During the last week we paid special attention to all our mobile AY ballast wagons and restored two ballast wagons that arrived from Port Elizabeth late last year.


AY number 2033 was lifted from its bogeys this week and all the braking gears were stripped, handbrakes were loosened and new bearings were fitted.

Below left: Ay's shunted to the Shed for restoration and servicing.
Below right: Number 2033 bogey removed. The centers and side wearer friction plates were cleaned and greased. The brake hangers were cleaned and greased and new brake blocks were fitted.

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Below Left: Wouter fitted the new bearings and packed the axle boxes with soaked axle box wool.
Below right: The two new Ay ballast wagons arrived from Port Elizabeth with 15" vacuum cylinders without covers and piston heads. We however then had to make an 18" vacuum cylinder to fit in place of the 15".

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The 18" vacuum cylinder was lifted onto the frame brackets to allow us to make the correct modifications to the vacuum cylinder hangers.

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The normal trunnion bracket was designed to accommodate the 15" cylinder and by modifying the trunnion bracket meant a perfect fit for a 18" cylinder.



The Trunnion brackets of both AY's were cut smaller.
Below right: The 18" vacuum cylinder perfectly aligned with the pull rod to the brake axle.

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New plastic release valves with vacuum branch pipes were fitted to the vacuum cylinders and the wagon then was shunted to the inspection pit to couple all the relevant braking gears and pull rods.
Below: The AY on the Inspection pit for brake adjustment.

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Below left: The new plastic release valve in position.
Below right: The vacuum pipes were coupled to the Bagnal and a full brake test with leak off test was done to complete the mechanical restoration of the first AY from Port Elizabeth. All the AY's will receive a undercoat of Red Oxide before we will spray them with battleship grey.

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The second Ay number 2800 was next on the list to be restored. While we were busy with number 2033 Victor started de scaling the wagon.

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The wagon then was shunted closer to the shed and restoration commenced.
Below left: Number 2800 about to undergo a complete restoration.
Below right: Wouter hard at work.

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Two vacuum cylinders were overhauled for this AY wagon. A new roller ring, nylon bush and a new neck ring was fitted.
Below left: A vacuum cylinder being overhauled.
Below right: Fitting the heavy vacuum cylinder onto number 2800.

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All the ballast door gear covers were removed and the gears were cleaned and greased to insure that the AY doors work with ease.
Below left: Greasing the door gears.
Below right: The sanding and de scaling of the AY went on.

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Below left: a overhauled 18" vacuum cylinder fitted in place of the 15" cylinder.
Below right: Petrus assist Wouter to grease and loosen the AY doors.

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Nature took its toll as this AY's stood next to the sea for so many years. The wagon doors were stuck and a huge hammer was needed to loosen them again.

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At the end Wouter won the fight and the doors are working just fine. The Ay then was lifted from the bogeys and a complete under frame restoration commenced.

Below left: Wouter loosening the stuck slide doors.
Below right: Number 2800 with the rear bogey removed.

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The bogey was washed and then all the brake hangers were loosened and greased. The centers were cleaned and greased and new brake blocks were fitted before rolling the bogey back under the AY.

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The old corroded vacuum steel pipe was removed and Henk fitted a new steel pipe.
Below right: Loosening the stuck brake gears calls for hammers of different sizes.

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The mechanical restoration of the second bogey was completed and both were fitted with new bearings. The axle boxes were packed with oil soaked wool and the wagon was shunted to the Inspection pit for brake adjustment. This wagon mechanical restoration should be finished by the end of today and then only needs a coat of Red Oxide.




XC number 2201 was de scaled and sanded down. Petrus painted the XC with Red Oxide and painted the steps and handbrake wheels with canary yellow paint.

Below: The cosmetic upgrade of XC number 2201.



Below: A beautiful XC wagon.

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This is the up morning passenger from Bloemfontein to Kroonstad [at least] behind 23 class 4-8-2 3268 on the approach to Glen station on 8/10/1974. These BIG 4-8-2 s and their close cousins the 15Fs monopolized the Kroonstad - Bloemfontein line until electrics took over in march 1976. It was probably the busiest steam worked line in the world at that time; with 100-120 trains a day, many double headed, but all with 15F or 23 .The main differences were; 15F 5'0" Drivers to the 23s 5'3" ; the slightly larger chimney on the 23s, and of course , the big 12 wheel tenderon the 23s from their days in the Karoo desert before the 25 condensers arrived in 1953/4; however; Bloemfontein loco by this time was swapping thetenders around between the two classes so you could have a long tendered 15F or a short tendered 23 !!The 23 s were a smidge more powerful at 48,300 lbs tractive effort against the 47,800 lbs of the 15F s but they were allowed the same loads [1 ,250 tons] per single loco and with a combined total of nearly 400 locos, they were together a most numerous breed. Whilst the 15Fs were around until the end of steam; the electrification of the Bloemfontein line , was the death knell of the 23s and while somefound work on the Kroonstad - Bultfontein wheat trains and even a couple on the Bloemfontein - Kimberley passengers, as their time for major overhaul came they were stored for the strategic reserve at Beaufort West, and then scrapped in about 1987.Only less than a handful remain. It was quite incredible to see a locomotive of 57 class proportions on 3'6"gauge!!

Dennis Mitchell

Below left: Two class 15F's numbers 3002 and 2986 approaching Utrecht in 1977.
Below right: A class 23 number 3235 thunder out of Bloemfontein in 1974.

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Below left: A class 23 number 3268 near Glen ( 1974 )
Below right: A Class 23 near Karee on the mainline between Bloemfontein and Kroonstad. 1974.

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Below: A Class 25NC sailing over the Northern Cape Mainlines.



Below left: A 19 D sailing down the Bloemfontein coal stage not long before Steam finally ended. ( All photos above in courtesy of Dennis Mitchell.
Below right: A 23 Class makes a spectacular scene as she thunders out of Vetrivier Station with a Passenger train heading towards Bloemfontein.

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• To finish the restoration of AY number 2800
• To remove 2 XC tanks from damaged frames
• To restore two flat wagon frames for the XC tanks
• To fit the XC tanks on their new frames.
• Washout Number 113
• Washout Number 49