The Vintage RailwayRead below to find out about our extensive Locomotive - including three steam locomotives, Carriage and Wagon collection. Check our 'Open Days' page for information on when you can see these grand old ladies of yesteryear in action, or head over to our 'Charters & Tour Groups' page to book the train for your own private running!
Our Locomotive Collection
A 64 - Dubs & Co.
'A' 64 was built in 1873 by Dubs & Co, Glasgow, Scotland. It is a 0-4-0T and was one of the first 3" 6' (1067mm) guaged locomotives to operate in New Zealand. Commentators of the time described these locomotives as 'a mere mite, a veritable toy locomotive' and 'a most absurd-looking dwarf'. However, this small light-weight (11ton) locomotive performed remarkably well in branch line and shunting services. 'A' 64 worked with the railways department up until 1890, when it was written off from the railways department and sold to the Canterbury Frozen Meat Co. Ltd. Fairton, and placed in service as their shunter. The 'A' served the plant well, and was finally withdrawn from service with C.F.M. in 1960, though it remained on site as a back-up until 1962.
'A' 64 was donated to the Ashburton Steam and Model Engineers Club and was placed in display in the Tinwald Domain. In 1971 The Ashburton Railway and Preservation Society was formed to restore the 'A' to working order for use on their newly founded Plains Railway, utilising a small section of the former Mt Somers branch. The 'A' is still owned by the Ashburton Steam and Model Engineers Club and is leased to the AR&PS's Plains Railway. The 'A' has been in regular service at The Plains ever since. For many years it continued to proudly display the letters 'C.F.M.' on its side water tanks, which had had their rounded ends removed while in service with Canterbury Frozen Meats.
In recent years the 'A' has been re-painted into a pleasent green livery with yellow lining out, the letters 'C.F.M.' have dissappeared from the tank sides, and the rounded end water tanks have been re-instated, a cowcatcher has also been fitted to the front of the locomotive. The A does still have a rear coal bunker, which is affixed to the back of the cab. This feature is unique amongst the preserved 'A' class locomotives as it was not as feature on the 'A' class when it was built, it is instead an addition made at some point during its life-time at C.F.M.. It is likely that this bunker was fitted at the same time the orginal round-ended water tanks were removed, due to - in orginial condition - the coal being carried in a compartment at the cab-end of the water tanks.
Dubs 'A' 64 carries the builders number of 651, making it New Zealands second oldest operational steam locomotive after The Ocean Beach Railways 'A' 67, builders number 647. The lower 'Running Number' as given by the NZR is because the locomotive entered service ahead of 'A' 67 by about a month.
'A' 64 is currently out of service pending a 'ten year inspection' and is likely to re-enter service late 2013/early 2014.
Ja 1260 - Hillside Workshops
'Ja' 1260 was built at Hillside Railway Workshops, Dunedin for the New Zealand Government Railways in 1952. The Ja class was virtually identical to the J class, built by the North British Locomotive works. The main difference was the use of roller bearings on the rods and axles. The 'J' and 'Ja' classs were referred to as the 'Greyhounds' of the New Zealand Railways locomotive fleet. These engines, with drivers measuring a mere 4' 6" - not even up to international 'Freight' type engines - were capable of 70mph and higher - unofficially of course. Many a tale is told of a late running South Island Limited arriving to Christchurch in time to have a meal before catching the train to the ferry, thanks largely to the power and speed of these 110ton 4-8-2's. The grate area of the 'Ja' class is a hand-fired 39sq feet. The "Ja" class in operational order carries 6 tons of coal, and 4000 gallons of water.
'Ja' 1260 spent the majority of its working life based in Dunedin, working between Oamaru in the north, and Invercargill in the south. 'Ja' 1260 was one of the last steam locomotives to withdrawn from Railways Department service, and has a claim to fame as the last steam locomotive to haul a night express out of Dunedin in 1971. It was also the last steam locomotive in service to haul passenger trains out of Christchurch. After its withdrawl 'Ja' 1260 was aquired by The Plains Railway and was towed to Ashburton in April 1972 and stored there until February 1973 when it was towed to The Plains Railway Museums precinct. In the 1980's 'Ja' 1260 ventured to the Weka Pass Railway. The 'Ja' needed some work before being operational on the Weka Pass, having not received much attention since its N.Z.R. days.
