Traction Engines

Case150 01 970x501

A replica of the world’s largest traction engine ever built, the Case 150HP of 1904, is nearing completion.
Click on the link below to see this amazing project :

120 Metre Road Train at Kalahari Sunrise


Did you realise a 120 metre road train behind A 1901 Fowler B5 Crane Engine was in daily operation at Kalahari Sunrise? 

If not view this YouTube link:


The Next Generation - Steam and Heritage enthusiasts

Sandstone Estates is delighted with the fact that we have so many young people who are competent to operate older machinery.

Shawn Spaan has been coming to Sandstone for many years and is now an accomplished operator on many types of our machines.  Steam Rollers are not for the fainthearted or for the ill qualified.  Here he is comfortably manning one of our steam rollers which we use regularly to do road maintenance on the estate.


We will be doing a feature shortly on all the younger people who work for us or with us from time-to-time and who represent the next generation of Steam and Heritage enthusiasts.

Our Fowler B5 Crane locomotive

Our big old Fowler B5 Crane locomotive dating back to 1901 represented one of the very first attempts by the British Army to deploy a mechanisation in a theatre of war.





It was therefore appropriate that this venerable machine would do service at our recent Steam Gala alongside more "modern" military hardware like our Russian Stalin Organ.


Arrival of McLaren Traction Engine

Our 1904 McLaren Traction Engine is now on the farm after undergoing repairs following the mishap with the oil filler cap.











Sandstone/Braithwate Greens Roller update report

Phil Braithwaite has sent us the following report dated 25th November 2010, plus supporting photographs: 

The deep meshing of the primary gears was sorted by packing the right hand side of the crankshaft main bearing to align it correctly in the frames. (It was 250thou to far back). So hopefully when the secondary shaft-bearing sleeve is replaced this meshing will be somewhere near correct.

Next Rob Houghton made a ‘dolly’ to drive the sleeve out of the diff spur.

With a few blows of a sledgehammer on the ‘dolly’ the sleeve came out, it was so bad that I intend to keep it as a momento!

Next on the agenda was the removal of the second shaft, which we hope to do this week, with subsequent removal of the bearing sleeve.

Rob is also making a new sleeve and pin for the water pump and that will be fitted in due course.

2135 is still fighting us; I have only today found someone to machine the second shaft, without the need for removing the two gears from it.

This latter we tried to do with the aid of an enormous puller, with a tremendous force and shocking it with a sledgehammer, not a movement.

Methinks this has never been off! So leave well alone.

The differential shell bearing came out OK, but the second shaft bearing wouldn’t also budge. So I decided to collapse them. I cut a slot into the longitudinal shell and it collapsed and came out quite easily X 2!

And to make matters worse they were both brass (Good as I could saw them more easily), but they should have been bronze!

So my new set, which is already roughed out, are all bronze, not cheap though.

Last Sunday I removed the chimney, in order to have a new rim fitted by my friendly local blacksmith, and all the rolls were cleaned in readiness for repainting.

The bevel gears from the differential, which were machined too big for the drive shaft have been chrome plated, (inside diameter only), and reground to the correct size are now ready, and machining of new keys are well advanced.

My young apprentice William, has had his eyes opened with all this heavy engineering, but he seems to love every minute of it.

The weather was poor here on the Sunday thus preventing work progress on 2135, but did go and find out how far my friend Rob had managed to get with the fitting of the new bearings...

One bearing has been fitted and is ready the other two should be ready by the end of this week, hopefully.. The new ‘key’ has been made for the bevel gear to drive shaft and is in place but still needs a bit of ‘fettling’!!

The following Friday I spent down at the roller, where I readied 2135 for the assembly of the second shaft, as Rob was coming down to do the final fitting of the second shaft bearings.

This we did, after the third attempt, only to find that the bearing housing nuts needed to have about an eighth of an inch grinding off them.

We also fitted, with heat persuasion and a 7lb hammer, the final half-inch that was needed on the main axle bevel drive gear.

