Saturday, 31 January 2015

Over thenext while I plan to do a few blogs on the NG6-Lawley,or know today as 'the Gentleman’s sporting Engine', a most befitting term I feel, one which I first heard on the Welsh Highland Railway while on a NG15-134 weekend, Andie Shaw who is the project team leader for the restoration of the NG15-134 came out with it. Andie has driven both the NG6 and the NG15 on the Sandstone Trust Estate Railway so I feel as there are not many drivers who have done so ( in the UK even fewer) it gives him the right to use the term, Gentleman’s Sporting Engine, I do wonder what he refers the NG15 as, hopefully we will fine out soon as 134 gets closer to returning to steam. To start with I will post some wonderful photo's of the two NG6’s on Sandstone taken by my good friend Maff Wellman.
Along with the Lawley's at Sandstone as I mentioned the the NG15 I have added a photo of their NG15 as well.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

NGG11 in De Aar

In 1981/82 I was sent North to 'Potch' ,3SAI, to do my National Service in the SADF,as a railwayman I used to get reduced travel on the train so I used to train it back to Cape Town for my long weekend passes.The train stopped in De Aar to change loco's,I would jump out and look around. In the yard stored for safe keeping was a NGG11 at the time had no idea what I was looking at but I did take a photo see attached.
This loco has survived and is in safe hand on Sandstone Trust.

Monday, 26 January 2015

NGG11 - Garratt

In 1914 an order for 3 Garratt’s where placed with Messrs. Beyer Peacock, because of the Great War (World War 1, 1914-18) the loco’s where only delivered 1920. Two placed in service on the Stuartstown line in Natal and the other on the Avontuur line in the March of that year. They have the honour of being the first Garratts to enter service on the SAR which then turned out to be a long and very successful relationship, the SAR being the most prolific users of the Garratt type loco both on the two foot gauge and Cape Gauge. When I started my apprenticeship as a fitter on the SAR in Salt River Works,1980, the GMAM’s where undergoing what turned out to be their last major re-fit. The two foot gauged Garratts where classed NGG11 and numbered 51, 52 and 53 with a wheel arrangement of 2-6-6-2. The coupled wheel diameter was 2’6”. They have a full working weight of 44tons 15cwt. The front tank water capacity of 970 gallon s and the rear tank of 380 gallons and two and half tons of coal. The boilers where of the saturated steam type. The loco’s had ‘d’ type slide values. The tractive effort at 75% of boiler pressure was 15 876lbs. The overall length over the buffers was 44ft.71/2”. A further two where ordered in 1925 although this time with piston valves. They were numbered 54 and 55
A selection of NGG11 photo's from the Peter Blackham collection.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Hopefield Station

Station Building Signs
With starting to build my model of Hopefield Station,will post photo's of my model, my thoughts went to signs on and around the building.I have some photo's of the building I and my Uncle took about 4 years ago. My model will be set in the late 50's/60's. As I said before in my model world the re-gauging to Cape Gauge never took place. I plan to change the name to 'De Hoopveld' so as not to upset the 'rivet' counters. The signs here look sort of late 70's type signs so I will need to dig abit to see what the standard signs where on the SAR at an earlier date or even if I can find any Cape Goverment Railway signs,all in my modellers licence.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Van Staaden'Gorge Bridge

In my earlier blog I made reference to Van Staaden's bridge ,it is still the highest two foot gauge bridge ever built. It stands 254ft. from floor of the gorge to the top. Sydney Moir's 24 Inches Apart gives a good account of it's construction.The picture is from a series of cards by 'The Iperial Tobacco Co'. It is no.3 in a series of 50 cards.
Photo by Peter Blackham

