Railway Heritage

RN 07 - The Eastern Free State - An unlikely destination for world class steam Heritage preservation

Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

The Eastern Free State - An unlikely destination for world class steam Heritage preservation

An event was held over the weekend where an 80 year old locomotive was put through its paces after having been rehabilitated. The Sandstone Heritage Trust which is part of the large Sandstone Estates commercial farming operation has a significant steam restoration capability.

Normally this facility preoccupies itself with the restoration of rare locomotives which have been saved throughout the SADC region.

Over a year ago however, a locomotive was rescued in Natal. This NGG11 was one of three survivors in South Africa, of which none were in operation. The Alan Paton Railway at Ixopo were given the locomotive in order to boost the tourism and job creation potential in their area. The Sandstone Heritage Trust agreed to restore the locomotive and this task was completed in just on a year.

The leader of the team handling the restoration was Lukas Nel, assisted by his wife Anna. They in turn were supported by qualified steam fitters and apprentices.


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The Sandstone Heritage Trust is twinned with the Ffeistiniog and Welsh Highland Railway in Wales, the oldest preserved railway on earth. Lukas Nel and Leon Myburgh, his assistant, will be travelling to the UK next month in order to exchange ideas on the latest engineering techniques needed to bring these venerable old steam engines to life.

Today commercial farming needs to remain commercially viable in order to be successful. More and more the Sandstone Heritage Trust workshops at Sandstone Estates are being recognised as a world class engineering facility and enquiries are being received from around the world for assistance with regard to locomotive rehabilitation.

Steam Railways are a growing tourist phenomena throughout the western world in particular.

RN 06 - Sena Narrow gauge locomotives arrive in South Africa

Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

RN 06 - Sena Narrow gauge locomotives arrive in South Africa

On Wednesday 14 July 2004 a further batch of heritage locomotives arrived in South Africa.
These were purchased from the Sena Sugar Estates by Sandstone Heritage Trust and bring to ten the number of locomotives in South Africa from this world famous sugar cane railway.

Latest 2ft gauge arrivals are four Baguley Drewry 0-6-0DMs, nos. D6, D7, D8, D11.

The other new arrivals are 3ft 6in gauge Peckett 0-6-0Ts No. 6, works no. 2141, built 1954 and No. 7,works no. 2165, this being the last Peckett built in 1958.

They were shipped on Sena Sugar Estates barge from Marromeu to Beira, then transferred to a coastal vessel for onward shipment to Durban from where they will be collected by Sandstone's own trucks.

These join the other ex Sena 2ft gauge locomotives - Peckett no. 14 2161/1957, no. 11 2143/1953, Baguley Drewry diesel No. 10 and Ruston and Hornsby 48DL Mk 2 No. SSE 5.

The diesels will be going to Sandstone's diesel refurbishment works near Bloemfontein, and the steam locomotives to Sandstone Heritage Trust at Hoekfontein.

Further locomotives and other equipment are expected in due course.


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RN 05 - NGG11 no: 55 passes its final test

Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

RN 05 - NGG11 no: 55 passes its final test

In an intensive two days of steaming on the 24th and 25th of July and with varied loads, Paton Country Narrow Gauge Railway's 1925 built 2 foot gauge Beyer Peacock Garratt locomotive no:55 was declared fit for its transfer from Sandstone Heritage Trust, in the Eastern Free State, to its permanent base at the Ixopo depot of PCNGR.

The loco which had been plinthed at Weenen Station in Kwa Zulu Natal for some 20 odd years, was restored from near scrap condition by the Sandstone Heritage Trust under the supervision of Lukas Nel.

This intensive rebuild included the manufacture of many new parts which had long since been removed during its time in Kwa Zulu Natal.

First steamed in late June no: 55 had very few problems during its commissioning trials at Sandstone and no major work was required.

Over the two days the loco operated on the full Sandstone system, including the new Vailima extension and was also double headed with its more modern sister, NGG16 Garratt no: 113.