So the next job, which I tackled on the Sunday, was the grinding off of the five housing bolts, and some cleaning up, on the Sunday..

Well the weather then deteriorated, ‘good and proper’, cold wet and windy.

However not to be deterred, the progress on the roller had been three steps forward and two backwards. It’s still fighting me!!

Where were we, at the bearing honing, I think?

Rob completed that by honing the differential gear bearing for an 8 thou clearance on the drive axle.

Apparently the rule of thumb is 1 thou for every inch in bearing diameter, plus1 thou.

This allows a good fit. And as the shaft is 61/2 inches dia, hence the 8 thou!! Seems to work well..

After much heaving and rigging with trusty chain block the ‘diff’ gear went on and was positioned, next we battled with the gear guard, eventually positioning it where we ‘thought’ it should be..Next we rolled the rear wheel into position, adjacent to the rear axle and jacked the rear of the engine until it lined up, we then ‘paddled’ the rear wheel on to the shaft. Once on enough we jacked the engine some more and allowed gravity to do the work. The wheel easily slid on, all 11/2 tons of it..

Next I offered the collar to the shaft, 1/8 inch out!! So checked the collar on left hand side, the shaft had moved 1/8 inch when we had driven on the bevel gear!!

What now?? Swop collars! Perfect!!, but positioning pin holes out of line!

Now we either redrill the collars or grind about 1/16 inch off the end diameter of each pin, took the easier option, ground off the end of each and drove the pins home and split pinned them. OK..

Replaced axle covers and awaited the return of the gear selector mechanism, that Rob was refurbishing. All pins and bearing surfaces were to be replaced.

Selector was returned one Saturday morning, and I then reinstated it in the correct position

Looked good, but toooo tight, almost impossible to change gear. The interlocking toggle would not drop, allowing the gears to be changed. The main reason for this appeared to be that during its service, it had been welded up to try to take up the slack, so by replacing all the sleeve bearings it was now far too tight. So I had to strip the mechanism and do some ‘judicial’ filing, to the toggle. But where to file, that was the question. I eased it considerably, but was still not completely happy. This needs further attention.

Now the weather forecast was looking ominous, the Saturday was fair, and then it was downhill all the way!!

So I took the decision to steam and road test on the Saturday and then drive it into the barn for ‘winterising’!!

Saturday dawned a beautiful day, (But we knew it would deteriorate by late afternoon), and steam was raised, and all looked good.

On its first movement it was apparent that some part of the gear guard was catching.

In low speed it was not too bad, but by the time we changed to ‘fast’ gear the noise was horrendous! As time was getting on we decided to drive it into the barn, for further investigation.

It is always tricky driving it into the barn as the chimney only just clears the barn roof lintel, but when the engine timing is not set correctly, also, it becomes more difficult.

We did however make it OK on the second try and ran it on timbers to keep the rolls off the dirt, and chocked and made it secure.

It was only at this time did my apprentice William come to me with a rather large ‘stud’ with a nut on the end of it!! He said “is this off the roller??”

Shugger, I said, or words to that effect, it’s the stud from the bottom half bearing of the main axle!!!

On investigation the threads in the cast iron housing had stripped!! And the stud had dropped out!!

At that we decided to call it a day!, and sleep on the various problems now confronting us..However before I cleaned up and left I saw what the gear guard problem was.

It was fowling the end of the planetary gear shaft, and yes I had omitted to replace a half inch spacer on the front bracket of the gear guard, so William and myself quickly replaced said spacer and tally ho, we had 3/8 inch clearance from the planetary gear shaft, one problem solved, a ‘few’ more to go..  

The next Tuesday, the 9th, Alan and myself again went to investigate the lost stud problem, The ash pan was dropped, which gave me easier access to the rear axle and housing, The bottom half of the bearing was removed and sure enough the thread was found to be stripped. On checking the stud, only the first two threads had any cast iron in them, and all the rest were clean and undamaged.

