Des Burrow readies his Shay Pacific Coast replica steam
train for service at the 78th annual Otago Model
Engineering Society Festival in Dunedin. Photo: Stephen
Even though Des Burrow has been retired from the Hillside
Engineering Workshops for nearly 25 years, he says there has
been little time for sitting around on his caboose.
In fact, the 82-year-old says he has never been busier.
Since retiring from his job as a coppersmith, he has been
building scale-model versions of his favourite steam trains,
and more than 50 boilers for other model steam train builders
around the world.
''I reckon my real career didn't start until I retired from
Hillside in 1989. I've never worked harder,'' he said, as he
gave his model Pacific Coast Shay steam train a few tweaks
and a couple of miniature shovelfuls of coal on Friday.
As the train puffed into life, Mr Burrow disappeared behind a
mix of steam and smoke, but when the air cleared, he had a
broad smile as he exclaimed: ''Success! She still goes.''
It had been at least five years since the engine was last
fired up, and Mr Burrow said it was time she was given
So he spent about 30 minutes on Friday dusting her off, so
she could be displayed at the 78th annual Otago Model
Engineering Society Festival, which began yesterday at the
society's John Wilson Ocean Dr clubrooms in Dunedin.
The model is one of many trains which will be on display
until February 9, and it is believed Mr Burrow probably had a
hand in building many of them.
Other models on display at the festival will include
submarines, boats, aircraft, tethered cars and scale railway
dioramas from around the country.
While the festival is held annually to raise funds for
running costs, it is also geared towards inspiring a passion
for model engineering among younger generations.
Mr Burrow said the hobby had been declining in popularity
among younger generations for many years, and he believed it
was partly caused by the increasing cost of building models.
''It's an ageing hobby. It's an expensive hobby today, but
not in my day - I used to borrow a lot of stuff from the
Hillside workshop,'' he said with a wink.
The society's clubrooms will be open at weekends and Waitangi
Day from 10.30am-4pm, and from 6.30pm-8.30pm on weekdays.