Project on track after long delay

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The Oamaru Steam and Rail Restoration Society is returning to its roots with a plan to restore the historic Fowler locomotive.

A well-known staple of the Oamaru Public Gardens since the 1960s, the train was purchased by Oamaru Steam and Rail, then called the Oamaru Gardens Railway in 1985 to restore it to full operating condition.

It was removed from the gardens and put in the Harbour Board engine shed.

The restoration plan fell by the wayside and now, almost 30 years later, the plan to restore the Fowler locomotive is under way again.

Oamaru Steam and Rail assistant manager George King said there was a lot of work to be done.

“Basically it’s a total rebuild,” Mr King said.

The train needed a new cab, a new water tank, a new boiler, which alone could cost more than $100,000, and more, Mr King said.

Oamaru Steam and Rail was originally formed to restore the Fowler locomotive, so the project was a return to its roots, he said.

Oamaru Steam and Rail manager Harry Andrew said the group had a copy of the original plans for the train.

“We’re slowly going through and modernising it.”

There was a lot needing to be replaced on the train, he said.

“It needs new axles, it needs new tyres.”

Mr King said the train would be parked at the train station on Saturdays with a donation box next to it.

The cost of the restoration could exceed $150,000 so donations were needed.

They would be applying for grants as well, he said.

People wanting to donate could visit the workshop behind Steampunk HQ.

He had “no doubts” the restoration would eventually be finished.

“It’s just going to take a lot of time and money.”

By DAVID DE LOREAN

PHOTO: CAROL EDWARDS

RESTORING HISTORY: John Dustin and George King (pictured front from left) and Frank Thomas, Wayne Brunton and Joseph Newton (back from left) all want to see the Fowler locomotive restored.