The 'Ja' lasted only a year on the Weka Pass before it was returned to The Plains, where it was stripped down for overhaul. However, other projects got priority over the 'Ja' and she sat in the shed wanting attention until 2007. The Plains then focussed all of its attention on the 'Ja' for a return to steam for a starring role in the upcoming Charles Upham film (since cancelled). On the 25th of April 2008 'Ja' 1260's boiler passed inspection, and she officially returned to the Plains Railways running locomotive roster.
K 88 - Rogers Locomotive Works
'K' 88, or Washington, was built in 1877 by Rogers Locomotive Works, Paterson, New Jersey. With the builders number of 2454, it is now one of the oldest operational Rogers built locomotives in the world. The orginal order for 'K' class 2-4-2 locomotives was for two locomotives only, a second order was placed in 1878 for a further 6, once the original two; 'K' 88 Washington, and 'K' 87 Lincoln, had dismissed their titles of mere 'yankee toys'.
Upon arrival from the USA the two 'K' locomotives were pushed into service. 'K' 88 became the first locomotive to ever haul an express train between the fledgling cities of Christchurch and Dunedin, on New Zealands first 'Main Trunk Railway'. Soon the expresses became longer and heavier, and bigger more powerful locomotives were required. By 1885 the 'K' class had been superseeded and was relagated to branch line and secondary work - sometimes seen banking the expresses out of Dunedin. Around the end of the 19th Century, the 'K' locomotives - including 'K' 88 - got a new lease of life hauling tourist trains from Gore to Kingston, on the shore of Lake Wakitipu. This was the original 'Kingston Flyer'. 'K' 88 continued to race across the Waimea Plains hauling tourists to the Lake until the mid 1920's, when she was written off. Scrap metal prices at the time were low, so it was decided to use the old engines as flood protection. 'K' 88 looked to have no future, until the early 1970's. After a discussion on the 'old' Kingston flyer locomotives, it was remembered that some of them had been placed in the Oreti River as flood protection. So, shovels in hand, a group of volunteers set out and exhume a Steam Engine.
In 1974 the 'K' had been uncovered, and was moved to the Plains Railway Musem. On arrival at the museum, after restoration had begun - largely by one man, the late Bob Anderson - it was discovered that this was not just any old 'K', but 'K' 88, the first American Built engine to enter service in New Zealand, and the first locomotive to ever haul an express train between two major cities. In 1982, against all odds, Bob Anderson accomplished his dream, and the Plains Railway drew world-wide attention. In the period up until its boiler failed in 1986, 'K' 88 ran a number of trips on the mainline promoting Monteiths, and also starred in the television mini-series of Hanlon. The boiler 'K' 88 was restored with was first fitted to the locomotive around 1900 and had perished too much to ever be of use again. If 'K' 88 was to ever turn a wheel under her own steam again, a new boiler would be needed.
The 'K 88 Trust' was formed to finance the second restoration of the 'K'. A new boiler was constructed by Lyttleton Engineering, and was transported to The Plains upon completion. The trust also sourced a new workshop/engine shed for the museum, in a former life this building was a supermarket. The 'K' had much work, that couldn't be carried out in the first restoration, done to it during the second restoration. This included the straightening of her bent frames from when she had been rolled into the river.
'K' 88 re-entered service in 2002 with an interpretation of its original 'loud' livery of 1877. Since being restored 'K' 88 has ventured to Dunedin for the Dunedin Station Centenery Celebrations, where it was well recieved.
Over the winter of 2012 'K' 88 underwent her first major survey, what's known within the railway world as a 'ten year inspection'. Very little was found to be amiss with the locomotive and she returned to service a mere 18 weeks after being withdrawn for overhaul, this time painted in a more correct interpretation of the original livery.
'K' 88 sees regular service on the Plains Railway, running on both Public Open days and private charters.
RM 50 - Vulcan Foundry
During the war years, New Zealand Railways needed a cheaper mode of Transport for light passenger duties, Ten 29.5 ton railcars were ordered from the 'Vulcan' Foundry. Only 9 of the 10 ever entered service, the 10th was lost when a German Submarine attacked the transportation ship. In New Zealand Railways service this type of railcar became known by its builders name, and so the word 'Vulcan' entered the New Zealand Railways language. The Vulcan railcars are powered by a 6 cylinder Frichs diesel engine developing 250hp, and are capable of runnning in multiple.
