Wf 386 was the eighth of the first batch of 10 Wf class locomotives built by the NZR’s Addington Workshops in 1905.
- Locomotive running number: Wf386
- Designed by: New Zealand Railways
- Built at: NZR Addington Workshops, Christchurch
- Date built: 1905
- Builders number: 66/05
- Date entered service: 1905
- Date withdrawn: 1958
- Current condition: Stored in parts awaiting rebuilding
Image: Wf386 at Petone in 1905
- Wheel arrangement:2-6-4T
- Driving wheel dia: 45”
- Cylinders: (2) 14” x 22”
- Valve gear: Walschaerts
- Working pressure: 200 psi
- Weight in working order: 43.7 tons
- Overall length: 34’ 2”
- Tractive effort: 16,290 lb(@ 85% boiler pressure)
- Fuel: Coal (hand fired)
- Capacities: Fuel, 2¼ tons. Water, 950 gallons.
Wf 386 was the eighth of the first batch of 10 Wf class locomotives built by the NZR’s Addington Workshops in 1905. Eventually, the class numbered 41 locomotives, including two originally built by A&G Price for the Public Works Department. In the 1930s and 40s, eight were sold to the Tasmanian Government Railways, becoming their DS class.
The Wf class was designed primarily for suburban duties, although the class saw general duties on a range of branch lines, with a number – including 386 – being based on the Palmerston North-Taranaki section running main-line trains.
During this period, 386 also saw service on the southern section of the North Island Main Trunk line, then under construction. Among its duties in 1908, 386 was one of the locomotives rostered to haul the first train to run between Wellington and Auckland, the Parliamentary Special. Fifty years later, during the 50th anniversary celebrations for the NIMT, 386’s role was recognised when the then very well-worn locomotive was given to the people of Taumarunui to be mounted on display outside the town’s railway station.
Following its Taranaki years, Wf 386 moved to the Wairarapa for a decade to be based at Cross Creek. Although there is no evidence that it routinely worked on the Rimutaka Incline, the locomotive’s cowcatchers were altered in the same style as the locomotives working the West Coast’s Rewanui and Roa Inclines, with a flap that could be folded up and clear of the centre rail.
By the mid-1930s, Wf 386 took up semi-retirement duties at Otahuhu Workshops as the shops shunter, staying there until being written off in 1958.
With fresh paint and a general tidy-up, the locomotive escaped scrapping and was taken to Taumarunui, where it stayed for the next 20 years until its remains were rescued by Steam Incorporated members.
Unlike most of its fellow class members, 386 retained a saturated boiler throughout its working life, while most others gained super-heated boilers. It also survived in service without being fitted with electric lighting, retaining acetylene lamps.
In the decades since 386 has been in Steam Incorporated care, and later ownership, a limited amount of work has been done, primarily to its wheelsets, which have all received new tyres, and in the case of the driving wheels, a complete new wheel.
While there are no immediate plans to resume restoration, it remains on the wishlist for many members.