Class NG 4 Number 16:

Our class NG 4 was shunted out of the Shed onto the inspection pit for repair work needed on the spring hangers. The threads on the hangers were corroded and it was not possible to adjust the weight on the driver wheels. Once the hangers are rectified, we can adjust the weight for maximum adhesion. The trick was to take the weight of from the driver wheels and simultaneously be on the inspection pit to access the spring hangers. We jacked the rear end of the locomotive and spaced it between the bissel and frame. The NG 4 then was moved forward onto the pit with the front buffer beam just of the pit. The front of the locomotive was jacked and all the weight was on the jacks and the bissel.

A Air tool was used to loosen the adjusting bolts on the spring hangers.

The damaged areas on the spring hanger threads can be seen in the photos below. Henk took the hangers over from Derrick and he welded the damaged areas and cut the threads again. We are almost finished with all the hangers and once they are fitted back, we shall adjust the weight on the driver wheels again. The front bogey and the bissel were carrying almost all the weight of the locomotive and caused the locomotive to slip very easily.


Our NG 4 will be in good shape with the rectified spring hangers and a few repairs that we will attend to in this week.

Our NG 15 broke her brake axle brackets and the brackets showed cracking all over after many years of service. Henk tackled this huge task with eager and machined two new brackets for the Kalahari. Solid steel shafts were used to machine out the brackets and Henk made them perfect.

Below is one of the broken brackets and on the right; Henk machining a new bush.

The Shaper was used to machine the surface to weld the new machined brackets on.

Henk de Bruin, very experienced on the laith.

Part of the new machined bracket to be welded onto the huge steel bush.

Henk welded the new brackets onto the bush and fitted it to the Kalahari’s brake axle.


He had to machine two similar brackets with two new steel bushes.

We will move the Kalahari onto the pit and will fit the brake axle back again once we are finished with the NG 4 spring hangers.

We removed both left side lubricator feed pipes and brazed the little cracks at the cones of the pipes.

All the choke valves were removed and cleaned.

Below left: The two left side choke valves. (The pipes were leaking oil at the cracks around the cones)

Below right: The leak at the injector steam pipe from the tarot was repaired.

Below: Removing the choke valves.


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The diameter of the new wheels of the Hunslet was too large to accommodate the original brake hangers and the Hunslet was fitted with smaller brake blocks with less effectiveness. We made new brake hangers to accommodate the original size brake blocks and fitted them. The brakes were adjusted and the Hunslet brakes are working like normal again.

Below: Derrick adjusting the brakes after the new brake hangers and brake blocks were fitted.


All our passenger wagons came to the inspection pit for brake adjustments and under frame inspection. Both PE coaches were shunted aside for major under frame repairs. The braking gears were uncoupled and the bogeys were removed. All the play on the braking gear pins were rectified and new center pivot bolts were fitted. The play on the brake hangers were rectified and the brake blocks were aligned for 100% contact to the wheel when the brakes are applied.

One bogey at a time was removed and problems were rectified. The bogeys were then cleaned and painted with red oxide to protect them fro corrosion. The centers were greased and the coached were fitted back onto the bogeys.

The brake shoes of PE 52 was renewed with a type of shoe that can take the general used E type brake blocks. Below right is a photo of the new brake shoes capable to fit E blocks onto.

Henk did all the machine work needed to rectify the brake block alignment as well as the new brake shoes for PE 52.

Below left: Henry stripped the under frames of both PE coaches and removed the bogeys to rectify the play on the pins.

Below right: A CGR axle box on the bogey of the PE coach. Both PE coaches were build 1902 and 1907. The axle box in the photo is dated 1904.

The one PE coach was fitted with brake shoes to accommodate the E type brake blocks, but needed to be aligned to enable the brake block to touch the wheels with the complete brake block.

Both wagon brakes were adjusted and vacuum brake tested. The neck ring bushes and neck rings on both coaches were replaced with new ones. They were badly worn out and was responsible for vacuum leaks on the train.

Below left: One of the bogeys almost ready to be fitted in under the coach.

