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Newsletter #38 - November 2017

A lot of news and progress to share in this latest newsletter issue, #38 - November 2017. A replacement boiler has been sourced for steam locomotive Ab 745, which arrived at Maymorn on 13 October 2017, and immediately swapped onto the locomotive frames for storage inside the shed. We're grateful to Rimutaka Trust and the Community Trust of Wellington for funding the remaining purchase cost and transport of the boiler.

There's a lot of progress to report on at the railway, from concrete floors and steps within the shed, through to workshop linings, track improvements, work on our ballast wagon fleet, engine hood frame for diesel loco ORB #1, and fabrication of a regulator and new cabs for steam locomotives Wb 292 and 299.

During Summer 2017/2018 we're also planning on extending our mainline track out past the pedestrian crossing, to a point opposite the Metlink passenger station.

We thank Ben Calcott for the work put into the railway, stepping down as Chairperson mid-year. We congratulate and thank Iain Palmer on his appointment as Deputy Chairperson and Operations Manager, Ray Hampton to Rail Vehicle Manager, and Hugh McCracken as Chairperson.

A big thank you to all our Trustees, members and supporters for the work and funding put into the railway, and we look forward to your continued support.

Hugh McCracken, Chairperson

Replacement boiler for Ab 745


After months of planning and fundraising, a replacement boiler has been secured for steam locomotive Ab 745. It was originally secured by the New Zealand Railway and Locomotive Society (NZRLS) as a spare boiler for Ab 608 or Wab 794, purchased surplus to requirements from a market garden in Canterbury.

The Trust purchased the boiler from NZRLS as-is-where is at Feilding earlier in 2017.

During the second week of October the boiler was transported from Feilding to Maymorn, and swapped onto the engine frame of Ab 745 on Friday 13 October.

Many thanks to Rimutaka Trust for funds to complete the purchase of the replacement boiler, and Community Trust of Wellington for funding the transport and initial conservation work.

Rimutaka TrustWellington Community Trust

The original boiler of Ab 745 on the engine frame inside the rail vehicle shed on 1 October, shortly before it was shunted outside for the boiler swap.

Ab 745 standing on road 4 outside the workshop, original boiler and smokebox ready to be lifted off, alongside the boilers from steam locomotives Wb 292 and Wb 299.

On Friday 13 October the original boiler and smokebox were lifted off the engine frame, ready for the replacement.

Collins crane unloading replacement boiler from STL Linehaul truck.

Lifting the replacement boiler onto the engine frame. Note the large chimney base, to which a tall flue had been fitted when the boiler was in market garden service. Photo: Iain Palmer

Positioning the smokebox end of boiler onto the saddle posed some problems, as the blast pipe cut-out had been blanked off. The boiler was placed on packing blocks to clear the blast pipe. Photo: Iain Palmer

Opportunity was taken with the 30-tonne crane on site to relocate both Wb locomotive boilers clear of the shed and road 4 area, placing them alongside the original boiler of Ab 745. Photo: Iain Palmer.

Ab 745 with replacement boiler on shed at Maymorn, early on Saturday 14 October.

Ray Hampton driving Tr 189 during a shed shunt to place Ab 745 back inside on road 1.

Work in progress - October 2017

Hugh cutting out fireman's cab side for Wb 299 on 30 September 2017.

A selection of photos of work in progress around the railway.


We had the Wb cab display at the Upper Hutt Summer Carnival at the end of February 2017, which was lifted in and out by hiab truck. An alternative display was worked up for March Madness.

The Trust's display at March Madness, Upper Hutt on 18 March 2017. As a new feature we invited the public to try their hand at signalling, with an interactive display of a switchlock siding mechanism.

Track work

A backlog of tasks have been done in recent months, lifting the standard of the railway and finishing off some minor work remaining on some of our track structures.

The double slip between mainline and yard now has a full set of heel bolts, securing point blades to their respective stock and closer rails. The shiny pair of rails in the photo is the regularly used route from mainline to yard at Maymorn.

