these in battle the ship would be kept safe. According to "lower deck legend", the prophecy also stated that the ship would one day be in action and be hit in three places but casualties would not be heavy. This turned out to be true. During the Battle of Jutland Captain J.F.E. Green is said to have worn both gifts over his naval uniform (or, as one source states, "had them with him") and the only major damage sustained was a hit to a front gun turret with no loss of life. The Captain's piupiu came back to New Zealand in 2005 and is held by the Royal New Zealand Navy Museum at Torpedo Bay, Devonport. As at May 2016 the piupiu, along with a couple of other H.M.S. New Zealand artefacts, are on display in the major "36 Hours : Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won the War" exhibition in the National Museum of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth England.   

'H.M.S. New Zealand' pictured during Admiral Jellicoe's
Dominion Tour, May - August 1919
[Source : MaritimeQuest

In late 1919, Admiral Jellicoe (later appointed Governor General of New Zealand) brought 'H.M.S. New Zealand' back to New Zealand on what proved to be a very popular but farewell visit. On the 15th March 1920 she was paid off by the Royal Navy and placed in reserve. She was by now regarded as obsolete as her 12 inch guns were inferior to the then standard 15 inch guns deployed on the latest battleships. Thus now unwanted she came to an ignominious end when, on the 19th December 1922, she was sold for scrap in order to meet tonnage restrictions imposed by the Washington Naval Treaty. 

The New Zealand Government did not complete paying off the 1909 loan raised to fund her building until the end of the 1945 financial year. So with additional interest payments the final cost to New Zealand was almost certainly significantly greater than £1.7 million. Two 4 inch guns from 'H.M.S. New Zealand' may today be viewed fronting the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Sources :

- Watson Family papers (held by the writer)
- Wikipedia
- Various Internet resources
- RNZN Museum, Devonport Auckland
- Alexander Turnbull Library / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
- "Great Houses of Scotland" by Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd & Christopher Sykes (from my own collection)
- "The Otago Witness"
- Portmouth Historic Dockyard website

Tuesday 17 May 2016

"Saved Twice" - The Amazing Preservation Story of Double Fairlie E175 "Josephine"

"Josephine" as she appears today in the entrance hall
 Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin
[Source : reefton.co.nz/the-r28-locomotive]

We have already read in my first two blog instalments [Click here for link] about the inaugural through express train from Christchurch to Dunedin led by the American built K88 "Washington", being assisted for part of the way by the English built Double-Fairlie "Josephine". After last weeks blog about the amazing discovery and preservation to working order of "K88 Washington" let us now read about the eleventh hour preservation in 1925 of the Double Fairlie locomotive No E175 "Josephine", having, like "Washington", come so very, very close to being lost to us forever. But in 1968 her fate once again hung in the balance. Who would come to her rescue a second time?

"Josephine" builders plate,
Vulcan Foundry Co. Ltd.,
Newton Le Willows, 1872
[From my own collection]

"Josephine" was - and still is - very special. She was ordered by the then Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway Company ("D&PCR Co") from the builders, the Vulcan Foundry of Newton-Le-Willows in Lancashire England in 1872. The decision to purchase double ended locomotives and light rolling stock to the "light surface railway" design of English Railway Engineer Robert F. Fairlie had been on the advice and recommendation of the Civil & Consulting Engineer, Mr John Millar F.S.A.in his report of the 5th October 1869 to the Otago Provincial Government (who were to provide a financial guarantee).

By August 1872, both "Josephine" and her sister engine "Rose" had arrived in kitset form at Port Chalmers New Zealand from Bristol England on the sailing ship "Wave Queen". The names of the engines had in fact been chosen by Mr Oliver, one of the promoters, while on a visit to England. Accompanying the engines from Bristol were Mr Amos, being an Engineer and in charge of the plant, John ("Jack") Thomas, and Mr Gatwood.

