Heritage treasures continue to be revealed

Our low bed has returned from the Eastern Cape with two items of significant historical interest. The first is a very early (approximately 1915) Fairbanks Morse tractor. This is a big tractor as can be seen from the photographs below and follows very much the design of the big North American prairie tractors from that era. The Sandstone Heritage Trust already has two, namely Emerson Brantingham Big 4-30 and a Rumely Oil Pull. The configuration is similar to this Fairbanks Morse.





Fairbanks Morse ceased to manufacture tractors in the early part of last century and so this example is particularly rare. Very few tractors of this size were ever shipped to SA and our research reveals that many of them went to the Eastern Cape. We know of two Fairbanks Morse survivors, one of which is derelict, but the other acquired from well-known tractor and machinery collector, Roy Nel, has suffered less. Restoration of this tractor is possible and we will be assessing whether it can be returned to full working operation.

An early photograph of a complete Fairbanks Morse appears below.



The second item is a very rare Otavi freight wagon from the very famous 2-ft Narrow Gauge Otavi Railway built by the German Military well over 100-years ago.

The Sandstone Heritage Trust has been trying for over 20-years to acquire these Otavi wagons which were probably bought from South West Africa / Namibia by the Transnet Heritage Foundation quite a while back in order to preserve them for Heritage purposes. Unfortunately they were discarded in Port Elizabeth and once again we had to intervene more as scrap purchasers than Heritage players in order to acquire them. We hope to have one or more of them restored by the Stars of Sandstone event next year.

Visitors to our web site who are interested in the Otavi Railway will find plenty of good information on the Internet. For its time and indeed even in retrospect it was a significant 2-ft Narrow Gauge railway which was operated under difficult conditions and which more than achieved its objectives. The NG15 locomotives were specifically designed for use on the Otavi.




An excellent article on these tractors appeared in the March/April Edition of USA Antique Power Magazine in July 2005


Click here to view the full article - 2MB PDF (opens in new window)