In 1941, Kaiser was built as part of a group
of Fireless Engines for the Union Electric company, based in an industrial complex in the Southern States of America. One
of Kaiser’s primary roles was bringing supplies in from and out to the main Railroads for shipping and delivery, as
well as working within the wider industrial complexes where his kind were deemed to be safer and more reliable for work.
by the 1950s, Kaiser’s contribution to Union Electric came to an earth-shattering end. Dieselisation began in his yard
and the Fireless Engines were forced out one by one. Kaiser was witness to the scrapping of several of his brothers, and saw
how much malevolent glee the Diesels were taking from their takeover of the yards where Kaiser and the other Fireless locomotives
were based. This had a long-term effect on Kaiser, he found it difficult to trust any Diesel locomotive after witnessing the
cruelty and wickedness that went on in his yard prior to his own retirement.
Thankfully, some of Kaiser’s brothers
survived and went on to become fixtures of Museums. Kaiser was sold by Union Electric to a Museum group which placed him and
several other locomotives in a purpose-built Railroad Museum. Some exhibits were better cared for than others, and over the
years, a number of them suffered the indignity of harsh winters, baking sun, torrential rain and powerful wind. As a consequence
of elemental exposure, some of them rusted so badly that they were reduced to piles of rust within years of arrival. One notable
storm saw the wind push an ailing locomotive over, smashing it to pieces.
Somehow, Kaiser managed to endure his time
here, being sandwiched between the side of the Roundhouse and a small embankment which gave him some shelter. There were no
intentions to restore him, and over the years, parts either broke off, went missing or were used to repair other locomotives.
For Kaiser, it was an undignified end, and made to feel even more uncomfortable by the hellish and eerie quiet that would
fall around Autumn and Winter, transforming the open air ‘Museum’ into a locomotive graveyard, full of rusting
Funding was cut short a few years for the Railroad Museum and Kaiser was sold on again to another heritage group,
who had the best of intentions for the old engine. Moving to Colorado, some repairs and adjustments were made to Kaiser, with
a long term view to restoring him to full glory and possibly using him again. However, the sourcing of parts proved difficult,
and manufacturing new ones to replace was virtually beyond the means of the group.
One of the members of this group
was Stetson Hatt, who at the time was working his way up the ranks of a major Oil Company. He had taken special interest in
Kaiser, and was trying to encourage funding for a complete repair and restoration given that he was such a unique exhibit
within the Museum. However, manpower was limited and interest was geared toward locomotives which would bring in money, therefore,
the best that could be afforded for Kaiser was a cosmetic restoration funded by Stetson and his company, and a long-term sponsorship
deal, which saw Kaiser moved to a more favourable and safer area upon completion.
In the mid 1990s, the acquisition
of land on Sodor meant that Kaiser got a reprieve. Stetson and his new company Sodoil bought him outright from the Museum
and shipped him to Sodor for restoration work at Crovan’s Gate. This also meant a heavy rebuild which would make him
compatible with UK loading gauge restraints. It took a long time, but eventually, Kaiser was passed and ready for work at
the new Sodoil Refinery as their flagship locomotive.
However, throughout his time there, Kaiser has courted trouble
and this has led to the possibility of his withdrawal twice. The first instances of his erratic behaviour occurred during
his early days at the Refinery and being confronted by Diesel locomotives, which unnerved him greatly. However, a heroic rescue
of James from inside the Refinery meant that Kaiser was rewarded and allowed to stay as part of the team. A further instance
came with the visit of a Class 59 Diesel named Arcelia, who made it her mission to get rid of Kaiser and take over inside
the Refinery. Luckily, her own conceit got the better of her, which provided Kaiser and Bear to put her firmly in her place
at last and send her packing once more.
Kaiser remains the flagship of the Oil Refinery and Stetson Hatt and his team
use him as a key selling point for their fuel services, whilst continuing to press forward into the future, they wish to retain
the charm and nostalgia of the past to go alongside it, and that’s what Kaiser brings to the table.