In trials on the 25th October 1940 Vulcan Railcar 'RM' 50 set the official New Zealand Railways speed record of 78mp/h, or 125km/h. This record is still standing today, with the railways of the time focusing on a reliable service as opposed to setting speed records, and current operators unable to run trains at such speeds.
The Plains Railway aquired 'RM' 50 in March 1979, when all the Vulcans in service were withdrawn. A further 3 Vulcans were also preserved, and these can be seen in various states under the care of the Canterbury Railway Society based at Ferrymead.
'RM' 50 has seen a large amount of service for the Plains Railway. In the 1990's it held a mainline certificate and was used to run shuttle services between the Ashburton Railway Station and The Plains Museum.
Shunter 458956 - Ruston and Hornsby
Ruston & Hornsby 486965 was built in 1961 to replace Dubs & Co. 'A' 64 at Canterbury Frozen Meats Fairton freezing works.
The locomotive is on loan to The Plains Railway Museum, on the condition it be returned to the now Silverfern Farms freezing works if they should ever require it again.
'The Ruston' - as the locomotive is commonly referred to by our members is most notably used on works trains, and is often seen out and about towing our M wagon and rail-mounted air compressor. It is also put to use for shunting, when the shunt can be managed by the light weight loco, making the little loco the main workhorse of the diesel shunter fleet.
TR - J & F Howard
This locomotive was constructed by J & F Howard company in England and was one of two imported for the PWD (Public Works Department) in approx. 1930. The Howard Company was liquidated in 1931, so this may be one of the last locomotives to be built there, and is numbered by the builders as 936.
After leaving PWD service this locomotive went on to work the Smithfield Freezing Works in Timaru, before coming to The Plains Railway Museum in 1986.
The sister locomotive to Howard 936 ended its life as a bush locomotive, or 'lokey', in the National Park area of the central North Island.
TR 119 - A & G Price Ltd
'TR' 119 was built by A & G Price of Thames in 1960, as Price 198. Although being of a similar design to New Zealand Railways 'TR' class diesel shunters, Price 198/'TR' 119 was never in NZR service, and so is not an 'official' member of the 'TR' class. The number '119' was never carried by any NZR 'TR' class locomotive, and so was adopted by Price 198.
The 'TR' was built for Kempthorne Prosser & Co. of Hornby Christchurch for shunting their private sidings. When retired from Kempthorn Prosser & Co, in the 1980's, Price198/'TR' 119 was donated to the Weka Pass Railway, before coming to The Plains Railway Museum in the 1990's.
Members of the Plains Railway restored Price198/'TR' 119 and in 1997 it was the recepient of a FRONZ award for its restoration.
TR 38 - A & G Price Ltd
'TR' 38 was built by A&G Price Ltd of Thames in 1938, and was one
of only two of its type. It was New Zealands first Diesel locomotive.
Weighing in at only 6.25 tons, it's 6cylinder Perkins P6 diesel engine
develops 56hp and is rated to pull 110tons.
'TR' 38 started its life in the Ways and Works department of the NZR in 1938, and was used in construction and maintenance of the North Island Main Trunk Line between Auckland and Frankton, also seeing use in Otahuhu and Dunedin. 'TR' 38 was first preserved by the Shanty Town Museum near Greymouth on the South Islands West Coast, before moving to The Plains Railway Museum in February 1982.
'TR' 38 was the main shunting locomotive for many years, until the more powerful or more mechanically sound shunters arrived. 'TR' 38 was then relegated to the shed.
In 2008 Plains Railway members re-fitted the cab doors, and gave the locomotive a good wash. The handbrake was also repaired, negating the use of a block of wood as seen in the picture. 'TR' 38 is now sometimes seen on display at the Plains on running days.
Our Carriage Collection
Carriage' A' 1429 entered service on 30/10/1915 once construction was completed at Addington Workshops, Christchurch.
