Railway Heritage

Good news regarding Sandstone's line rehabilitation.

Under the guidance of Keith Flint of Flint Construction, an accredited consultant to the Rail Safety Regulator, our team at Sandstone are progressing steadily with a major reconstruction of portions of the line. The floods last year revealed some significant weaknesses in the line construction. For example, in some cases there was an underlying layer of clay which responded to the high rainfall of 2011 by moving and causing the line to subside and shift.

The report below from Stephan du Preez who is in charge of the Civil Engineering work at Sandstone Estates clearly illustrates  the problem.  Stephan's report reads:

"Progress on rail works

Please find photos attached. The soil there is mainly clay which is why the rail was sinking into the ground. We are digging out the clay and will replace it with gravel. This will sort out the problem. Rod from Flint construction will be here on Thursday I will show him what we are doing. He will also mark out the curve at Pandora so we can start stripping the rail there as well. I will have to use a steam roller to compact the gravel at Pandora before we can relay the rail. The ballast also have to be cleaned there is a lot of soil in between it. As soon as the major earthworks are done I will plant cosmos on the banks which will probably be next week some time. We are making good progress so far.

Stephan du Preez"

This material is being removed and replaced with gravel. In line with our normal policy we are using a 1940's Foden Dump truck which can be seen in the background to bring in the material. So far the consultants are very impressed with the quality of the work being carried out by Sandstone. It is likely that this work will continue flat out until our event in late March.

On the subject of the event, if you are reading this story and if you want to see more than 20 locomotives in steam at one time then you need to consider attending. Remember this is a bespoke event not for the general public or for general entertainment but to allow people who really understand a lot about Narrow Gauge railways to experience the thrill of seeing some of the most iconic locomotives in the world actually working together under the African skies.

Rod Finlay from Flint Construction is coming to inspect the work this week. He also intends to mark out the curves at Pandora so that we can start stripping the rail to alter the curves. One of our steam rollers needs to be brought into service to compact the gravel in this area before we relay the line. The ballast also has to be lifted, cleaned, and placed back in position.

We would like to use this opportunity of expressing our appreciation to Keith Flint and his team for assisting us. They recognised that we were by and large a non-income generating heritage project and they have given us an immense amount of assistance and advice on a no charge basis. Considering the tough times in which we live this type of support and enthusiasm for what we are doing is most encouraging.

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P1030174Our 1940's Foden Dump truck

New spray trolley built to protect the line.

Stephan du Preez of the Hoekfontein Running Shed had built a new spray trolley to protect the line. After the flooding of last year we have got a lot of problems with weed growth and vegetation on the line but this has now been tackled.

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Progress on Arn Jung locomotive, No. 847, boiler

22 February 2012 update

Keith Stevens has just provided the following report.  The Arn Jung Locomotive Boiler has now been completed and passed it's hydraulic test on Monday 20 February 2012.  We have steamed this to 110 psi this was basically to seal up the leaks and small weeps in the boiler. As you well know a steam test can only be done when all the fittings are attached to the boiler and is mounted on the chassis of the locomotive.

Below are pictures of the final stages of restoration which depict boiler tubes being fitted, beading of the tubes and caulking of the firebox including boiler plate seams and boiler stays.  Also firebox and smokebox doors fitted and the completed item.

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19 January 2012 update 

Boiler for Arn Jung, No. 847, nearly completed

Keith Stevens has sent us these excellent photos.  It is plain to see that Keith is a master boiler maker who knows exactly what he is doing, and more importantly does things the traditional way.

The pictures depict tapping out the stay holes by hand (108 in all) followed by screwing in the stays and thereafter caulking the stays in the firebox and a view in the firebox having the stays being caulked. Also tubes are starting to be fitted.

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16 December 2011 update

Keith Stevens has now completed the outer Boiler shell and is now at a point of completing the manufacture of the firebox. He has just received the tubes from Surtees and is in the process of machining the firebox stays along with the firebars, smokebox door and firebox door. He has been in contact with Lukas Nel and fitted feed water flanges as he has required.

The photographs enclosed depict assembly of the outer firebox, machining of feed water flanges, making rivets, firebox and boiler barrel fitted together, view inside external firebox, drilling rivet holes, manufacture of firebox, boiler construction from smokebox end, original dome re-fitted, view into external firebox after riveting, internal counter-sinking rig for tube plate flange joints.

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Narrow Gauge Wickham Rail car redesigned and rebuilt.

Our Wickham Rail Car has done sterling service over the last 10-years on the Sandstone Steam Railroad. However, its workload which involved maintenance, the spraying of the line, and transportation of personnel has taken its toll and we have decided that it needs an upgrade and re-design. The chassis was too light for the task in hand. Its powerful Toyota diesel engine was probably putting more stress on it than would have been the case when it was new. In addition, the wheels were not only worn out but were too light for the task.