Double Fairlie Locomotive Plans
from the Vulcan Foundry

The Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway Company "No 2" locomotive "Josephine" would be completed first as she had been the first to be unloaded from the "Wave Queen". She then underwent a steam trial on the 10th September 1872, being moved from the shed on the pier where she had been erected and through the wharf tunnel to Sawyers Bay and return. She thus holds the honour of being the first 3ft 6in locomotive to steam in New Zealand. Until the end of the year she assisted with the completion of the line but on the 18th September 1872 hauled the first goods train on the line - a shipment of three hogsheads of beer from Burke's Brewery to Port Chalmers. The "New Zealand Railways Magazine" of August 1934 states that the locomotive was driven on this occasion by the above-named John "Jack" Thomas, "Everyone's old friend", who would go on to have a long and faithful railways career

Double-Fairlie "Josephine",
Burton Brothers Photo, believed
taken during a trial run in 1872.
[Source : OESA Collection, 1979]

On Saturday the 26th October 1872, and with the Engineer Mr Amos driving and Mr Thomas acting as brakes man, "Josephine" conveyed several members of the Legislative Council and House of Representatives from Port Chalmers through to Dunedin in one of the first class carriages, the line now being in a sufficient state of completion.

However her sister, "No 1" Double Fairlie locomotive "Rose", is recorded as holding the honour of hauling the first train at the official opening of the line on Tuesday the 31st December 1872. A public train service commenced the following day, being Wednesday the 1st January 1873. Both locomotives continued in service until the D&PCR Co. was amalgamated into the Otago Provincial Government Railways system when the latter purchased the line, locomotives and equipment on the 10th April 1873 for £187,106 "Josephine" was then renumbered as Otago Railways "No 7", being used on other parts of the railway network including the Lawrence Branch.  After the Provincial Governments were abolished in November 1876 she is now listed in the 1877 New Zealand Government Otago Railways Locomotive list as "E26".

A fanciful sketch of the 'Yankee' K88 
laughing at Josephine on the first through 
express train from Christchurch to Dunedin".
[Source : The New Zealand Railways Magazine 1934]

On the 6th September 1878 "Josephine" went on to achieve a further claim to fame when she acted for part of the journey as second (banking) engine on the inaugural Christchurch to Dunedin express train which is the subject of my second blog in this four part series.

This was accompanied by some heated Otago / Canterbury rivalry when a lengthy discussion took place as to which locomotive would take the lead. But as we now know, "Josephine" ran as second engine from Oamaru and suffered mechanical problems which necessitated her being taken off the train at Seacliff as her fitter could do no more with her. Her crew maintained that her failure was solely due to her having been forced to take an unequal load on the very steep section immediately south of Oamaru.

[From my own collection]

The "E" class Fairlie Patent engines were latterly always known to be unspectacular performers and their unique and complicated design comprising of separately powered bogies and swivelling steam and exhaust pipes fitted with expansion joints no doubt made for heavier maintenance than might otherwise be the case. But I perceive there is always two sides to the story.

The two major features of Robert Fairlie's patented design were to usefully allow the locomotive to move forward or in reverse at the same speed without always needing to be turned on a turntable, a major failing of conventional locomotives. Secondly, Fairlie strongly believed that his design provided greater traction with weight being evenly distributed and all wheels being powered. Coal and water were carried in side tanks, again assisting with traction. And a deep firebox could be accommodated between the two swivelling powered bogies. At any rate early Otago railwaymen were fiercely loyal to their unique Double Fairlies.

"Josephine" leaving the old Dunedin Railway Station
in 1885 with First Church shown at rear
[Source : The New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1934]

Sister engine "E27 Rose" by comparison had a short life and was officially written off after an unfortunate accident just north of Palmerston on the 20th Sept 1878 "and was dismantled at Hillside [railway work] shops" [Ref. O.D.T. 5 Feb 1929].

But "Josephine" continued in service with New Zealand Railways, being transferred to the Wanganui region in the North Island as "E24" in November 1883. She was given her final NZR number of "E175" in the general re-numbering which took place in 1890, being still generally known by this number today. During her time here she travelled as far as Sentry hill, Palmerston North, and Summit. On the 4th March 1899 she was officially "Written Off", then sold to the New Zealand Public Works Department for £500 to assist with works trains, thereupon becoming "PWD No. 504".

Double Fairlie "Josephine", as seen at Beaumont on
the Roxburgh branch line during her later service
 with the NZ Public Works Department, pre 1914.
[Source : G.W. Emerson]

In January 1901 "Josephine" was shipped back to Dunedin where she assisted with hauling materials for the construction of new railway lines. This is an area where her double ended construction would have proved very useful. She is known to have been at Ida Valley when that station became the rail-head for the Otago Central Branch.