A joint has been lifted and packed in the yard near the rail vehicle shed.

Full set of fish bolts have been fitted to turntable road, and a pair of short rails straightened (near the red disk in the photo).

A formed crossing has been built up out of sleepers on road 4, part of public safety improvements at the site.

Shed improvements

Concrete floor and steps have been prepared and poured, improving under foot conditions in the rail vehicle shed. Insulation and internal lining work is moving along in the workshop, with half of one end wall nearing completion, and a start made on the ceiling.

A section of floor has been placed at the Kaitoke end of the shed, cast on top of four rail beams. Excavations for rail beams on road 2 were completed between operating days, down to 550mm below rail top.

Ray and Glen back filling around rail beams on road 2 in August 2016. Rails are fastened to threaded rod studs epoxied into holes drilled into the concrete.

Form work in place for floor slabs at Kaitoke end of the shed in December 2016. Reinforcing extends past the current set of slabs to allow for future floor and pit extensions.

Concrete floor slabs cast and finished off on 14 January 2017. Door latch mechanisms had been fitted to road two, consisting of a set of rods engaging with plates bolted to the top of the door frame, and lock-boxes at the mid-point of each train door.

Ray tidying up ballast on shed road 1 on 11 February 2017, showing the improvements made at the Kaitoke end of the shed.

Concrete steps leading into the inspection pits at Upper Hutt end of the shed, which were completed in October 2016.

A set of steps were poured between the rails on road 2 on 14 January 2017, along with short lengths of pit end walls, completing the steps and wall arrangements at the Upper Hutt end of the shed.

Over summer 2016/2017 we back filled foundations along the south side of the shed. More fill is needed to lift to final height, made easier by the relocation of the boilers seen to the left of the photo.

Wb locomotive work

Progress has been made with cabs for both Wb 292 and Wb 299.

The cab front has been cut out for 292, including the large radius roof and the firebox cut-out. All four windows are also done. Next in line are the cab sides, which will be fitted up to the cab front, fastening to steel angles in each corner.

Fireman's cab side for Wb 299, showing side window, door and footstep all cut out.

Workshop lining

The lining work inside the workshop has moved along during winter and spring 2017. A modest amount of ColorSteel cladding was ordered to continue the work, opting for a lighter "Titania" colour to keep the workshop interior reasonably light. There is a lot of fitting up and flashing work to do, but good progress has been made in the past few weeks.

We welcome contributions towards this work, and are seeking funding to help purchase the next orders of cladding.

ColorSteel lining on half of an end wall, and ceiling of workshop, progress as at 4 November 2017. Centre-stage is another pile of insulation ready to head into the walls and ceiling cavities.

Ballast wagon restoration total reaches six

Panorama shot of rake of ballast wagons parked at Maymorn station

In September work started on repairing and restoring a sixth ballast wagon - Yc877. The ongoing programme of work is lifting the overall presentation and standard of the 13-strong fleet. The hopper, underframe and running gear receive attention, and care is taken to clean down and paint the hard-to-reach areas.

Ron Jones - one of the key people in the maintenance team - with Yc877, the sixth wagon to get the "treatment"

Ron applying the first coat of primer to the hopper of Yc877 on 26 August 2017.

Yc891 needed a lot of repairs to the ballast guards and carrying frame, a mix of new material and patches welded in.

The hopper brace stiffening supports needed extensive patching. A lack of rain-washing in this area would appear to accelerate the corrosion.

Ballast cover plates prepared for welding in patches for Yc891. Also in shot is the stencil used for sign-writing the wagon.

Hopper support bracket patches welded into place on Yc891 in September 2017.

Yc726 on the inspection pit receiving hopper repairs in January 2017.

Yc817 and Yc895 standing on the loop road, Maymorn in April 2017

Tr189 shunting ballast wagons at Maymorn in April 2017.