No: 55 is one of three remaining Class NGG11 locomotives still in existence but is the only one currently in working order. Until the commissioning of the K1 Garratt at the Welsh Highland Railway, it is currently the oldest operating Garratt locomotive in the world.

It is expected to make the road journey to KZN by Sandstone's own transport early in August for commissioning at Ixopo. It will be the largest locomotive at Ixopo and is expected to see an intensive season hauling trains on the fledgling PCNGR.


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RN 04 - July 6th saw a successful steaming of NG11 No: 55 at Sandstone

Sandstone Heritage Trust - Railnews

RN 04 - July 6th saw a successful steaming of NG11 No: 55 at Sandstone

July 2004


RN 28 - Bloemfontein workshop report mid February 2005

Sandstone Steam Railroad - Rail News

RN 28 - Bloemfontein workshop report mid February 2005

Lukas Nel and his small team are making good progress with the locomotives at the Bloemfontein workshop. The value of a husband and wife team like Lukas and Anna, who have created a well motivated, trainable group whose capabilities grow by the week and show the value of skills transfer in a way that is a example to all. Lukas has been involved with steam locomotives for the best part of forty years and works to very high standards as well as knowing all the little tricks that make jobs easier while not compromising safety or standards.

As the number of serviceable steam locomotives declines nationally it is worth remembering that most, if not all, last saw the inside of a railway workshop for major work fifteen years ago or more. They are all now wearing out and overdue for repairs under the previous SAR protocols. Only by securing decent facilities, the skilled manpower, and transferring those skills to the next generation can steam hope to survive into the future. Sandstone Heritage Trust is fortunate indeed to have a man like Lukas Nel heading up our steam locomotive restoration programme, for he is a steam man through and through.



The ex Angola Decauville is now far from the rusty relic it was when it arrived. The side tanks are nearly complete and the chassis is on rail and just needs the springs plus final assembly. The springs are finished and Lukas will collect them and the boiler mounts next week.

Work continues on the boiler, which is not in such poor condition as feared. This is no doubt due to the fact that it was kept in the Museum for many years, even if the roof did collapse of late, which prevented much of the corrosion suffered by those left to their fate outside. The photographs show it to be in fair condition although as often happens the bottom of the smokebox had rotted away because of water collecting in it, which combined with any ash present forms a corrosive acidic mixture.
Replica works plates are being made using details from a photo from another loco in Angola for a pattern, as well as assistance from contacts in France who have preserved other Decauville locomotives.

The locomotive was originally named BATHALA but there is no trace of a name plate and no photographs survive of it so named. Does anyone have any details of this which may be of assistance in making replica plates, or were names generally painted on the sides of the tanks like many other industrial locomotives?


The “Decauville” portable railway system was widely used in industrial and military applications and a reprint of the January 1905 catalogue is available from
Feld-und Schmalspurbahnen verlag und Buchhandel e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

It contains much detail of the equipment and some fascinating illustrations of a time when rail was king.
Similar designs were manufactured by a variety of French and Belgian companies and there is a similar locomotive built by SA des Usines Metallurgiques du Hainaut, Couillet, Belgium plinthed on the platform at Maputo Station.




Work is continuing on the ex Sena Peckett No 14 (P 2161/1957). The boiler, which was repaired by SGE Services in Pretoria, has been returned to the frames and the boiler inspectors are sorting out the paperwork concerned.

Because the locomotive was stored under cover at Sena for many years, only being pushed out into the open a year or so before being acquired by Sandstone, most of the platework is free of serious corrosion and has needed a good cleaning to get rid of loose paint and surface rust before being painted. Even the inside lower corners of the saddle tank, which are often where corrosion forms as water gathers, are OK.
There’s a lot of work still to do, making good damage sustained in its Sena days and during its movement to Beira, as well as replacing all the non ferrous fittings and manufacturing missing items such as coupling and connecting rods, slidebars etc. There is also the task of straightening the front buffer beam which was bent in a heavy shunt during its industrial service.

