Tag: Magaliesburg

Retrospective: By train to Magaliesburg 12AR-1535

One of the more obscure centenary celebrations coming up is that of 12AR-1535 “Susan”. This steam engine is the only remaining member of the SAR Class 12AR in the world, as well as being Reefsteamers’ oldest operating locomotive and the second oldest operating main line locomotive in South Africa.  
She was built in 1919 by the North British Locomotive Works in Glasgow and joined her sisters in South Africa for service on the Germiston-Witbank line moving heavy trainloads of coal. She first entered traffic on 15 March 1920. The sisters were all reboilered at some point in their lives, and 1535 was reboilered in 1944, although her existing boiler was commissioned in 1955. 

Boiler plate of 1535

I first encountered her in 1985 when I was posted to the Germiston Telecommunications Depot. At the time she was the “station pilot” for Germiston Station, and she shone so much that she could blind you in the sun. She never really retired from service and was not restored from scrap or in a derelict condition. Fortunately her original service in Germiston means that she is really back home in the depot where she worked for so many years. I have a soft spot for her and enjoyed linesiding this small wheeled “4-8-2 Mountain” as she spent her retirement running heritage train for Reefsteamers. 
According to the EXIF data on the image below, Susan was brought back into steam on 28 March 2009 and I was present for a photography session with the people who had walked with her to that point.

(1500×1092). Back in steam. 28/03/2009

You can read more about her history on the relevant Reefsteamers page. Special thanks for Lee Gates for his work on that page and his continued posts on social media. 
 
It is not very often (especially in South Africa) that a steam working steam engine reaches her centenary, and with this in mind I am reposting the blogpost about the trip I did 10 years ago on 4 April 2019.  

By train to Magaliesburg. 12AR-1535

I got the opportunity to travel with Susan on 4 April 2009 from Maraisburg Station to Magaliesburg. The same consist as before was used and the schedule was almost identical to my previous trip with Elize. Some of the images used here were taken linesiding or when I intercepted other trips at Magaliesburg.


The two images above were taken on another trip that she made on 27 April 2009, I would definitely not stand here taking pics if I had been travelling on the train.
 
And then we were off,  eventually passing through Roodepoort Station where the plinthed 10BR slowly moulders away in the parking lot.

Through to Krugersdorp where we could pick up any passengers that had wanted to join there,

Past Millsite and the rows of derelicts that were not as fortunate as Susan was, and any goods wagons that were being shunted, 

and then past the disgrace that was Sanrasm.

And once that was past you could really relax and enjoy the ride for awhile and listen to the loco in front. At some point you would start the long climb towards the grain silos,

and then power along towards the end destination,
although the cutting really was the first sign that we had almost arrived.

This time around I had opted for lunch at the hotel, but I did not bail out there, but hung around at the station for awhile to watch them turn Susan. 

 

I then had to make a mad dash down the hill for my belated lunch at the hotel.
 
Arriving back suitably satiated, I discovered that Susan had been turned and was now on the opposite end of the train in readiness for our trip back.

And as usual, there was brightwork to be polished. These preserved loco’s are always turned out very well because they showcase our proud steam heritage. Susan, as station pilot in Germiston, was always in a supershine condition, there was a lot of pride in these machines, and that is still true today.

The sitters were empty as the passengers did their thing at the picnic area, quite a few were already tanked up before we arrived and they would sleep the return journey away. 
The passing of some Class 34’s really provided a photo opportunity, although I know which is the more handsome engine out of all those in Magaliesburg on that day.
Then the passengers were roused and the whistle blew and we were off, pausing at the hotel to collect a few more errant people before attempting the level crossing on our way out of the town. 
In 2011 I was in the area and stood at the level crossing watching this spirited departure which is available on Youtube, and it amazed me how even though the loco had started moving drivers still try to get across in front of her! You do not tackle a steam engine with a car because you will loose. 
Unfortunately though we literally crawled through the cutting and the hills, and I asked some of the guys why this had happened, and it turned out that the coal was of poor quality so she was really struggling. Susan is a freight loco with lots of power, but even poor coal can turn a steamer into a snail. I did take some video of the climb and pullaway, so all is not lost
 
