This long lived drivers coach was superficially in a poor condition, however her interior was surprisingly intact and she would be used on the driving end of a suburban train for short trips. She did not have a motor or pantograph and was converted from an L-14 which were the 1st generation subs in the country. And was is possible that she was the only one left in the country. Her interior had been divided up into the drivers cab, an empty area possibly for luggage or parcels (now decorated with a blue sky and black walls), and a passenger section. She did not survive the rationalisation of Sanrasm and was sadly broken up. Very few drivers trailers have survived in any form in South Africa, and it is a pity that we lost this one.
This SB van was one of the few remaining identifiable remnants of the former Drakensberg express. Superficially she was in a good condition, but her body had been damaged by trees and general lack of maintenance at Sanrasm. There was also buckling of her underframe due to an accident when she was in service and that was probably why she was at Sanrasm in the first place. Sadly she was lost to fire in December 2010.
Yet another classic dining saloon that rotted while under the “care” of Sanrasm in Randfontein. Shashi (229), has had major water damage to her interior from a leaking roof and a broken window and it seemed as if would become yet another memory of our once glorious railway heritage. Her kitchen was housed in a separate coach that was also rotting away at Sanrasm, although she was on a different line altogether. In spite of the decay, Shashi was still beautiful, and when I last saw her in July 2012 she had been covered with a tarpaulin, stripped down, and was being restored. I believe she was amongst the vehicles that were moved to Reefsteamers and that she can be re-united with her kitchen (Coach 282) and return to service as a preserved vehicle.
Shashi’s kitchen and compartment coach (no: 282) somehow ended up on a different line to the seating part of the dining saloon set, and, she was in a much better condition. This coach not only contained a kitchen but also compartments for kitchen staff. And on the exterior she had a windowed corridor side as well as a service side. When I last saw her in 2012 she had been restored on the exterior, but a lot of work needed doing in her interior. She was however one of the more complete coaches that Sanrasm had.
One of the reach gems at Sanrasm North Site was the 3 class balcony coach 6086, she was unique, she is a 1st, 2nd and 3rd class vehicle and very worthy of preservation because she was probably the only one of her kind. Unfortunately she had been left to rot and was slowly falling apart. There was evidence of a fire inside of her, but you could still see the fine wooodwork in her rotting interior and exterior. Realistically she was only useable as firewood and in December 2010 she was broken up.
Phantom Pass (161) is, or should I say was, a gem. She is a “pure” wooden, half balcony dining saloon with her own kitchen. She is not a pillared dining saloon though, but stands out in her own right as worthy of preservation. Sadly, like so many “exhibits” at Sanrasm she was deteriorating very quickly after years of neglect, and with her rotten roof, sagging windows and her balconies rotting away, the water damage from the next rainy season had the potential to finish her for good unless she was rescued very quickly. In December 2010 she was stabilised in preparation for moving her to Reefsteamers in Germiston. I revisited her in June 2012 and she had not been moved yet, but I was shocked to see how far things had progressed with her restoration. Internally she did need work, but her exteriors were looking infinitely better. Unfortunately her one balcony had rotted away when things were going pear shaped and had been removed before the evaluation in 2010, and of course the wine racks had all been stolen, but those are things for replacing in the future. Further examples of the half balcony diners can be seen at the Heidelberg Transport Museum.
2nd Class coach 2123 is an E-13 built in 1938 in Bloemfontein. She is the way I remember coaches in my early days of rail travel. Wood, leather, a solid feel about her, and a smell of her own. Sadly, while 2123 now smelt of rot and mildew when I first saw her in the South Side of Sanrasm, she was surprisingly intact and a gem well worth seeing just for the experience. Unfortunately the wet weather we had in early August 2009 has shown that she was no longer watertight, and with all the open windows she was well on her way to ruin. The vandals had also started removing her fittings. In 2011 when I last saw her, work had been started on restoring her, or at least painting her and repairing her roof and windows
With the closure of South Site in 2013 I think she may have ended up at Reefsteamers in Germiston. Unfortunately she had been involved in some sort of accident in her early career and that may have doomed her. I have not had any confirmation that she has survived.
Before I came to the UK I lived very close to the Rand Society of Model Engineers that meets at Len Rutter Park in Florida. I used to do a quick look around whenever I saw they were open and was always amazed at the quality of the live steamers that ran there. Quite a number of the locos were based on real SAR machines, and the level of detail was astounding. Unfortunately between here and there all of my images went missing and I have not worked out where they are at this moment, so these images are really duplicates of what I had before. Hopefully one day I will find the images, as well as the many hours of video I shot there.
Incidentally one of the locos from Sanrasm has been plinthed outside the workshop, and it is not too far from another plinthed ex-Sanrasm loco at Florida Junction. I have since photographed that loco and pics are available on that blogpost.
I admit that I really love coaches. The all pervading memory I have of them is of polished wood, leather, and the smell that an old wooden coach had. Sadly they are usually overlooked in our quest to photograph steam engines, and the advent of the formica clad steel bodied saloon meant that those wonderful oldies would be lost forever.
I was fortunate to be able to encounter a few oldies still around, namely at Sanrasm and Heidelberg Transport Museum, strangely enough that feint smell was still there, even over the smell of dust and decay. This is my tribute to some of the beauts I have seen. Initially these pages will point off site to my website, but as I move pages they will remain within the blog area. Please be patient though, this page is still under construction.
Many people have helped contribute to this page, but special thanks must go to Carlos Das Neves Vieira for help in identifying some of these old beauties.
I spent a lot of time trying to find Sanrasm. The signage at Millsite was old, and it pointed in a nebulous direction, but there was no real road to follow. And, when it was almost in my grasp I gave up to return on another day. When I eventually found the place it was closed, and after some persuasion a friendly security guard gave me the number for the office. The excuse I was given was that “the grass was long and they could not let me in”. It was obvious that one of the reasons for the long grass was that somebody wasn’t doing their job! I was potentially a willing volunteer, but they were not really interested in me, instead I was fobbed off and told to go have a look at the Chamdor locomotive collection instead. and that was that.
I left feeling despondent, there was so much to see behind that fence, but unless I got very lucky there was no way I was going to see what there was! I did however take pics through the fence, and vowed that this was not the end. I would get in there eventually.
These images were taken over and through the fence.
I then discovered the “scrap line” while on a trip to Magaliesburg with Reefsteamers. This was a terrible place, and I had to fight my way through bushes and trees to get there (there was a much easier way, but I did not know it at the time). Now that I think about it, this was a really stupid thing I did. The area was still a mining area and there was a huge quarry on one side and the terrain was really dangerous and I was lucky to come out of this was a bad case of blackjacks and scrapes and scratches. I was also able to catch a glimpse into the site itself from the other side, and it was as bad here as I had seen from the gate. Worse was to come though, when I discovered North Site.
I had not even been aware of North Site when I had first visited Sanrasm, and only picked up on it existing by accident. I added it to my list and grabbed my camera and headed out there. Like South Site. it too was locked, overgrown and derelict, with an extensive pile of derelict locos and scrap outside the gates. It was very difficult to comprehend what I was seeing, it just got worse all the time.