A Wallaceburg man has taken to a unique "hobby" in retirement, the cherry on top of a long career in railroading.

Bill Namink spent the last number of years fully restoring two out-of-service train locomotives, with the help of his son Zak Namink.

On Thursday, they watched them depart for their new home.

For the father-son duo, it was a restoration project of very epic proportions.

When they got the locomotives from an auction in Quebec back in 2012, neither was in working order.

The locomotives, built in 1944 and 1958, needed a lot of work. It was a tall task - including a complete strip down, to complete mechanical repairs, re-wiring and extensive welding. 

"Anything that needed to be done,” says Bill Namink. “We had a huge list of issues that we had to deal with and put it all together."

But Bill Namink was well suited for the job. He spent 32 years on the railroad, in various roles with CN, from yard hand to conductor.

He retired in 2006 and was ready for a new challenge. He was determined to get the locomotives running again.

"It's kind of like icing on the cake," says Bill Namink.

He didn't do it alone. He sought help from many skilled hands to get the twin 8.3 litre diesels purring,  but one helper in particular was close to bill's heart, his son, Zak.

"Zak wants that career, he wants to follow in my footsteps,"says Bill Namink.

Zak was 17 when the project started. Railroading, it seems, was in his blood.

“My dad grew up on the railroad,” says Zak Namink. “I grew up with my father on the railroad and I know what's like. As we started working on these locomotives, I kinda just figured out this is what I want to do."

He's now 21 and the job is done. 

After about 3000-hours of hard labour, the twin locomotives have been fully restored and are ready for deployment.

With no buyers in Chatham-Kent, Namink shopped them around. He ultimately found a buyer - the Winnipeg water department.

On Thursday, the locomotives were loaded onto a transport headed west. A bittersweet departure.

“To know they're going to be used now and our hard work isn't just going to be sitting in an empty lot… It's a good feeling," said Zak Namink.

"It's be a fool to turn around and scrap them that's the way we saw it,” says Bill Namink. “They deserve life. They found a home and it's a perfect fit."

For Bill, it's a post-retirement challenge, complete. But with one ending, comes another beginning. For Zak, the job has brought him closer to the career in railroading he's so desired. But it also brought him closer to the man who gave him that shot.

"We always butt heads on things here and there, but what father and son don't,” says Zak Namink.. “But yeah it was a really good learning experience and a great bonding experience as well."

The father and son will head out to Winnipeg to bring rail staff up to speed on the service and operation of the locomotives and will be there for the first run, to see the fruit of their labour.

Bill Namink thinks these locomotives have at least 30 years of service ahead.