THE crew behind the historic Southern Downs Steam Railway will undertake the massive restoration and rebuild of a privately owned locomotive.

The old engine is part of the private collection of Geoff Dunnert, who lives on the Atherton Tablelands.

Fitter John Brady said Mr Dunnert apparently had a paddock full of old trains and gear.

"That's a good thing, because we're going to need a bit of it to bring this old girl back to life," he said.

"Anything he doesn't have, he's getting made for us."

Mr Brady said SDSR member heard about an old locomotive sitting in yard at Luggage Point, near the Brisbane Airport.

"It turned out to belong to Mr Dunnert and they had a few conversations," he said.

"It took a few meetings to nut the details out, but eventually we offered to restore the machine and when it's done we get a 10-year lease of the engine and a further option to renew once that is up.

"We wouldn't want to do all that work on it to give it away at the end.

"It'll be a while before we get to that point though. This job is going to take years, not months."

Mr Brady said the entire machine needed to be taken apart and put back together.

"We'd be crazy not to, because it'd be the part we don't touch that causes us trouble," he said.

"We'll need to check every single part and replace everything that needs it.

"There are a good number of locos lying around that we'll be able to salvage from as well."

Once the locomotive is complete, it will be subject to rigorous testing by Queensland Transport.

Mr Brady said SDSR had long been looking for a replacement locomotive.

"We'd like to have two, in case one breaks down then we've got a back-up," he said.

"The locomotive we usually use has been out of action for over eight months. We've had to lease an engine from Queensland Rail all year to keep operating.

"They're sisters; the same make and model."

Mr Brady said their regular engine was waiting on materials to finish the repair job.

"It's been a little frustrating with delays in the parts coming, but we're almost there," he said.

"If you've got a passion for putting things together and getting your hands dirty, we're always looking for volunteers."

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