Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Little Pacifics

SAR-NG10.No61-Humewood Road 2002 photo by Bruce Green

The Little Pacifics -The Sixties-
South African Railways-2 foot gauge
Class NG10 No. 61-66

Baldwin of Philadelphia USA built six 4-6-2's for the South African Railways which where placed into service on the Avontuur Branch in 1916.They where distantly American in appearance, popular with their crews, nicked named the ‘Sixties‘, equipped with outside bar frames and Walschaert’s valve gear. They spent most of their days working out of Loerie. In 1948 numbers NG63 and NG64 where transferred to South West Africa to assist with yard duties. The balance of the fleet went to Humewood Rd in Port Elizabeth to perform yard duties there. They where all with drawn in 1962. If you go to the website at http://www.sa-transport.co.za/trains/narrow-gauge/ng_info_pictures/steam.html there are some photographs of the NG10’s, No 63 or 64 at Usakos in South West Africa in 1955 and No61 at Humewood Rd. in 1961.

SAR-NG10 No.61 was still about and running at Humewood Rd until 1965 ,just, even though being officialy withdrawen. In 1970 she was moved to an unusual position ,the roof of the Port Elizabeth Museum where she remained for 9 years. The museum then decided that it was no longer going display heritage transport returning the loco back to Humewood Rd in 1979. NG61 is now in the safe and capable hands of the Sandstone Heritage Trust in the Orange Free State, where she awaits her fate and ultimate out come in the road towards restoration. Itis more than likely as her boiler is basically a right off that she will become a static display. On the Sandstone Heritage website there is talk of her ending up at the Transport Museum in George.

Baldwin also built a sister loco to this class for the Eastern Province Cement Company Ltd. She was delivered in 1930 and become the companies engine No.2 . Her original livery was olive green and aluminium lining with bold letters on her tender, Eastern Province Cement Co. Ltd and No.2 on her front number plate, although she ended her days in a fine red. Her boiler was replaced at some time with a Hunslet one. Colin Garratt in his book Last Steam Locomotives of the World, Steam Safari, gives an accountant of this loco when he came across her working the Chelsea Branch Line. In his account he credits her with one of the nicest chime whistle he has ever heard ,saying it was melodious almost to be described as fragrant.

Working a night train on the Chelsea Branch. The photo is from Colin Garratt's book. It shows the loco in it's last days much modified and in its red livery.
In 1974 she was involved in an accident after running away from her driver leaving the tracks and subsequently being written off by the insurers. She was purchased by the Brecon Mountain Railway in Wales U.K. as scrape. In 1990 they started a complete rebuild and restoration and in 1997 she entered service again as No.2 , looking again very American but in a fine state. She spent 10 years as an oil burner but recently being converted back to a coal burner. Have a look at the website, www.breconmountainrailway.co.uk/locomotives.html
Another website with photographs of No.2 is http://www.railfaneurope.net/pix/gb/museum/BMR/bmr2.jpg

Bladwin works photograph 1930

Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Hopefield Branch/Railway

In an earlier post I wrote about the history of this branch/railway. It is still in use today although was re-gauged in 1926 to Cape Gauge. If you look at the photo of the first train to Hopefield in the previous article you will note the station building in the back ground and if you compare it to the building in the current photo's I would say its the same. The photo's where taken by William Smith. I will be back in the area myself in Feb.2011 so will be able to do some more local research and further photos of the other stations along the line.
The bottom photo is my 7mm/On30 NG22 with a B wagon and two GH-1 goods vans. The B wagon is a Mark Reed resin casting, built by me.The two GH-1's are built and resin cast by myself.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The Hopefield Railway

The first passenger train arriving at Hopefield station on the 28th February 1903.

I found this in a book I have just purchased 'Early Railways at the Cape' by Jose Burman. It shows the 2-6-0 Baldwin,number 02 with a fine rake of coaches. What is interesting is the book makes referance to the extension to Saldanda Bay (Hoetjies Bay) not being in place at the time of the Union 1910.The author lists in the bibliography a book called 'Little Railways of the Cape Colony' something to look out for. He also makes mention there being 3 passanger trains per week in each direction with the train at the Hopefield end leaving at 2am in the morning so that the West Coast traveller could be in Cape Town by 8am remember this involved a change at Kalasbas Kraal.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Works Photo of a W.G.Bagnall Ltd SAR-NG7 & NG8

Bagnall & Kerr Stuart.
SAR-NG7 &NG8 No’s 27-32 & 36-38

In 1903 6 locomotives based on the Baldwin design for the Hopefield Railway where ordered from W.G. Bagnall Ltd. A British Company thus slightly unusual to carry the American look. After the experience with the Baldwin 2-6-0’s the wheel arrangement was changed to 4-6-0 to give great stability. These locomotives had ‘bar frames’ and ‘outside cranks’ and Stephenson’s link motion. On the Cape Government Railway (CGR) they where class ‘Type B’.