In September 1903 "Josephine" made another short foray to the North Island to assist with the construction of the Main Trunk Railway around Mangaweka, Waiouru, Ohakune and Horopito. In 1909 she returned to Dunedin yet again to assist with the construction of further lines. This initially included the Lawrence to Beaumont section of the Roxburgh line, then twelve months later she moved north to Canterbury and over a period of four years assisted The Public Works Dept. with the construction of the Midland line.

In 1914 "Josephine" assisted with work on the final Houipapa to Tahakopa section of the new Catlins Branch Railway, being opened on the 4th February 1915. Her final duties sent her to Clyde in May 1915 for construction work on the Cromwell Gorge section of the Otago Central Railway.

At some point, and according to the 'NZ Railway Observer', she had become known to her crews as "Old Joss". This was perhaps a rather unflattering term for this historic locomotive and has thankfully now been consigned to history.

But in 1917 her time had come and she was now declared surplus to requirements and obviously not worth the cost of a heavy overhaul. In September 1917 she was purchased as scrap for the sum of £173 by the Otago Iron Rolling Mills at Burnside in Dunedin. But at this lowest point in her history fate played a leading role. It is recorded that sentiment delayed her being cut up as no one had the heart to scrap this historic Otago locomotive.

"Josephine" as restored for display in the New Zealand
and South Seas Exhibition, Dunedin, 1925.
Photo by Percy Godber
[Source : National Library of New Zealand]

And then when one of the company's boilers failed "Josephine" was temporarily commissioned for this purpose. She was surprisingly still "languishing" at Burnside in 1925 when, due to the generosity of "Messrs Smellie Bros." (specifically Mr Alexander Smellie), owners of the Otago Iron Rolling Mills, she was cosmetically restored by New Zealand Railways and placed beside World War One memorial locomotive AB608 “Passchendaele” in the railways exhibit at the hugely popular New Zealand and South Seas International Exhibition in Dunedin held from the 17th November 1925 to the 1st May 1926.

Prior to display her original "straight shooter" funnels were replaced with "balloon" style funnels which some members of her class had in fact carried. This appears to have only been done for aesthetic reasons. She was also repainted and "lined out" which was not part of her original livery. But still, she looked resplendent and would quickly again became an object of great public interest and affection.

The cab of "Josephine" showing the boiler
from the driver's side of the footplate.
Photo by Percy Godber, 1925
[Source : National Library of New Zealand]

While both locomotives proved of great interest to exhibition attendees my father freely told me that when a relative pulled him over to see the two shiny locomotives while enthusiastically exclaiming "Oh you must see this" he wasn't the least bit interested. I wistfully perceive that my own 14 year old son would probably have the same reaction now as my then 23 year old father had back in February 1926!

After the Exhibition closed on the 1st May 1926 "Josephine" was then donated by The Otago Iron Rolling Mills Company to The Otago Settlers Association, being placed in January 1927 in the open air in a railed off enclosure outside their museum adjacent to the Dunedin Railway Station. It is noted that this is probably the first instance of dedicated railway preservation in New Zealand.

"Josephine" as she appeared in August 1959,
from a slide taken by William Dykes
[From my own collection]

In July 1955 "Josephine" received some remedial work including replacement of some rusted platework, the work being carried out by volunteers from the Hillside Railway Workshops. But by 1963 her time spent out in all weathers was beginning to take its toll and "Josephine was looking in sad shape" and only expected to last another eight years. So once again her fate hung in the balance. The "Otago Daily Times" ran an article with the headline "No hope for Josephine" and it was believed that "This time she really would be scrapped, or maybe she would be shipped to the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland".  But "The Evening Star" local newspaper valiantly came to Josephine's rescue when in 1966 they ran a public appeal to raise funds so that she could again be cosmetically restored and preserved. School children were instrumental in raising the necessary funds. This was apparently over one thousand pounds.

"Josephine" as she appeared in August 1959,
from a slide taken by William Dykes
[From my own collection]

The restoration was carried out at the New Zealand Railways Hillside Railway Workshops in Dunedin, the opportunity also being taken to replace the non-standard "balloon" funnels with "straight shooter" style funnels.