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Soul of a Railway

If you go to this link to https://sites.google.com/site/soulorailway/ you will find in System 3 - Cape Midland,based in Port Elizabeth ,some great photo's and information on the Avontuur Branch. Soul of a Railway is a work being put together by Les Pivinic and Charlie Lewis, it is still a work in progress,covers all parts of the South African Railway (SAR). It is truly a great work and valuable historic archive on the SAR.
PART 3 Humansdorp: - The Fiscal Division of Humansdorp contains 190 square miles, and the census division a population of 5120 white and 8879 coloured. The principal products are wool, mohair, ostrich feathers mealies, tobacco, oathay, fruits, butter, horned cattle, sheep, goats, ostriches. The annual average rainfall is 25.8 ins. And the wettest month is May. Humansdorp Station and Township, 50 miles W.S.W of Port Elizabeth.Lat.S.34deg.2min., long.E24deg.46min. Height 360ft. The principal town on the line at present and the chief in the Fiscal and Census Divisions. It is nine miles from the seaside and is a flourishing little place with good shops, stores and hotels, streets shaded with trees, plenty of water and very healthy. There are P.O., T.O. AND M.O.O. and Civil Commissioner and Resident Magistracy. Population Whites 482, Coloured 400. Some Typical Returns.- HUMANSDORP- Oathay,1763516 bundles, mealies 15332 muids ,dried fruits 16891 lbs. wool 187759 lbs. Cattle 18568,horses,mules,etc.,4488,sheep 44707,goats 16431,ostriches 8401, fresh fruit, oranges 5146516,apples 2800400,other fruits 1066000. Storms River or Zitzikama. Hamlet and P.O. 57 west of Humansdorp. Coldstream. Saw Mills and Village 14 miles from Assegai Bosch. The nature of the country, although apparently verdant enough ,seems somehow to be unsatisfactory from the farmer’s point of view if one were to judge by the class of yeomen who presented themselves ,as they usually do when a train arrives at country places. Among them appear many of the class known as “poor whites” and some coloured persons also apparently holding small areas of land and eking there out a bare living with very little for the market. Authorities on the country side explained that in times past the farming community in many parts of the Long Kloof had been obliged to relinquish their callings and seek better outlooks owning to the difficulties of transport. Now that the railway has arrived all this is being altered. Indeed a vast change is apparent and many of these second rate husbandmen have recently parted with their badly cultivated areas to up-to-date farmers at excellent prices. Assegai-Avontuur:- It is not difficult to imagine the time when a few years hence this line to Avontuur will (perhaps on a broader gauge) be conveying its daily modicum of a thousand passengers and its hundreds of thousands of tons of freight annually. The important little village of Assegai Bosch will then have developed into a much more important town with improved cross country roads. So far as the natural advantages of the place are concerned there is no impediment in the way of its rapid advancement. The soil seems capable of growing anything from mustard and cress to oranges and lemons, apples and walnuts. The enterprising landlord of the home-like hotel was laying out his extensive grounds as fruit orchards and garden plots. A curious, destructive vegetarian bird orange growers in this district much trouble. What he lives on when oranges are non-est we trow not, but from his voracity in the citrus season he appeared to be making up for lost time. We sat under a full grown tree laden with ripe oranges in the hope of seeing one of these birds feast, but although several were at work we could hear the sucking noise they made as they extracted the pulp from the rind, we got no other physical proof of their existence than a bang on the side of the head from one of the emptied oranges as it dropped from branch to branch towards the ground. Close to the orange grove is a large flourishing willow, originally cut from a tree growing over Napoleon Bonaparte’s grave at St Heleana, before his remains were removed to Paris. It was planted here by the original owner of the place Mons.H.Dassonville, on his return from a visit to France and St .Heleana. Assegai Bosch to the terminus, an entirely different state of things is noticeable. The farms are larger, cultivation is more extensive and the farmers themselves are of a decidedly superior stamp, possessing first class livestock, plenty of cattle and horses and magnificent teams of trek oxen, yoked to thoroughly serviceable waggons, throughout the Long Kloof, at the nethermost portion of the line, the country is inhabited by well-to-do farming community, the land is exceptionally fertile and is intersected by good cart tracks and roads leading to Uniondale Road and Oudtshoorn and other places. The country generally is adapted to the aims of progressive farmers. On arriving at Avontuur, the traveller will find post cart and private carts (for hire) meeting the train which will enable him to run over to Uniondale Road Station on the Klipplaat -Oudtshoorn line ,and ,if he desires to do so at this stage ,he may proceed by train thence to Oudtshoorn line ,the great ostrich feather district. Avontuur is a characteristic little country town ,swelling to importance through becoming the terminus of the railway and the prospects that it has in the future of closer alliance with everything that concerns commercial Knysna and the well-being of the promising country on all side.’ We leave Mr Burton at this point as he account goes on over the Cape Gauge lines of the Eastern Cape. His book was publish in 1907 thus giving us an insight to the Cape Colony and rail travel in general but for us the travel over ‘The Little Railways’