In 1913 & 1914 a further 3 where ordered one from W.G Bagnell and two from Kerr Stuart. They had longer boilers and where classed as ‘Improved B’s’ They where the mainstay of the motive power on the Avontuur Branch in the Eastern Cape, although some saw service on the Hopefield Branch and in South West Africa(SWA), to help alleviate the motive power shortage after the war in 1914/15 with the German Colonial Army. Although they where relatively new the SAR released No36 &37 to work in SWA. Sydney Moir in his book lists No36 as a class NG7 4-6-0 built by Bagnell and No37 as a class NG8 built by Kerr Stuart in 1914 both to the same design and being ‘improved B’s. Going the Kerr Stuart & Co Ltd Locomotive Works List it shows two loco’s ordered in September 1914 order book numbers 1345 and 1346 and delivered to Algoa Bay. The only difference is their cylinders seem to be a half an inch smaller in diameter.

They where all scraped in 1931 except No27 which was sold to the Eastern Cape Cement Co for use on their line linking to Avontuur Branch from Chelsea.

The Class number SAR-NG7 & NG8 was put aside for these loco’s but never allocated, they operated as ‘Obsolete ex CGR’( even with the last 3 being new and being ordered by the SAR). I had assumed from the information from Leith Paxton and David Bourne’s book, Locomotives of the South African Railways, that the class number NG7 have been set aside for the Hopefield Baldwin’s but seems to be used between the Bagnell and Kerr Stuart 4-6-0’s although it doesn’t mean that they where not used as there where never officially allocated.

Size of Cylinders in inches-12 x 16 Bagnell & 11.½ x16 Kerr Stuart ,Approved H.P. Weight-140 and in Working Order Tons- 40.

Again there is not a lot information regarding these locomotives. My sources being Locomotives of the South African Railways by Leith Paxton and David Bourne, W.G Bagnall Ltd, Narrow Gauge Locomotives and Rolling Stock 1910 ( the copy I have is a Facsimile Reprint Edited By Andrew Neale) Sydney Moir mentions them in his two books Namib Narrow-Gauge and in 24inches Apart and I referred to The Kerr Stuart & Co.Ltd, Locomotive Works List compiled by Frank Jux.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Hopefield Railway

Hopefield Railway
The Little West Coast Railway

After intense lobbing to Government of the Cape Colony by the Hopefield Railway Committee the Act No 19 of 1900 was past. The Administrator of the Cape Colony at the time was Sir William Francis Butler and Prime Minister of the Cape Colony was William Philip Scheiner (1896-1900) who was followed by Sir John Gordon Sprigg (1900-1904). Bare in mind while all this was happening the Boer War was coming an end and under Sir John ended. With this the negotiations for the formation of the Union of South Africa would have been in progress. The area where the Hopefield Railway was to run was rumoured to have been infiltrated by some of General Smut’s Kommando during the Boer War. From Darling you can see Table Mountain , can you imagine what this must have been like for a man like Smuts who he himself was a Western Cape man coming from Victoria West.

The railway was built to a gauge of two feet with instructions that the construction should not exceed £135 000,for construction and equipment. The railway was built as a ‘class iv railway’ meaning that the earthworks were to be laid out so that the railway could be converted to 3’6” gauge at a later date should this be require ( the line was converted in 1926)

The surveying of the line was complete in April 1900 but it was only in August 1901 that the work began on it construction. Three locomotives where order from the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia USA . They where 2-6-0 Mogul’s and numbered 01,02 & 03. The first Rails where in place by 24th March 1902. The line ran from Kalabas Kraal via Darling and terminated in Hopefield. The line was opened on the 28th February 1903 with ’manned’ stations only at Hopefield , Darling and the inter-change at Kalabas Kraal. The locomotives where shedded at Kalabas Kraal, where a fitter was stationed.

Rolling stock for the railway comprised of two first class coaches ( four compartments), two 3rd class coaches ( five compartments and being the same length as the 1st Class coaches) and five 1st class Van-composites with seating for 12 people, these van doubled as guards vans on both passenger and goods trains. There where 20 low-sided 12ton wagons, 4 6ton 4 wheeled flat wagons,15 bogie and17 4 wheeled cattle vans, 3 pairs of timber 12tons flat wagons and 8 frames- 22.½ tons wagons along with a 6ton hand -operated crane.