"Josephine" in her post 1968 'picture window'.
[Source : Internationalsteam.co.uk]

By March 1968 she was returned to the Otago Settlers Museum, being now safely placed inside the building but behind a large glass window facing the small garden outside the museum. Sometime after 1976 she was again 'lined out' with her wheel rims being painted white restoring her non-authentic Exhibition appearance of 1925-26. Ownership of the museum and all its contents, including "Josephine", passed to the Dunedin City Council in 1991, thus now being owned and funded by the good citizens of Dunedin (and that includes myself as a ratepayer).

"Josephine" facing the Dunedin Railway Station, 2016
[From my own collection]

In 2012, and now with her non-authentic 'lined out' livery with white wheel rims painted over to restore her original appearance, "E175 Josephine" took up her new position in pride of place at the northern end of the new architecturally designed and quite stunning entrance foyer of the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum in Dunedin.

Unlike "K88 Washington" there are no plans to restore her to working order. My own opinion is that even were funding and engineering expertise readily available any restoration would be invasive and adversely impact on the original historical integrity of this precious 144 year old locomotive, some of which would need to be wholly replaced, eg, an expensive new boiler would be required. She may very well carry her original Vulcan Foundry boiler and many fittings would be worn out which would all have contributed in the first place as to why she was sold for scrap back in 1917.

That is always the trade off with any major restoration of a worn out locomotive. Sometimes it is worth preserving something that is, as much as possible, not only in original historical condition but also wholly illustrative of late 19th century engineering practices and techniques. That in itself can also be of some considerable interest as evidenced by an article I read in the English railway press a year or two back. "Josephine" has generally never been in the position of "K88 Washington" where considerable replacement or renewal of parts was in any case necessary.

The double door firebox on "Josephine", 2016
[From my own collection]

Apart from cosmetic work of necessity undertaken in 1925 and in 1968 "Josephine" is thus basically still in original 1917 "as sold for scrap" condition. A few years ago all her running gear was nicely polished up (as it would have been originally) and without being too picky that aspect of her present display condition could possibly be improved upon were this work not to be in any way invasive. But otherwise her paintwork is kept shiny and her brass work polished. While she never, like the American "K" class, carried a bell she did carry a clock "for the benefit of enginemen", the clock being donated to the Otago Settler's Museum many years later.

Taken 2016
[From my own collection]

"Josephine" has led a charmed life and Dunedin is very lucky indeed to (still) be the guardians of such a rare locomotive and also an intrinsic part of Otago's early transport history. It is even amazing to think that for a period of around four years she was part of the Otago Provincial Government Railways so really is a tangible link to those formative and early pioneering years of our local history. She really does belong to Otago. Today "Josephine" can gaze out at Dunedin's magnificent 1906 Railway Station and proudly remember her own pioneering part in Otago's history. I wish I could personally thank the Smellie brothers for both their generosity and farsightedness where, to their great credit, personal sentiment won hands down over profit.

[From my own collection]

To witness a Double-Fairlie in steam today, we must go to the Ffestiniog Narrow Gauge Railway in Wales (a line I have travelled on myself) where we can see No 10 "Merrdin Emries" built in 1879 and fully restored in 1987/88, in action. The distinctive double exhaust sound of a Double-Fairlie locomotive (much like double-headed locomotives) is very evident, particularly in the sequence from about 2.40 into the video and again at 3.50. There are more footplate views near the end of the video which show the locomotive crew.


Dimensions :

Cylinders : (4) 10" by 18" x 18"
Wheels : 3' 9" diameter
Heating Surface : Tubes 759 square feet, firebox 79 square feet
Grate Area : 10.25 square feet
Water Tanks : 890 gallons
Coal Bunkers : 17 cwt
Weight (in working order) : 25 tons
Boiler Pressure : 130 pounds per square inch (lb sq. in)
Tractive Effort : 7800lb

Footnote :

It is currently hoped to restore single Fairlie R28 of 1879, being located at Reefton, to working order using the extant boiler from R22 :  http://www.reefton.co.nz/the-r28-locomotive

Sources :

- Papers Past / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
- National Library of New Zealand / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
- "Register of New Zealand Railways Steam Locomotives 1863 - 1971" by WG Lloyd (from my own collection)
- "The New Zealand Railways Magazine", 1934
- Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin
- Various Internet resources