It was originally allocated to the Invercargill section, and is 47’ 6” long. Like A 184 it is split into two compartments separated by a centre lavatory. These compartments were originally fitted with 26 and 22 ‘Addington’ seats respectively, later replaced with 37 ‘Scarret’ seats. The original gas lighting was replaced with electric lighting in September of 1927.
' A' 1429 was steam heated from new and came to the Plains Railway in 1974.
Like sister carriage 'A' 184, 'A' 1429 also featured in the Television New Zealand mini-series 'Hanlon', and had the battery boxes removed. These have not been reinstated by the Plains Railway over the time since.
A 184 - Addington Workshops
Carriage 'A' 184 was constructed at the now non-existent Addington Workshops, Christchurch, in 1913 and was commissioned on the 11 of July that year.
'A' 184 is 47’ 6” (47 feet, 6 inches) long and contains two compartments separated by a centre lavatory. Before its withdrawal from service on 26/06/1970 37 “Scarret” seats were fitted, along with battery boxes and electric lighting.
'A' 184 featured in the Television New Zealand mini-series 'Hanlon', and to recreate her 'classic' appearance had the battery boxes removed. These have not been reinstated by the Plains Railway over the time since.
Aa 1024 - Petone Workshops
Carriage ‘Aa’1024 was built at Petone Shops, Wellington, and commissioned to service on 17/09/1908.
The ‘Aa’ cars were wider bodied than the A class cars, hence the sub-classification letter. These cars were originally built for the then new North Island Main Trunk (NIMT) expresses between Auckland and Wellington. ‘Aa’1024 was designated a 2nd Class non-smoker carriage. The ‘Aa’ cars featured two lavatories in the centre of the car, one for ‘Gentlemen’ and one for ‘Ladies’. ‘Aa’1024 retained these two centre lavatories throughout its working life, and still has them today. Each 19’ 7” (19foot 7inch) long compartment was originally fitted with 22 ‘Addington’ chairs. The interior had a linoleum floor and the woodwork was painted or varnished accordingly. ‘Aa’ 1024 received electric lighting and battery boxes on 20/06/1925.
On the 13th of July 1950 ‘Aa’1024 along with a handful of other ‘Aa’ cars was transferred to the South Island for an improved Lyttleton Wharf service between Christchurch and Lyttleton. As such, it was one of the only ‘Aa’ cars to come to the South Island. The South Island ‘Aa’ cars were limited to Rangiora in the north and Timaru in the south due to their wider bodies and greater length than most of the South Islands passenger fleet (mostly 47’ 6” carriages, and then also narrower than their North Island counterparts). 52 ‘Scarret’ seats were fitted in July 1961. ‘Aa’ 1024 was sold to the Plains Railway on 22/02/1974 and was written off by the Railways Department on 30/03/1974.
Aa 1024 is currently under restoration to make a welome addition to the Railways operating carriage fleet.
F 322/151 - Hillside Workshops
'F' 322 was built at Hillside Workshops, Dunedin, in 1907.
Fitted with Gas Lights it was originally assigned to Dunedin. It was written off on the 10-11-1979 in Christchurch as TMS Number 'F' 151.
It came to the Plains Railway Museum not longer after.
Our Wagon Collection
M 173 (TMS: M360)
Our M wagon is used primarily in works service on The Plains Railway, however it can be seen from time to time acting as a 'runner wagon' between Dubs 'A' 64 and the passenger cars.
Raised Tank Water Wagon
E 852 (Formally N 212)
E 852 is the last survivior of a once numerous class of M and N wagon conversions.
History - As known, prior to acquisition
E 852 probably began its life in the 1880's as an N wagon before acquiring the number N 212 during the renumbering of 1890.
Very little is known of the wagons usage in this period but it was likely in general traffic right through to 1938 when records indicate it was converted from an N wagon to the tank wagon seen today. It was at this time that it acquired the number E 852.
After conversion the tank ran in non-revenue service attached to the Mt Somers/Springburn branch line and appears to have been designated a 'Loco Water Wagon' - water tanks at the top end of the branch and at Punawai did tend to suffer from drought so it is likely the tank was used for refilling tenders or tanks of engines in the summer months, after being brought up from Ashburton. Some of The Plains' members recall a similar tank being used for railway house water supplies as well, so the tank was probably dual purpose.