I can only conclude that the stud was only held in by these two threads, and was about to fail in any case!!

So with that knowledge we decided to take advice on the next way forward.

Alan had to leave so I decided to start to ‘winterise’ and drained the boiler and the water tank and removed the injector cones, for safekeeping.

After thinking about how to make the repair to the rear bearing housing, I remembered from many years back, the use of ‘Helicoils’and wondered if that could be our solution.

I spoke to my engineer Rob and he said yes, we use them all the time for aircraft repair and maintenance, if you have reasonable access it can be done ‘in situ’.

So I then looked up on the Internet on how to do it, and watched a video on the Internet, and yes I am now quite happy to give it a go.

Also on the Internet I found specifications of the sizes that I would need.

It turns out to be, the stud that is, 1 inch BSW (8 TPI) and the Helical would need to be 1 inch long.

I would have to buy a ‘kit’, am still awaiting information, for that size. That was soon sorted.

So as you can see I am in pretty deep with this engine, I still have the timing issues to resolve and the gear selection issues to resolve. At least I am now under cover in the barn..

Just as well that it was decided to go into the barn, as the weather has now really gone downhill, with temperatures down and below freezing.

The engine is winterised, with all pipework removed and drained of water and the engine is covered.

It was also decided to check on the other stud of the bottom bearing, and it was found to be in a similar state of ‘failure’! It was removed, and it was decided to have two new studs made, as they were of inferior material, anyway!! In process…

Also on inspection the actual bottom housing, which is only a retainer and not a bearing was found to be cracked! so it was taken to my local forge man and repaired..

I will be still working on 2135 over the winter, but at present, with temperatures below zero things will have to wait.









Unrestored engines

We always tend to concentrate on our restored engines. In the Agricultural / Steam Roller section we have 5 unrestored engines, details of which appear below:

Hornsby_SonR. Horsby & Sons

Heinrich Lanz, No. 31532

Burrels compound engine, No. 49460

Fowler Leeds, No. 19539

Ransomes, No. 39089

Heritage - Rail - News

Restoration of McLaren Traction engine No. 767

13th November 2007, updated 20th January 2008 and since ...

Jump to the update:

As you can see (below) we have been very industrious and made very good headway especially as the weather has not been at all favourable during the last month with heavy deluges of rain (and most of our work is done outdoors). We found that the drive shaft was badly bent and had to be straightened before we could weld up the journals. We have devoted most of our time during the last month in assembling, riveting and caulking the boiler as you will see from the attached photographs. I have also fabricated the new front axle pivot for the boiler and I am now involved in manufacturing the smoke box and then I will start on the fire box. If all goes well I would like to think we should have the boiler completed towards the end of next month. We have also fitted and riveted new spokes in the front wheels.


During the last month the wheels for O & K Locomotive 12493 and 12140 were re-gauged and re-profiled. The wheels for O & K Locomotive No. 11112 were re-profiled only.

A wheel on O & K Locomotive 11112 gave us a problem as one of the wheels refused to move but after much ado we sent the wheel out to a bigger press to resolve the problem.

Re-profiling went reasonable well apart from very hard spots on the flanges.

All these wheels were completed and are awaiting collection.

Straightening the drive shaft


Finished Tube Plate

Completed Backhead

Finishing touches to Locomotive Wheels

Riveting up the Backhead and Throat Plate to the Top Wrapper

Horn plates riveted to Firebox end

Job done

Fitting Boiler Barrel to Firebox end

It's in

Drilling and Reaming Throat Plate

Fitting new spokes in front wheel
Riveting in spokes

Front axle support for Boiler

Update 20th January 2008

This last month we have steadily been carrying on manufacturing the boiler and have progressed extremely well considering that we have been hampered along the way as we have encountered serious rainfall combined with Eskom load shedding of electricity services. During the rains we have retired to the workshop and have done a lot of necessary machining of firebox stays, nuts and studs, gear blanks etc. We did get the smoke box and the smoke box door manufactured and this was attached to the boiler. The long stays were also fitted. This now completes the outer boiler, all to be manufactured now is the firebox and re-tube which I now shall be busy with.

