Finding the Reid Tenwheeler

Amongst the many locomotives that stood at Sanrasm South Site was the former 4-10-2T North British Loco side-tank No.23722. She is quite a rare bird as 4-10-2 was not a very popular wheel configuration, many being converted to 4-8-2 over the years they were in service. This particular survivor was fortunate enough to escape the scrap metal thieves as well as the cutting torch. She is a member of the South African Railways Class H 4-10-2T of 1899, and they dated from the pre-Union era in the Colony of Natal. 23722 was in industrial use, and her many sisters served very successfully in the services that they were used in 

I have very few images of her, and these that I do have show her front bogie missing and the loco propped up on a dolley.

Bearing the livery of Witbank Colliery Number 1, she did not seem to be worth preserving, although she is somewhat of a unique loco because of her wheel arrangement.

When Sanrasm was being finally wound up she was not amongst the assets that were scrapped, and when the final disastrous bearing theft happened she managed to survive and was earmarked for plinthing at the Rand Society of Model Engineers (RSME) at Len Rutter Park in Florida (27o 54′ 16″ E, 26o 09′ 38″ S),  and was finally unloaded on 29 June 2014 onto a pre-prepared railbed. Because that happened after I had left for the UK in 2013 I never did get to see her until now.

She stands just outside the small engine museum and has been painted in the livery above, the other side being marked “Witbank”. She is superficially in a good condition, and I suspect that some work was put into her to cover the rusted plating and damaged steelwork.

I was able to climb onto her footplate, and while the gauges and other valuable pieces are missing there were still quite a lot of her original bits and bobs in the cab.

Piet Conradie on his old STEAM LOCOMOTIVES page has the following information on her:

The 137th and final “Reid Tenwheeler” was ordered from North British Locomotive Co in Glasgow and It was delivered as North British No. 23722 of 1928. She was painted blue with white lining and lettered “WITBANK COLLIERY LTD No. 1” on the side tanks. In July 1938 she was reboilered and continued in service hauling coal for another 25 years until last steamed in March 1963.

She remained stored for over 20 years at the South Section loco shed until donated to the Railway Society of South Africa (RSSA) in a ceremony on 1 December 1985. However she remained at Witbank for another nine years until moved to the SANRASM Preservation Site at Randfontein in 1994. She was the only surviving H class in its original condition with the exception of the front bogie that was missing, fortunately it turned up under a heap of “scrap” on site. This was subsequently re-installed on the loco. There is a small chance that she is the only 10 wheeler complete in South Africa.

At this point she is safe, although I would have preferred to see her on the inside of the fence. Long may she be with us, and thanks to RSME who have given this old girl a new lease on life. 

A number of people must be thanked for their work in keeping this loco from scrap, and all credit must go to them. Thanks guys.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 26/03/2017

Toy Trains and things.

I am fortunate that I live just around the corner from The Rand Society of Model Engineers in Florida. Its not the sort of place I do visit often, but when I do get out there I am always impressed by what I see. This past weekend of 24/26 September they hosted  various SAR Steam Locomotives in a static and running display.  

To say that that the models were amazing would be an understatement, I had never seen some of the locos before and they did not disappoint at all. I think the star of the show was the very impressive 15F that was running. Its a huge model and is just like its real life sister.
The part that amazes me is how such a small loco can pull such large weights. Realistically the cylinders of these machines are not very big, yet they easily pull themselves, a grown man and the tender, as well as any attached rolling stock and their passengers. In fact, given how small some of the locos are, it is really astonishing how effective steam can be as a propulsion medium. Granted though, there is always the problem of carrying your coal and water wherever you go.


The other thing is, these models are not the sort of thing you buy out of a shop. The majority of them are handmade, and some take years to complete. The one model that was about 30% completed had already taken over 7 years to get there. And, once completed, you still need to get that boiler certified. No wonder the hobby seems to be dominated by older males. Youngsters come into it by inheriting their father or grandfather’s locos, they don’t sit down and make their own, unless they have a very highly developed machine shop and engineering bent.   

GF Garret.
GF Garret.
The other problem we have is that the pool of real live steam engines in South Africa is very small, so being able to build a model based on the real iota is often almost impossible because the real thing is no longer around. Fortunately model engineers are a very skilled group so they can still do an amazing job of recreating the real thing in miniature. All I know is, I really admire their talent, and am even jealous when I see those loco’s hurtling around the track. Yet I am fortunate to be able to see this, just think how many youngsters spend their days indoors glued to their playstations and computers and miss out on the heady smell of smoke and steam.
More images of live steamers that I have photographed previously at the RSME can be found at
DRW ©  2011-2018. Images recreated 19/03/2016