A STEAMING EASTERN FREE STATE
This week the Eastern Free State steamed like it did many years ago. With a 25Nc, 15F, 15Ca together with the Narrow Gauge locomotives on Sandstone Estates their magnificent beats echoed against the Mountains, turning the Eastern Free State into a Steam extravaganza. The Reef steamers trains arrived in Ficksburg late Sunday night. Early every morning the sound of these locomotives could be heard kilometers away, storming up icy gradients.
Twelve o clock Monday night we lit up our NGG 16 number 153 together with our NG 15 number 17 and the NG 4. Soon they raised steam changing Sandstone Estates into a romantic atmosphere. Our Steam fleet could not wait meeting their sister engines at Vailima and were eager taking their load over the Pandora embankment. We triple headed the NGG 16, NG 15 and the NG 4 over the mountain and reached our destiny just before six on Tuesday morning. The locomotives were serviced while waiting for the Reef Steamers Class 15F number 3016.

Below left: Class NGG 16 number 153 servicing for the next photo run past.
Below right: Class 15F number 3016 at Vailima.

The Passengers on the David Rodgers tour boarded the Sandstone trains and we changed crews with the Welsh Highland crews before the photo run pasts started.
Below: Driver John Bunch from the WHR and his fireman on our Class NGG 16 number 153, ready for a hard day to satisfy hungry photographers.
Our Bloemfontein crew, Anton and Frandri Bosch manned the Class NG 15 number 17 and with driver Anton behind the regulator, the NG 15 performed with eager leaving photographers breathless.
Below: Derrick, Anton and Frandri Bosch.
Below Left: Class NGG 16 with Driver John Bunch on a run past near Pandora Junction.
Below right: Class NG 15 Number 17 with Driver Anton Bosch.
Below: Class 15F number 3016 with Driver Shaun Ackerman making a spectacular show with a long steam trail and a thundering exhaust with a run past where the Narrow Gauge parallel the 3’6” Line.
Below left: A line up of eager and serious photographers awaiting the NG 15 near Mooihoek.
Below right: Number 17 just stormed past the line up with her last photo run before lunch.
Just after Lunch we shunted the train and made ready to work a dupla train with the NG 15 and NGG 16 to Vailima.
Below: Driver Anton Bosch and his NG 15 running through the mainline in Hoekfontein to couple the NGG 16 for the Dupla train.
After a few run pasts at Pandora, we proceeded to Vailima where the NG 15 was uncoupled to haul her own train on the new section of the line.
Below left: Class NGG 16 at Vailima standing clear of the spotlight while sister engine number 17 worked a photographic special on the new line between Vailima and Vailima Halt.
Below right: Late afternoon we were accompanied with the Reef Steamers class 15F.
Below: Driver Flip on his 15F number 3016 making sure the mechanical stoker feeds adequate coal to leave a smoke trail while storming past the Sandstone Class NG 15 with a run past.
This was an unforgettable day for us, with these magnificent machines thundering through the mountains. A dream comes true for a Steam lover, another day for the crews always to remember. We did not relive history; we made history on this day. This was the only day we steamed our fleet at Sandstone, but the Reef Steamer trains steamed over this spectacular line till Thursday morning when they departed for Bethlehem on their way back home.
It was sad to say goodbye to these giants. They brought back so many memories of the past for everyone and hearing them cracking the silence in the early mornings were something words cannot describe. Lucky for me the Class 15Ca got stranded because of a broken rail at Vailima on her way back home and I then was able to spend more time close to the love of my life.
Below: 15Ca number 2056 stranded at Vailima on Thursday morning.
Below Left: Plate layers repairing the broken rail.
Below right: Driver At de Necker leaning out of the cab just before the track was repaired.
PHOTOS TO SHARE:
Below left: 15CA cab at night.
Below right: 15F cab
Below: Class 15F number 3016 with a run past west of Vailima.
SANDSTONE LOCOMOTIVES:
After an exiting day on Tuesday, it was back to work although it was difficult to concentrate while the Reef steamers locomotives often stormed past Vailima trying to keep up with timings for photo shoots at different allocations on the scenic line to Bethlehem. This week we shunted the Garratt’s boiler and engine unit to Vailima. Both were loaded onto two different low beds on their way to restoration.
Below left: The boiler on its way to Vailima.
Below right: Connecting the rail panel at Vailima to the existing line. The tracks were supported with sleepers before the boiler could be shunted onto the low bed truck.
Below: The boiler was loaded and secured. The low bed departed immediately for Bloemfontein. Next year she might be one of the locomotives steaming out of the Sandstone Steam shed for the David Rodger tour?
Below: The engine unit was loaded together with another locomotive frame and wheels.
While we were loading at Vailima, the Class 15CA stormed past us on her way to Ficksburg after phot shoots east of Vailima.
 
