The International Steam Pages

Steam in Cuba, July 1998

In June, Jacques Daffis reported that Porter rebuild 1816 had been in use during the prolonged season at Marcelo Salado.  Tim Murray was on a non-steam visit but it seems he couldn't resist tracking down 1816.   It makes fascinating reading!

"3rd July 1998.

Called in at Marcelo Salado. The mill did not stop milling this year until 25th May. The big 2-8-0 (1549 if memory serves me) was in steam and had been shunting wagons in the morning. There was a team of staff from FCC looking at 1816. I was told that the locally designed water pump had not worked correctly. It was not injecting the correct amount of water at the right time and they had spent some time adjusting this. The loco was due to be steamed and work to Sagua La Grande area to pick up another loco on Tuesday 7th July. The loco would be used on tourist trains in the future as the official said that he had heard that these were popular with tourists.

7th July.

Visited Marcelo Salado in morning. 1816 in steam, as well as big 2-8-0 again. About 11.30 am 1816 came of shed and ran up to yard (paralleled by 1549 on empties shunt). It coupled up to a caboose and left tender first at about midday. Chased to Progresso and then had a cab ride to second station down the line (past Carolina). Engine stopped a couple of times to make adjustments but basically was working successfully. Staff stated that horespower had been improved by Porta modifications from 800 to 1500! The loco was seen again at Central EL VAQUERITO ( not too far from Sagua la Grande) and left there at about 6.30pm towing the wheels and frames and tender of a 2-6-0 (no boiler). Could not see a number on 2-6-0.

10th July

Returned to Marcelo Salado. 1549 in steam for shunting once more. 1816 arrived back OK. The wheels of the 2-6-0 are to be used on 1429 which was in shed to be stripped down. Apparently the staff have realised that if they stay with steam there is far more work to do out of season on overhauls etc than if they change to diesel. They are, therefore, enthusiastic and are looking to see if there are 'spares/hulks' anywhere that they can use to prolong steam life. 1816 has been as far as Holguin to tow back similar loco bits. Porta has reportedly been allocated a contract for five years at US $4000 per month. As the loco had been successfully trialled on 7th July it was planned to test it on loaded stone trains on Wednesday 15th July to check horespower ratings.

11th July

Called in at Ifrain Alfonso. 1910 in steam and had delivered a set of water tanks to further LP in the morning (confirmed line had been used). Other 2-8-2 and 1635 stripped in shed for repairs to get them ready for next season. Told 1910 would be steamed again on Monday 12th July for shunting.

Basically all I can report on. Interesting to see that steam is still used out of season in Cuba."

Rob Dickinson