Railway Heritage

Sandstone Steam Railway News

Sandstone Steam Railway News

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Sandstone Freight Workings

Since its inception the Sandstone Steam Railway has collected numerous freight wagons from various locations, mainly from the Port Shepstone to Harding line and the Port Elizabeth to Avontuur railway. All of these wagons were simply abandoned and slowly being reduced to kits of parts but many have been restored at Sandstone’s Hoekfontein facility and used at many events over the years. Our gallery by photographer Rod Hering shows the variety of freight consists that Sandstone can run. Enjoy the nostalgia!

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NGG16A number 155 under restoration. Update number 6 April 2020

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NGG16A number 155 to use the modified engine units from number 141!

The original NGG16A number 141, modified at the Alfred County Railway (ACR) in 1989 and privately owned by Phil Mortimer and his son Phil, has been in storage at Sandstone since they purchased the locomotive from the ACR after the demise of the railway in 2004. The locomotive has its original engine units modified to the LD Porta principles unlike number 155 where unmodified units from 142 were fitted to the loco for a proposed overhaul of the modified ones. As ACR ran into difficulties this overhaul did not happen and 155 retained the unmodified units until purchased by Sandstone. As is well known 142 was scrapped at Paddock with 155’s engine units in 2017 after repeated attempts by Sandstone to purchase the locomotive from its owners were refused. See the sad story as featured in Narrow Gauge World magazine: https://www.sandstone-estates.com/images/pdf/nov2017/Narrow_Gauge_World_Nov2017.pdf

March 2020 Steam Report

March 2020 Steam report

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NGG16A number 155 under restoration. Update number 5 February 2020

Work continues apace at Sandstone on the engine units for 155. The frames have been thoroughly cleaned and painting them in red ochre has begun. The bunker of 155 has now joined the front tank in the cleaning line and ready for its first undercoat. Wheels and axle boxes have been cleaned and refurbished. Our gallery shows the various stages and conditions of some of the components.

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Sandstone’s Decauville 0-4-0T live steam model in 7/8ths scale.

David Fletcher who designs live steam models for Accucraft visited us some time ago and we assisted him with pictures for the Decauville model. One of the examples is our own “Bathala”. Our picture gallery shows David Fletcher with the full size “Bathala” and some pictures of the smaller version. You can learn more about the 

Accucraft Decauville on the following link : https://www.accucraft.uk.com/products/decauville-type-1-live-steam-0-4-0t-in-78ths-scale/

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NGG16A number 155 under restoration. Update number 4 February 2020

The magnetic particle inspection is now complete and the wall thickness testing complete. No cracks were detected in the tube plates and all wall thicknesses are well within specs bar the two back corners but these are cleared by the engineer for welding up. All the small tubes are now annealed and are ready for swaging (all 152 of them!). Window patches for the damaged smokebox are being fabricated and the hollow stays, part of the GPCS inlet system, have bored out. This was quite a long job as the original weld had spread making them difficult to remove. As a critical part of the GPCS system this job has to be exact. Our picture gallery shows the firebox end tube plate after all the weld seams have been measured, the small tubes after annealing, forming of the smokebox patches and the secondary air inlets  during machining to remove them.

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NGG16A number 155 under restoration.

While work continues on the boiler in Pretoria, Gert Jubileus and his team have been busy at the Sandstone restoration facility. The overhaul of the engine units for number 155 has begun as our picture gallery shows.  The bearings proved to be in great condition and all the components have been stripped from the frames and  thoroughly cleaned. The loco has been out of service since 2000 when its boiler ticket expired at ACR so 20 years of accumulated grime had to be removed.

The front tank which was removed from the loco on arrival at Sandstone in 2002 has been brought up to the workshop for refurbishment. The loco will be turned out in its original red livery when the restoration is complete.

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NGG16A number 155 under restoration. Update number 1 February 2020

Preparatory work on the boiler of number 155 has begun in Pretoria with the old tubes being removed and the tube plates and boiler internals thoroughly cleaned. We now have the specifications for the Gas Producer Combustion System (GPCS) inlets on each side of the firebox which comprise a hollow boiler stay with a steel insert. At each outer end are “swirler” plates which rotate the air entering the firebox above the fire bed. Amazingly we have located a number of new ones in the Sandston store which must have arrived with 155 so many years ago that they were forgotten! Our picture gallery shows arrival in Pretoria and work on removing the tubes and cleaning the boiler in preparation for the retube.

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NGG16A number 155 under restoration

NGG16A number 155 under restoration

After many years of debate Sandstone Heritage Trust has put the wheels in motion for the restoration of the modified 2ft narrow gauge Garratt Class NGG16 number 155.

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The Vale of Rheidol Railway.

The Value of Rheidol Railway

Sandstone Heritage Trust has an ongoing dialogue with this famous narrow gauge railway in Wales. Nominally referred to as 2ft gauge (610mm as in Sandstone’s case) it is in fact 1ft 11 3/4in (603mm). It was the last steam operated portion of British Rail before being privatised in 1989. We were sad to hear of the passing of one of the original owners recently, Peter Rampton. A somewhat controversial character in preservation circles, he built up a massive collection of narrow gauge locomotives and equipment over the years, much of which was never open to the public. In this collection was a South African connection in the form of NGG13 number 60 and two Lawley locomotives, BR27 and BR28, sisters to the two similar locomotives at Sandstone. Both were acquired from Buzi Sugar in Mozambique. The Vale of Rheidol has produced a magnificent newsletter as a trubute to Peter Rampton for you to enjoy. Click here to read.

SAR Class NGG13. A fascinating story of their number plates.

Garratt Bucher from the Hempstead & Northern Railroad in Hempstead, Texas, has put together an intriguing article on the very interesting story behind the number plates of the SAR NGG13 Garratts. Garratt’s father, Robert L Bucher, owns the railway and paid many visits to South Africa in the sixties and seventies, having a great interest in the 2ft narrow gauge lines, particularly the Estcourt to Weenen branch which closed in 1983. Such was his enthusiasm that he imported one of the last locomotives to run on the line, NGG13 number 50 which is now in working order on the railroad. South African driver, Billy Bester, who drove on the line, became a close friend of Robert and spent a lot of time in the Texas with number 50.

An interesting contention in the article is Sandstone’s NGG13 number 49 may well actually be number 50 and in the USA, number 50 may well be 49! Any views or information on this will be welcome.

You can contact Dave Richardson by email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Sandstone Heritage Trust South African Railways Class 19D

the last steam locomotive in full commercial service in South Africa

In September 2015 the last steam locomotive in full commercial service in South Africa, 19D Saaicor No 3, dropped its fire for the last time and ended 155 years of steam operation in South Africa. Click here to read more

Sandstone Heritage Trust South African Railways

Sandstone Heritage Trust South African Railways

3688 was acquired by the Sandstone Heritage Trust in 2016 after it was removed from the Transnet National Collection and earmarked for disposal. As the locomotive was at Bloemfontein and in good condition it made good sense to acquire her to avoid the locomotive being scrapped. - Click here to read more

Latest Steam Report

Steam Report

March Steam Report - Click here to read