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Near hundred-year-old workhorse engine returns to Ladysmith

Volunteers hope to bring the Plymouth Loci #107 back to life
The Plymouth Loci #107 engine returned to Ladysmith on Oct. 30. (Photo by Duck Paterson)

By Duck Paterson

It was a homecoming of sorts on Saturday (Oct. 30) when the Plymouth Loci #107, a five-tonne shunting engine, returned to Ladysmith. The engine was built in 1926 and was initially purchased by Sydney Jenkins in Revelstoke. It has worked for Alberni Pacific Lumber, Comox Logging and Crown Forest Industries and was in the hands of the Ladysmith Railway Historical Society in 1993, before being acquired by the A.V. Industrial Heritage Society. Recent negotiations have brought the four-wheel work horseback to Ladysmith.

“Our volunteers are going to assess the requirements to bring the 107 back to life and then raise the funds to do it,” said Harry Blackstaff, Ladysmith Industrial Heritage Committee member. “It’s our goal to get the little fella running so we can use it to move some of the other rail stock.”

The town’s plan to have the north end of the machine shop area transformed into an arts and heritage hub within the next few years will require some of the rail stock to be moved.

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The rail lines in the area will be retained and the upper rail line will be extended. This will allow the #107 to be used to move rail stock back and forth, once the hub is done, as the rail lines will remain and will enable volunteers to change settings, as well as bring equipment outside to either work on, display or offer tour rides.

“Our great team of volunteers have been gradually restoring artifacts of Ladysmith’s industrial past,” Blackstaff said. “The central focus has been Loci #11, which is now in a state where it can be exhibited to the public, but we need to have a spot to put it where it will be safe.”

He said they also have the Humdirgen operating again, which was custom built to push logs off the rail car into the water at the log dump. The loaded log cars would be brought down in a long train attached to the locomotive. The Humdirgen was self propelled, one of a very few made locally from a small Shay locomotive, according to Blackstaff.

The move of the #107 was made possible by help from volunteers. Fyfe’s Well Drilling of Port Alberni helped load it and the engine was transported to Ladysmith by Boss Machinery of Parksville.

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