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The Second Restoration




Plains Railway Complex
The huge complex where K88 "Washington" was restored

    Much discussion was raised after her withdrawal, with a committee ultimately being set up in November 1994, to investigate K88s probable restoration. The following year, on the 23rd May 1995, a Trust was formed by Canterbury business men to finance and guide restoration.

    An important day came in September 1996, when the former Ashburton Countdown Supermarket building was purchased and moved to the Plains Museum to house K88.

    Building A New Boiler

    The year 1997 was another very important step forward in K88's amazing history.

    The 'Wagon-top' boiler which she was built with in 1877 was replaced in 1903 with a 'Belpaire' boiler constructed at the Addington Workshops. This happened to most of the K class locomotives.

    The displaced Rogers boilers were still in very good order, so many ended their day's as stationary steam supplier's for hospitals and factories.

    By 1903 K88 had been in service for 25 years, and during that time the pioneering system had changed dramatically.

    Bigger and heavier locomotives had superseded the K class on the mainline. By replacing the boilers it was possible for them to regain a little of their former glory; of the day's when they use to go between Christchurch and Dunedin during the 1880's.

    The new 1903 Belpaire boiler enabled the K88, (and several others of her type), to make a name for themselves; renown in a later century as the pioneer of the Kingston Flyer tourist train. K88 was used on the run between Gore, and Kingston and Invercargill and Kingston; both routes going via Lumsden.

    The change of boiler type was made to increase the fire-grate area from 8 square feet to 10 square feet, and to raise the steam pressure in the boiler from 130 psi to 160 psi.

    K88 had the 1903 Belpaire boiler when she was dumped at Branxholme in 1927. After 24 years of harsh railway use on Southland branch lines and 47 years of torture in a muddy grave, this boiler was in a pretty poor condition by the time the locomotive was lifted in 1974.

    After Bob Anderson had restored the K and had run her for the 5 years between 1982 and 1987, and his own death in June of '87, the boiler failed it test.

    Flaking rust corrosion in the firebox area was the main reason for its fate.

    When Trevor Roscoe, the Boiler Inspector came to check out the boiler on the 24th September 1987 he climbed in through the fire-grate and began poking all around him with his little chipping hammer.

    Suddenly 'Thud! Thump!' One blow of his little hammer had made a hole in the left-hand side of the inner firebox wall, about 1 inch in diameter.

    After very gingerly testing other places inside the firebox, the boiler inspector climbed out, with a pretty grim but sorry face, to tell the anxious onlookers that he pronounced K88's boiler officially condemned.

    It was believed that the boiler could be still repaired, so everyone decided to concentrate on preparing the boiler for it's 'eventual' repair and refitting.

    Two days later, the 26th of September was a very, very busy day at the Plains Museum; the tender was drained of water; the steam gauges in the cab were disconnected; the Cab, running boards, and air reservoirs were all removed.

    During the next 6 months very little progress was made to K88. By the 2nd of April 1988 the boiler was ready to be removed from the frame.

    On 20th April 1988, the boiler inspector returned to have another look over K88 and said that she had certainly gone down hill since his previous visit 6 months before.

    At last on the 11th June 1988 K88's boiler was lifted off the frame by Bradford Construction's crane; everything went according to plan.

    Many hours of work were put into chipping and scraping away the rust; to replace with a good coat of waste oil - on the outside!

    By the 6th of August 1988 all the filthy dirty laborious work had been done to the relief of the workers. A needle gun had to be used to remove the rusty scale from around the lower part of the inner firebox - just above the Foundation Ring.

    The 10th of December 1988 was, as the workers on that day said, "A good day's work!"

    Three men - one doing only the gas work - spent 9 hours removing the boiler tubes - all 110 of them!

    Once this was done, they were able, (on 17th December), to wash out the whole boiler with a fire-hose.

    Another boiler inspection was done on 2nd February 1989 by the inspectors Trevor Ruscoe and Vern Wilson.

    The outcome of this inspection was that there would have to be far to many patches, and besides, the metal was so thin that a hole could appear somewhere else at any time. For instance, if the boiler was to be mended, the whole boiler shell would have to be patched; every single inch of it; to stop any leaks.

    The cost of patching the old boiler outweighed the cost of a brand-new one. A quote of over $100.000 was given to patch the existing rust holes and any more suspected places; the same quoted price again was given for a brand new boiler.

    So it was decided that it was to be a new boiler after all.

The boiler for K88 being built at Lyttleton Engineering
K88's new boiler at Lyttleton Engineering Ltd.

    After the setting up of the K88 Trust Board in 1995, it was full steam ahead for K88's future.

    There was to be a lot of work done in preparation. Plans had to be drawn up by Mr. Norm Pickford of Christchurch, for a new Belpaire boiler, off K88's 1903 boiler; the one she came out of the river in 1974 with. Norm gave his time to the value of $10,000 free of charge to the K88 Trust.

    New bylaws stated that all new boilers were to be welded. This was something totally different from the day's 50 years ago when the New Zealand Railways code of rules said that no boiler was to be welded as they believed then that the stress was to great and the welds in time would crack. K88's new boiler was to be of all-welded design.

    Quotes were given from many sources; from New Zealand, Australian, American and British builders.

    The two lowest tenders were from a West Coast firm and Lyttelton Engineering Ltd.

    The West Coast firm was going to be given the contract but they were finally rejected because they did not have the expertise to make the curved 'end plates'.

    Lyttelton Engineering Ltd. was given the contract to build the boiler.

    Their tender was $151,000. It took 1 year & 4 months to build. This remarkable job can be seen in full in the K88 Restoration Video, "A Dream Completed Part 2".Helmacks' of Ashburton, a local engineering firm, made the brand new Tender tank, designed off the original.

The Brand New Boiler for K88
The completed boiler for K88 








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Last Updated: Wednesday, 05 April, 2017