CLASS NGG 16 Number 153
We immediately started with repairs on the locomotives after the David Rodgers tour. The right rear piston packing was set to ensure steam tight packing on the piston.
Below: Derrick setting the piston packings.
Below left: Steam valve spindle packing nuts were repacked with  rope.
Below right: The drifter spindle packing nut was repacked.
LOCOMOTIVE FROM RATANGA
This week we moved the locomotive for Ratanga closer to the workshop where restoration will commence in next week. The engine units were stripped and tank and bunker was moved closer too. The wheels, motion and cab will be moved to the same spot in next week and as soon as all the parts are together, it will be sandblasted and spray-painted before assembly will begin.
Below: The engine units and tank.
Below: Ben stripping of all the parts of the engine units and prepared them for sandblasting.
Below right: Two Semaphore signal will be sandblasted in the same process and will then be restored for display at Vailima.
SANDSTONE STEAM RAILWAY TRACKS
This week we loosened all the fishplates at Mooihoek siding loop line and started to lift out both points and passing loop at this siding. The two points and extra rail panels will be used with the constructing of a new line into the Vintage Shed for extra storage space for our steam Locomotives. The line will branch of at the water column in front of the shed and the second set of points will be fitted just before the doors of the Vintage shed, splitting the line into two lines running down to the rear of the Vintage Shed. Two AY ballast wagons were shunted to Mooihoek and will be filled with ballast from underneath the passing loop at Mooihoek. The points and the panels were loaded onto a Richard Western trailer and were moved down to the shed. One of the 12-meter panels out of the passing loop was fitted in place of the points. This line will be connected in next week and the Mooihoek siding now only will be a straight line for storage of wagons.
Below: Petrus and Oupa loosened all the fishplates of the points and the passing loop at Mooihoek.
Below: Lifting up Mooihoek passing loop!
Below left: The lifting of the passing loop!
Below right: One 12-meter panel was fitted in place of the removed point.
Below left: A disappearing Mooihoek passing loop.
Below right: The first panels on their way to Hoekfontein Shed.
THE BSA RAILCAR
Derrick started with the restoration of the BSA this week. He first will manufacture new doors to fit onto the BSA Railcar. Derrick will be responsible for the restoration of the BSA body while Henry will do the mechanical side.
GENERAL:
All the used locomotives were cleaned this week and all the wagons were stabled. The wagons loaded with cable drums and wooden crates were shunted into the wagon shed. In next week we shall shunt another two wagons from the Hoekfontein storage line into the new storage line. All the roadworthy wagons will then be shunted into the storage line in Hoekfontein to free up the passing loops at Hoekfontein Station.
Below: The Hunslet shunting in Hoekfontein Station!
FROM THE PAST, HOPE FOR THE FUTURE!
A Class NGG 16 number 142 at Isaha.

Gary Barnes took this photo in August 1986 in good old SAR days. 1988 was a dark year for steam in South Africa when drastic steam withdrawals took place. The special breed of person born to live and work with steam disappeared together with these lovely machines. Later this year most of these Giant machines were gone forever with massive scrappings taking place all over South Africa. They cut away pieces of my heart leaving empty places in Railway yards. The preserved ones will be safe, the rest will be gone.

The pride of many drivers, the love of my life falling into pieces with every cut they make.

Do they know that these machines have a living soul crying out for help, longing for survival?

OUTLOOK FOR NEXT WEEK
* To move NGG 16 complete for restoration
* To sandblast NGG 16 for Ratanga.
* To spray-paint NGG 16
* To assemble NGG 16 for Ratanga
* To lift out the remaing panels at Mooihoek.
* To Offload rails from Bloemfontein (Zack van Staden)
* BSA body restoration.
* BSA mechanical restoration.
* Flat wagon 151 restoration.
* Locomotive repairs
* To link Mooihoek siding to be a straight storage line.
* Semaphore signal restoration.
* Hunslet cosmetic upgrade.
* Locomotive wash out number 153
* Make new steps for Station.
* To graphite smoke boxes
* Track maintenance.
* Cable drums and crates restoration.
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