Scott Jesser reports on his explorations, of course steam finished here some
20 years ago. Use the links to view the other locations, in each case click the
thumbnails for larger images:
PT Socfin Indonesia’s Aek Loba palm oil mill is 212 kilometres south-east of Medan, south of the town of Kisaran in the Asahan Regency. The mill produces 54,700 tonnes of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) and 9.600 tonnes of Palm Kernel (PK) each year.
Approximately 25% of Aek Loba’s daily supply of oil palm fruit arrives at the mill on the 700mm gauge rail system, which has recently been reduced to a single six kilometre-long line, with short lengths of 12kg/m Krupp rail on steel sleepers.
Outside the mill, the line crosses the PT Kereta Api’s 1067mm gauge main line by a diamond crossing at the northern end of Aek Loba station yard. The line then curves around and then runs parallel to the 1067mm gauge line before continuing south through the oil palm estate to a central loading point where road vehicles tip bunches into elevated bunkers above a long siding. The oil palm fruit bunches are fed by gravity into steel cages which are carried on 189 four wheel frames called bogies.
Aek Loba has five 70/77 horsepower Schöma CFL-45B six tonne 4wDH locomotives, numbered from 1 to 5. The locomotives are painted yellow with black frames, wheels and headstocks. None of them have builder’s plates, but Socfin Indonesia received thirteen 600mm and 700mm gauge CFL-45B locomotives between 1983 and 1991.
On Wednesday 12th April 2017 No.5 was in the factory’s workshop in a dismantled state. The engine, radiator, axles and wheels had been removed and workshop staff indicated that frame, hood and cab would be scrapped. No.1 was under repair with its radiator and starter motor removed and No.4 was being inspected. Nos. 2 and 3 were in use on the rail system, hauling trains with 19 to 20 empty and loaded cages.
To reduce maintenance costs, the four Schöma CFL45B locomotives still in use on the Aek Loba plantation rail system have each had their Deutz diesel engine, hydraulic transmission and cardan shaft drive replaced by a Mitsubishi diesel engine, mechanical transmission and chain drive.