The International Steam Pages


New Steam Locomotive for the FCAF

The following report and first picture originally appeared in "On Track", the Railway Society of Southern Africa Reef Branch Newsletter in May 2006, originating from Shaun McMahon in Argentina. I have now added more pictures and further information (12th May 2006).


These two pictures show the brand new Garratt under test in Ushuaia, Argentina at the beginning of June. The loco will be painted blue and named in due course. (added 22nd June 2006)


Shaun tells me "The idea of sending you the photos of the two locos was to show the differences between the locos given that they were designed/manufactured using the same original K1 layout main components ........ both are now KM class locos even though they have subtle differences such as the outward appearance of the front water tank and steam circuits, Phil has added a much needed ballast water tank to the new loco so as to improve power to weight ration and of course a new Belpaire firebox, superheated boiler. The real challenge would now be to finish off the existing No.2 at FCAF so as to bring up to standard in conjunction with my original list of work (2002) that we used as a base for the new No.6. (click for this) which Phil has managed to design and build into No.6, though given time and financial constraints of the contract with Tranex not all were included."


"A newly built Garratt locomotive has been exported from Durban to South America. It was manufactured by Phil Girdlestone at his Port Shepstone works for the Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino in Ushuaia, Argentina. It follows very closely the design of the rebuilt and heavily modified FCAF No.2 which was rebuilt/built at Ushuaia back in 2001 using the original No.2 (then named "Nora" and renamed "Ing. L.D. Porta" in 2001 so as to mark the rebuild and modifications and also the late Dante Porta's 80th birthday and lifetime's dedication to the steam locomotive), though with a number of improvements over what we were able to achieve in our technically hostile and very remote conditions at Ushuaia. The existing No.2 at Ushuaia is due for a stage 2 mod at some point in time during the future, depending upon cash flow of the company (Tranex) and my own possible availability to work on the project given that I am nowadays working on the RFIRT in the neighbouring province of Santa Cruz and not at Ushuaia (I left FCAF during April 2004, though still maintain a very good and close relationship with the company and railway in Ushuaia). In order to produce the new machine at Port Shepstone, some of the left over spares from the second Garratt (components made but never assembled) manufactured in 1993 were used (chassis for the power units, cylinders, rods, tank bases and so on) though I had used some of these myself in 2001 so as to complete No.2 (the second boiler for example, in any case Phil has designed and manufactured a new superheated boiler in SA for the new loco No.6). FCAF are expecting the loco to be in Ushuaia by around mid May 2006.

I hasten to add that none of the locos or components concerned are ex Port Shepstone Railway (ACR), therefore no export of ex-SAR stock has taken place in this particular case (i.e. unlike when we fully rebuilt and exported 138 & 143 to the FR/WHR in ACR days - 1996, or when we exported 129 to the PBR in Australia during 1997)."


The following pictures from Shaun  show construction of the new loco:

New Belpaire firebox, superheated boiler (built to the ASME COP), cradle mainframe and power units under construction in South Africa for the new FCAF Garratt No.6, October 2005.

Initial assembly:

Full assembly:


By way of comparison here are pictures of the rebuilt 2:


Click here to return to the modern steam locomotive developments page.


Rob Dickinson

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