Home > News > Archive > 26th June 2007

Project gathers steam

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier
CLIMAX 1317 partially stripped as work on her restoration progresses. Climax 1317 Trust image.

By Dean Taylor

A New Zealand Lotteries Grant Board Environment and Heritage grant of $113,000 has put Te Awamutu’s Climax steam train project well and truly on track.

The project to restore the historic steam engine, which for years sat in Te Awamutu War Memorial Park, was taken up about two years ago by Te Awamutu Lions.

A Caversham Foundation grant of $10,000 allowed work to start about one year ago, but the latest grant will see major progress on the $250,000 project.

Lions have handed over the running of the project to the newly formed Climax 1317 Trust, an incorporated entity made up of Lions members and interested parties, including Smyth family descendant Jenny Forster. The trust is both the fundraising and active organisation, a group of about 10 people chaired by Russell Easton who is acting as project manager.

He pays tribute to project engineer Ken Williamson. Mr Easton estimates he has already contributed more than 300 hours to the project and says it would not be happening without his valuable knowledge and skills.

Mr Easton says early progress included stripping the bogeys and taking a closer inspection of the loco. Plans for the restoration were then made - although the possibility of having the Climax once again steaming has been raised and Mr Easton is engaging an expert to inspect the boiler and report.

A fair bit of work has already been undertaken thanks to the assistance of local and regional businesses. Stewart and Cavalier has profile cut new steel work, Fleet Image has blasted and painted metalwork and Buxton Engineering in Hautapu is rebuilding and re-lathing the wheels.

Mr Easton says the trust is still seeking more grants plus local financial and hands-on support for the project. He comments that during discussions about the loco’s fate many people were very vocal about keeping the heritage item, but those people are now glaringly quiet now that the project is underway.

The trust will run a public meeting on Thursday, July 17 to give locals the opportunity to join the project. Contact Mr Easton (871 2717 a/h) for further information.

CLIMAX 1317 at work in her heyday in the Smyth family’s Ngaroma forestry business. Climax 1317 Trust image.