Railway Heritage

O&K 12691 undergoes steam trials at Sandstone

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No. 12691 ready for unloading at her new home              

This locomotive, built in 1936 for The New Machavie Gold Mining Co. Ltd near Klerksdorp, has been moved from Bloemfontein to Sandstone and is currently undergoing steam trials prior to its unveiling into service at the Stars of Sandstone 2015 event in April. Rescued from a derelict state at the old SANRASM facility No. 12691 is resplendent in a new blue livery and joins a number of its O&K sisters at Sandstone.

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Steaming through Hoekfontein Station on her first run              

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                                                               Inside the cab

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                                    No. 12691 prior to recovery from SANRASM

                                    Picture courtesy of Derek Walker


The Last Angolan 500mm Gauge O & K (no: 12140 of 1930) Moves into Preservation

After Sandstone’s visit to Angola in 2003, four 500mm gauge O & K locomotives were brought to South Africa. All four were originally delivered to the Companhia Do Assucar De Angola for their estate in Caixito. Of these, two have been restored in Bloemfontein, namely O & K 0-4-0T 10311 of 1922 (converted to 600mm) and O&K 0-6-0T 12493 of 1934.

This latter locomotive was sold to the Feldbahnmuseum in Nuremberg, Germany where a 500mm gauge line is operated. It was chosen because it was the only locomotive of the 500mm gauge Angolan quartet where conversion to 600mm was not possible due to the axle type. This may now be the only 500mm gauge O & K in existence.

Of the other 500mm gauge O & K locomotives of 0-6-0T configuration brought to South Africa, no: 11112 of 1925 is well into restoration at Bloemfontein.

The last locomotive, no: 12140 of 1930, is now having preliminary boiler repairs done as a prelude to full restoration and conversion to 600mm.

As with all of its Angolan sisters, 12140 was in a very poor state and was not initially considered restorable. As the picture below shows the locos were in extremely poor condition after lying in the Angolan bush, during the civil war, which suspended most commercial sugar farming.


Three of the Angolan locos as they arrived.

Initial work has begun on the boiler of 12140 at Stevens Mechanical in Howick, Kwa Zulu Natal. It has been stripped completely for a total rebuild being basically a write off.

Keith Stevens has sent us these images of the initial work being done on the boiler of 12140.

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Drilling through the foundation ring into the outer firebox wrapper. The outer wrapper riveted up to the throat plate and backhead.     

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The boiler barrel fitted to firebox end. All the doubler plates have been riveted into the outer firebox wrapper and the stay holes drilled. The boiler barrel has been drilled, reamed and bolted ready for riveting and caulking.

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The smoke box outer wrapper.                        The new dome partly complete.


The new tube plate which has been fabricated.


O & K 11112 under restoration in Bloemfontein, 12140 will be of similar appearance when fully restored.



Locomotive O&K 12691

Below is an article on locomotive O&K 12691 which is currently under restoration by Lukas Nel and his team at Bloemfontein. The article traces the history of the locomotive, gives general information and displays images.

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Click here to view the article.

Currently we are moving very heavy locomotives from the open area where they are stored into our big new 100-metre long locomotive shed for their well-being. We have a useful collection of static locos which we have accumulated over the years. The locos in question are as follows:


Ex Sar 16CR No.821

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Ex SAR 16CR No.821 4-6-2 was built by North British. After being sold by SAR to St Helena Gold Mine in Welkom it became their No 1 tank. It was put into storage in 2002 when the mine dieselized. Sandstone acquired it after being given 24 hours notice of it being scheduled to be scrapped. Sadly the tender had already been cut.


North British Tank FSG No.3

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This loco of 4-8-2 wheel arrangement was a common loco on South African mines. The loco is incorrectly numbered ‘1’ but is Free State Geduld Mine’s No 3. It was withdrawn in 1991 and plinthed outside the Freegold Social Club. It was acquired by Sandstone in 2005 along with Ex Sar 16CR No.821 on the eve of the scrap merchants moving in.


Essentially we lay down a temporary track and then haul these locomotives with a big tractor until they are all on a section of line. We then lift the line that they come off and put it in front of them and so it goes on. This will take some time. However, by Stars 2015 they will all be painted and looking good. There is no plan to put them in steam but they are safe for posterity.

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Based on what is happening throughout South Africa these locos could be considered the lucky ones.


Sandstone Estates restores and ships three 2-ft Narrow Gauge flat wagons to preserved railway in Chile

With over 300 items of rolling stock in our inventory Sandstone is in a position to assist other railways with high quality 2-ft Narrow Gauge wagons which are manufactured and prepared to their specifications. The high quality of South Africa's Narrow Gauge rolling stock and the internationally recognised Narrow Gauge bogies which go under them have created a fairly consistent demand for these items.

Sandstone would never compromise its own core Heritage stock but we have a large number of unrestored items in our salvage yard which are surplus to our requirements and therefore we believe should go back into Preservation in another location. Since there are no other really viable operating 2-ft Narrow Gauge railways in South Africa who require these items we believe that our strategy is sound. The money received from these is recycled into our locomotive and wagon refurbishment programme. For every one we export we probably refurbish and rebuild 5 for ourselves. At present we are building from scratch using very badly rusted components an NGG11 water tanker, as well as one additional Ratanga coach for our passenger operations. The photos below show the professional way in which these items are being loaded prior to shipment to Durban and then on to Chile.


















Keith Stevens completes another boiler

The boiler for O&K locomotive, No. 11112, is now complete.

The boiler will be collected in the next few days and delivered to Bloemfontein where Lukas will continue to fast track the complete rebuild of this valuable and interesting old ex-Angolan locomotive.

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Smoke Box Door newly manufactured

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New  Smoke Box manufactured

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Putting newly manufactured firebox into Boiler

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New Tube Plate manufactured

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Expanding Firebox side Tubes

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New Tubes in

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Inner Firebox stayed up with fusable plug in position

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New Smoke Box fitted

Progress report on O&K locomotive No. 11112 Boiler

Keith Stevens has sent us the following pictures which clearly show the firebox is now fitted. This will shortly be riveted.

The smokebox along with front tube plate and smokebox door are now completed and ready to be fitted. Thereafter the tubes will be fitted and the hydraulic testing completed. Completion of the boiler is approximately a month away. As one can see from the photographs below Keith Stevens does a professional job using traditional boiler repair and refurbishment methods. We will in essence receive a new boiler when this task is completed.

Moved from Angola some years ago it is one of only three left in the world. Original 500mm track size resulted in one being sold to Germany. We do own the other two.

The other locomotive 12140 is also under construction with the boiler at Keith's place for repairs.

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Sri-lanka Steam

Steam in Sri Lanka

One of our frequent Stars of Sandstone visitors, Fabrice Lanoue, has provided us with a fascinating pictorial of Steam in Sri Lanka.

Click here to view more (3.21 MB)

San Alfonso Collection in Chile

We have recently been in contact with Jose Zagal in Santiago, Chile regarding his impressive Railroad equipment collection.  To learn more about his impressive collection click on the documents below:

San Alfonso Collection - Part 1 -1.7MB PDF

San Alfonso Collection - Part 2 - 1.5MB PDF

Jose would love to hear from like-minded people.  

RSR Inspection Report - Sandstone Estates

The line and the railway have been declared as being in good heart.

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Click here to read more (240kb)