Riveting the smoke box

Tube plate fitted to boiler
Smoke box and axle pivot fitted to boiler

Smoke box door fitted - smoke box complete

A bit of plastic surgery on smoke box chimney base 0710 - Still a way to go as we have none of the broken parts

Firebox crown nuts and studs for girder stays

Boiler door re-furbished

Cylinder foundation nuts and bolts

Firebox stays with gear blanks for steering and gear change Keith Stevens

Update 18th February 2008

Due to a problem with the firebox tube plate material (which had to be returned to the suppliers) progress with the firebox was held up. I was hoping to have this completed about 3 weeks ago, however new material arrived and I should have the firebox completed and fitted next week.

Nevertheless, we have been kept very busy in the numerous items we have manufactured. Apart from the firebox we have re-bored the cylinders and fitted to the boiler, also new piston rings, cylinder covers and valve covers complete with top safety valve cover have been manufactured and fitted.

We have also completely overhauled the Differential including new bushes and pins on the planetary gears and the main centre bush of the Differential has been skimmmed and the relative bevel gear on which the Differential runs has been machined, sleeved, machined again to suit the Differential centre bush.

Countershaft journals have been welded up and re-machined and the Bearing Housing has been re-bushed.

During the last month we have also fitted steel bands to the wheels and have sent them to the relevant people to have them rubberised.

Keith Stevens

Smoke Box Chimney Base repaired

Re-boring Cylinders

Re-boring Cylinders

Welding steel bands to wheels ready for rubberising


Wheels ready to go for rubberising 0730 - Loading wheels

Cylinders fitted to Boiler

Machining Differential

Main drive pinion welded up and re-machined

Countershaft Journals welded up and re-machined and Bearing Housing re-bushed (on the left)


Drilling Planetary Gear Pins for removal and replacement

Pistons fitted and new covers manufactured for the Cylinders and Valves

Riveting Firebox

Wheels in the process of being rubberised

Re-bushing Planetary Gears

Update 18th March 2008

This report is somewhat shorter as the month was taken up with manufacture of the Firebox and fitting this to the Boiler which was quite a mammoth task, but it fitted like a glove.  It was fitted in the presence of an independent Boiler Inspector.  We have since riveted up the Foundation Ring
and the Firehole Ring and have fitted the Stays (150 in all) and we are in the process of riveting them over.  There are now only 30 ends to go.

We have also manufactured the Eccentric Straps and Quadrants and Double Eyes for the Valve Gear, as all these parts were missing.

We have now received the materials and are proceeding to manufacture the Tender and the Tanks and the new Boiler Tubes will be attended to shortly.


0780 Tapping out the Stay Holes


0781 manufacture of Eccentric Straps38

0782 Firebox Stays in position


0783 Eccentric Straps fitted to Crankshaft


0788 Riveting over Stay Ends

0758 Firebox being lowered into the Boiler

0759 Firebox being lowered into the Boiler 0760 Almost there

0762 Firebox in place - fits like a glove

0762 Firebox in place - fits like a glove

Update 11th April 2008

A lot of work during the last month has been entailed in the manufacture of the Tender, this is almost complete apart from riveting which we shall be doing next week.  We managed to locate a place in Pinetown where we could buy the rivets which has saved us a lot of work not having to make our own.

The wheels have now been returned after being rubberised and a superb job was made of this, these are now to be painted.

We are well under way in the manufacture of the Belly Tank.

We have had the necessary gears cut for the steering worm and gear change rack and pinion.  I have also spent some time on refurbishing the gland followers and reversing quadrants, dyes and stop valve assembly.

We are expecting the tubes to arrive today and the re-tubing will be carried out next week.  My next big project is to design and manufacture the safety valves to enable us to get a hydraulic and possible steam test on the Boiler.

Keith Stevens.

