Some people never grow out of their childhood fantasies.
So it was that when I was driving past Paekakariki yesterday and I saw the steam locomotive Ja 1271 sitting outside, I had to stop. She was cold and there was a weather shield on top of the smokestack. Hmmm … something must be taking priority in the limited shed space.
But first I had to look in the footplate. The firebox doors were wide open and all the dials were on zero. The footplate was tidy but not spotless … there are some little pieces of coal and a spanner on the floor.
So what was inside the shed? It was the Ab class locomotive, Ab 608, the one named Passchendaele, that proudly carried the commemorative plaques on each side of its boiler in memory of the railwaymen who died in the battlefields of World War 1. She has just emerged from a major rebuild.
She is a Pacific class locomotive, a handsome example of her type though when she is in the shed it is difficult to get a view that catches the characteristic wheel arrangement. She has undergone an amazing back-to-basics rebuild and two weeks hence will pull a train up the line on a shake-down cruise.
It will be good to see all those driving rods and valve-gear whirling about once more.
And that’s the day.