Tuesday 10 May 2016

"Buried for 47 Years" - The Amazing Preservation Story of the Rogers K88 "Washington"

K88 "Washington"
at The Plains Railway
[Source : Wikipedia Commons]

We have already read in my first two blog instalments [click here for link] about the inaugural express train from Christchurch to Dunedin in September 1878 led by the American built "K88 Washington" (named by the manufacturer after the first US President) and for part of the way, the English built Double-Fairlie "Josephine". We will now read about their preservation, having in both cases come so very, very close to being lost to us forever. Let me first relate the amazing story of the discovery and restoration of the American Rogers built "K88 Washington" of 1877, that "flashy" and "ornamental" "watch with all its works outside" which had soon proved its doubters wrong and henceforth changed forever the focus of New Zealand Railway steam locomotive design and procurement.

The original 'Kingston Flyer' and crew at Kingston Railway
Station with an unidntified "K" class locomotive.
Note the half "birdcage" carriage. Taken post 1903.
[Photo credit : NZ Railways Publicity]

By 1885 heavier trains on the main line and the consequent introduction of newer and more powerful locomotives had meant the relegation of the "K" class from hauling main line expresses to lighter branch passenger and goods trains and (according to The Plains Railway website) sometimes acting as bankers on the steep hills north of Dunedin. In 1902 "Washington", along with other members of her class, now valiantly found a new claim to fame - hauling passenger trains west from Gore across the Waimea Plains to Lumsden and then north following the Upper Mataura River valley before crossing the glacial moraines to Kingston to meet the Lake Wakatipu steamers. The "K" class maintained their reputation for quick acceleration and speed so that this passenger service soon earned the apt title of "The Kingston Flyer".

The South Island based members of the "K" class were reboilered with a flat topped "Belpaire" firebox and boiler in 1903 replacing the original round topped "wagon-top" firebox, The new boilers were now certified up to 160 psi (pounds per square inch) whereas the originals had only been to 130 psi so a useful increase in performance would have been expected. They were also fitted with a steel cab to replace the wooden original as well as Westinghouse brake equipment.

But in November 1926, and now declared obsolete and needing major mechanical work which was not economically justified, "K88", along with a number of sister engines, were then relegated to "rotten row" in the Invercargill railway yards to await their fate. With scrap metal prices being depressed, railways management then made the decision to strip the engines of any useful parts and to dump them by the Oreti River at Oporo near Branxholme in Southland as flood protection for the then busy Makarewa to Thornbury line.

Thus on the 5th June 1927, "Washington" was ignominiously craned over and rolled down the embankment where she came to rest by the river bed, her frame and cowcatcher being bent in the process. Thirteen other locomotives were lowered and dropped around her including a "V" class coming to rest almost on top of her. Watching and photographing this event was a young railways employee, the late Jim Graham Q.S.M., whom I met in the course of business in the 1980's. I struck up a bit of a friendship with him through our mutual interest in railways and he presented me with an album of locomotive cigarette cards. I've never forgotten his generosity.

At the time the locomotives were dumped at Oporo, elderly enginemen interviewed by "The Southland Times" reminisced about the loss of their "pets" as they used to call their favourite engines. But truth is often stranger than fiction and dumping K88 in the river ultimately proved to be her salvation. One still wished that New Zealand Railways had taken greater pride in their old locomotives (as Dunedin did with "Josephine" which I will feature in my next blog) and preserved a member of each class as static exhibits. But it was not to be.

The remains of a "V" class locomotive at
the Oporo Dump Site, taken about 1982
[From my own collection]

While it was always known that members of the American "K" Class rested here amongst English "V", a "J", "P" and "V" class locomotives, those that remained above the water level and mud of the riverbank just remained a novelty for those curious enough to walk along the now little used railway line from a nearby road and explore this relatively unknown, abandoned and now overgrown locomotive graveyard (myself included!). Immediately bordering this area is the Invercargill Water Works and settlement ponds so I was a little nervous at even being in the immediate area.  

[Update : I have found a 1986 reference in "The Southland Times" that a further two "A" class locos and a "WF" class loco were also dumped at Oporo in 1948.]