Below right: The aligned brake block in position for maximum brake efficiency.

Below right: The new brake shoes for the E type brake blocks.

Below left: The Ratanga wagons on the pit for brake adjustments and under frame inspections. The passenger consist was shunted into the wagon shed and was cleaned and ready to roll.

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The restoration of the fourth Ratanga coach is in full swing. Derrick will be restoring and converting this wagon. All the wooden side was removed as well as the doors. A new drag box was fitted and the under frame restoration is almost complete. An overhauled vacuum cylinder will be fitted just after the complete frame is painted with red oxide for protection. The play on the side barriers were rectified and we plan to fit shocks on the bogeys for a smoother ride. Some of the Guards vans were fitted with extra shocks and they surely rides much better than the normal coaches not fitted with shocks.

Below: Ratanga number 4 skeleton.

Below right: Derrick stripping the wagon.

Below: The drag box and coupler for the rear end of the wagon.

Below: Derrick fitted the new drag box and coupler into the wagon. It is much easier with no floor in the way.

Below: Derrick cutting all the unnecessary parts from the wagon. The wagon will be prepared for a undercoat in next week from where the assembly of the new Ratanga wagon will commence.

Below: The skeleton of number 4

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We refurbished three new wooden crates this week. They were varnished and will be loaded on the Flat wagons. Petrus is repairing more cable drums to be loaded.

Below Henry and Henk fitted strips around the new crates.

Below right : Pony varnished all the crates.

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Oupa and Pony lifted out all the slacks on the 200m storage line near the shed. They really did a great job and leveled the line as well.

Below right: Almost at the end of the line where all the slacks comes together. They will lift out the last 15m of track in next week.

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With the growing season in full swing, we thought to expand our gardens all the way down to the Wagons Shed. A small wooden bridge was build with tar poles and a tar pole fence was build around the small dam between the Locomotive shed and wagon shed. This is only a part time development and works on it just now and then when there is a spare moment for Oupa and Petrus.

Below : A small coco pan fitted on a short track for display.

Below: Garden developing in front of the Wagon shed.


We steamed our 1916 Barclay for the OVK yearend function that was held at Sandstone Estates. Nothing can make the day more exciting than being on a train pulled by an ancient old Steam locomotive puffing her slow beats through the landscapes of the Eastern Free State.

Excited passengers each found a cozy seat on the Ratanga passenger wagons moments before the Barclay departed from Platform two. The whistle sounded and slowly the little beast starts rolling out of Hoekfontein Station onto the mainline heading towards the Lesotho border.

Driver Henk de Bruin and fireman Derrick van Zyl manned the little Barclay through the landscape to Grootdraai and back to Hoekfontein again.

Below left: Through the eyes of the Barclay!

Below right: Driver de Bruin behind the controls of the Barclay.

Below left: The Barclay slowly pulls away at Grootdraai with clouds hanging low over the Maluti mountains.

Below right: Approaching the Semaphore signal near Hoekfontein on the way back from Grootdraai.

It is very hard not to be touched by the majestic Giant Maluti Mountains while traveling on the Sandstone Steam Railway. The Mountains are always eminent in the backdrop and never looks the same. This makes the scenery very special and each moment is exquisite, never to see the same again. When traveling around the balloon at Grootdraai, the Caledon River can be seen with the most beautiful tree lines following the river contours as it curves out the border between Lesotho and South Africa.

Below left: The Maluti Mountains, a scene always to remember.

Below right: The tree lines following the Caledon river at Grootdraai.


The Sebajeng pre school students held their annual year-end function and Christmas day here on Sandstone Estates. Our Hunslet was used to haul a short passenger train with 80 students, to Grootdraai and back to Hoekfontein. We departed at 11H00 and arrived back in Hoekfontein at 11 H30.

The children were just as excited about the train ride as for the Christmas presents under the Christmas tree in the Waenhuis. After the ride, they all gathered in the Waenhuis.

Below left: A busy Hoekfontein Station.

Below right: Little children that could not wait for the speeches to end. They wanted to get down to business, under the Christmas tree.