In 1906 an extension via Vredenburg to Hoetjies Bay was carried out. Thus increasing the revenue and viability of the line . Passing loops where put in place between the main stations As traffic increased a further identical locomotive was ordered in 1911. These locomotives never officially can into the South African Railways which was formed in May 1910. The class number NG 7 and numbers 22.23,24 & 35 where earmarked for them but instead they where run as operating ‘obsolete’un-classed narrow gauge locomotives. In 1915 numbers 22,23 &35 went to South West Africa to assisted with the motive power shortage there after the conflict with the German Colonial Army. There being an extensive two gauge railway in that area at the time. ( Namib Narrow-Gauge by S Moir & H.T.Crittenden)

Passenger trains ran on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from Kalabas Kraal returning on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays , this arrangement did not suite the local patrons so a 8 seated petrol engine railcar was placed into service to run on the days that there was no steam train. The railcar was also used the ‘Theatre Special’ enabling local resident to attend the theatre in Cape Town. This services was instituted on the 11th September 1907. There are no drawings or photo’s of this vehicle.

The line was converted to Cape Gauge in 1926 with its rolling stock be sent to other two gauge railways in the Union of South Africa, sold or scraped.

There is very little information about this line and it locomotives my source being ,24 Inches Apart and Namib Narrow Gauge by Sydney Moir the later being co-written with H.T.Crittenden along with Locomotives of South African Railways by Leith Paxton and David Bourne. Please feel free to comment and add any information regarding this line.

Hopefield Railway

Model of 'SAR-NG7-No22'(CGR 01 Hopefield Railway) converted from a Bachman On30 Baldwin Mogal by Terence Rowe.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Model Coaches and Wagons of the Pankop Branch

Pankop Branch Rolling Stock, made and modelled by Bruce Green of Inscale Models, They are On30 scale.

Short Flat car using 16' Koppal underframe

SAR-NG564 Short open wagon on 16' Koppal underframe.

SAR-NG1050 Class V-2 Guards Van.Still running on the Apple Express- Avontuur Branch. Using a Koppal underframe and known as 'Mini Loaf'.

Two compartments with toilet, bogie coach, the underframe for this coaches was made by Koppal.

Photographs by Bruce Green.

Breaking News-train crash



25 people have been injured and two killed as a train derails at Bosman Street Station. The rail company involved is the heritage rail operator Rovos Rail.

Railwaymen Unsung Hero's

I have just posted this on the sar-l yahoo forum but felt I should share it in my blog as well.

Unsung Railwaymen

As we go along in life we met people who have a profound effect on us, the way we do or look at things, the attitude we develop and the values we adopt. Quite often these people never know what effect they have had.

One such person in my life and I’m sure many young apprentice fitters on the South African Railways ,was a gentleman we called ’Uncle Eddie’- Eddie Klein. When I started as an apprentice fitter in 1980 and was placed out of the apprentice school for the first time to work along side an artisan I was place in the hands of ’Uncle Eddie’ in the ’test room’ at ERS Salt River . He was coming to the end of his time with the railways having started himself as an apprentice in 1933. In those days the trade was call a greater mechanic, basically 5 trades in one - fitter, machinist (turner),boilermaker, welder and blacksmith. Buy the time I worked under him he was working as a fitter having been on steam and coming across to electrical traction in the late 1960’s

This man was different to all others I meet and worked under/along side on the railway or anywhere else I have work. He was from the 'old school', although we never called him ‘Sir or Mr Klein’ we never just used his first name it was always ‘Uncle Eddie’ ( and not Oom as the Afrikaaner used to show respect)
He drove in everyday, never late in his Ford Cortina , immaculate, you know the one with the peace sign tail lights. He always wore grey flannel trousers with a white shirt, jacket and tie. Once changed he wore a clean pair of overalls every day, the dungarees type, with a shirt and tie and a khaki dust coat. His safety boats where always clean ( had seen him in the locker room at the end of the day giving them a clean)

He hated ‘piece work’ as he felt it encouraged shoddy work as was a false economy , he would say do the job properly ,once, and the job/work will last. He scorned the term ’preventive maintenance’ and said only an accountant could come up with such a concept. The idea of replacing something before it had broke because it had ‘done it time’ would getting him going.

He had great patience with us young apprentices, showing us how do each thing properly but also not allowing us to get off lightly, it had to be right or start again for exsample when lapping in two brass surfaces to get a dry seal in a Westinghouse brake valve, namely the QSA Valve ( Quick Service Application Valve- provided simultaneous brake application though the train using vacuum brakes) He used to say there are not two options only one ‘right’.