And even today people wave at steam engines going past, because it is just something that is done. I feel sorry for those who have never experienced steam trains because they have lost a little bit of magic. Fortunately most people opted to relax on the trip home, and the kids stopped with the “pooop pooop” imitations and I was able to get some peace. I was not really in a mood to take too many pics, besides, everything you see here is very similar to what you saw in the other trip post. 
Even the desolate landscape that we passed just after Millsite was devoid of life, but then that area has been ravaged by mining and will take many years to rehabilitate, assuming that even happens in the first place.
And eventually we were home. The sun was low on the horizon and the people who climbed off were much more subdued than those that had climbed on this morning. Even Susan seemed tired, and she still had a long way to go before she could be bedded down for the night,
 
 
 More video: 
 
DRW © 2009-2019 Created 04/04/2009. images recreated 07/03/2016, edited and reposted as a retrospect on 04/04/2019
Updated: 07/04/2019 — 13:05

Linesiding and graves in the veldt

Saturday 01 October 2011.
This morning I decided to go do some linesiding. For those that are not in the know, its when you head out to some obscure section of railway, preferably on a hill, free of any obstructions, and then wait for your train to come along. Today’s steam engine was the very impressive Class 25NC-3472 Elize, operated by Reefsteamers.

http://www.reefsteamers.com

She is an impressive lady, and about as hi-tech as the old SAR locos got. Originally designed as a Class 25 Condenser, these class 25’s were used extensively on the long stretches in the Karoo where water is scarce. They re-used their water and were extremely efficient. This particular 25 is number 3472, and somewhere along the line she lost her condensing capability and was converted into a normal class 25. She is a bit too big and heavy on coal and water for day trips, but she makes up for it by being visually very impressive and a firm favourite amongst steam buffs. 

Sadly, today was lousy weatherwise, it was (still is for that matter), overcast and very windy, not really ideal photography weather at all. I was at my spot at roughly 09H45, waiting, kicking stones, taking long looks through the viewfinder and trying not be too bored. Geminis don’t do standing around very well. 
She finally came past about an hour later,  hurtling up the hill with nary a puff of smoke or steam. Then the chase was on, to reach Magaliesburg before she did.
By the time you reach the road that loco has a head start, and if nothing delays her at Tarlton theoretically you are cutting it close. However, today a bakkie decided that 30km/ph was the speed and a line of roughly 15 cars sat behind him as he dawdled along. Overtaking was not possible or advisable.  As I reached the last stretch to Magalies I saw the loco and her coaches approaching the level crossing, it was going to be a close one,  there were 4 cars in front of me, would I make it? Naturally I didn’t. There is no way I will try take on a thumping great steam powered engine in my tiddly car and I grabbed the camera and filmed her as she went through the level crossing, whistle screaming for everybody to get out of the way or get squished.
I ended up at my other fav spot near the goods shed, watching her tackle that hill from a standing start. I have to admit, steam engines still make for the best photography when it comes to effort. 15F-3046 Janine is fun to watch and feel on that hill, she shakes the building as she goes past.
 
There is video available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZk1uHtO4do
 

16/06/2011 Linesiding at Vlakdrift

Once she was turned around (quite a process in itself), I was ready to head off gravehunting again and  I had scheduled two tasks for today. My first task was to get GPS co-ordinates for the one Steenkoppie site. Naturally my stupid GPS said I was somewhere in Roodepoort, its the same problem I had last time I tried to get these co-ordinates, only that time it said I was in Randfontein. After much ranting and raving at Garmin, the Tannie inside the GPS and thorn trees in general I was all finished, and I could head off to my next task which was roughly 14 kilos east of where I was.
 
I had been in this area before, investigating what I thought was the battlefield for Dwarsvlei (which it wasn’t). Those images are in my camera which went AWOL at Blaauwbank. For once the tannie in the GPS was right and I was soon standing at Weltevreden 493. As farm cemeteries go, this was a well maintained one. I have been in much worse.  Its quite interesting when you find these cemeteries to see the same surnames crop up. This one was predominantly Oosthuizen, Duvenhage and Viljoen. Now where had I see those names before? Cem photographed it was time to head home.
 
 

(1500 x 652)

All in all it was a productive day, all tasks were accomplished, more data was collected, a train was admired, batteries were flattened and the rain stayed away although the overcast conditions did not make for good photography. I don’t think that will be for long though, its looking pretty grim outside, and the weather forecast is for light rain. We will see what happens tomorrow……
 
DRW © 2011-2019. Images recreated 19/03/2016, link recreated 03/03/2018
Updated: 04/07/2019 — 08:03
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