Plans to return loco to running order

The locomotive F150 when it was used as playground equipment at Newfield Park in Invercargill in the 1960s and 1970s.
The locomotive at Inglewood Rd in Invercargill before it is dismantled for restoration.

IT has been used for shunting goods wagons in Invercargill and Bluff and as playground equipment by children, but it is hoped the 140-year-old locomotive F150 will soon be returned to its former glory.

Southern Steam Train Charitable Trust member Lindsay Buckingham said the full restoration was expected to take about 20,000 hours of work time.

“We’ve been granted $100,000 from the Community Trust but have a total of $700,000 we need to fully restore it,” he said.

The trust was also hoping to receive funds from the Lotteries Commission, ILT and Invercargill City Council.

Volunteers would provide 7000 of the total hours needed to get the locomotive operational, he said.

A bit of the work would need to be carried out by a company in Auckland, but most of the restoration would be done locally by engineers including boilermakers and sheet metalcraft specialists.

The locomotive was built in Glasgow in 1881 and began its working life in New Zealand the following year.

An article by Wellington train enthusiast Graeme McClare in The New Zealand Railway Observer (October-November 2019) tells how F150 first arrived in Invercargill in January 1955.

Despite it covering 838,625 miles during its working life, it travelled only 5000 miles during its last years down south before it was written off the books of New Zealand Railways on February 1, 1958.

Mr Buckingham said it was moved to the Newfield Park site in Invercargill in 1962 and stayed there until 1974.

There was still evidence of its days when it was probably used as a hang out for teenagers.

“There’s a few Raewyns’ scratched into the cab.”

The trust hoped once the locomotive was restored, it would complete runs between Invercargill and Bluff two to three times a year, he said.

The trust is hosting an open day on Saturday for people to come and have a look at F150 before it is dismantled for restoration.

“We’re going to have to pull it completely apart again,” Mr Buckingham said.

“It’s going to be a pile of bits.”

People can visit the locomotive at 95 Inglewood Rd, Invercargill between 10am and 3pm.

Anyone interested in joining the trust can contact Mr Buckingham on 0275 255 443.