Front wheels rubberised


Offloading the rear wheels after being rubberised

Start of manufacture of the Tender

Tender almost complete


Making up frame for belly tank

Pair of quadrants and tumbling blocks along with stop valve assembly

Steering worm and high/low speed gear rack

Update 16th May 2008

The engine is at the stage where all of a sudden it will come together. Here is a pictorial with captions.

1515 - Rubberised rear wheel


1516 - As the boiler now stands - rear view


1518 - Newly constructed Tender


1520 - Rubberised front wheels


1522 - Rear wheel


1523 - Assembled crank shaft


1526 - Rear axle box


1528 - Steering worm


1529 - Tubes annealed and swagged with motion quadrants on the top of the tubes


1531 - Boiler - front view


1533 - Boiler cylinders


1534 - Smoke box tube plate


1535 - New bushes fitted on secondary shaft housing


1536 - Fire box


1539 - Secondary shaft


1540 - Rear suspension box


1543 - Speed selector rack & pinion


1545 - Speed selector arm


1547 - Differential


Update 20th may 2008

The long slog continues... Keith Stevens reports...

This project is still very much keeping us busy amongst the many tasks and different problems which we hit, but all in all things at long last seem to be coming together. This project has also made us much more proficient in riveting, which I am sure you will see from the pictures of the belly tank and tender. I was hoping to get a hydrostatic test on the boiler last week but have had to wait for boiler door jointing, hopefully we will attend to this shortly.

In the last few weeks we have re-tubed the boiler, manufactured and fitted the boiler doors (which was a week's work in itself), manufactured the belly tank, completed the tender, manufactured the ash pan and manufactured and fitted the chimney.

At the moment I am busy re-bushing the front wheels and attending to all the necessary parts for the front axle assembly. I will then be able to attach the front axle and wheels.

The pictures enclosed depict the following :

0805 - Governor valve and spindle assembly


0806 - Riveting up the Tender


0822 - Completed Tender


0823 - Fitting top plate on the Belly Tank


0824 - Cutting bottom plate of the Belly Tank


0826 - Annealing tube ends in sand


0828 - Manufacturing chimney


0829 - Manufacturing boiler hand hold doors & dogs 0830 - Tubes fitted (note slight cutaways on the smoke box front to enable us to get the bottom tubes in)


0831 - Manufacture of ash pan


0832 - Ends and sides of Belly Tank partially riveted


0833 - Chimney fitted


Update 25th June 2008

This last month has been extremely busy. The biggest task I have undertaken is the manufacture of the safety valves so that we can steam the boiler.

This has been no mean feat (regrettably I do not have pictures to send with this report as there was a fault with my camera and I lost the pictures. We have also re-conditioned the steering chain drum and pedestal bearings and have fitted them to the bottom of the belly tank.

It was good to get the front axle and wheels on as it seemed to be a major breakthrough and the engine looks as though it is starting to come together.

Another big task has been making up a boring rig for boring out the drive pin hole in the rear wheel to make it round again. We have also manufactured all the necessary hubcaps and given them a coat of copper hammertone paint. Last of all a steering wheel has been fabricated.

On Saturday 21 June we steamed the boiler for the first time and apart from a couple of weeps here and there the boiler was tight. After one or two more steams it should be ok. We are going for 150 psi working pressure and the UK test pressure would be one and a half times that which is 225 psi which we have already had the boiler up to on the hydraulic.

We have also done extensive work on the boiler fittings, i.e. gauge standards, check valves, cylinder drain cocks etc.

Once the boiler has been certified for hydraulic and steam test, I can then fit the crankshaft and tender and assemble the engine ready for road trials.

The pictures enclosed depict the following :

Front axle and wheels assembled


Rear axle rejuvenated


Re-conditioned steering chain drum and pedestal bearings fitted to the bottom of the belly tank


Front hubcap attached


Wheel drive pin hole bored out from oval to round

Engine in steam


Steering wheel manufactured


Rear Hubcaps manufactured



Update 28th July 2008

Over the last month we have been working 7 days a week to try and get on top of this momentum job. As you will see from the pictures we have made a huge dent in the outstanding work. We are feeling somewhat exhausted but as I have stated this must be completed as soon as possible. Hopefully by next week I shall be steam testing and running the engine.