Fortunately thanks to our good relationship with the UK’s National Railway Museum in York we have been able to acquire some drawings from amongst those saved when Peckett went into liquidation. Not everything was saved, but we have a good start with those we have acquired.



The NG 4 has not been forgotten and the boiler is due for inspection soon. A lot of work has been carried out on the side tanks as the old ones had suffered corrosion and lifting damage in pre-Sandstone days and a new cow catcher has been fabricated.



The rare Jung locomotive ‘Gazengo’ has not had any work done on it of late as it looks likely that a new boiler will be required. We have had no success in acquiring drawings for this locomotive which is perhaps unsurprising given that the Jung works received a major visit by Allied bombers in October 1944 with catastrophic results.
However, we have received permission from Jeff Lanham to reproduce a photograph he took in October 1969 of the locomotive at Bomb Jesus sugar mill by when it was out of use. It, and many other historic photographs of Angolan, Mozambican and African Steam (not South African) are contained on two CDs by Rob Dickinson entitled Steam Safari (South) and Steam Safari (North) and available from Rob, who has been very helpful with our loco research.



Rob’s contact details are:
email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

RN 29 - WHo needs a fancy gym?

Sandstone Steam Railroad - Rail News

RN 29 - WHo needs a fancy gym?




In all Johannesburg's major cities, and particularly in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, are large, flashy gyms and health facilities encouraging the local population to get their bodies fit and looking great. Never mind that many of these people rock up in their flash 4 x 4s and BMWs and are in pretty poor shape anyway, it's the in thing to do and the place to be seen, and not inexpensive either.

Residents in the platteland don't have the 'benefit' of such establishments, but judging by the look of Ben, one of Sandstone's young steam workshop staff, they certainly don't need one. Note the well tanned body and bulging muscles, all the product of the Sandstone bogie pushing routine, which comes free with any day's work. Also part of the Sandstone Fitness Programme is stripping down and reassembling wagons and locos and the steam sauna treatment, shovelling coal on a loco footplate. As you can see in the background where there are a number of stored narrow gauge wagons in need of restoration there's no chance of anyone getting old and flabby on the Sandstone Fitness Programme, nor any need for the Dr. XYZ 32 steps to a slimmer body type diets.

So, rather than pay loads of money for a gym membership, get down to your nearest steam preservation society and get stuck into pushing bogies, shovelling coal and ash, fixing locos, painting, welding, hammering, retubing and all the other important tasks associated with keeping steam locos running and you too could have a body like this!

You'll then be able to cancel your membership of 'Virgin on the Inactive' or 'Planet Fatness' and save a bundle of cash as well!

RN 31 - Sandstone Heritage Trust donates Guards Van to Welsh Highland Railway

Sandstone Steam Railroad - Rail News

RN 31 - Sandstone Heritage Trust donates Guards Van to Welsh Highland Railway

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In the 1990s the WHR purchased quantities of South African wagons, bogies, locomotives and permanent way materials, following that up later with a batch of secondhand sleepers and brand new rail. In fact it's almost a South African railway in Wales!

In 2003 Sandstone Heritage Trust entered into a twinning agreement with the Welsh Highland Railway, which is being rebuilt in stages from Caernarfon to Porthmadog. The twinning arrangement covers a variety of areas and has resulted in exchanges of information Sandstone staff have gone for training and experience to WHR as well as passing on some of their experience and the long term aim is to set up a Great Narrow Gauge Trains of the World marketing group.

One item the WHR was missing was a Guards Van, particularly useful to run with their DZ and B wagons for freight and rail construction trains and for photographic charters. Sandstone purchased a batch of six NG V-16 Guards Vans from Humewood Road Port Elizabeth.

Directors of Sandstone Heritage Trust decided to donate one of the best examples to the WHR and No. 3172 was selected. This batch of Guards Vans was built in 1971 and is therefore relatively young compared to most SAR narrow gauge rolling stock. However, as will be seen later, it was very poorly constructed indeed, which only came to light once it was stripped down.
Kalia please insert No. 3172 arriving at Sandstone from Port Elizabeth in here.

