Railway Heritage

Sandstone's sunflowers are blooming.

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Renowned photographer, Tessa Joughin, who lives in Ficksburg, took time out from her busy schedule to photograph the sunflowers at Sandstone this week. In order to provide her with VIP transport we rolled out our 1913 BSA Rail car which complemented the sunflowers and enhanced the photographic experience. Tessa enjoyed it immensely.

Thanks Tessa for some great photographs.

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Sandstone's Narrow Gauge Railway continues to show versatility.

Some years ago we built a mobile sand blasting unit designed to sandblast railway related items. However, the demand for its services declined over the years.

Recently due to an upsurge in activities including the building of the first of a number of railway cottages we had an opportunity to recycle old window frames and to sandblast them using our mobile sandblasting unit.

We had almost forgotten we had the capability to do this.

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New book by Dennis Moore - Black Diamonds

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We are pleased to advise another excellent title is available from Dennis Moore.  See below for details:

"BLACK DIAMONDS - Steam Locomotives at work on the colliery railways of South Africa"

'Black Diamonds" ... is a colloquialism often used in South Africa to describe the coal produced in an industry that is one of the most important to the country. The modern image is, of course, of the 200+ high capacity wagons formed into block liner trains moving prodigious loads of the mineral to Richards Bay for export. However, there is a considerable domestic need as well, not least for coal fired power stations, which continue to be built in the seemingly never ending demand of the nation for more electricity.

There are huge collieries that have never had a private railway operation, these being served by adjacent rapid loading terminals from where the output is railed directly by the national railway carrier. Others are built close to major users, such as power stations and, for example, the Sasol plants, where the coal is taken directly in by conveyor. At the other end of the scale are smaller mines that have always relied on road transport. Between all these however, lies the subject matter of this book : those collieries that used their own railway system to handle their output (and / or stores traffic) to the nearest exchange yard with South African Railways. More specifically, those that used their own steam 'Black Diamonds' to haul their trains. Not all were black, of course, although all were true gems of the steam age. Specialised industrial locomotives were in the minority in this industry, although they had an important role to play. Primarily, locomotive classes long since extinct on South African Railways could be found slogging away still earning their keep right through to the middle 1990s. The lively text is also filled with interesting anecdotes and technical and historical information. This hefty volume presents a long overdue pictorial tribute to these workhorses.

For full details, please visit www.blurb.com and enter Dennis Moore steam in the search engine.

Our Hunslet Diesel receives some serious TLC

Our ex Mines Hunslet Diesel has been the backbone of our railway since we acquired it many years ago from the Midmar Museum in Natal.  Its build date is 14.1.1984 so it is already a respectable 28 years old.

The 6LW Gardner engine in the Hunslet was very tired and so we have done effectively a full engine transport using the engine from a Broomwade compressor that is in tip-top condition.  See the picture below.

While we are about it we will be attending to a number of other issues with respect to the Hunslet now that the sub frame, axles, and drive train have been revealed.  When complete the locomotive will then be resprayed and should look as new for Stars of Sandstone in 2013.

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Lounge car project.

An important and exciting phase of the construction of our lounge car has now been completed.

This involved fitting brass railings and brass side exit doors, together with a step on platform to an adjoining coach, all of which has been in brass.

An important accessory is the handrail running down the middle of the veranda portion of the lounge car. We are now at the stage where we are looking for lights and period fittings. If anyone has anything available or knows where we might source such items we would love to hear from them.

Please send the information to Leigh Sanders, E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Visitors to our 2012 event may have seen what looked like a fairly advanced lounge car.  We have a dining car and we have carriages but we do not have a lounge car so that is now receiving our attention. 

The pictures clearly show the basic design of the lounge car which is designed to be compatible to our fully restored Guards Van with its fully restored sides fully varnished.

The lounge car has a cosy lounge area, which is fully upholstered for ladies, and a veranda section also with seating for the gentlemen.  The gentlemen will be exposed to the elements while the ladies will not be.

The pictures clearly show the direction in which the project is developing.

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Wagon refurbishment 

Hot upon the full maintenance of 6 B-Bogies for Welsh Highland Railway and the restoration of two cattle trucks we are now tackling DZ’s.

These have been quite hard to come by in recent years but we have had a number of very untidy ones in stock.  We hope to restore all of them to as new condition so that we have a reasonably good DZ only consist available.

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Arn Jung 847 steam tested.

