The International Steam Pages


Steamy Java Sugar Mill Tour 2010, the Phoenix 

This series of pages from July and August 2010 records our travels from China to Malaysia and on to Java, Indonesia where we were hosting the 'Steamy Java Tour 2010'. Click here for the main Winds of Change index page.


Another day, another volcano, this time Gunung Slamet which is #2 in the Java hit list for mountain bashers. If you hadn't noticed yet, the rain has well and truly gone, we had a couple of days of cloud to start with but the loco boys with John Raby have had more typical Java sugar weather than the poor unfortunates who came in June. Was it luck or was it experience that brought us to Java now and not before? 

I know the picture is not as sharp as it should be but in my defence we were bouncing along in a 3km traffic queue in the middle of some road works at the time. Sometimes tour groups need to suffer a little and this was the case today. It took us just as long to reach Pemalang on the main road today as it did trying to avoid a 5km queue yesterday and it was not much more comfortable than the cart tracks. 

Eventually we got to Cepiring some 2 hours later than anticipated and my plans for the next day and a half were in tatters. This is the line up in the square opposite the main offices:

We went inside for the obligatory Javan cakes and then lined up for a very sub-standard group photo - I would have ordered a retake if I had seen the rushes... I am not sure I am totally comfortable with #6's new livery, but it is definitely a paid piper/tune interface situation.

It turned out that the mill was undergoing maintenance, but they had their big 400HP Stork engine ticking over for our benefit. First, though we needed just a couple more souvenir pictures before we were let loose.

I would have to say that the Feng Shui for this engines is not 100% right as there is no single good photospot available. Beside it, some of the original low pressure boilers have been brought back into use.

It is a sobering thought that the twin of this magnificent beast (last spotted at Watutulis leaking badly) has been replaced by two relatively small electric motors...

Otherwise nearly all the steam engines I found here in 2002/3 have been stripped out and dumped. Just a pair of vacuum pumps remain, these may be Fijenoord as they are similar in style to the machine at Jatibarang which is still working. In this case though the governors are on the crankshafts. Equally the cylinders look like Storks and Werkspoor made similar machines. 

The group were meant to have spent the afternoon on the Ambarawa Rack Railway, but we were so late now that only a visit to the museum was possible. Instead, they joined the steam loco tour on their second charter the following morning - you can read about that on John Raby's blog. I love staying in Bandungan, it's cool and fresh and this is the view of Gununug Merbabu from our hotel room window. It looked pretty similar next morning while Yuehong and I escaped from the group and had a much needed lie in, it would have meant an early start and we have done the trip on the rack to death. As I write, it's 08.30 and almost cloudless - even Gunung Lawu about 120km away is clearly visible poking out of the pollution. 

Nine nights and counting... After yesterday's minor (?) disagreements over the role of mobile phones in modern society, I am glad to say that not one ring tone was heard all day. It won't last, of course, because to lots of people it is a drug, but I shall cherish every moment while it does.


Rob and Yuehong Dickinson

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