It was transferred to Sandstone from Port Elizabeth on a Sandstone vehicle and given a quick once over to ensure it really was fit to send.

It was then reloaded and taken by road to Durban and after a delay with the shipping arrangements left for Tilbury via Antwerp. In fact such is the extent of the European rail enthusiast network that it was actually spotted on the docks in Antwerp in early February.

It arrived in the UK by 10 February and was at Dinas, Welsh Highland Railway on 16 February 2004. The WHR had to apply to the Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate for Type Approval before it could be used, part of the UK rail vehicle certification process.

A summary of its condition and ongoing restoration follows from Barrie Hughes excellent WHR news site, which gives up to the minute news of the WHR project http://www.isengard.co.uk/
"While most of it is in fair to good condition, sadly some parts are not and will require some considerable work.

The roof has a couple of holes in it where the T&G boards have rotted and allowed ingress of water. This has caused the floorboards to warp and rusted any metal in close proximity. Neither of the Guard's doors would open due the warped floor. Some of the external ply panels have bowed outwards due to water again. Thinner tinplate items like lamps have corroded badly.
On the positive side, all of the steel frame/angle iron and generally the rest of the interior is in good condition. The main van area is in very good condition except for the roof. The toilet cubicle is missing its pan but the high level cistern and plumbing is all in place and in good condition.

In the main Guard's area the stove has been removed but the coal scuttle is there and was found to be half full! Both Guard's seats are present but one has the cover ripped off. The vacuum brake column is intact although the handle was found lying on the floor. The hand brake is seized as expected.

Three of the four wheelsets had plenty of tyre on them but the fourth was well worn. The bogies appear to have been fitted with dampers at one stage. All of the brake gear appeared to be present but the chrome rod for the vacuum cylinder was in poor condition as the wagon has been stored in the open for a long time."
"It has now been confirmed that the brakevan No.3172 is to have a light, mostly cosmetic, overhaul this year with a more substantial strip down and replace roof and floor hopefully next winter if space can be found. The brake linkages have been freed up and it now parked under its own brakes."

"Couplers and a brake pipe were being fitted to the SAR brakevan on 16/5/04. This will allow it to be shunted around the site with ease. A thorough examination of the vehicle has shown wastage of the metal sheet floors due to water ingress from the sides. The design did not allow a proper seal to the floor. All the floor plates will now have to be replaced."

"The ex-SAR brakevan has received some attention from Team Wylfa. The vehicle had a vacuum cylinder fitted in a difficult 3.5 hour bash on 15/7/04. It is hoped the brakevan will be able to run at the Superpower event in September. Team Wylfa have continued to work on the brakevan's brake gear. The vacuum brake cylinder is now firmly back in place with all the nuts and bolts on the trunnion bearings now fully tightened and split pins fitted to prevent the nuts dropping off. The rubber vacuum hoses are back on and the link between the piston rod and brake actuating lever was cleaned and painted last night ready to go back on next week. Next week, the team will be split between cleaning No.134's chassis and scraping/wire brushing and painting the brakevan's brake rigging."

"The ex-SAR brakevan No.3172 was in action on 9/11/04 on the rear of a charter demo freight hauled by No.143 with a rake of 4 B wagons a DZ and a flat with timber. The rake was photographed in a patch of sunlight near Rhyd Ddu by members of the 3P20 Parcels Group. The brakevan is now at the back of No.2 road in the Carriage Shed where, between Xmas and New Year, a start will be made to take it apart. All lower panels are to be removed to allow access to the rotten steel floor which has to be replaced along with the lower panels. Additionally, two steel plates at high level on each end that form the roof, need to be replaced.

The brakevan will now be out of service until late Summer but hopeful back in time for Super Power. Consequently, it will not appear in Winteractive in February 2005 and the current Mess Van No.1001 is likely to be used as a brakevan instead for the planned demonstration freight services. If there is a qualified welder out there who can offer his/her services by volunteering then the brakevan will be completed a lot quicker!

