A quick wee digital recognition of the BEST hell raiser to ever grace the rails.

The DAR was kept captive at Whareroa as the yard donkey for many moons, and whiled away its hours puddling around the plant and ever really having to work hard.

As a result, the cylinder bores would glaze over with carbon, the rings would suffer, letting sump oil into the chambers and where ever the loco went, it would leave a fine rain of black muck behind it, covering workers, cars, buildings and coolstore floors.

In an effort to help keep her tubes clear, the DAR was allowed out on mainline trains once a week to "give her a blow out" and help keep the carbon down.

This is where the hell raiser was at its best.....

Not only did modifications to the air piping in the short hood cause untold confusion for uneducated road crews while setting up, but all that unburnt carbon sitting in her lungs waiting to be expelled was the most superb fire lighting material known to man, and almost every trip out would result in spot fires occurring along the way side, most of which attracted the attention of the various fire crews along the way.....

One fine summers day we strapped the girl onto the afternoon shuttle 574 and ran her through to New Plymouth, but only got as far as Te Roti before Train Control called up saying that the Fire Service were dealing with various spot fires along the railway corridor behind the train and ordered that the DAR be shut down.

But her worst transgression occurred while she was in my care one fateful Saturday....

I had put the DAR into the empty milk train consist of 545, paired up with two DFT's. I took the middle one off line before departure leaving the front DFT and the DAR in power for the run south. 
Leaving Whareroa I headed down the first valley and up the other side to Mokoia without much drama, the DAR filling the valley with massive amounts of exhaust smoke.

Happy that she was sufficently warmed up, I took the front DFT offline for the climb out of the valley off the Manawapo Viaduct and up to Manutahi.
With only the DAR in power, and an empty milk train consist, the DAR was working VERY hard. Down to a crawl I was watching the exhaust slowly clear up the further we got up the valley. This was indeed an extreme blowout for the old chook, but she took it in her stride and did extremely well I thought, especially for a little loco that didnt get to stretch her legs very often.

Once up the top of the grade at Manutahi, I put the DFT back online and cruised down to Patea where I changed over with a Palmy crew who had come up in a car.

Driving back to Whareroa I noticed a large plume of smoke rising from the region of the railway line over the back of Manutahi, and noticed the councils Rural Fire Officer in his ute on the side of the road, busy talking on the phone...

"Hmmmm" I thought to myself.... "surely not....."

A bit further along the road I passed two fire engines in full combat mode screaming down the road the other way....


From the elevated position of the Whareroa terminal building, one could look south towards Manuthi and see a big plume of smoke..... and helicopters...... and fire engines travelling along the main road.....

So a few days later I get an email from Management inviting me to comment and explain a rather large bill (tens of thousands) they had received from the South Taranaki District Council pertaining to a very large scrub fire they had spent all day fighting, which they claimed had been started by a train....

I explained what I had done, that I had taken the DAR for its weekly walkies and that I had actually made the thing work hard for once in its life and it was probably well "blown out" as I had climbed the valley.
The next day I went south with a milk train, and the fire damage to the valley was extensive to say the least.... the whole valley had been burnt from top to bottom

Needless to say that the poor old DAR was never allowed to leave the yard in power after that, and over time it eventually succumbed to its choked up lifestyle, the final nail in the coffin blowing a traction motor in the yard one day. It was sent away for repair, but never returned, eventually being summonsed to Hutt Shops for "evaluation".

Full of rust and worn out bits the DAR was shoved out the back on rotten row and forgotten about, where it still sits to this day.

It was replaced with DSJ 4045, which is a better machine for the intended task, but certainly has none of the flare and mischievousness that the DAR ever had....


Farewell old friend, gone but not forgotten...


4/4/2012 11:29:54 am

Is she still at Hutt or have they started taking her apart yet?


Your comment will be posted after it is approved.

Leave a Reply.