Point trains nearly full steam ahead

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE - KOREN ALLPRESS

The re­turn of a pop­u­lar steam train to the Pleas­ant Point rail­way is im­mi­nent, four years af­ter it was taken off the rails for main­te­nance.

The AB699 steam train, built in Coro­man­del in 1922, and a D16 steam train, built in Scot­land in 1878, both un­der­went part of a 10 yearly boiler in­spec­tion at the Pleas­ant Point rail­way on Fri­day.

Lo­co­mo­tive en­gi­neer su­per- vi­sor Dow­ell McLeod trav­elled from Christchurch to con­duct main­te­nance on the trains. McLeod be­gan the boiler in­spec­tion on the AB699 four years ago, but the job had been un­ex­pect­edly de­layed due to fam­ily com­mit­ments.

That meant the train was out of ac­tion for a lot longer than ex­pected, how­ever, the D16 train con­tin­ued to op­er­ate dur­ing its ab­sence.

SGS New Zealand boiler in­spec­tor Neville Simp­son trav­elled from In­ver­cargill to as­sist McLeod on Fri­day, and said both trains had had their wa­ter pres­sure tested, and had passed the first two steps in a three-step process.

They hoped to have the fi­nal step com­pleted and both trains cer­ti­fied as soon as pos­si­ble.

‘‘It would be good to have the D16 go­ing by Queen’s Birth­day, ‘‘ McLeod said.

The AB699 re­quired a bit of ex­tra main­te­nance and would hope­fully be run­ning in three month’s time, McLeod said.

Simp­son said both trains were in good con­di­tion for their age and had been well main­tained .

‘‘It’s fas­ci­nat­ing to think that the peo­ple who built them would be very sur­prised to know that they’re still op­er­at­ing. That’s just tes­ta­ment to a mag­nif­i­cent de­sign and work­man­ship,’’ Simp­son said.

Mem­bers of the Pleas­ant Point Rail­way and His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety were ‘‘very ex­cited’’ the AB699 would be back on the tracks for the so­ci­ety’s steam up days, mem­ber Bill Noble said.

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