Many external and internal features will be temporarily removed from the brakevan e.g. the duckets, as it is to be used by the Permanent Way crews on Phase 4 and it is possible that some of the already damaged items that need the tender care of a tin smith (Volunteers please apply!) may be lost or damaged beyond repair. The intention is to repair these over the term of Phase 4 (possible homework Project for a Group?) and replace them when the brakevan is returned. The brakevan will then be given a new roof and restoration will be completed. A schedule of work is being drawn up prior to Xmas."

"Marcus Ingram and his team were in action at Dinas on 28-30/12/04 working on the ex-SAR brakevan donated by the Sandstone Trust. After an initial day of setting up in Two Road at the back of the Carriage Shed, the following two days saw great progress on the brake van. The Caernarfon end saw not only the lower panel removed but also the higher panel and the damaged steel infill piece at the top that supports the roof timbers. This will need to be replaced. It was also possible to remove the two adjacent lower panels down each side of the van, as far back as the double doors, leaving the floor in the goods area now total exposed and accessible.

The work revealed a mixture of good and bad news. The vertical steel angles were in the main in very good condition. However the two end angles were found, as anticipated, to be in the poor condition and one will certainly need to be replaced. The floor is, as many people thought, sound in the majority but at all edges it has either rusted through or is close to failure. The volunteers attempted to remove the first floor panel but it is welded to the two longitudinal steel frame members, both of these being sound channel section and plate. As it has proved impossible to separate the floor panels from the frame, replacement of the floor plating will cause difficulties in the future."

"Marcus Ingram and his father spent another weekend working on the ex-SAR brakevan No.3172 on 8-9/1/05. Good progress was made removing rotten metal. Some of the sound metal was scaled and primed."

"Marcus Ingram made further progress with the ex-SAR brake van No. 3172 over the weekend of 21-23/1/05. Further stanchions have been scaled and primed and the wasted floor plate has been cut out on one side."

Our thanks to Marcus Ingram for the photographs and to Barrie Hughes for permission to quote from his site.
There's also plenty of news at Dr. Ben Fisher's Welsh Highland Railway Project site.http://www.bangor.ac.uk/ml/whr/
Also the Ffestiniog Railway site http://www.festrail.co.uk/



RN 30 - Help save an important loco from the scrapper's torch

Sandstone Steam Railroad - Rail News

RN 30 - 'save a historic loco - disturbing developments' with link to


Help save an important loco from the scrapper's torch

More than 40 years after being withdrawn from service one of the most important locomotives of the 20th Century now has a very precarious future. Following the closure of the museum in which she was displayed the locomotive has been dumped in a disused loco shed at the mercy of thieves who are stealing parts for sale as scrap metal.

The locomotive is the first locomotive designed by the world renowned steam engineer Dante Livio Porta, who died in 2003. Named Argentina, it is a metre gauge 4 cylinder compound 4-8-0 of a streamlined futuristic design, one of the most striking and memorable of all time. Porta worked with other well known steam engineers to improve the steam locomotive, leading to the production of such locomotives as the Class 26 Red Devil and NGG 16A 141 and 155, of which Sandstone Heritage Trust has the latter in its collection.. There were other locomotives around the world which owe their success to Porta's input.

A fund has been started to raise GBP 10 000 to move the locomotive from the closed museum at Tucuman to Buenos Aires by road for safe keeping, with the longer term aim of returning her to steam, but this cannot be done without the move going ahead quickly. An experienced road haulage firm has quoted a price and preparations are well in hand for the move once the funds have been raised.

One of the Sandstone Heritage Trust directors recently visited Argentina for three months and developed a good awareness for what is going on there and the enthusiasm of the band of people involved.

Sandstone Heritage Trust recognizes the importance of this locomotive in world steam terms and although its primary focus is Southern Africa has donated GBP 500 to assist in the success of this project.

For more details and how to contribute go to http://www.martynbane.co.uk/argentina.htm