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Part 2 Mr Burton’s account for this blog starts with him coming out of the Knysna Forests after spending a night ‘outspanned’ ‘Keurbooms Pont, he tells of travel from there the 14 miles to Assegai Bosch (two words in his account) .Here is his account ‘Fourteen miles through more bush scenery brought us to Assegai Bosch Railway Station and Village on the Avontuur line. The Avontuur railway train leaves Port Elizabeth station, traverses that magnificent expanse of agricultural country known as the Long Kloof and between Humansdorp and Kroome River Heights thousands of acers of excellent arable land, which are held by the farmers of the district, and beyond Kroome River Heights, through Long Kloof to Avontuur, a well-watered country. The railway will enable the farmers to export their farm produce to market profitably, as they have hitherto vainly attempted to do. The line is a light one 178 miles in length and is so arranged that it will embrace as many farms as possible en route. The farmers gave the government the necessary land for the railway thus lessened the cost of the line. Although a two foot gauge looks somewhat toy-like, yet this line is so well balanced and secured that the train runs as steadily as any on the wider gauge. The steepest gradients is one in forty and the sharpest curve two and a half chains. In some places the rock cuttings are twenty feet high. The scenery through Van Staaden’s Pass from Thornhill to Gamtoos and from Humansdorp to Assegi Bush is very fine and many steep gradients and sharp curves are negotiated with care and ease that distinguish the Cape Government engine drivers. The journey to Avontuur is full of interest. On crossing the great iron bridge at Van Staaden’s Gorge Valley is obtained. From the river bed is 250 feet and it may be supposed that the view up and down the valley from either side of our carriage was very effective. In flood time when the waters come rushing and roaring down the Gamtoos, the spectacle is sublime. From Van Staaden’s to Loerie Valley the engineering work appears to have been carried out under unusual difficulties judging by the contour of the country, the height and apparent inaccessibility of the track ,and the frequent sharp turnings and twisting’s ‘’up above the world so high’’. The train emerging from the valley ascends again to the top of the mountain track and down at a good speed until it reaches_ Kabeljauws, a small sea-side railway station and hamlet on the banks of the Kabeljauws River where wayside refreshments are obtained. Large numbers of people alight here annually to visit Kabeljauws Bay, a place not at all unlike Algoa Bay, although ,of course ,not so extensive. There is a very fine sandy beach and good bathing. We now proceed in the train along by the sea-shore until- Jeffrey’s Bay is reached. This is a very popular sea-side bathing and fishing place and a general resort of holiday makers. It is nine miles S.E.of Humansdorp and has a Post Office.’ Mr Burton’s account to be continued……….
Map with the Avoontuur Branch

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Taking the 'Little Railway' to Avontuur

