Entering service in October 1941, Ka 935 maker’s number 318 was built at Hutt Workshops in Wellington. When built 935, along with most of the rest of the Ka class were coal fired but was converted to oil firing in 1948. They were also fitted with a “streamlined” casing over the front of the smoke box, boiler and running boards. The purpose of this was to hide the ACFI feed water pump and associated piping. 935 had its casing and ACFI pump removed in 1950 and was fitted with an exhaust steam injector.
Being based in Palmerston North for most of its life, working trains south to Paekakariki , north to Taihape and also Napier. Boiler number 1281 (ex Ka946) was fitted in 1962. 935 had the distinction of hauling the last steam hauled express in and out of Wellington station on the 16th of May 1965 because of track and overhead power alterations that day. Steam traction had ceased in Wellington a long time before. A “C Special” overhaul to slightly prolong the working life of 935 was started at East Town Workshops in Wanganui after the Palmerston North depot had closed and was based in Napier until mid 1967 when it was transferred to Frankton to work out its final months. It was used on a number of excursions including the last Ka hauled passenger train on the North Island Main Trunk in October 1967. The loco was written off the books in December 1967and scheduled to be towed to Pacific Steel in Auckland for scrapping.
Members of the Wellington Branch of the New Zealand Railway and Locomotive Society (later Silver Stream Railway) were inspired, after a tour of the South Island and viewing many steam locomotive still in service in August 1967, to write a letter to the General Manager of New Zealand Railways asking to purchase 935. They had already been advised that 935 was the best of the Ka class locomotive still in service. When the reply to the letter was received it was not favourable, basically stating that the loco would not be available to purchase. Undeterred another letter was written with stronger wording and the reply received to that was slightly more positive stating that if a storage site was found the locomotive may be available. The search was on for a suitable site with rail access and many letters were sent to almost all private siding owners in the lower North Island. The Waikato Branch of the NZRLS were in the process of setting up a Museum and offered 935 a home at its Te Awamutu base. The $1200 price tag was quickly raised and by January 1968 the Money was forwarded to NZR.
On the 2nd of February 1968, 935 was towed to the Te Awamutu Railway Museum for “temporary storage” until a suitable site could be arranged in Wellington. This was achieved by August 1972 when it was towed to the Seaview storage site. Members at the time expressed a desire to return the loco to steam as soon as possible so work was put in hand to achieve this goal. A massive amount of work (for a volunteer group) was undertaken prior to the 935 being put back in steam in September 1973. It was used about 4 times a year at the very popular open days at Seaview. Work was focusing on the new site at Silverstream so 935 took a back seat n the late 70s and early 80s however it was still steamed occasionally.
On the 13th of May 1984 the highlight (so far) of 935s preserved career took place when along with Dc 4231 (935 doing all the work) it hauled all of the locomotives, railcars, carriages and wagons stored at Seaview to a temporary connection with the new site at Silverstream. The down main just south of the current Silverstream railway station was cut and slewed across to connect up with the Silver Stream Railway track. Unfortunately 935 was unable to make it to its new home that day and was marooned after Ed101 derailed on the temporary track. A week later it was moved into its new shed joining the rest of the Silver Stream Railway fleet.
The loco was used a few times a year before being wit drawn from service in 1996 for boiler repairs. These included the retubing of the locomotive and many other smaller jobs. It re-entered service in 1999, again proving a very popular draw card for SSR. A series of problems with super heater flues and elements have made the loco unavailable for service since 2003. The boiler now requires a full strip down for an inspection and repairs. A new set of Superheater Flues have been purchased for this job however it is not currently on the priority list for restoration. The loco can be viewed in the Mckirdy Depot during tours of the depot on our operating days.