In later years the tank was attached to the crane group based in Christchurch before finding itself parked up at Linwood. The story goes that the Shed Foreman was sick of the sight of it and so it ended up at The Plains Railway in November of 1974, ironically back on the remains of the branch it once faithfully served.
History - After acquisition by The Plains Railway
E 852 was used by The Plains Railway for many years prior to being parked up at some time in the early 1990's. The Plains Railway used it for trimming lineside trees and as such the tank was fitted with 'catwalks' around the outside. The Railway also used it for watering crops being grown in the railways neighbouring paddocks.
In January 2011, with the impending 40th Anniversary of the Society, a decision was made to bring into service as many of the Societies freight/non-revenue wagons as possible. E 852 was one of the wagons recovered from the sidings and long grass behind The Plains' carriage shed and over the following weeks it was thoroughly cleaned to enable an inspection for 'rail worthiness' to be carried out.
The inspection soon revealed that while appearing to be in a moderate condition some work would be required before the wagon could run, namely the deck of the wagon had rotted through leaving the tank precariously perched upon the remains of the timber.
After approval by the committee, stripping down of the wagon began in earnest, with the tank being lifted off allowing the wagon chassis to be worked on. After the removal of the remains of the deck timbers it was revealed that the headstocks and interior wooden framing was in very poor condition once the exterior had been penetrated. This resulted in the need to completely rebuild the chassis, keeping only the longitudinal steel beams at the outside edges of the chassis.
The steel work - including wheels, axle boxes and brake gear - was sandblasted to remove all trace of the years of railways coats of paint, dirt and grime. One the sandblasting was completed work began in earnest in replacing the timberwork. After discussion with the local sawmill it was decided to use pine for the replacement timbers, not a hard wood - the miller believed he had suitably dense pine that would provide plenty strong enough.
After around two months of drilling, cutting and shaping the new interior timbers were at last ready to be attached to the framework and the wagon began to look once more like a wagon. The drawgear and brake rigging were reattached and the wagon was at last ready to receive the new decking that the whole process had been started to replace. On the 17th of September, with just over a month to go until the anniversary, the wagon emerged from the workshops for painting, looking as it must have done prior to having the tank fitted in 1938 - just like a long wheelbase N wagon.
While the wagon chassis was being restored the tank and its frame hadn't been forgotten about, the tank receiving some minor repair work - mainly the fitting of a new lid/hatch on the top. The framework that supports the tank was sanded and primed ready for refitting to the wagon.
The day of the big refit arrived on the 1st of October and with a hand from a Hi-Ab the tank was lifted and placed back onto the wagon, which instantly began to look like itself once more. Positioning the tank 'just right' on the chassis proved to be a challenge as in order to lift the tank and frame without it all coming apart the lifting strops had had to be positioned under the frame itself, lots of helping hands overcame the issue at last and the wagon was rolled back into the shed to have the tank frame attached to the wagon chassis.
With the Anniversary Weekend fast approaching, the Tank was at last painted on October 15 - only a week before it was to take its place in the various mixed and works trains run over the Anniversary Weekend.
Before it could enter service the wagon was brake tested and was found to require a new brake shoe, this was replaced and the wagon was pushed into service just in time for the anniversary - after 3 days worth of running which included a blown brakehose on the Railfans day - the wagon was found to be running a bearing. This was attributed to the tank removal and replacement, which had seen the wagon lifted up off the rails at one point. After being jacked up and having the bearing replaced, however, the wagon has presented little issue and is now often seen tucked in behind the loco and ahead of the cars on public running days at The Plains, as a point of local interest.
Check out our Image Gallery to see photos of the wagons restoration.
The FRONZ Award - Goods or Service Wagon (2012)
E 852 was entered in the 2012 FRONZ (Federation of Rail Organisations of New Zealand) annual awards for Goods or Service Vehicle restoration. Around the country various heritage railways have restored items that are then entered into their relevant categories to be judge by the FRONZ panel.
We were happy to recieve the award, made even more special by the fact that this was the first time The Plains Railway had entered the category.
Uct 1603 (TMS: UCT170)
The UCT class wagon was used for the transportation of Tallow.
Uct 1603 is the only member of the class currently preserved.
Yb 138 (TMS: YB375)
Yb class wagons were used on works trains for transporting and discharging ballast.