A locomotive tender at the Oporo Dump Site
beside the Oreti River, 
taken about 1982
[From my own collection] 

But the revival of the "Kingston Flyer" steam train service between Lumsden and Kingson by New Zealand Railways in Dec 1971 piqued the interest of members of the Lumsden Lions Club in exhuming a reasonably intact "K" class locomotive, being an original "Kingston Flyer" engine, including a suitable tender, to display at Lumsden. Even if a suitable "K" were found and exhumed. there was no thought of other than a basic "cosmetic" restoration at best and the display of what remained. How could anything else be realistically possible?

The rusted hulk of K88 "Washington" after being 
pulled out of the mud at Oporo in January 1974
[Source : The Southland Times]

An investigation of the Oporo dump site at Branxholme by Lion's Club members in 1973, assisted by 30 volunteers, uncovered a "K" class locomotive seemingly "in fairly good condition", buried in mud and silt. Braving wind and occasional showers, and assisted by a tow truck to pull out obstructing trees plus three sludge pumps, they managed to dig around the boiler casings so that the locomotive could be more easily inspected. Amazingly some brass work on the engine was apparently intact although the sand dome, connecting rods and steel cab were missing and the rear bogie had come adrift from the rest of the locomotive but was in itself also intact.

But now the subject of finance to remove the locomotive and prepare it for display at Lumsden came to the fore. A figure of $6,000 was placed on just housing the engine but "tens of thousands of dollars more to sandblast, refit and repaint". Thereafter interest "had waned as the job was thought to be too big".

(L to R) Merv Coutts, Wayne Nicoll and Hans Tyssen
inspect the rusty remains of K88 "Washington" at Oporo.
Taken January 1974
[Source : The Southland Times]

Nevertheless, it was a group of interested Southland Vintage Car Club enthusiasts led by Wayne Nicoll (who, it is reported, had known the position of this "K" since 1963), Merv Coutts and Jack Toomey who, in January 1974, and after "being spurred on by a certain amount of pub-talk", decided to have the locomotive extricated from its muddy grave. This involved a whole weekend of hard work using two bulldozers when the river was at its lowest level. The Invercargill City Council also helpfully held back the flow of water from the nearby waterworks. The appearance of the "K", which was now sitting upright, having been pulled out of its 8 foot hole, was then described as [looking] "pretty rough". It is only at this point that the locomotive is referred to as the famous "K88 Washington". How that attribution was then made is not recorded.

The vintage car enthusiasts now offered the locomotive to any interested body who would take it for restoration "with no cost attached". If no interest was forthcoming the locomotive would, according to the Council, have to be bulldozed back into its hole. But if any group were sufficiently interested the enthusiasts generously offered to extricate a tender which was also resting in the silt of the river bank.

While some interest was shown this came to nothing. that is, until the Ashburton Steam Preservation Society stepped in. In spite of the rust, Mr Nicol believed that the locomotive "was in good shape" and that there was every prospect that it could run again. A suitable Rogers built "K" tender was then located.

"K88 Washington" loaded onto a transporter
prior to being trucked to Ashburton, June 1974.
[Source : The Southland Times]

So, in June 1974, and after lying on the river bank for six months, a transporter finally took the remains off to Ashburton thus beginning a new chapter in the history of "K88 Washington". Unfortunately a steam chest [the block fitted above the piston casing and containing the steam valve] had been removed at the Branxholme site and left behind because it was too heavy to carry. When the Society President, Mr S.J. French, returned to the site it was gone and must have required more than one person to remove it. Despite appeals for its return, it was never been located and a new one had to be cast.

Driving force, society member the late Bob Anderson, a woolbuyer by trade but having engineering skills, now "made the restoration work his pet project" with the initial aim of having the locomotive operational by 1978, when it would be 100 years old. Mr Anderson had looked down at the locomotive remains as he travelled past the Oporo dump site on his way to Riverton in the 1930's little realizing that he would one day spend eight years restoring one.

Mr Anderson now set himself a target of removing one and a half bolts each night after finishing his normal day job. The right hand piston proved troublesome, having seized and "took a lot of shifting, over a month". He freely admitting that "it nearly drove me round the twist" and "he did not know if he loved the engine or hated it". It was during the dismantling process that a brass fitting was discovered stamped "K88" which finally put to rest any doubts that this was indeed the famous "Washington".

