Railway Heritage

Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

RN 87 - NGG 16. No. 88

Errol Ashwell has supplied us with some vintage photographs of NGG 16 No. 88 working the Banana Express in the 1970s.

This was later purchased privately and used during the early days of the ACR until it was set aside in need of repair. Purchased by Sandstone in 2003 it is now in the early stages of restoration, having been partially stripped down for assessment.
No. 88 is one of only four NGG 16 Garratts built under licence by John Cockerill of Seraing, Belgium in 1937.

Of these four, nos. 85 to 88 three are owned by Sandstone, the missing example being no. 87 which is currently for sale in the UK, none of them being in working order.


Sandstone already has no.153 a restored Hunslet Taylor example built in 1968, and no. 113 a restored Beyer Peacock example built in1939, so no. 88 will complete a full set of NGG 16 builders. With NGG 13 no. 49 which was built by Hanomag of Germany, nobody can complain about a lack of variety.



Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

RN 85 - Steam Shed weekly report - 12th - 18th August 2005

NGG 153 was steamed again to haul a train to Vailima Halt. Paul Stratford, a UK rail and vintage tractor journalist, visited us on this day and enjoyed a day with Dave Richardson on our narrow gauge line.

153 were fired up early in the morning and were ready to take the train out at 09H00. On return to the shed, we all rushed to get the Kalahari ready to be loaded the next day.



Arno fitted two brass strips to the cylinder covers on both sides, while Petrus and Oupa were busy with polishing the brass on the Kalahari. The tender was washed out and the last repairs were done.

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The Kalahari was steam tested before she was loaded.
NGG number 153 was steamed again to haul the Kalahari to Vailima where we could load it more easily. We departed at 12H00 and proceeded very slowly towards Vailima.


ABOVE: A photo of the Kalahari just before departure for Vailima.

We first loaded the locomotive on the one low bed and then the tender on the second low bed.

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153 was used to push the Kalahari and tender onto the low beds.

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The Kalahari's tender was uncoupled and moved away from the low bed. The locomotive was secured properly with chains and moved away to sleep over in the Sandstone yard, ready for departure early on Wednesday morning.

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We departed 06H00 on Wednesday morning, bound for Port Elizabeth.

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The first night we slept over at Cradock and we left early Thursday morning for the last section of the journey. This is the greatest, to load a locomotive, take it all the way, operate it and then bring it home again.

We arrived at Humewood depot 15H00 the Thursday and we all were very delighted to have the locomotive safe and sound at her destination. Local journalists welcomed us at the Humewood Diesel depot.


After an exhausting trip we took some time off in the afternoon and visited the sea side.

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Vrystaaters at the sea!
We offloaded the Kalahari on Friday morning. The Humewood Diesel depot is very well equipped and we could easily offload the locomotive and tender with the help of the friendly Spoornet guys that work there.
A special thanks to all the Spoornet guys at Humewood.

After the locomotive was offloaded, we assembled the tender to the locomotive again. We started with the final touches of the cleaning of the locomotive and got her ready to be steam tested again.




Greetings, Gert.

Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

RN 83 - Clean up at Avontuur

One of the by products of the forthcoming Avontuur Adventurer is that not only the railway has been cleaned up and reopened, but the Kalahari, No. 147, plinthed at a filling station, has also enjoyed some long overdue attention.

Now looking spick and span following attention from some locals as part of another short term job creation project, it now looks almost as good as Sandstone's No. 17 which is now in Port Elizabeth, and very much better than most of the woebegone examples in long term storage at Humewood Road.


Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

RN 81 - Weekly steamshed report - 29th July - 4th August 2005



The O&K was washed out last Friday prior to the Winter Steam weekend. She was used on Saturday to work a short passenger service between Mooihoek and Grootdraai, with Driver Piet Terreblanch and Fireman Ben Kruger.


The Decauville was steamed on Friday and Saturday. She really steamed her way into everybody's hearts. The little coco pan that was restored recently was coupled to the Decauville and she looked stunning with this little green coco pan.