Part one: - construction. In an earlier blog I made reference to A.R.E Burtons book ‘Cape Colony To-Day’ (he was also the author to ‘Cape Colony for the Settler’) I quoted from his account on the Hopefield Branch. In this blog will do a three part series, again quoting from his account but this time on his journey over the Avontuur Branch. I will also use information from Sydney Moir’s book ‘24” Apart. Burton book is a Cape Colony ‘Bradshaw’s guide type account, we all know or most do that Moir’s book is the ‘bible’ of the ‘two-footers’ in the Cape.. The Avontuur Brach or then known as the Avontuur Railway was put through the Cape Parliament under Act No.19 of 1900 with an amount of expenditure of £570 000 so £3184 per mile somewhat more than the original expected cost of £2500. The line was needed and the local farmers where committed with the farmers on the route giving the land to the railway, could not see that happening in this day and age. The end of 1900 saw the Boer War still on going, with displacement of people from the ‘Rand’ to Port Elizabeth saw a large number looking for work but although quite a few found employment on the surveying then the start of the construction they were not used to the hard labour type work as most where clerks, bakers, shop hands and the like, making progress slow and in time saw most of them drift off to other employment. Mr Bodtker was the Resident Engineer seeing to the start of the earth works in May 1902, as work progress the minimum gradient,1 in 36, originally fixed by Parliament was modified to 1 in 40. The line in most parts kept to the contours of the land thus reducing the need for large earth works but it did increase the winding and curvy nature of the railway although again modifications where made to the original route to make the route easier . By the 23rd December 1903 the line had reached the Gedulltz River ,the two Manning Wardle Tank loco’s where kept busy with railing the martials for the construction of the famous ‘Van Staden’s Bridge’ to cross the gorge. It was during the construction of this bridge in 1904 that Mr Bodtker meet with a fatal a trolley accident. Mr F.H.Rees replaced Mr. Bodtker and by the 1st of November 1905 saw the line open to Humansdorp. The cost at this point to construct the line including the cost of ‘Van Staden’s Bridge’ was now at £4577 per mile, the line was over engineered to allow for it to be converted to 3’6” gauge at a later stage if needed, another reason for the increased cost. Sydney Moir gives quite in-depth detail on the specification that where scheduled under ‘Class IV’ for the construction of a permanent branch line gauged at 3’6”. The construction of the line reach Avontuur Station and terminus on the 10th December 1906 but it was not till the early 1907 that the line was fully open and the construction of the 178 mile could be called ‘complete’. The spur from Humewood Road to within 20 yards of the ‘broad gauge’ line at Port Elizabeth Station was completed on the 1st April 1906. Trains could now travel the whole length of the line and the line soon found its place within the hearts of the local community. Mr Moir’s account of the construction is well worth the read and provides great detail of the politics that took place in getting the line into being, he covers along with the construction of the line a good amount of detail of the motive power and rolling stock require for the line. To be continued……….

Saturday, 17 January 2015

NG15 in the Yard

NG15 (number not known) Humewood Rd August 1969. I'm posting this as I should of been on the NG15-134 weekend in Dinas but not this weekend,but will be there on the 7th and 8th. You can follow the progress of 134 on www.ng15-134.co.uk or just click on the NG15 link on the right.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Reading 'The Locomotive in South Africa by T.J.Espitlier and W.A.Day it give this brief write up and details 'During 1916,the Baldwin Locomotive Company ,USA Class NG 10 numbers 61-66. They where erected at the Uitenhage workshops.The wheel arrangement was 4-6-2 type and the coupled wheels 3 ft. 0 in. diameter. The cylinders were 13ft1/2 in. by 18 in. The boiler pressure was 180lb. per sq.in. The tractive effort at 75% boiler pressure was 12,302lb. The tender carried 5 tons of coal and 1 700 gallons of water. The toal weight of the engine and tender was 47 tons 4 cets full working order.' As we know one of this Class servives and is house by The Sandstone Trust. It had spent years out side rusting away and is in a bad way needing a lot of work to restore her, we live in hope. The last of her Class in South Africa was order some 14 years later by the Eastern Province Cement Company ,I written on this blog about her and posted photo's of her on the BMR in Wales.
These photo's are of the SAR-NG10 tender at Sandstone taken by Maff Wellman.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Looking at Sydney Moir's drawing of Hopefield Station from the CGR drawing ,I used this to draw my proposed layout of Hopefield Station for my layout.Yes it is changed some what but it will give the 'feel' and fit into what I want to do. The other station on my layout will be my requirement of Chelsea Station yes in real life two different lines but in my world just right,allow me to have 'lime stone' trains.
The above plans are the top from Sydney's book and the other my adaption of it.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The station building of Hopefield is the original Cape Government Railway (GCR) building built in corrugated iron , along side it is the original ‘small goods shed’. Some how both these buildings have survived and are in quite good shape considering. I have chosen Hopefield as the basis of my 7mm Scale model station on my soon to be layout. I have made a start to modelling both the station building and the small shed. The above photos are of the ‘small shed’ next to the station and the below photos are of my model.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Berg River Station was two stop on from Hopefield ,well still is although I doubt anything stop there today. The station building still stands but not in use. There is still 3'6" track in the yard but very little life at all.The line through to Saldanha still see trains today but freight only. The last photo is of a train I spopped later on the same day as these photo's..I took these picture back in 2011 while on holiday in the area.

