Traction Engines

120 Metre Road Train at Kalahari Sunrise


Did you realise a 120 metre road train behind A 1901 Fowler B5 Crane Engine was in daily operation at Kalahari Sunrise? 

If not view this YouTube link:

The Next Generation - Steam and Heritage enthusiasts

Sandstone Estates is delighted with the fact that we have so many young people who are competent to operate older machinery.

Shawn Spaan has been coming to Sandstone for many years and is now an accomplished operator on many types of our machines.  Steam Rollers are not for the fainthearted or for the ill qualified.  Here he is comfortably manning one of our steam rollers which we use regularly to do road maintenance on the estate.


We will be doing a feature shortly on all the younger people who work for us or with us from time-to-time and who represent the next generation of Steam and Heritage enthusiasts.

Our Fowler B5 Crane locomotive

Our big old Fowler B5 Crane locomotive dating back to 1901 represented one of the very first attempts by the British Army to deploy a mechanisation in a theatre of war.



Arrival of McLaren Traction Engine

Our 1904 McLaren Traction Engine is now on the farm after undergoing repairs following the mishap with the oil filler cap.


Sandstone/Braithwate Greens Roller update report

Phil Braithwaite has sent us the following report dated 25th November 2010, plus supporting photographs: 

The deep meshing of the primary gears was sorted by packing the right hand side of the crankshaft main bearing to align it correctly in the frames. (It was 250thou to far back). So hopefully when the secondary shaft-bearing sleeve is replaced this meshing will be somewhere near correct.

Next Rob Houghton made a ‘dolly’ to drive the sleeve out of the diff spur.

Unrestored engines

Unrestored engines

We always tend to concentrate on our restored engines. In the Agricultural / Steam Roller section we have 5 unrestored engines, details of which appear below:


R. Horsby & Sons

*McLaren Traction Engine No. 767

Heritage - Rail - News

Restoration of McLaren Traction engine No. 767

13th November 2007, updated 20th January 2008 and since ...

Jump to the update:

As you can see (below) we have been very industrious and made very good headway especially as the weather has not been at all favourable during the last month with heavy deluges of rain (and most of our work is done outdoors). We found that the drive shaft was badly bent and had to be straightened before we could weld up the journals. We have devoted most of our time during the last month in assembling, riveting and caulking the boiler as you will see from the attached photographs. I have also fabricated the new front axle pivot for the boiler and I am now involved in manufacturing the smoke box and then I will start on the fire box. If all goes well I would like to think we should have the boiler completed towards the end of next month. We have also fitted and riveted new spokes in the front wheels.

1901 McLaren Traction engine steamed after repairs


Over the weekend our 1901 McLaren Traction engine was steamed after repairs to straighten the crankshaft.  It ran well and will now be available as an accessory for rail tours.  Pat Ackerman supplied the pictures.

Sandstone/Braithwaite Greens Roller gets ready for the UK rally season

T Green roller 2135 being made ready for test steaming, 10th May 2010

*Main Index - Restoration of McLaren Traction Engine No. 767

Heritage - Rail - News

Restoration of McLaren Traction Engine no. 767

Jump to the update (latest updates are at the bottom);

01 Update 1st September 2007

Our main focus this month regarding the McLaren Traction Engine No. 767 has been restoring the crank shaft and piston rod guides and crossheads...

02 Update 12th October 2007

Bearing in mind that I was overseas for the last week of August and the first two weeks in September we have done very well with progress of the McLaren Traction Engine No. 767...

03 Update 13th November 2007

As you can see we have been very industrious and made very good headway especially as the weather has not been at all favourable during the last month with heavy deluges of rain (and most of our work is done outdoors)...

Pictures load from the top of the page... please wait... Update 20th January 2008

This last month we have steadily been carrying on manufacturing the boiler and have progressed extremely well considering that we have been hampered along the way as we have encountered serious rainfall combined with Eskom load shedding of electricity services...

05 Update 18th February 2008

Due to a problem with the firebox tube plate material (which had to be returned to the suppliers) progress with the firebox was held up...

06 Update 18th March 2008

This report is somewhat shorter as the month was taken up with manufacture of the Firebox and fitting this to the Boiler which was quite a mammoth task, but it fitted like a glove...

07 Update 11th April 2008

A lot of work during the last month has been entailed in the manufacture of the Tender, this is almost complete apart from riveting which we shall be doing next week...

08 Update 16th May 2008

The engine is at the stage where all of a sudden it will come together...

09 Update 20th May 2008

This project is still very much keeping us busy amongst the many tasks and different problems which we hit, but all in all things at long last seem to be coming together. This project has also made us much more proficient in riveting...

9.5 Update 25th June 2008

This last month has been extremely busy. The biggest task I have undertaken is the manufacture of the safety valves so that we can steam the boiler...

9.6 Update 28th July 2008

Over the last month we have been working 7 days a week to try and get on top of this momentum job. As you will see from the pictures we have made a huge dent in the outstanding work...

10 Update 29th July 2008

Here are pictures of the McLaren Traction Engine showing Tender attached...

11 Update 5th September 2008

The McLaren Traction Engine’s restoration is complete!

12 Update 29th September 2008

The McLaren Traction Engine article in The Witness and additional info from Keith Stevens.


Update 24th October 2008

The Sandstone Heritage Trust recently visited Keith Stevens in Natal in order to inspect the McLaren engine.  Considering the derelict machine that was delivered to him Keith has done an excellent job.  We do however have a couple of requests for assistance from McLaren owners...

HTN 23 - Sandstone’s steam programme extends way beyond locomotives

Sandstone Heritage Trust - News

This is a comprehensive cross-section of traction engines, steam rollers and agricultural portable engines


HTN 102 - Work commences on the restoration of 1910 McLaren Traction Engine

Sandstone Heritage Trust - News

7th June 2006

Keith Stevens, who has been working for the Sandstone Heritage Trust for many years as a subcontractor, has started work on the McLaren Traction Engine. The engine was located in the Nelspruit area approxmiately a year ago. There are virtually no working traction engines in South Africa.


HTN 105 - 1901 Fowler B5 Crane Engine

Sandstone Heritage Trust - News
8th June 2006

Picture by David Benn.

Featured without the boom in the wide open spaces of Sandstone Estates in the Eastern Free State.

HTN 109 - Information on Old Fowler Steam Engine Uncovered

Sandstone Heritage Trust - News

12th June 2006

Recently a scrap of an old newspaper was discovered in Robertson, with a picture of a Steam Engine at the top:


HTN 133 - ""Grumpy old men"

Sandstone Heritage Trust - News

HTN 134 - ""Grumpy old men"

1st September 2006

While many of the individuals who restore and drive our traction engines and related items fall into the category of "grumpy old men" we have exceptions. One of these is Shawn Spaan who is a regular visitor to Sandstone Estates. This is what he has to say about himself:

"Eversince I was very young, steam engines, whether trains or traction, have fasinated me. I spent many a Sunday, after cycling about 28kms at Roodepoort miniture steam train club eventually getting my miniture train licence to take people aroung the club. This has been my 4th visit to Sandstone Estate, this time bringing my own traction engine a 3" scale Allchin , called Thor NU7483 - to be part of the show. I love being involved with these magnificent machines that bring a taste of the old-world into my young 21 years of life. I will keep up with being involved so that the next generation will have the chance to experience the joy of precision and energy these engines give." - Shawn Spaan

Around the world in heritage circles the older generation are always highly appreciative of people who are not only interested in what they do but also technically competent to participate. Shawn is extremely knowledgable and has built his own scale model traction engine which is illustrated in the photograph below.