The Hunslet was used to do all the shunting work that was needed on the Winter Steam weekend. She also worked ballast trains on the new section of the line this week.

Desmond finished the repairs that were needed on the Kalahari. The Kalahari will be steam and tested in next week. She will undergo cosmetically upgrading in next week. The Kalahari is bound for Port Elizabeth on the 17th of this month, and will be assembled at Port Elizabeth again. She will then be steam tested again.

NGG 16 number 153 was steamed to work a special train for all the journalists that were flown in by plane to the Ficksburg Airport. The train departed from Vailima 12h00 and arrived at Hoekfontein at 12H20. The journalists were taken on a Farm tour while the train was waiting in Hoekfontein Station for a train ride to Grootdraai later that afternoon.

Left is NGG 16 Number 153 waiting at Vailima, with Driver (myself) and Fireman Derick van Zyl.

It was a cold winter morning in the Eastern Free State, and we fired up the Barclay and NGG 16 Number 153. It was amazing how the atmosphere changed when these giant machines come to life. The smell of steam and oil, the sound of the lightingting dynamo and the first whistle that announced the break of day.

153 worked the photographic train to Vailima Halt and returned to Hoekfontein in time for lunch. The little Decauville and the Barclay were standing in Hoekfontein for the afternoon photo sessions. The Barclay and 153 performed some run pasts between Pandora and Hoekfontein in the afternoon. 153 left for Grootdraai just before sunset.

The Barclay and 153 were steamed again for the Sunday's events and the Barclay took a short train to Grootdraai early the morning, while 153 waited for the return of the Barclay to Hoekfontein. 153 was then used to work a special passenger train to Vailima and back. Driver Pat Ackerman and Fireman Derrick van Zyl manned the engine and returned to Hoekfontein at 11h00. This was the end of the weekend's events and the locomotives were stabled.


Jacob started with the refurbishing of another B wagon (right). This wagon number 2436 will be Jacob's first wagon to restore by himself.

Derrick started to cut down this wagon to be a flat wagon. Ben will fit a wooden floor the same way as the newly refurbished flat wagon.



WAGON 2454:
Derrick is almost finished with the "bunker and tender" part of this wagon. The front part of this wagon will also have a wooden floor and the Britannia will then be fitted to this wagon.

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WAGON 3571:
This wagon is loaded with a big boiler and is standing in the wagon shed. This wagon will be offloaded, and Ben will convert it to a flat wagon with a wooden floor as well.

All these wagons due for restoration, will be lined up and sandblasted at once. This will speed up the restoration program by weeks. Bringing back these wagons from scrap to working condition is almost as exciting and rewarding as for locomotives. Some of these wagons really look like a hopeless case at first, but after a few days work, the picture changes. Gold Fields Track is currently busy with the laying of storage lines, and will then be used to store all the restored wagons as well.

All the wagons next to the coal stage will be re-railed and will be taken to some of the sidings on the Farm to wait their turn for restoration.
Here are some photos of wagons restored during this year:

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All the wagons and coaches are brought to the shed every two months for brake adjustments and under frame inspection. The wagons are vacuum brake tested every time before they are used and all details of repairs are logged in a logbook available for each wagon

THE COAL EXTRACTOR: (below left)
The coal dust extractor will be finished by the end of next week and will then be used before coaling the locomotives.

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WORKSHOP PLANNING: (above right)
We are going to make a gallery inside the workshop, as well as a wall of fame of all our special guests that visit us here at Sandstone Estates.



They have started with the cutting up of the old hoppers that are not in use anymore. The locomotives will be next and includes the following:

1.) 1 x 19B or 19BR

2.) 2 x 3BR

3.) 3 x 16CR


There is another North British 4-8-2T tank locomotive (NBL 27090/1951) situated at the sports grounds in Allanridge, that is safe and will not be cut up, but a representative at the Mine told me that if someone is interested, it could be purchased.

