While the D doesn’t look her age, the little 2-4-0 engine was built in 1878 by the Scottish locomotive manufacturers Neilson and Company of Glasgow. It carries their maker's number 2306.
After being shipped to New Zealand, the engine worked in various South Island locations on the New Zealand Railways system, from Christchurch to Bluff, along with stints in Timaru, Oamaru and Gore. While in those days rail was considered a swift mode of transport, a trip on the D to Christchurch took eight hours. Now, it is a two-hour journey by car.
In 1913, a new boiler was fitted and the little loco worked for another five years before being sold in September 1918. It was bought by the New Zealand Refrigerating Company [later to become Waitaki International Limited] for use as a shunter at the Pukeuri Freezing Works, north of Oamaru.
There it remained, giving faithful service to its new owners, until it was made redundant in the early 1970s and placed on a concrete plinth in the yard.
Come 1985, and the engine was on the move once more. The management of Waitaki International Limited donated the D to the Pleasant Point Museum and Railway on the condition that it was restored to full working order. Work began immediately after it was transported to Timaru on March 23, 1985.
Restoration to full working order took just over two years and cost something in the order of $15,000. After being given a new lease of life, D16 then re-commissioned at Pleasant Point on May 13, 1987.
It has worked ever since and is the first of two 'D' class locomotives to be fully restored and operating in New Zealand.
Ruston Hornsby Class L.B.T.
The smallest of our fleet, the Ruston was built in 1955, by Ruston and Hornsby Limited of Lincoln, England.
This diminutive engine carries the maker's number 387808 and derives its power from a 3-cylinder, 27 hp diesel engine.
Ordered for the Public Works Department, the Ruston was used extensively throughout the North Island and was used in tunneling work at Te Rangi. It was disposed of by auction in Wellington in 1975 and purchased by the Society for the reasonable sum of $300.
On arrival at Pleasant Point, restoration work started immediately. The cab was enlarged in the process so drivers didn’t have to fear getting a concussion with each bump in the line and it was re-commissioned in December 1976.
After the arrival of Tr 18, the Ruston Hornsby became the 'hack' for use on working bees and shunting.
Despite its size this small machine can pull a considerable load – including the 86-tonne Ab locomotive. Who said size mattered?
Regarded as the society’s workhorse, the Ab was built for the New Zealand Railways in 1922 by the Thames firm of A & G Price, carrying their maker's number 94.
The engine entered service on August 2, 1922. For the next 36 years she spent her time working through the North Island.
For 12 of those years 699 was based in Wellington. In 1935 it was moved to Frankton Junction and on to Palmerston North from July to September in 1955, before finally moving to Napier.
On August 16, 1958, the engine unit, minus the boiler and tender, was shipped to the South Island. That year, another boiler was fitted at NZR’s Hillside Workshops in Dunedin. The tender from Ab 775 was added, making Ab 699 a complete engine again.
After starting work again, 699 worked in the Canterbury district, although spells in the Dunedin area were not uncommon. On March 22, 1968, only 20 days after the closure of the Fairlie branch line, 699 was written off by the New Zealand Railways.
The engine was stored in Ashburton until purchased by the society in 1970 for $600. After 46 years of service to the Government, Ab 699 had covered 1,341,762 miles.
Once it had been towed to Timaru, the loco was restored in Timaru – for its new life as a static exhibit – before being towed out to Pleasant Point on November 28, 1970.
No sooner had it been uncoupled, contractors ripping up the rest of the branch line from Pleasant Point back to Washdyke Junction moved in.
Ab 699 was returned to steam on November 4, 1974, and has been a star performer in the township ever since. When not in use or being maintained you can find 699 on display inside the Keanes Crossing loco shed.
The locomotive is one of only seven surviving from the 141 Ab-classed engines.
This was built for New Zealand Railways in 1936 by the Drewry Car Company Limited of England; carrying their maker's number of 2065.
It entered service as a shunter at Lyttleton in November 1936 and three months later was transferred to Rakaia.
TR 18 was originally fitted with a petrol engine but this was eventually exchanged for the General Motors 4 cylinder diesel engine it now carries.
The diesel served at a number of stations in the Christchurch region during its railway service. Eventually it ended up at Methven where it stayed until the Methven branch was closed in 1976.
After being stored for a number of years in Christchurch the little shunter was purchased by the Society for $2500 and transported by road to Pleasant Point during May 1985. Although purchased in working order and used for a number of years by the society in its more modern colour scheme, it was not until 1992 that TR 18 was restored back to its original external condition. However, air brakes were a new feature.