The International Steam Pages

Steam News from Sandstone, 2002/3

Geoff Pethick writes (September 2003)

I thought it was about time I gave you some latest news from Sandstone. We have made a few acquisitions lately including NGG 16 No. 88 from a private owner, the loco has been stored at Claesen's Siding near Paddock for some time but was moved to Sandstone last week. Those of you who remember the early days of ACR would have seen this in dark green livery with polished brass dome. We now have three of the batch of four NGG 16s built by Cockerill. We have also purchased the O & K 0-4-0WT 2510 of 1907 that has stood outside the Train Restaurant at Halfway House for many years. Its a 40 hp design so is a bit smaller than the ex Midmar example. This was collected this week and is now at Sandstone.

Those of you who visited Loraine Gold Mine in days gone by will remember two ex SAR steel sitter coaches at the mine. These were painted blue and white and were often seen behind the 10CR. They left Loraine when sold to Hartbeesfontein Gold Mine where they saw little use. Now painted green and white they are still in excellent condition and Sandstone has acquired them for main line use. We continue to move the narrow gauge wagons purchased from Port Elizabeth, only a few remain at the coast.

Kalahari No. 17 was successfully steamed at the beginning of August. It was on standby to go to Port Elizabeth for the Great train Race and was even loaded ready for transport but in the event NGG 16 No. 131 did the honours so its now reassembled.

NGG 13 No. 49 has passed its hydraulic test and reassembly is continuing. The water tank and bunker are in very poor condition, as is the cab, and extensive repairs and remanufacturing is taking place on these items. Lukas Nel is planning to have it finished by year end.

The NG 4 tank is coming on nicely, we are awaiting tubes, plus have to construct a new set of tanks as the these are extremely corroded. It is planned to take the NG 10 Baldwin Pacific to Bloemfontein shortly to start assessing it for restoration with a view to having it back in steam towards the end of next year NGG 11 No. 55 for PCNGR at Ixopo has been dismantled and the boiler is away in Pretioria with a contractor.. Contrary to earlier reports it has proved possible to repair the boiler but at considerably more than originally bargained for. Such is life! Engine units have been cleaned and painted and reassembly is about to start.

We have also laid about 3km of track. This continues from the stop block at Vailima and travels basically at 90 degrees from the main line up the hill in a series of sweeping curves, it will be a video photographers delight as the train will be visible virtually all the way up. The line ends in a loop at present, next stage is being planned already. Gradients are steep but manageable and include a metre deep cutting near the school. A few minor improvements, easing of curves etc has also been carried out. Track has been laid into the shed below the workshop, connected to the coal stage line which has also been extended. The four tracks in the shed give us about an extra 350 metres of under cover storage space which will suffice for the time being. Having said that we have just been advised that our Mozambique locos are expected to start shipping from the end of the month at the rate of two a week or so. With five more steam locomotives and 19 diesels it looks like the new space is already spoken for! Time scale is a bit flexible to allow for a myriad of possibilities that can occur in such an operation. Main line activity is taking a back seat, and as we do not yet have a Spoornet Access Agreement for Bethlehem Steam Railway, its academic anyway. We are still on the lookout for interesting artifacts such as water tanks so if you know of anything please let me know, preferably with its location and Spoornet Asset No.

Rob Dickinson