2ft Narrow Gauge

NGG16A number 155 under restoration. Update number 4 February 2020

The magnetic particle inspection is now complete and the wall thickness testing complete. No cracks were detected in the tube plates and all wall thicknesses are well within specs bar the two back corners but these are cleared by the engineer for welding up. All the small tubes are now annealed and are ready for swaging (all 152 of them!). Window patches for the damaged smokebox are being fabricated and the hollow stays, part of the GPCS inlet system, have bored out. This was quite a long job as the original weld had spread making them difficult to remove. As a critical part of the GPCS system this job has to be exact. Our picture gallery shows the firebox end tube plate after all the weld seams have been measured, the small tubes after annealing, forming of the smokebox patches and the secondary air inlets  during machining to remove them.

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NGG16A number 155 under restoration.

While work continues on the boiler in Pretoria, Gert Jubileus and his team have been busy at the Sandstone restoration facility. The overhaul of the engine units for number 155 has begun as our picture gallery shows.  The bearings proved to be in great condition and all the components have been stripped from the frames and  thoroughly cleaned. The loco has been out of service since 2000 when its boiler ticket expired at ACR so 20 years of accumulated grime had to be removed.

The front tank which was removed from the loco on arrival at Sandstone in 2002 has been brought up to the workshop for refurbishment. The loco will be turned out in its original red livery when the restoration is complete.

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NGG16A number 155 under restoration. Update number 1 February 2020

Preparatory work on the boiler of number 155 has begun in Pretoria with the old tubes being removed and the tube plates and boiler internals thoroughly cleaned. We now have the specifications for the Gas Producer Combustion System (GPCS) inlets on each side of the firebox which comprise a hollow boiler stay with a steel insert. At each outer end are “swirler” plates which rotate the air entering the firebox above the fire bed. Amazingly we have located a number of new ones in the Sandston store which must have arrived with 155 so many years ago that they were forgotten! Our picture gallery shows arrival in Pretoria and work on removing the tubes and cleaning the boiler in preparation for the retube.

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NGG16A number 155 under restoration

NGG16A number 155 under restoration

After many years of debate Sandstone Heritage Trust has put the wheels in motion for the restoration of the modified 2ft narrow gauge Garratt Class NGG16 number 155.

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The Vale of Rheidol Railway.

The Value of Rheidol Railway

Sandstone Heritage Trust has an ongoing dialogue with this famous narrow gauge railway in Wales. Nominally referred to as 2ft gauge (610mm as in Sandstone’s case) it is in fact 1ft 11 3/4in (603mm). It was the last steam operated portion of British Rail before being privatised in 1989. We were sad to hear of the passing of one of the original owners recently, Peter Rampton. A somewhat controversial character in preservation circles, he built up a massive collection of narrow gauge locomotives and equipment over the years, much of which was never open to the public. In this collection was a South African connection in the form of NGG13 number 60 and two Lawley locomotives, BR27 and BR28, sisters to the two similar locomotives at Sandstone. Both were acquired from Buzi Sugar in Mozambique. The Vale of Rheidol has produced a magnificent newsletter as a trubute to Peter Rampton for you to enjoy. Click here to read.

SAR Class NGG13. A fascinating story of their number plates.

Garratt Bucher from the Hempstead & Northern Railroad in Hempstead, Texas, has put together an intriguing article on the very interesting story behind the number plates of the SAR NGG13 Garratts. Garratt’s father, Robert L Bucher, owns the railway and paid many visits to South Africa in the sixties and seventies, having a great interest in the 2ft narrow gauge lines, particularly the Estcourt to Weenen branch which closed in 1983. Such was his enthusiasm that he imported one of the last locomotives to run on the line, NGG13 number 50 which is now in working order on the railroad. South African driver, Billy Bester, who drove on the line, became a close friend of Robert and spent a lot of time in the Texas with number 50.

An interesting contention in the article is Sandstone’s NGG13 number 49 may well actually be number 50 and in the USA, number 50 may well be 49! Any views or information on this will be welcome.

You can contact Dave Richardson by email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Latest Steam Report

Steam Report

March Steam Report - Click here to read

The NG10 passes its commissioning test

After receiving the required paperwork from the RSR, NG10 number 61 has passed its commissioning test at Sandstone. The final documents are now required from the RSR for the locomotive to be placed into service.

Our pictures show number 61 on the Grootdraai section during its trials.

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91-019 Safely at Sandstone.

Sandstone’s third Class 91 diesel has safely arrived at Hoekfontein and has been placed in the running shed alongside sister loco 91-010. Initial examination has shown that the loco has a good engine and excellent wheels and bogies. A number of cab fittings are missing together with some electrical components but these will be retrieved from 91-016 acquired from Grindrod in 3’6” gauge some time ago.

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Sandstone acquires another Class 91 diesel

Sandstone has acquired 91-019, the penultimate member of its class, from Port Elizabeth. 91-019 is believed to be the last unit given an overhaul by Transnet but a full inspection will be carried when the unit arrives at Sandstone this week. After almost 9 years out of use the unit looks a bit shabby but will be fully assessed by the loco workshop team.

Our pictures from Hansie Claasen show the complex loading procedure at Humewood Road on to the transport lowbed using two cranes.

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NG10 number 61 steams for the first time in 59 years!

The Class NG10, currently under restoration at Sandstone’s Bloemfontein workshop, underwent its first steam test under the watchful eye of Lukas Nel and moved under its  own power for the first time in 59 years having been withdrawn from service for preservation in Port Elizabeth in 1960. The restoration will certainly go down in the annals of steam preservation in South Africa as one of the most difficult ever accomplished and on a par with some of the restorations from the famous Barry scrapyard in the UK.

The locomotive will be launched into service at the Stars of Sandstone 2019 event on April 5th.


NG10. The detail is coming together.

As we mentioned last time progress has slowed slightly with a lot of detail work being completed. We are proud to release the first pictures of the cab interior and fittings plus a view of the exterior of the cab with all the windows and frames now in place.

What a beauty!

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A great weekend with the NG10!

After the arrival of a number of outstanding parts prior to the weekend Lukas Nel and his team exceeded their expectations over the last couple of days with the fitment of a large number of items:

The cylinder cladding was fitted along with the snifter valves, the left and right side injector piping, the lubricator and piping, the whistle valve, safety valves and the tender handbrake. We will now be able to complete the hydraulic test to identify any leaks prior to a steam test next week. Not long to go now!

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Latest Steam Report Feb 2019

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The beauty of the NG10.

The locomotive is now attached to the tender and apart from a few minor boiler mounts and regulator parts is almost at the end of an impressive restoration by Lukas Nel and his team. What a beauty!

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