This entry is in remembrance of the SAR 8B no 1132 which was plinthed for some years at the Goodwood Showgrounds - more correctly the "Western Province Agricultural Society" which was located in Goodwood. The grounds were later redeveloped into the Grand West Casino, and apparently the historical locomotive mysteriously disappeared at a time when nobody took notice.
Way back in October 1973 Roger Griffiths captured this image of the Class 8B no 1132 at Paarden Eiland.
If anyone has pictures of the plinthed locomotive at the Goodwood Showgrounds, I would be pleased to have copies of these pictures to be posted here please.
Ted Polet (please look his webpage up) from the Netherlands has kindly assisted with the pictures, maps and information on this entry and Les Pivnic and John Faulkner have also unknowingly assisted with their contributions to the sar-L (South African Railway fans) group - my warms thanks to all these people!
On 12 October 1978 Alan Saunder (www.steamtrain.co.za) found this loco Class 7 no 987 at Paarden Eiland (Cape Town & Table Mountain in the background). No 987 had been restored at the workshops, and was ready to be delivered to Matjiesfontein, where she would become part of the display in the still-planned village museum. Earlier no 987 saw service on the Ladismith branch line.
Class 8B #1132 - PaardenEiland Loco late 1978 or early 1979 - courtesy David Werbeloff
August 1974 photo at Paarden Eiland steam shed: Courtesy Ted Polet. This photo shows the restored SAR Class 8B no. 1132, which was later plinthed at the Goodwood Showgronds. Note that the locomotive had been restored in green colours.
Class 8B #1132 - PaardenEiland Loco late 1978 or early 1979 - courtesy David Werbeloff
Class 7 #987 (left) Class 8 #1132 (right) - PaardenEiland Loco late 1978 or early 1979 - courtesy David Werbeloff
Class 7 #987 - PaardenEiland Loco late 1978 or early 1979 - courtesy David Werbeloff. This locomotive is now plinthed at Matjiesfontein Village.
Class 7 #987 - PaardenEiland Loco late 1978 or early 1979 - courtesy David Werbeloff
Ted Polet decribes his visit to the Paarden Eiland shed as follows: "I made friends with Johan Mostert during the week we were in Cape Town, and as we stayed a weekend I offered to show him the ship, which in turn resulted in an invitation to come and see the Paardeneiland running shed and adjoining Salt River Works."
August 1974 photo at Paarden Eiland steam shed: Courtesy Ted Polet
" This was the first big steam shed I had been in, and both rigid frame and Garratt locos were standing inside. A great variety of engines were there, GEA class Garratts, class 24 2-8-4 branchline locos, the ubiquitous 19Cs and 14CRs and one or two 15Fs which were described as 'een baie vinnige enjin' (a very fast loco). I was shown the operation of a mechanical stoker on a 15F: the stoker mechanism produces a heap of coal just below the fire door, which is then blown over the grate with a steam jet. "
August 1974 photo at Paarden Eiland steam shed: Courtesy Ted Polet. A cold Class 25 complete with cooling condenser is being shunted. On the left is the restored SAR Class 8B no. 1132, which was later plinthed at the Goodwood Showgronds.
August 1974 photo at Salt River Works: Courtesy Ted Polet. Inside the boiler shop. Note the fitting sequence of the firebox stays drawn on to the boiler's side.
"From the steam shed we went into the boiler shop at the nearby Salt River works, where a row of boilers were being overhauled. The Salt River works were equipped for every kind of repair and construction work, and the tour through the complex proceeded in a blur. I managed to take one or two photos which are represented here. There was a great traverser between the buildings, used to transport locomotives with, and in one place a locomotive's boiler was subjected to a hydraulic test."
"In the works stood a cold class 25 4-8-4, a huge loco with an even bigger condensing tender, which had recently been overhauled here. According to Johan this was one of the last 25s to be overhauled here as they were, at the time, all being converted to noncondensing operation as class 25NC, in which guise they became later popular to sightseers along the Kimberley-De Aar line. As we walked back along the track a 14CR went to fetch the 25 from its place in the works."
On May 7, 2008, Les Pivnic wrote in the sar-L (South African Railway fans) group:
Getting to Paarden Eiland Loco was easy by car or public transport in 1953. With the latter, one had the choice of riding a Bellville EMU to Salt River Station - it was an easy walk from there to the Loco past the Blom-Pot at Salt River Shops entrance gate and past another Blom-Pot (Railway Constable) at the entrance to the Loco Shed. An alternative was to pick up one of those beautiful cream and green Cape Tramways 3-axle Daimler buses that were used on the Bellville route and get off in Voortrekker Road near Salt River Shops.
