Slowly we were running out of time as the steam pressure rises slowly on the Giants return. We had a last hectic week to finalize the repair work needed to ensure a safe journey for the two Sandstone Giants.

A new blow down drum was fitted and the copper pipe leak was fixed.

Because of the demise of the infrastructure of water Stations on the mainlines, it was needed to fit two 2.5” water valves, one on the tender of the 25NC and another on the 23Class tender for extra water out of the 25Nc on the long journey to Johannesburg. A water pipe will be fitted between the two tenders.

Below: Derrick welded the nipples on both tenders and fitted the new brass water valves.

The Dairy produce wagon was roadworthy this week and the axle boxes were packed. This wagon will be shunted off at Vailima and will be taken by road to the storage line near the Hoekfontein station.


Another defective roll ring on the 25Nc tender vacuum cylinder was found on the last vacuum test. We removed the vacuum cylinder and took it to the workshop for overhaul.

Below: Derrick stripping the vacuum cylinder.


Below left: The defective roll ring can be seen, twisted and perished.

Below right. The space where we had to fit it back, under the 25Nc tender.


Because of the weight and the limited space, it was no easy task to get the cylinder back in under the tender. An unknown language was spoken before it finally was back in place. J

Below: Derrick and Henry struggling with the heavy vacuum cylinder.


It was not quite the end of our problems with the brakes, we had to fit eight new engine brake blocks on the 15F number 3052 and re adjusted the brakes thereafter.

Below: The old brake blocks were removed and the new heavy ones were fitted back.

Below: Henry removing split pins to remove the old brake block.

Three new brake blocks were fitted on the 23Class tender and the brakes were adjusted.

Below right. The narrow space to go through to adjust the engine brakes on the 15F. The adjusting nuts can be seen far down.

While I was down under the locomotive to adjust the brakes, it was a good opportunity to repack the driving wheel axle boxes. The old wool was full of water from the washout and all were replaced with new soaked wool.

The only way reaching all the boxes was to sail on top of the braking gears of the 15F. The axle box dust covers were removed to access the axle wool holders.

Below: The axle box dust covers being removed to access the wool.


After all the repair work and preparations, it was time to steam and test Avril number 3052 together with a special technical team from Reef Steamers. We fired up Avril early on Saturday morning and the team arrived just as the needle on the gauge started to rise. This was the final test to test all the brakes and vacuum problems that we rectified over the last weeks.

Below: A cab view of Avril taken on Saturday just before we light up the spirit in her massive body.

We did load about 3 tons of coal for the use to test Avril.

Below right: Poney, just could not resist the temptation to feed her the coal. It was a battle to keep him from firing her to much.


The dedicated Reef Steamers Technical team immediately started inspecting all three locomotives with hammers, crawling under the Giants to make sure everything is right. After hours of inspections, Driver Shaun Ackerman took her out of the shed to test her. Andrew King, Chief Mechanical Engineer from Reef Steamers did the inspections and brake tests. With and experienced ear, he listened to every beat Avril blew out of the chimney, not missing one!

Below: The Reef Steamers Team!


Below: Driver Shaun Ackerman behind the regulator of 15F number 3052.



We headed back home to Hoekfontein and started with repair work on our Locomotives to be used next weekend on a two-day tour.

We first had to move the Douglas Locomotive over the 2” railway line to enable us to load her to Ratanga Junction in next week. She will join her sister engine Class NGG 16 number 112 in Cape Town.

Two 2” rail panels connecting to the lines down to the Wagon shed was removed and place aside to built a temporary 3’6” line for the Douglas. Finally she was moved to the place where she could easily be loaded and we build back the rail panels to re connect the lines to the Wagon Shed.

Below: The Douglas locomotive at her loading place with a threatening thunderstorm in the back.

Below: The two panels being fitted back.



Class NGG 15 Number 17

This week we fused out the old lead in the lead plugs and throw new lead into the lead plugs. Number 17 is one of the locomotives that we will be using on the two-day tour next weekend. She will be shunted to the Inspection pit for a full under frame inspection.

Below: Photos of the re lead process.



Our NG 4 was shunted to the Inspection pit this week. All the wedges were adjusted and we found a broken compression bolt on the rear drag box.

Below right: The broken compression bolt.


Henry and Henk stripped out the Drag box and had to fit new compression bolts.

They fitted back the drag box and secured it with new bolts. She is now ready to use on the tour.


Below: The Hunslet pulling out a string of wagons to reach the XC wagon. Our XC wagon will be part of the interesting consist for this weekend and it will be the first time we use her on our trains since her erestoration.



With the rain season in full swing, we had to spray the weeds on the Railway line to keep it clean for the coming Cherry Festival trains in next week. We will be running three trains daily for the festival period.

Below: The weed attack!


Early this morning a tipper truck arrived in Ficksburg with coal for the Giants. The TLB was loaded on a low bed and was taken to town. Avril was steamed again and was moved to the old Goods Shed platform to enable the TLB to reach the Giants tender.


Below: Our Grunter hauled the low bed to town and made a beautifull picture, framed by Avril’s window.

Below: The TLB coaling the massive tender.


This morning we had a water crisis on the Ficksburg Station. It was difficult reaching someone who knows where the water was. Avril only had a little water in the tender and we knew that we did not have much time to get more water. With the Cherry Festival on hand, the municipality is fitting new fire hydrants at the show grounds and is the reason why the water was shut off. At last the water was opened and we used the opportunity to fill the 15F tender and the 25Nc tender on the loop line in the Station. We now have more than enough water if the water is shut of again tomorrow when the Reef Steamers takes over the locomotives. The Giants will depart 06H00 on Saturday morning on the journey to Johannesburg.

Below: Photos from above and photos of the Giants filling up their huge tenders.




Below: 3488 and Avril taking water.


Above: Henry and Derrick sharing a silhouette with Avril, joining hands to reach the same goal “to reach for steam in the future. They already breathe in the new Steam era about to start. A bond with a new future for the Giants!

In the next report! See the Giants leaving Ficksburg!