Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

RN 58 - Diesel rebuilding continues at facility near Bloemfontein

Many people do not realise that apart from the 2-ft narrow gauge running shed that Gert Jubileus reports on weekly we have a major diesel rebuild facility near Bloemfontein.
This run by long time associate of Sandstone Heritage Trust, Zach van Staden. Zach is one of those traditional mechanical engineering guys who can seemingly fix anything – scrapers, bulldozers, trucks, cranes, front end loaders, you name it he can fix it, and you can now include diesel locomotives in that list as well.

Right - Zach van Staden and two of his team stripping a Gardner engine
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RN_58_02narrow_gauge_hunslet_w As previously reported Zach was responsible for replacing the very tired Gardner engine in our ex Midmar Hunslet (6355/1964) and returning it in a very smart new livery.

Zach's workshop also turned out the small converted mines locomotive which has proved very useful as a workshop shunter. Its small size belies its haulage power, although it does struggle a bit on cold mornings with a Garratt or Kalahari.

Left - Narrow gauge Hunslet diesel assisting with unloading of parts of NGG 16 no. 155

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Zach is currently working on getting one of the three Bagnall 0-6-0DM shunters purchased from the Alfred County Railway in Port Shepstone back to life. All three can best politely be described as tired, one had fire damage as well as plenty of wear to the mechanical areas.

One chassis has been virtually stripped and as the accompanying photographs show the eight cylinder Gardner engine has been removed from the locomotive and dismantled. To those of us more used to cars, it's a big brute of a lump, and as can be seen the cylinder heads, cylinders and crankcases can be dismantled as separate units revealing the crankshaft and main bearings.

Zach is a specialist in these ancient but hard wearing power units and is able to source spare parts from some very obscure places when necessary. As can be seen Zach's dismantling facilities are somewhat spartan, but the rebuilding work is done in his workshop to prevent the ingress of dust etc that would otherwise result in excessive wear in a rebuilt unit.

Not the size of the pistons in this engine, which although massive in comparison to a petrol unit only gives 204 hp, a third more than the power unit in the 1964 Hunslet, so it has haulage power of epic proportions, although only at low speeds.

RN_58_06_crankshaft_and_main_bearin_ RN_58_07_heads_awaiting_refurbishme_
RN_58_08_off_come_the_pairs_of_cyli_ RN_58_09_off_comes_the_crankcase_pi_
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RN_58_12_two_gardner_diesel_engines_ Two Gardner diesel engines awaiting
the "Zach treatment".
(Left)