The late Bob Anderson, driving force behind
the restoration of "K88 Washington"
[Source : The Southland Times]

After three years of work the locomotive had been stripped down to component parts and Mr Anderson then progressed to having the boiler ultrasonically tested, being  passed as "sound" which is quite amazingly considering it still carried the original "Belpaire" boiler fitted in 1903. The Marine Department now authorized the re-tubing of the 110 tubes in the boiler. The firebox was in reasonable shape, only requiring minor patching. The re-use of the boiler and firebox had then been critical to the full restoration of the engine to steaming condition.

After re-tubing, a boiler hydraulic test took place in April 1978, gaining an authorized steaming pressure of 130 psi [pounds per square inch]. While this was less than the original pressure of 160 psi the boiler was in fact tested to 245 psi. Boiler testing is undertaken with high pressure cold water thus no explosion is possible and at worst a leak is all that would occur. The boiler was mounted back onto the frame in October 1979. Specialized machining of parts was either done by a local specialist engineering firm or by the Hillside Railway Workshops in Dunedin. While restoration work had for the first five years been mostly carried out in the open air, "Washington" was now moved into the engine shed for the rest of the assembly. At one point a serious illness left Mr Anderson wondering if he would get to complete his project but thankfully he recovered to continue the restoration.

The cab and brass lettering on K88 "Washington",
taken at "The Plains Railway", March 2016
[From my own collection] 

Work continued through to 1980 on replacements parts including the ash pan, boiler fittings, cylinder covers and a brass steam dome. Mr Anderson was delighted when another Society member sold a single R class (English) Fairlie locomotive brass steam dome which was then used in the restoration of K88. the ribbed replacement sand dome being ingeniously made of fibreglass.

On the 17th May 1980 the Minister of Railways, who had promised to present a bell when restoration was completed (never seriously considering it would be completed!), then had to search high and low for a suitable bell to present to the Society. Astonishingly, this bell was later found to have come from sister locomotive 1877 built "K87 Lincoln" (named after the US President). A new wooden cab of "ash and beech" to match the original (apparently in walnut) had been made and fitted by a local Ashburton cabinetmaker with the letters "Washington" on the side of the cab being cut from the original brass boiler bands.

For the first time since 1927, "K88 Washington" finally moved briefly under its own power on the 7th November 1981. This was an entirely unrehearsed event under the direction of Mr Anderson for a television film crew who were present on the day and only eventuated through the boiler being "in steam" and the arrival at 10 am of a valve cover which was hastily bolted on. One piston rod was still missing along with valve spindle packing. But to move just 100 yards on the day was a major achievement for what most had originally considered an impossible project. With these missing items rectified the following day "Washington" completed several more short runs.

K88 "Washington" pictured at 
The Plains Railway, 27th March 2016 
[From my own collection]

Further work still to be completed before her expected re-commissioning in 1982 included fitting piston rings, re-setting the bent and damaged original cow catcher (partly using fittings taken from another locomotive), making and fitting brake shoes, hangers and linkage for the coupled axle, and fitting the cab floor and tender drawbar. Quite a bit of work was still required on the tender.

In 1982, Southland film producer Wattie Norman, who had filmed the exhumation of "Washington" from her muddy grave, was now riding on and filming that very same engine in steam at "The Plains Railway" at Tinwald. As the principal restorer Bob Anderson noted, "the old engine ran remarkably smoothly due, [he thinks] to the very large wheels it has." The official recommissioning ceremony took place in November 1982 with Bob Anderson at the regulator. Mr Anderson estimated that it had taken him 10,000 hours of work to restore the engine. Also on the footplate was 94 year old W. (Bill) Fraser who rode on "Washington" as a New Zealand Railways apprentice at Gore in 1909.

Bob Anderson on the footplate of K88 "Washington" in 1983
[Source : NZWW Nov 1983]

Her restoration to working condition made world news, most especially in the international railway press. While the driving force behind the restoration had been Bob Anderson, he was always supported by willing and dedicated helpers, especially when some of the major tasks had to be done.