Engine hood frame repairs for ORB No.1


A new engine hood frame is being fabricated for the railway's 30-tonne diesel shunt locomotive - former Ohai Railway Board No.1. The original hood frame had rusted beyond viable repair during its many years outside, exacerbated by build-up of coal dust during the course of its work, and contact with aluminium engine hood doors.

ORB No.1 with engine hood, radiator, exhaust system and diesel tanks removed - captured outside during a shunt in May 2016.

Steel channel and angles laid out in the railway's workshop ready for welding.

Colin welding one half of the hood frame while Bruce prepares the second half. A support frame held the various components in place ready for the welding.

Regulator for Wb 299

Detail of the regulator part-way through machining by Robin Teeling - Teeling Metal Industries, Onatrio, Canada.

A regulator handle is being manufactured in Canada for Baldwin steam loco Wb 299, adding key components to the rebuild of the 1898-vintage locomotive.

Trust member Peter Darian-Varzeliotis prepared CAD drawings for the various components that are mounted on the boiler back-head, including the regulator handle and clasp, latch and connecting rod and the sector plate. The latter, with its many fine-pitched teeth, presented a design challenge as details in the blueprint were unclear.

The dimensions of the hand-drawn teeth were inconsistent, so reference was made to a sample sector plate for these dimensions. Cross-reference was made to NZR Wb class boiler drawing - y7508 - listed BP 5213 for regulator gear, which was common between Wb and Wf locomotive classes, with further detail differences depending on the diameter of the regulator valve.

Work has just started on the regulator handle and the clasp that engages in the sector plate, as seen in the photos in this article. Our many thanks to Robin Teeling of Teeling Metal Specialties, Ontario, Canada for the work done on these components.

Once completed the components will be test fitted to the mounting on the boiler back-head confirming fit - or any final fitting work that might need to be done. We also plan to incorporate it as an interactive item into the Wb loco cab that is on display at Maymorn.

Our thanks again to Robin Teeling and Peter Darian-Varzeliotis for their work on these components.

Regulator handle with its distinctive hand grip

Details of the clasp piece that engages with the sector plate

Peter Darian-Varzeliotis prepared these and other CAD drawings for the various components that actuate the regulator.

Gumdigger carriage restoration starts


Work has started on the long-term project to restore 1884-vintage Gumdigger carriage A255 back into service. During the past year a conservation plan has been drafted, outlining the history of the carriage, detailing the fabric of the vehicle it its current state, and a project plan formed for its restoration.

In the first half of 2017 the interior of the carriage was cleaned out, cupboards and other non-railway items carefully removed. Roof ribs and other items found to be in reasonable order have been checked over and sanded back to sound timber. Most exterior tongue-and-groove cladding has been removed from the frame, much of it in poor condition due to ground contact. Steel roof sheets that protected the carriage from the elements has also been removed.

Next steps with the project are to raise funds for replacement timber beams that form the top and bottom plates. This would physically reunite the two halves of the carriage and enable the painstaking replacement of studs and other framing timbers.

The long side of the carriage during clean-down, thankfully rain that was threatening didn't come to much. One gets a reasonable idea of the extent of work required to bring the carriage back to service.

One of a handful of suburban train tickets found in the carriage walls during cleaning out, being a 12-trip ticket between Christchurch and Islington. Dating before the 5-day working week - when the carriage was in suburban service at Christchurch.

Upper Hutt Summer Carnival 2017


Steam locomotive Wb 299 cab and interactive display was the centre-piece of our display at the 2017 Upper Hutt Summer Carnival. We rigged up a petrol-power air compressor to a pea-shooter whistle, which carnival goers were invited to try. The Pyle-National headlight and gauge lights could be worked as well, with light cast onto a steam pressure gauge and the original Baldwin Locomotive Works maker's plate that was fitted to Wb 292.

Cab and display set up early in the day

Interactive display with steam whistle, gauges, boiler and makers plates

Side view of display later in the day

Cab and display returning to Maymorn after the carnival, looking locomotive-like as deck cargo.