This week we dedicated two days for extensive Track Maintenance on the Sandstone Steam Railway. The extent of the maintenance followed after a proper Track inspection. All defects were logged in our Track repair book.
Oupa last finished the section of line between Hoekfontein Station and Mooihoek points and we started with maintenance from Mooihoek points to Vailima and around the balloon to Pandora junction.
Everyone was given a separate task to do. Arno and Henk were securing all the fishplate bolts from Mooihoek points all around and went as far as Km post 7. They secured a total of 4000 fishplate bolts. Petrus secured the T bolts while Ben followed him with the oiling of the bolts. A total of 145600 T bolts need to be secured and oiled and they still have a far way to go. 145600 T bolts are very close to 14 ton of T bolts!
Below left: Petrus securing T-bolts.
Below right: Ben painting the T bolts at the points with Red Oxide paint
We at first started to paint the T-bolts with Red oxide paint for a longer solution, but found that it takes much longer than to oil them. With the heavy rainfall in this area, it is needed to oil these bolts more often and painting them will actually be much better and long lasting. The Red Oxide penetrates into steel and prevent corrosion from taking place.
Removing severe slacks on the Railway line were part of our maintenance plan. We stared with point’s number 18.
1.) Removed the slack over the points
2.) Removed the slacks on the north end of the points
3.) Removed the severe batter on the rail connected to the point.
4.) Greasing the point.
5.) Raking the ballast for a neat finish.
POINT NUMBER 18
Below: Note the slacks over this point and the severe batter at the point on the photo right:
We used a Duff rail jack to lift out the slacks over these points.
Below: Derrick jacking the rail in front of the points, lifting out the slack. Then the ballast is tamped underneath the sleepers.
Below: There were two major slacks over this point and were removed. The fishplates at the batter were loosened and then we lifted the rails with our Duff jack. This was exactly the place where one of the slacks was.
Below left: The fixed batter.
Below: A neat set of points.
Berlow: The slacks on the first ten meters of track were removed.
Below right: A long closed level crossing. We removed all the ballast between the rails!
CURVE 3:
The radius of this curve just below the Mooihoek level crossing was measured and calculated. The severe slacks were removed and the elevation of the outer rail on the curve was adjusted to the correct value according to Spoornet track standards.
CURVE 2:
This is the curve just before the Mooihoek crossing from the Hoekfontein side. The severe slacks on the higher rail on this curve were removed and after the radius was worked out, we adjusted the elevation by lifting the lower rail. This curve had a huge elevation between the high and low rail and the 70-meter curve is aligned and elevated to the correct values.
Below are photos of the rectification of elevation on curve 2.
MOOIHOEK LEVEL CROSSING:
A severe slack just above Mooihoek crossing was lifted out and tamped. We then moved up to the curve near the Farm school on the section Vailima to Vailima Halt. This was the worst slack on the line.

Below right: Note the severe 10-metre slack!
We firstly lifted out the slack on the high leg of the curve before we lifted out the slack on the low leg of the curve. The radius was calculated and the elevation was set to the correct value.
SLACK ON STRAIGHT LINE ON CULVERT NEAR VAILIMA:
We tried to lift out the slack on the joint between the two rails, but seems if the rails are bend this way and will needs to be replaced with new rails.
We did get it better but we are not satisfied with it.
Below: The bend straight tracks with an adverse batter.
This however is not the end of the Track repairs and will continue with the upgrading of the Railway line.
SEZELA Number 3 at Sezela Mill in 1968 during cane season. This little locomotive is now in the Sandstone collection of locomotives in the Hoekfontein Steam Shed where she is well treated after all the years of service at Sezela.
Photo courtesy of Gary Barnes.
Outlook for next week
1.) Restoration of Ratanga wagon number 3
2.) Restoration of flat wagon 151
3.) Restoration of BSA railcar
4.) To Offload Hunslet diesel locomotive
5.) To oofload container from Port Shepstone
6.) Train tour on Wednesday.
7.) Track upgrading in Hoekfontein Station and Vailima Halt drainage problem at points
8.) To remove slack at km post 6.5
9.) To paint NG 4 black.
10.) To turn Class 10CR around, facing chimney first in Hoekfontein.
11.) To service Hunslet
12.) Repairs on 153 and Kalahari
13.) To move O&K’s for Bloemfontein.
14.) To shunt un restored wagons from Hoekfontein to new storage line
15.) To move Semaphore signals from Vailima Halt store.
16.) To shunt consists ready for David Rodger tour
17.) To roadworthy wagons on consists.
18.) To upgrade cosmetics on Hunslet.