After some years of occasional running on "The Plains Railway" "Washington" was last steamed for Bob Anderson's funeral in June 1987 after which she failed her boiler examination. The society now commenced the task of removing the boiler tubes but ultimately the firebox and boiler barrel were condemned due to wasting away of the metal. Thereafter, "Washington" sat forlornly in parts for some years until a new all steel welded boiler could be designed and funded at a cost of around $150,000, being made by a Lyttelton Engineering firm. Before being recommissioned again in 2002 a great deal of additional engineering work was undertaken on her that had not been able to be undertaken during Mr Anderson's initial restoration. This included the straightening of her bent frame from when she had rolled down the bank at Oporo.

K88 "Washington" at the Dunedin Railway Station Centennial,
taken October 2006
[Source : From my own collection]

In 2006, "Washington" was transported south where she took an honoured part in the centennial celebrations for the Dunedin Railway Station. Here, and in steam, she took part in the locomotive cavalcade as well as running short trips in a "push pull" service for the public down to Sawyers Bay. She thus retraced a very small part of her epic journey of September 1878. An eye catching aspect of her appearance here was the interpretation of her "loud livery", having reputedly carried a "kaleidoscope of colours [of] green, blue, yellow, red, purple, and gold" when first placed in service in 1878.

K88 "Washington" at the Dunedin Railway Station Centennial,
taken October 2006

[Source : From my own collection]

She continues to be steamed occasionally on "The Plains Railway" [click for link] where she enjoys a well earned retirement not far from the main south line where she triumphantly steamed past on that memorable journey 138 years ago. On the 26th February 1984 I travelled on the footplate and well remember Bob Anderson at the regulator with his fireman, John Mitchell. I still have the cine sound film I took during this visit, including on the footplate.

K88 "Washington" preparing for departure at
The Plains Railway, 27th March 2016
[From my own collection]

This Easter (2016) I travelled in a period carriage behind "K88" where a new much younger generation of railway enthusiasts obviously took an equal amount of pride in not just presenting "Washington" in a gleaming and extremely well cared for manner but also in having the pleasure of being able to drive the famous - and now quite priceless - 1877 built Rogers "K88". Not bad for a locomotive buried for 47 years and whose restoration relied on so many inter-related events and people. So, never let it be said that "pub talk" is a waste of time.

K88 "Washington" with members of the Canterbury
Military Vehicle Club taken at The Plains Railway,
taken 27th March 2016
[Source : From my own collection]

Finally, I highly recommend this very professional HD film of "K88 Washington" running on The Plains Railway, having been taken by a talented young rail enthusiast, Robert Boulton, in 2015. But for the Belpaire style boiler, the incongruous water tank behind the tender (in case of any line side fires due to very dry conditions), and the slightly more modern red carriages (originally Pullman green) dating from 1908 to 1915, the segment of the video between 4.06 and 4.42 could just as easily be "Washington" with Ben Verdon at the regulator heading south on the inaugural express in September 1878. Who would have believed that 138 years later this almost timeless scene could ever have been recreated.


Footnote :

The un-restored remains of another "K" can be found at The Plains Railway, that of "K94" of 1878, having been excavated from Oporo in March 1986 and trucked north to Tinwald. Bob Anderson had hoped to restore this locomotive which "is expected to take between five and seven years depending on availability of spare parts". Upon excavation "The wheels spun freely and the bearing boxes were still packed with grease and a rag wick". But Mr Anderson's death in 1987 precluded any further work on this locomotive. The stripped down remains may today be seen behind the large locomotive shed at "The Plains Railway" where the massive J class No 1260 locomotive (currently undergoing boiler work) normally resides.

The former Fiordland Vintage Machinery Club did complete the restoration of "K92" which also entered service in December 1878. It can normally be viewed at the fledgling Waimea Plains Railway at Mandeville. Update Dec 2016 : "K92" has just been moved to "Southern Steam" at Invercargill for a ten year boiler survey. This is hopefully good news as she has been "out of ticket" for some years now and starting to look rather forlorn. She carries her "pre-dump" boiler so fingers crossed that some re-tubing is all that is required.

Sources :

- Papers Past / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
- New Zealand Electronic Text Collective / Te Pūhikotui o Aotearoa
- The New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1934
- "The Southland Times"
- "The Ashburton Guardian"
- "Rails" magazine
- "The Plains Railway" website
- "The New Zealand Women's Weekly", 1983
- "The New Zealand Motor World", 1983.