The Bloemfontein team have  steam tested the Arn Jung 847 .The locomotive moves well but inevitably here are a number of adjustments that have to be made.

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Sandstone invites locomotive restoration projects.

Sandstone's Bloemfontein workshops have been operational now for over 12-years and have restored over 20 locomotives. Apart from one, which is the incorrect gauge for our line, these have been maintained at Sandstone Estates in the Eastern Free State. However, due to capacity issues and the fact that the annual cost of keeping boiler certificates valid is so expensive we have decided to diversify and consider carrying out work for international customers.

The standard of our work has been well accepted in Germany where one locomotive has been successfully rebuilt and exported.

If you have any interest in taking advantage of our specialised facilities please contact Mike Myers. His contact details are as follows: E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Tel: 011 805 4692.

Class of 92 Train Trip Reunion

Matriek Reunie 2012 Ficksburg(Kanne)

Twintig jaar gelede het ons matriek geskryf dit was die laaste matriek klas van die sg kanne,in 1993 sou die kanne(Hoerskool Ficksburg) en die HTS Sixies skole saamselt en sou jare en jare se ou tradisies daarmee saam in die graf gaan.

Wel dit was nou tyd om reunie te hou en Maart het ons die datum vasgemaak 21 September 2012 sou ons reunie hou.

Die mense was aanvanklik traag want dit is moeilik om met die kinders so ver te reis en wat doen hulle in Ficksburg?

Dis toe dat ons die idee kry om Sandstone te vra of ons die Saterdag daar kan deurbring,ou trekkers,stoomtreine,weermagvoertuie asook afrikanerosse wat meer wil ‘n kind nou vra.Ons het dadelik die program op ons facebook blad geplaas en skielik was daar beweging onder die ou matrieks almal weet van Sandstone maar wat gaan daar rerig aan,opgewondenheid het begin borrel en almal het begin uitsien na ‘n reunie vol opwinding en verwagtings.

Op 21 September maak almal hulle verwagting op Sandstone en niemand kon glo wat hulle sien nie want sien ons het in Standard 9 ‘n biologie uitstappie na Hoekfontein gehad saam met Juffrou Barrett dit was in 1991 en Sandstone het onstaan in 1996 op die einste plaas Hoekfontein.’n Nuwe wereld het oopgegaan geboue en store groter as enige Amerikaanse plaas,kantore en vergaderfassiliteite van wereld gehalte,’n treinsatasie met ‘n stoomtrein wat aangerol kom beeste skape trokke en trekkers als waarvan ‘n afrikaanse boerseun van droom.Die manne was meer in hul noppies as die seuns self.

Daar aangekom het ons ons lekker tuisgemaak in die wonderlike fassililteite wat Sandstone bied en toe is almal na die Afrikanerosse klaar ingespan reg om die groot trek aan te durf met die eertydse ou ossewa,daarna het ons teruggaan in tyd na al die ou trekkers treine en voertuie wat vandag op Sandstone bewaar word vir die nageslagte.Die stoomtrein was ‘n hoogtepunt die kinders en almal daar sal dit nooit vergeet die gevoel die wind deur ons hare en asemrowende uitsigte wat geen woorde ooit kan beskryf nie.

Sandstone is ‘n juweel op die rand van die Caledon in die Vrystaat, dis ‘n bewaringsmekka wat bewaar moet word vir geslagte wat kom nie net vir Suid Afrika maar ook vir die wereld.

Ons klas van 92 kan net se dankie Wilfred Mole vir die ongelooflike ervaring wat mens op Sandstone ervaar en ook baie dankie dat jy soveel van jou tyd oor die jare spandeer het in bewaring vir die nageslagte wat kom, u los ‘n skat wat geld nie in geld gemeet kan word maar in tyd en ons hoop die legende leef vir honderde jare in die toekoms in.

Ons salueer u.

Matrieks 92’’

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Track maintenance update

Jantjie and his team have moved to Vailima.  This is the most remote and distant section of our line.  It comes under a lot of pressure from the local population, as well as from nature.  The gradients are challenging and drainage is an issue. 

The photographs below show Jantjie and his team realigning sections of the track, as well as lifting, repacking, and re-enforcing sections that are not up to specification. These sections will then be reballasted. 

A works train is planned for October to improve the drainage culverts, plant grass, and remove trees that interfere with the line.   A full report on that will follow.

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