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Motor Rail "Simplex" 4wDM 7351 of 1938 (L7)

Historical Photo
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Status: Dismantled, awaiting long-term restoration

The First World War saw the first ready acceptance of the internal combustion locomotive for service on the light railways supplying the front.  Unlike a steam locomotive, the internal combustion locomotive did not betray its presence by a column of smoke and steam.  The Motor Rail & Tramcar Company of Bedford’s “Simplex” locomotives did more than any other type to popularise the breed.  These locomotives were almost entirely petrol-engined but, post-war, were fitted with what would now be accepted as a conventional compression-ignition (diesel) engine. “Simplex” locomotives continued to be popular post-war, and were sold in a wide variety of gauges, weights and powers.

“Simplex” 7351 was built in 1938 and delivered to Diesel Locomotive Hirers Ltd, a subsidiary of Motor Rail.  By 1950 it had made its way to Australia, where it was fitted with a replacement Dorman diesel engine and used by J. Howard & Co. on the construction of Kings Wharf at Geelong.  By 1953, J. Howard & Co. had moved the locomotive to Belgrave, where it was used to build the approaches for a new road bridge over the point where the broad-gauge suburban electric railway meets the tracks of Puffing Billy.  At some stage after this, it was sold to Cheetham Salt Ltd, where it ended its many years of industrial service on the salt tramways at Laverton.

In 1987, Motor rail “Simplex” 7351 was purchased by ATT member Peter Evans and moved to Belgrave South where it was dismantled.  As the frame of 7351 was found to be severely affected by rust, the engine from 7351 was removed, restored, and fitted to Simplex 10058, which had been obtained without an engine.  The spares obtained with 7351 from Laverton included almost enough parts to build a complete engine so, at some point in the future, 7351 will become a retirement project for its owner and will be restored to operating condition at Alexandra.