STREAMLINER: Pete Mullooly drives his new locomotive on the River Edge Park Miniature Railway on Sunday. Photo John Morin D9473-02

THE Oxygen Express chugged into River Edge Park Miniature Railway Station for the first time last month.

The bright yellow engine is a new purchase by Eastern Bay Model Engineers Society member Pete Mullooly.

Pete, a retired electrical engineer, formerly worked for Wormald servicing and fitting alarm and sprinkler systems throughout the Eastern Bay and East Cape districts. Retirement hasn’t meant slowing down much.

When he is not busy with the railway, other interests include piloting microlight aircraft, and building “underground furniture” at Whakatane Menzshed. He says he became involved with the railway through “a few mates from the Menzshed who are members”.

“They said, ‘you should come along,’ and I did and thought, ‘this might be good to get into’.

And it’s always good to see the smiles on the kid’s faces, and even the adults. It’s great for the community.”

He says his new train was built for him by Grant Alexander from Cambridge Model

Engineering Society, who Pete says loves to build trains.

“I contacted him and had a discussion with him about what he could build. I looked up a Union Pacific website in The States and it came up with this one. I contacted Grant and he said, ‘well, I’ve actually got a mould for the front of that one.

“It progressed from there. Probably over a period of three months, he delivered it here and I’m very happy with it.

The engine is based on the Union Pacific’s E-9 Streamliner passenger locomotives, which the Union Pacific website describes as “the most graceful looking locomotives in American railroading”.

The E series were diesel-electric powered though Pete says his miniature version works on a 24 volt electric system.

Society spokesman Mark Clarke says the railway now has eight engines. “We lost one because it blew up, but it is going to be rebuilt as an electric steamer in the very near future. “

He says he knows of a couple of people who are working on engines, which will add to the numbers running on the Whakatane railway.

He says the railway itself is slowly growing as well and now has the deck on the bridge members have been building. “We’re getting there. “