What a Question!
"Would you fancy a ride in the cab?" So queried my genial host from Steam Incorporated of New Zealand soon after their Mangaweka Express excursion departed from Paekakariki. That's how I found myself on the footplate of Ab 608 for an hour or so.
A few quick impressions: If Ab 608 is representative, NZ steam cabs are small! There was barely room from me to stand in the gangway behind the driver (engineer) with one foot on the tender and one on the footplate and not even a safety chain between me and the right of way. Both the driver and fireman stand all the while - there are no seatboxes. Her exhaust was absolutely square - a tribute to those who restored her to mainline operation in 2004. Speeds were held to about 45 MPH/70 KPH...well within the 608's capabilities which saw typical operation at 60 mph/100 KPH in revenue service - not bad for 3'6" gauge! While 45 MPH may not sound very fast, I can assure you it seemed pretty fast from where I was standing. 608's 54" diameter driving wheels were turning at over 4 revolutions per second, producing a staccato exhaust roar of over 18 beats every second.
In this shot we are getting underway after an intermediate stop...I think it was Ohau.
Thanks and a big shout-out to Steam Incorporated!
Future TPOTDNew Zealand Steam