Media Release: 16 March 2012
Australia's favourite steam train, Puffing Billy Railway has launched a fundraising appeal to assist in restoring Climax Locomotive No. 1694. This was one of only a handful of Climax locomotives to come to Australia. Today, only two remain in Australia with Climax Locomotive No. 1694 the only one with any real chance of being returned to service.
The Climax is a geared locomotive with low speed but high tractive effort. It proved to be very popular with saw millers hauling logs and sawn timber and with miners hauling truck loads of ore over less than perfect railway lines.
"Climax locomotive No. 1694 is a rare piece of historic machinery", said Bill Hanks, Convenor of the Climax Locomotive Restoration Committee at Puffing Billy Railway. "Today only about twenty of these locomotives survive; two in Australia, four in New Zealand and the rest in North America".
Purchased in 1928 for service on the 2ft 6in gauge Tyers Valley tramway, Climax Locomotive No. 1694 was operated by the Forest Commission of Victoria until 1950. After several years in storage at Erica, it was delivered to the Puffing Billy Museum in 1965 and cosmetically restored for display.
In 1982 the first restoration of Climax Locomotive No. 1694 began which saw it returned to active duty in 1988 and was very popular with rail enthusiasts whenever it operated. By 2000 the boiler of Climax Locomotive No. 1694 was no longer fit for service and all moving parts were due for a major overhaul.
In 2002 the Climax Locomotive Restoration Committee was formed, with the sole purpose of returning Climax Locomotive No. 1694 to service. To accomplish this, it required substantially more money compared to when it was first restored to service in 1982.
"One of our prime sources of income has been the operation of the Footplate Experience Trains using the popular Decauville Locomotive No. 861", said Mr Hanks. "A number of special events and train trips have also been held to raise funds, but we need significantly more funds to see Climax Locomotive No. 1694 return to service, to earn its keep and to be enjoyed by everyone".
"Like many people out there, the committee and I are, with excited anticipation, looking forward to seeing Climax Locomotive No. 1694 plying the rails again on the Puffing Billy Railway" said Mr Hanks. "Climax Locomotive No. 1694 is probably the best looking locomotive of its type remaining and always drew a lot of attention whenever it operated".
To see Climax Locomotive No. 1694 return to service as soon as possible, the Climax Locomotive Restoration Committee has launched the Coffee for the Climax appeal. "For the cost of just one cup of coffee per week, that's A$3.50, donors can help us achieve our goal within the next twelve months" said Mr Hanks.
Puffing Billy Railway has dedicated an entire episode of Puffing Billy TV to the Climax Locomotive which incorporates some history, our restoration efforts and our Coffee for the Climax appeal.
Supporters of the Coffee for the Climax appeal simply need to authorise the Puffing Billy Railway to make twenty-six monthly deductions from their nominated credit card. That's only A$364 spread out over two years. For their generous donation, supporters will receive a black and white quality print of Climax Locomotive No. 1694 operating on the Tyers Valley tramway and a certificate of appreciation. When Climax Locomotive No. 1694 is returned to service, an invitation will be forwarded asking the supporters to join with Puffing Billy Railway in the celebrations.
For further information and to download a ‘Coffee for the Climax' application form, click here .
FOR FURTHER COMMENT:
Puffing Billy Railway
PH: (03) 9757 0716