Ka 942 takes the restoration award
A 145-tonne steam train lovingly restored in a Plimmerton workshop has taken out a top restoration award.
Locomotive Ka 942 has won the Steam Locomotive Restoration Award at the Federation of Rail Organisations of New Zealand conference, held at Greymouth’s Shantytown over Queen’s Birthday weekend.
Built in 1940 by New Zealand Railways’ Hutt workshops, the huge locomotive was initially based in Taihape, working the main trunk line. It was withdrawn from regular service in 1967 after 944,000 miles.
In 1972 it was sold to Poriruabased businessman and founder of Mainline Steam Trust Ian Welch, in what he describes as a ‘‘very worn’’ condition.
‘‘A number of years spent stored in the open had taken its toll, with rust having taken a firm hold in parts.’’
Restoration began in the 1980s and its overhaul was completed by members of the Glenbrook Vintage Railway.
In the 1990s the train was a popular tourist attraction, steaming a six-hour round trip from Christchurch to Arthurs Pass.
It was retired again in 1999 after firebox problems.
A second restoration took place in Mainline Steam’s Plimmerton depot during 2008.
Tai Poutini Polytechnic Steam School ( West Coast) tutor Ian Tibbles was on the judging committee and said Ka 942 was chosen in recognition of the scale of the boiler repairs undertaken during the restoration.
‘‘This train is a beast. It has around 1400 horsepower and is remembered for pulling 14 carriages on the early main line steam excursions to Arthur’s Pass, the longest continuous climb in the country. It’s great to see it looking its best and pumping out that horsepower again.’’
Ka 942 took part in the 100-year anniversary of the North Island main trunk route in 2008 and Mr Welch believed it should be available for service for many years to come.
Mainline Steam Trust is an organisation devoted to the restoration, promotion and operation of historical steam locomotives in New Zealand.
There are depots across the country, with the biggest being in Plimmerton and Parnell.
FRONZ is a not-for-profit organisation representing the Heritage and Tourist Rail Industry of New Zealand, comprising more than 70 organisations, including museums and rail operators.
The Steam Locomotive Restoration Award is sponsored by Tai Polytechnic and Shantytown.
Old glory: Ka 942 passing Makatote, near Mt Ruapehu in 2008, re-enacting the first rail journey from Wellington to Auckland
100 years earlier.