The Wickham will end up looking very much like it did before but it will have a significantly upgraded chassis, wheel sets, and other mechanical improvements. The photographs below show the engineering work that has been redone. Compared to what it looked like before this is now a very solid and robust under carriage and drive train. It probably will be ready for our March event.

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Sandstone's Lounge / Balcony car continues to take shape.

Wouter Jubileus is doing an excellent job. The pictures clearly show the balcony section which is nearly complete. The lounge section is more enclosed and has now had three additional windows fitted to improve the lighting in that area.

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Sandstone Steam Railroad extends its storage line capability

Over the years the number of 2-ft Narrow Gauge wagons, carriages, and locomotives on the farm has increased. This has forced us to use sections of the main line for storage purposes. Obviously such an arrangement inhibits the movement of trains and so we have recently built two more lines which will alleviate the pressure in this area. The first of these is another passing loop near the Hoekfontein Station. This means that there are now three parallel running lines which can be used to allow trains to move through the Hoekfontein section even though the other two lines re occupied. The third line is a dedicated storage line of approximately 200-metres with a stop block at the end. This will be used to hold unused rolling stock and at certain times to stage a consist, which might be required for example for a photographic tour etc.

The points are in, the line has been laid, and the ballast has now been put down.

Our photographic gallery below refers.

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Railway gardens upgraded.

Spring is here and although we have had very little rain it has been decided to upgrade the gardens in and around the area of the Sandstone Steam Railroad complex.  We have installed a sprinkler system to keep things green during the summer months and we have also carried out a number of other improvements, such as the installation of low sandstone walls to demarcate flowerbeds and areas of lawn etc.

One of our longest standing employees, Johannes, has proved himself to be an admirable stonemason and he is currently making a huge difference in improving the ambience in and around the Hoekfontein complex.

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Sad Tidings from Sandstone

Sandstone received excellent coverage in the November/December 2011 edition of Narrow Gauge World.

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Please click here to view the article - 3.4MB PDF (opens in new window)

General Update - Sandstone Heritage Trust

The following pictures were taken during the week.

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We are improving the gardens in the immediate area of the main Running Shed at Hoekfontein.  The most significant change is the construction of sandstone walls by one of our oldest employees, Johannes.  This will go a long way towards tidying up the gardens.

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We do not have a good track record for building wagons or passenger stock but Wouter and Stephan volunteered to build a lounge car for the farm.  This is now under construction.  It has a ladies section which will be upholstered in plush fittings and materials, and an outdoor balcony for the gents to discuss the next Rugby World Cup.

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The above pictures show Stephan surrounded by his handiwork.  We are building a new passing loop between Hoekfontein and Pandora within the main complex.  We are also building another major storage line.  At the moment rolling stock is actually stored on one of our through lines, which is not acceptable.  This work has been done in conjunction with an authorised rail contractor who provides a supervisory and inspection service to us.  Stephan and his team are to be complimented on the quality of the track work that they have been doing.  Please note the flat containing panels which have been lifted from the flooded section at Vailima.

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Narrow Gauge Workshop report - 26 September 2011
By Stephan du Preez

Lounge car

The lounge car has been striped and will be sandblasted before repairs to the frame begin. We will start removing wood from the Vailima & Pandora houses to be used as frames & floor of the lounge car. A handbrake has been fitted to the lounge car and some of the steel for the frame has been cut to size.

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Points & storage lines

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It will take two days to finish the points for the storage line and we need to lay 120m of track to finish it. We will collect ballast from the 3’6” line (where the old 19D’s were standing) to complete it. The completion date will depend on the number of people I have to tamp the line. I want to finish laying the tracks on the 21/10/2011 after that the line needs to be tamped. The weights of the points still need to be fitted on the main line where the siding starts. 

It was interesting to see that the sleepers that I cut to fit to the points were laminated pine and not the traditional Rhodesian teak.

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Waenhuis floor

I want to start the waenhuis floor as soon as I have installed the points at the rail gate. It should take about three weeks to complete. I will send the PR through to get the materials that are needed. The plan is to break out the concrete floor to make the wood floor the same height as the rest of the building. It will also make the process easier to get the floor level.

3’6” Coaches

We are systematically doing repairs to the coaches the biggest problem is to get the roof waterproof. The roof of the coach at the steam shed has been re-painted to stop the rust. We will continue to do these kinds of repairs to keep them in a good condition.

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Water tanks

There are two water tanks in the salvage yard (see photos) the one is striped and I don’t know if it is complete.

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I think it will be a good idea to put one at Groot draai to help the smaller locos. It happens often that the locos get into the station with no water at all. It is just a matter of time before somebody damages a boiler. The only concern I have is theft because it is so close to the border. There is a bore hole that used to feed the house we can put an engine there that can be removed when not in use to feed the tank. The other can be installed at the steam shed next to the caboose to give us some extra water when steaming up locos. Please give me your thoughts on this.

Bloemfontein crew

Leon and Isak are here to steam test the two locos that just arrived I will report how the two locos did. They will do a hydraulic test on the Kerr Stewart first to make sure it is fine.

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