All aboard for Father’s Day

Murray Lane of Howick spent years on his Heisler locomotive. Photo supplied

One of the items in the model display at the East City Wesleyan Father’s Day display on Sunday is a 5 inch (12.7cm) scale Heisler logging locomotive.

It was made over a period of 20 years by Murray Lane, a Howick resident who is one of New Zealand’s top model engineers.

Lane said there were six small Heisler locomotives imported into New Zealand between 1902 and 1924 which were used by a number of logging companies around the country, several of which have been preserved.

“These have a two cylinder vee engine mounted under the boiler and drive an axle on each bogie by a central shaft drive via a gearbox,’ said Lane.

“The other axle is driven by coupling rods and the special suspension keeps all the wheels on the rails irrespective of the track condition.

“Unlike other makes of geared engines, the transmission gearboxes were fully sealed and as a result they were often used in open cast mines.

“This engine started off as a model of one of these but quickly grew into a larger engine based on the 90 ton Heisler West Coast Special, 10 of which were built between 1927 and 1939.”

The model has been further developed from a 2 cylinder to a 4 cylinder, which is effectively two 2 cylinder engines mounted back to back. Heisler did design a 4 cylinder engine but it was never built so the model is the only one of its kind ever made.

This engine has been designed from photographs and scratch built by Lane.

“The engine unit and basic layout were drawn using an old fashioned drawing board in the days before CAD drawing systems became available.

“The other 100 odd small drawings of individual parts were drawn free hand. The total weight with the driver is around 200kg and with a 2 to 1 reduction through the gear boxes and with the small 3 ½ inch diameter wheels it has tremendous torque, it has pulled 1½ tons up a 1 in 100 grade for 500 metres with the boiler boiling 3 pints of water a minute,” said Lane.

“The engine runs like a sewing machine up to 3000 revs per minute. Only the engine unit is displayed here but when coupled to the tenders with extra three bogies the unit is 2.58 metres long. The engine has now been retired and a display case is being made and it will be displayed in a private steam museum.”

Organiser of the creative Father’s Day community event Rev Dr Richard Waugh says, “Murray Lane’s locomotive will be a centre piece of the hobby displays on the day. He is a master craftsman and the Father’s Day event will be showcasing a range of men’s talents, from cars and motorcycles to stamp collections and locally  written books. Everyone is welcome.”