Wf 403 was built in 1907 at the Hillside Workshops in Dunedin and operated in Dunedin and the West Coast of the South Island. It is the same type that operated on the old Nelson – Glenhope line that closed in the mid 1950’s.
“403” was taken out of service in the late 1960’s and moved to Nelson in 1973 by the Nelson City Council.
There are only three of these engines left in New Zealand and Wf403 is the only one that has undergone a full restoration.
It entered the Nelson Railway workshop on 29th November 2000 to start the major rebuild.
Now complete as of Mar 2021, it will be the pride and joy for many to see and enjoy, this grand old lady is 114 years old!
As restoration has now been completed the locomotive awaits its next phase of entering into Nelson Railway service.
New Zealand was once the home to four Wf Locomotives so ‘403’ is very special to have here in Nelson!
Wf403 Restoration Process:
First to be removed was the coal bunker, cab and rusted out water tanks.
When this was completed the cab floor was removed and then the process of removing and cleaning away years of rust and grime began!
The next process was to remove all the brake rods, shoes etc.
Cleaning the chassis down exposed a crack right through which meant straightening of the chassis and welding.
Our next job was to jack the chassis up and remove the wheel sets. The bearings were next in line for a rebuild which required many hours of building up the bronzes and machining to size. After all this a start was made to re-assemble the chassis first, then a new cab floor was laid and welded into place, followed by the bearings fitted to the driving wheels. In turn these were placed back in the frame. Now the valve gear was attended to along with the pistons followed by the side rods being fitted.
The old water side tanks were beyond repair and new tanks were made – a huge job!
When the tanks were completed they were sandblasted, painted and installed on the engine along with the pipework.
A new smoke box has been fabricated and all fittings attached. Many other parts have been restored ready to fit when the boiler is repaired. Up to this point the work on the engine is mostly done. All work on getting the engine to this stage has been done in our own workshop, the only grants being for the supply and rolling plate for the water tanks plus the smoke box.
All work has been carried out by volunteers, no paid staff!
The boiler was replaced in 1926 to a superheated version. By the time the locomotive was taken out of service the inner firebox was burnt out. This has meant we have to replace the firebox along with new tubes and front tube plate. We have spent many hours cleaning the scale etc from the inside.