Monday, 12 January 2015

In Sydney Moir’s 24 Inches Apart he has a drawing of a Tool and bunk Van , I would say this was converted from one of the old original CGR Freight Vans. He has mention that this Van ran as part of the Avontuur’s Break Down Train which consisted of this Van, a coach converted to an Office & Sleeping Coach and an open wagon with one half built up as a Van. I have built a scratch built model of this in 7mm. I used plastic card and Mac Donald’s coffee stirrers. The Fox Bogies use resin castings from Bruce Green.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Ex-US Transportation Corps Box Car,NG.OZR-2 and NG.G-4. In 1948 the SAR purchased 220 Box Cars from the US Government to help elevate the shortage of covered vans on the two foot gauge lines in South Africa and South West Africa, as the traffic and demand had increased. These wagons where built by the American Car & Foundry Co for the Vicicongo Railway ,where ever that is ,any information on this line would be interesting. With buying second hand wagon built for an other railways spec. came all the problems related to such. The brake system was Air Brakes and had to be change to Vacuum Brakes, the couplers had to be changed to suit the area where the wagons where going to run with in the Union and South West Africa(SWA) . The Cape had one type ,Natal there own type and the again the Otavi Railway in SWA had there own type. The biggest obstacle to get the wagons run on the SAR’s rails was the wheel profiles and the fact the American wheels where made from a ‘chilled cast Steel’ being incredibly hard and difficult to cut. The problem was over come by heating the wheel up to a glowing red and kept in such a state while in the lathe for cutting ,using oxy-acetylene torches suitably positioned to do such (heath and safety would have a field today). They where then cut to the required profile by the SAR by using carbide tipped tools/cutters. While this was going on it was decide for the 155 of the wagons that where to be used on the Avontuur Branch that they would have their roofs lifted by 12” thus leaving a ventilation gap. These wagons could be used for cattle and goods, when being used for goods a tarpaulin use used to cover the wagon. There are quite a few variants of this modification. The photo’s I have of this wagon are from Peter Blackham’s collection. Peter has been very kind to let me use them. I am in the process of making models of both type of the wagon. Both the altered and unaltered. The wagons attracted the classification numbers for the unaltered ,NG.OZR-2 and the raised roofed became NG.G-4. Peter has already made the ‘dry transfers’ for these wagons and if you look at the link to ‘Blackham Transfers’ you will find them there along with a growing number of other SAR-NG transfers. As I progress with the building of these wagons I will post it on this Blog. There is a drawing of this wagon in Sydney Moir’s book ‘24 Inches Apart ‘, I would say the roof drawing curvature profile is some what to be desired but the drawing provides a good enough drawing for the modeller and can be easily correct.