The Giants are destined to return into the great future ahead. Steam is very alive in South Africa and with such dedicated people and with all the support over the world we could make it happen. Lets look back to the mistakes of the past and learn from the history of Steam survival all over the world to make steam revive from history. It does not depend on the handful of volunteers; it depends on everyone with a passion for steam, from the photographers to the steam freaks to the general train lovers from all over the world. We need each and everyone’s support, let us keep them steaming, keep them alive forever!

Down at Ficksburg Station we are preparing two of the Giants to head the rails not only to Johannesburg, but also into the future. They will bring back memories, relive the forgotten Railway days, the days we all wish could to come back, but with a new breath of steam we are going to steam into the future! Hold you’re breaths for the Giants are returning!

It all starts with a small team of dedicated people with a passion for steam, a vision of what could become reality if we all stands together and fight for the life of steam!

Avril, 15F number 3052 is one of the Giants. She will lead the way and is prepared to be able to haul our class 25NC dead all the way to Johannesburg where both will be used on special steam excursions in and around the Reef as well as steam specials on lines long forgotten. They will join their sister engines at Reef Steamers and help to generate an income to save their sister engines that soon will be on the list of the cutters. They are eager to perform their duties to help us saving what is left of a great South African Railway fleet. Let us join hand with them and play a part in a great Steam revival.

The last two weeks we spend enormous times with Giant number 3052, preparing her boiler for Boiler Inspection. She is mechanically in a very good condition and only needs the boiler certificate to haul her sister number 3488 to Johannesburg. The Boiler inspection will be done on Monday and Tuesday this week and all looks favorable for her to attain the certificate.

Some time ago we steamed her and tested her. All the repairs were logged and attended to while we prepared her for Boiler Inspection. Her axle boxes will be packed this coming week to ascertain a safe journey.

The Class 15F number 3052 was fitted with a class 23 Tender. One of the four 24” vacuum cylinders suffered from a defective roll ring and we needed to remove this cylinder for vacuum overhaul. The quite heavy cylinder was taken to the workshop at Hoekfontein to replace the defective roll ring. The weak point in the braking system of the class 23 was that if one cylinder roll ring was leaking through, it infected the other three and leaked the brakes of. The class 25 NC was better and only two cylinders at a time were connected to the same vacuum chamber tank.

Stripping the cylinder could not be done without the help of a block and tackle. We took it apart and found the defected roll ring.

The defective roll ring is visible in the photo far right. The defect was determined by running a test-using vacuum.

Below: The cylinder in pieces. The cylinder was cleaned using a wire brush and the new roll ring will be fitted.

While we were repairing the cylinder, we attended to the stuck air clack valve in the ejector.

The air clack valve spindle was bended and was replaced with a new one. While the ejector was on the table, we stripped it and cleaned the cones and valves. The stuck large ejector valve was repaired and the ejector was fitted back onto the locomotive.( Photos above)

The ejector was stripped completely and all the valves and parts were cleaned. The lubricator was washed out with a steam wap to remove all accumulated sparks inside the lubricator.

A huge amount of carbon was evident inside the steam chambers of the lubricator. This was removed and will ensure a proper working lubricator. The carbon will be noted on the two photos below. From left to right.

The lubricator was assembled again and fitted back.



The regulator stuck open when it was operated due to a defective pilot valve. We were lucky to have a new one in store and the defective one was replaced with it. All the regulator valves were removed and cleaned. The valves were then faced with grinding paste, spending three hours of facing till they were perfect.

Below L; the pilot valve. Below center; the seat. Below right; the pilot valve and main regulator valves.

The piston packing was set and the segment rings were repaired. She will be tested in next week to see if the piston packing is still blowing. Below; the segment rings and stuffing box.


We finished the washout of the boiler this week and prepared the boiler for internal, external and hydraulic inspection. Thousands of liters water was used to wash out the boiler and sometimes it was needed to really hop into the boiler and crawl all the way to the smoke box tube plate to access the difficult reached places. A kind of scary experience when you know that Derrick is sitting at the dome and threatens to close you inside the boiler J

After three days we finished the washout of the boiler and start wire brushing the inner fire box and cleaned the tubes.

Below are photos of Ponie and Derrick working their harts out on the 15F Boiler.


Below left: A view out of the smoke box of 3052.

Below right: The narrow gap to get through when accessing the firebox of the 15F


Below are photos taken of the washout of 3052 (Avril)

Some of the washout work was done from underneath the boiler and it was needed to crawl on the braking gears and only one way out, over the wheels and springs. She now was super clean and all arch tubes were cleaned with tube cleaners to remove accumulated scale inside these pipes.


While the Inspection takes place, we will remove the axle box dust covers and will repack the axle wool, soaked with new oil.

The old fusible plugs were cleaned and re-leaded.

While we were busy preparing the boiler of 3052, the painters painted our Class 25Nc’s wheels black again. I think Richard Niven will feel proud to see her smiling again. Soon she will ride the rails and her Giant beats will echo the beginning of a new steam career in her life.

After we painted the wheels black, we pained the tender bogey frames in a light graphite livery. She will be cleaned again just before she departs.


For many years she waited in a neat shed, to steam again. Soon her dream will come true with the help of dedicated people, living to see her alive. She needs everyone reading this and in return, she will make our dreams come true!

In her face we can see her happiness shinning bright.

Below: Number 3052 and 3488 coupled together at the Steam shed in Ficksburg.

Soon they will join hands with Sister engines based at Reef steamers in Germiston.