Heritage - News

Cherry Festival

21st November 2007

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CHERRY WEEK! CHERRY TRAIN! CHERRY WEEK! CHERRY TRAIN

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The annual Cherry Festival unique to Ficksburg, was held this week on the 15th to the 17th November. We were fortunate to run three Cherry trains on each day. Class NGG 16 number 113 was the chosen locomotive and hauled a train that was capable of 150 passengers at a time. Our trains run over the entire Sandstone Steam Railway giving passengers an experience of a lifetime.

We started our week with preparations for the Cherry trains. All the wagons were shunted to the inspection pit for brake adjustments and under frame inspections for our coaches were about to travel close to 300km this week.

Below: The Guards van on its way for brake block renewal.

Below right: Eight new brake blocks were fitted and the brakes were adjusted.

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CLASS NGG 16 NUMBER 113

Number 113 was due for a washout before she could be used on the Cherry trains. Again our chemicals did the work for us and the boiler was easily washed out using our centrifugal pump connected to the boiler with a 2” pipe and washout nozzle.

Below left: High-pressure water was pumped through the 2” pipe to wash out the boiler.

Below right: The two front lead plugs before removal.

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The tubes were cleaned and the three lead plugs were removed. The old lead was fused out with the torch and new lead was thrown into the lead plugs before fitting them back.

Below left: The threads of all lead plug and washout plugs were inspected.

Below right: Heating the lead plugs for tinting before the lead is thrown in.

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We started to clean the locomotive just after we washed her out. Henry polished all the brass on the locomotive for her to shine like a cherry.

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Safety notices were placed at designated areas for all passengers to read. All the coaches were cleaned for the rides.

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Below: 113 as seen from the Lawley’s footplate.

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THE CHERRY TRAINS:

We fired up number 113 at 04H00 on Thursday morning and she was in full steam at 08H30, just in time to perform shunting work needed in Hoekfontein Station.

Below left: Number 113 on her way out from the shed to Hoekfontein Station.

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Below right: Our fireman for the day, Henry Brown.

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We steamed the Lawley on Thursday to work a short train to Grootdraai, spoiling the organizers for the Toyota Prado launch. Below: Two shining locomotives ready to hook onto the consists.

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Toyota launched the new Land rover Prado at Sandstone Estates this week. A Ramp was erected and was set at 43 degrees to test the grip of the new Prado. It was totally unbelievable to witness the Prado performing the test with no effort at all.

After the launch, all the organizers were taken on a short train trip to Grootdraai and back. The departure time for this train and the Cherry train worked out to be at the same time.  A train crossing was organized at Grootdraai and number 113 departed first and waited at Grootdraai for the Lawley.

Below: The Ramp at 43 degrees.

Below right: The Prado, reaching for the skies!

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Below left: 13H00, Number 113 running to Grootdraai under a looming thunderstorm.

Below right: The Lawley, clearing the mainline for 113 at Grootdraai.

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At 17H 45 we dropped the fire of 113, the end of the first day.

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Below: Driver Pat Ackerman, thundering out of Grootdraai with the Cherry Express.

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Below left: A African view through the Guards van window.

Below right: Number 113, replenishing her thirst at Hoekfontein water column.

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The Cherry Express trains departed from Hoekfontein Station and headed to Grootdraai on the Lesotho border before returning to Hoekfontein. Baas de Bruin, our Station Master, signaled the driver to run through Hoekfontein if there were no new latecomer passengers. The train then headed to Pandora Junction where the points were set to run around the big balloon clockwise. This is the most scenic part of the line with sharp curves and stunning gradients. Soon 113 slowed down to a crawling pace, allowing her train to slowly follow every curve through the peach trees on the way to Vailima Halt. Giant Sandstone rocks can be seen as the tracks run adjacent the Vailima Mountains. From Vailima Halt the train runs downhill, all the way to Vailima. Resting time for the fireman and the locomotive that by now have worked over severe gradients to reach the top.

The breathtaking scenery captured the attention of the passengers in such a way that no one noticed the effort of the locomotive and the crew’s effort to make the view possible. From Vailima the train runs over the mountain down the Pandora bank over the level crossing on way back to Hoekfontein. At the end of the trip, two tons of coal was shoveled into the firebox of 113.

Below left: Driver Pat behind the controls just before departure.

Below right: The Cherry Express sailing down from Vailima Halt on her way to Vailiam.

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Below left: Passengers boarding the train at Hoekfontein Station.

Below right: Number 113 raising steam before departing from Platform 2.

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Below left: Passengers boarding the Cherry Express on Platform 2

Below right: Number 113 on her way to the border of Lesotho with the Cherry Express. Promising clouds building up for late afternoon thundershowers.

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Below left: Number 113 storming up to Pandora Junction.

Below right: The end of an unforgettable train ride through the scenic Eastern Free State.

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After each train trip we had a tractor-taking passengers on a tour on the Estates.


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THE DOUGLAS COLLIERY LOCOMOTIVE

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This week we loaded the Douglas Colliery locomotive. She will join number 112 at Centurion City in Cape Town for display.

The low bed was parked in front of the Coal stage and a ramp was build. A temporary 3’6” line was build from the Douglas onto the low bed, supported with sleepers. A tractor was used to pull the Douglas locomotive onto the low bed.

Below: The construction of a temporary line onto the low bed.

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Below left: Securing the fishplates of the temporary line to the rail panel on the low bed.

Below right: Everything was inspected before the Douglas was moved over this line.

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Below left: Wooden sleepers for support.

Below right: The Douglas on her way onto the low bed.

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The Douglas was pulled onto the low bed and then was secured. The temporary line was removed and the Douglas was ready for a long journey to Cape Town.

Below : The Douglas moving over the wooden support bridge.

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Below: The Douglas, almost aboard.

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OUTLOOK FOR NEXT WEEK!

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  • To clean all passenger wagons

  • To clean all locomotives

  • To clean all ash pits

  • PE 52 under frame repairs.

  • Passenger consist brake adjustment.

  • NG 15 braking gear repairs.

  • Ratanga wagon restoration number 4.

  • Locomotive repair work.

  • Train tours (Friday and Saturday)

STEAM GREETINGS!
THE STEAM TEAM!

Click here to see the Cherry Festival invitation page