His tools where always kept in their right place in his tool cupboard and spotless. The tools in his tool box where kept in leather tool rolls and again always where they should be. His view was if you spent the time correctly placing and replacing things it would save time in the long run. The test room where he work was always neat and clean. Everything had its place, he had shelves with all the brake valve spares in neatly marked boxes, he had spares that even the store did not have. He had a little book which listed where everything was or where you could get it.

In side his tool cupboard door he had a picture of the Queen Mum , I think it had something to do with the Royal Train and visit in 1947 but I never asked and why would an 18 year old. I must say I now wish I had as it would I’m sure made another story to fill these pages.

One of the ’Uncle Eddies’ statements that has always stayed with me was, ’if a boss comes along and asks whose work is this never hesitate to stepped forward and claim responsibility as it should be at a quality or level for the boss to be paying a compliment’ quite something in our now disposable world.

He retired in the early 1980’s , I have no idea what happened to him but what a man. ‘To the talent of Uncle Eddie‘.

SAR-Handbook on the Steam Locomotive

Awhile back I acquired the South African Railways Handbook on the Steam Locomotive for Enginemen and Running Shed Staff 1956. This book is a gem. The information is how it really is. It was issued to Drivers, Firemen, and as it says Running Shed Staff, it was called the ‘red book’ (the cover is red) There is the same for Diesel and Electric Traction.
Anyway I am part of another forum for South African Railways called sar-L@yahoogroups.com , this is a very active forum with some very prominent railway authors, ex- railwaymen,railway photogaphers and even my Uncle Bill (ex-railwayman). The content is of a high standard and is at times like a living history lesson. Although I was a railwayman for 9 years the knowledge and experience in this group is untold but everyone is helpful and friendly, willing to share knowledge and experiences. One of the resent topics to come up in this forum is this book ,which had come up on E-Bay and sold for £36.
One of the forum shared a link http://www.martynba ne.co.uk/ sar-manual/ index.html which is basically this book and is worth a read and a very valuable reference book.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

This is the Wildebeest signing in for the first time, my blog is mainly about South African Railways, namely the two foot narrow gauge but every now and then I will stray to the 3’6’’ gauge system in South Africa. For those who don’t know at it height the railways in South Africa had some 20 000 miles (plus) 3’6” or Cape Gauge as it is known and some 460 miles of 2 foot gauge .

Railways started in South Africa in 1859 first in Durban , Natal Colony and the a few months later in Cape Town, Cape Colony. These first two railways where 4’8.1/2” but with the topography it was changed to 3’6” as it was found to be far more cost effective at this gauge. Every now and then reference will be made to South West Africa ( now known as Namibia and before 1915 known as Deutsh Sud-Wes Afrika)

Two Foot Gauge came to South Africa at the time of the Boer War , in 1899 the Director of Army Contracts for the British War Office ordered two locomotives from Kerr Stuart to be used by the Royal Engineers in their stores depot. These loco’s went on to be used the following year in the construction of a line from Simmer and Jack’s siding near Germiston ( ‘Transvaal Colony ‘ was the Zuid Afrikaansche Repubiek) to a siege camp some 3.5km along the Bezuidenhout Valley. At the end of the War the Loco’s and rolling stock where bought by a farmer who constructed what is most properly the first independent ‘narrow gauge two foot gauge railway’ in South Africa It ran from Pienaars River ( on the mainline from Pretoria to Pietersburg ) to Pankop some 15km this became known as the Pankop Railway or the Settlers branch the name it acquired when The Central South African Railway took it over. It was a pioneer of the two foot gauge as this branch used to see what could be achieved by utilising this gauge. It was re-gauged two 3”6’ in 1923.

There is not a lot of documentation or photographic evidence to do with the Pankop Railway, Sydney Moir’s book '24 Inches Apart' is about the best it gets, there is reference to the line in Leith Paxton and David Bourne‘s book 'Locomotives of the South African Railways'. Bruce Green of ‘Inscale Models’ is the living oracle regarding this line and in my case most things South African narrow gauge SAR-NG. For
those interested in modelling SAR-Ng there is a Yahoo forum called:-
SA-ng@yahoogroups.com , this is a small band of modellers who model or follow SAR-NG mainly in 7mm or 16mm scale.

I will be adding this to blog as and when , please feel free to coment and contribute as it goes along . I will be discussing the past and the present , what is on my work bench, basically what am I modelling and any latest topic regarding relavent narrow gauge subjects. I will also be looking at and discussing restoration projects, like the one on the Welsh Highland Railway to restore an NG15 www.ng15-134.co.uk there is a forum connected to this as well GROUPNG15-@yahoogroups.com . Along with this I will also be following where I can the restoration of Pete Waterman’s NGG16 at his work shops in Crewe.
At present an other project I’m working on is compiling a list of all SAR-NG loco’s in the UK, there where abouts and their condition.