Until the boiler has been certified, I cannot fit the Belly Tank and as the steering gear fits on the bottom of the Belly Tank we have no steering.

As always there are bound to be adjustments and modifications to be made here and there but everyone is getting excited to see this finally run, including myself.

As you can see we have manufactured and fitted all the rear suspension, complete with rear axle and Tender. We have manufactured and fitted all the valve rods, piston rods, cross heads, crankshaft, set the valves, manufactured and fitted the whistle, fitted the lubricator, manufactured regulator lever and also the blank for the final drive gear. We have repaired the winch drum as there was a big piece missing out of the side of it and manufactured a pawl for driving it. We have manufactured the driving pin for the rear wheel, also all the cylinder drains have been fitted along with the necessary operating arms.

The Tender and Belly Tank have been painted and the wheels lined.

At present I am busy making up the reverser arm so that the engine can be run.

A lot of this work is of my own design as there are no drawings and this has been very pressurising but nevertheless I think I can say we are on the downhill run.


The pictures depict the following

0842 Rear suspension, tie bars and springs and top collars


0844 Belly Tank painted


0845 Rear wheel lined with drive pin fitted


0846 Winch repaired


0847 Gauge standard (safety guard yet to be manufactured) and test cocks fitted along with rear suspension


0848 Connecting rods, valve rods and crosshead and motions fitted


0849 Whistle and lubricator now fitted along with main regulator arm


0852 Starting to line out Belly Tank


0852 Starting to line out Belly Tank


0854 Manufacturing reverser


0855 Pinion gear blank


0856 Rear axle in position


Also see previous articles: KEITH STEVENS REPORTS ON PROGRESS MCLAREN AGRICULTURAL ENGINE and Restoration of McLaren Traction Engine No. 767 progresses well

1901 McLaren Traction engine steamed after repairs




Over the weekend our 1901 McLaren Traction engine was steamed after repairs to straighten the crankshaft.  It ran well and will now be available as an accessory for rail tours.  Pat Ackerman supplied the pictures. 



From: Patrick Ackerman [mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]
Sent: 14 June 2010 10:33
Subject: Mclaren steaming


Once again, thank you ever so much for the wonderful day out on Saturday.   It was really nice to see the Mclaren in steam again and a credit to Charles for performing the repairs.  Regretfully I couldn't get stuck in to assist Charles on Saturday because of my arm, I could see that the physical nature of operating a traction engine were taking it's toll on Charles but great to have witnessed this rare item in working again. 


I have attached some of my photos from the day. 


All the best, 




















Sandstone/Braithwaite Greens Roller gets ready for the UK rally season

T Green roller 2135 being made ready for test steaming, 10th May 2010


Phil Braithwaite has sent us the following report and article:

T Green and son No 2135 report GR07


21st April 2010

As the British winter this year was particularly severe, progress on 2135 has been delayed.

It was only at the beginning of April that work could progress.

By the 4th April the mud lid doors had been fitted with new seals, the pipe work and injector cones refitted and cleaning after the winter commenced.

By the 13th April, I had arranged for the roller to be moved into the yard, in preparation for a test steaming.

By the 17th April some adjustments were made to the water levels and the flywheel, as it need to be moved slightly nearer to the frames.

All studs were double nutted and the engine fully cleaned up.

The tarps, which I have to cover the engine were roped and checked OK

I am now awaiting my colleague to assist in the hot timing of the engine, after which a full steam test will be carried out and any adjustments made.

This will be followed by a road test, and only then can we say onward and upwards.

In the meantime, the final article is in the May issue, no94 of Vintage Spirit.

Phil Braithwaite.


Click here to view the article - 4.7MB PDF (opens in a new window)