The Mine approved the buying of two brand new Steam locomotive Dynamo's as well as the conveyor belts that we need in the Vintage shed.

The Hunslet Diesel locomotive spends the week offloading ballast on the new section of line. The offloading of the ballast is completed now and Goldfields Track can now finish the lift and pack of the line. Here are the new points that were fitted just above Pandora.

Goldfields Track is currently busy with the extension of the 3'6" storage line at Hoekfontein station. They are also building a third loop and two storage lines, one at Hoekfontein Station, and one down at the Wagon shed.

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We moved steel sleepers and rails to Hoekfontein station this week, for the building of these storage lines.

As soon as the tamping of the ballast is completed on the new section from Vailima halt, we shall start with the line cleaning up of the line using the Hunslet Diesel locomotive.

Class 24, number 3635, that worked the last Steam train on the Theunissen to Winburg line in May 1988, with Driver E.J. Seaman, Fireman John Makwena and Loco Inspector Mossie Mostert.

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Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

RN 82 - "Verve" supplement from the Star - Article by Winnie Graham

Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

RN 80 - New images of the Decauville steaming

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Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

RN 79 - Sandstone Estates appoints trainee steam fitter

Jacob Mathibe, who has worked at Sandstone Estates for some time, has shown considerable aptitude while working with the Steam team in the Running Shed at Hoekfontein. It was noticed that he was showing potential as a fireman on the locomotives, and as a result he has been formally promoted to the position of Trainee Steam Fitter and will be scheduled to study and to take his exams as a fireman under the Spoornet rules and regulations.

We welcome Jacob to the team.

Gert Jubileus
Running Shed Manager
Hoekfontein Workshops
Sandstone Heritage Trust
Eastern Free State

Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

RN 78 - Sandstone Heritage Trust Plans extension to Narrow Gauge Railway System

Having completed the last 3-km sector of line which joins Vailima Heights to the main line at Pandora, consideration is being given to a special extension to the line to take it down to the scenic Hoekfontein dam area. This would be a single branch line which would terminate in the area immediately across from the lake (see picture attached). Although only 1.7-kms in length, it opens up a beautiful area of Sandstone Estates hither to unknown to visitors. It will be particularly useful when small industrial and Sugar Cane type locos are deployed simultaneously with larger NGG 16, NGG 13 and NG 15 type locomotives. Traffic levels on the main line can make it difficult to operate smaller trains, and the opening of a special branch line will provide us with the opportunity to effectively offer two experiences at the same time.

The arrival of the 1899 Decauville and the pending arrival of the Kerr Stuart Wren type locomotive in a few weeks time makes this possibility all the more exciting. The company currently does not have sufficient 2-ft narrow gauge sleepers to complete this section but we are currently searching for 1,500 of these. All the other materials are in stock. If anyone knows where narrow gauge sleepers can be obtained we would be most grateful if they could contact Dave Richardson, Cell:082 447 9167


Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

RN 77 - Excerpts from Steam Railway Magazine, UK, April 22 - May 19 2005 - No. 309

We were delighted to see the Sandstone mention on pages 96 and 97, "The second rescue operation in Free State Province" in this particular issue of the Steam Railway Magazine.
There is also a mention of the St. Helena "Great Escape".

Impressive! We have gained permission to republish this article on our website from the journalist, David Thornhill and the Publisher of the magazine, Tony Streeter.

Please click on the images to read the full article.


Credit to journalist David Thornhill.
Copyright Steam Railway magazine.


Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News

RN 76 - Update on Sandstone's new railway line

Track laying is more than three quarters complete on the 3-km extension to the Vailima line. Our pictures show the Sandstone Estates D6 CAT Crawler preparing the track bed, while picture two clearly shows the end result before ballasting. All ballasting will be done by rail, some of it steam hauled.

While all this was happening a Coles crane was loading rail onto our Diamond T with low bed, both of which are over 50-years old.

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