As one passed through the gate of the Loco Shed one was immediately confronted with a vast array of steam locos ranging from veteran 6's to 15F's and 23's. Let us look at the official listing for December 1953:-
- Class 1 & 1A - 5;
- 3R - 11; 5B - 2;
- 5R - 1;
- 6 (various) - 48;
- 7 - 2;
- 8 various - 6;
- 10C - 2;
- 10CR - 10;
- 14CR - 1;
- 15E - 4; 15F - 37;
- 16D - 7;
- 19C - 23;
- 23 - 3;
- 24 - 2;
- S2 - 23
The class 1, 1A, 3R, 6 various, 7, 10C's and S2's were used on the shunt. The 5B's were used on the Malmesbury passenger service and the 5R on the Strand passenger service. The class 8's were used on pick-up goods work to Caledon and the 10CR's also on the Strand passenger service. The 15E's, 15F's and 23's were used on the main line to Touws River with the new post-war 15F's doing the top-link work. The 19C's were used on the Saldanha, Klawer and Caledon sections. The two 24's were used on Boland branches - usually sub-shedded on the branch line. The 16D's worked the Wellington expresses and assisted on the Strand Services.
August 1974 photo at Paarden Eiland steam shed: Courtesy Ted Polet
As one can imagine, a depot stabling nearly 200 locos is or was a big engine shed with extensive repair facilities and a large running shed. The coal stage and ashpits were positioned to the north of the running shed. The exit roads from the running shed tapered towards the control point where locos left the depot to go on duty.
August 1974 photo at Paarden Eiland steam shed: Courtesy Ted Polet Left is the preserved loco 8B no. 1132 (later plinthed at Goodwood Showgrounds) and 7A no. 987 (later plinthed at the Matjiesfontein Transport Museum) on the right.
I remember on several occasions standing near these exit roads and photographing various classes of loco just before they left the shed and in particular, the magnificent backdrop of Table Mountain and Devil's Peak. This HAD to be the finest backdrop to any loco shed in South Africa!
August 1974 photo at Paarden Eiland steam shed: Courtesy Ted Polet A much restored no 1200 is seen here on a truncated piece of track outside the Paarden Eiland steam running shed. This loco was later plinthed at the Salt River Railway Workshops. In Dec 2009 Ted wrote as follows: "On your blog I found a query for a photo of no. 1200. I have a very old one, dating back 35 years (August 1974). I photographed no. 1200 which was on a truncated piece of track outside the Paarden Eiland steam running shed, then full of GEAs, 14CRs and 19Cs.
August 1974 photo at Paarden Eiland steam shed: Courtesy Ted Polet A Class 19C no 2452 appears in steam against the backdrop of Devil's Peak and Table Mountain.
"Under The Table" - One for the record, but there can't be many motive power depots that have such an impressive a back-drop as Paarden Eiland, in Cape Town, South Africa. This was the scene under the slopes of Table Mountain back in 1976. © David Hill
The GEAs and 14CRs were used on the Sir Lowry's Pass line, and the 19Cs on the line to Kalbaskraal and Saldanha (I think). These usually had the huge 'torpedo' tenders inherited from the last batch of 19Ds. If my memory is right, no. 1200 was on the South side of the western approach tracks to the shed. The repair works used to be further West from the steam shed. I'm not sure whether the building on the satellite view is the running shed or the works, but perhaps you know better as I haven't been back since the 1970s. I don't have any idea of the loco's current state. No. 1200 was in company with Class 7A no. 987 (now at Matjiesfontein Transport Museum - Piet) and Class 8 no. 1132 (apparently scrapped - Piet) but I'm not sure it was in the same place in the yard. I'm not certain whether the other two have survived. If you can use the photo, please do. The tale of my two visits to South Africa can be found on my website here. Click on the Africa archive in the index, then open Cape Town (2), to see photos of the preserved engines back in 1974. If you're interested there are a number of film clips on the S.A. pages, showing my 8mm film with dubbed sound, much of it recorded on site. Regards Ted Polet, Leiden, Netherlands."
August 1974 photo at Paarden Eiland steam shed: Courtesy Ted Polet The main running shed at Paardeneiland, Cape Town, with a 14CR flanking a 19C. Note the preserved locos 8B no. 1132 (later plinthed at Goodwood Showgrounds) and 7A no. 987 (later plinthed at Matjiesfontein) on the right.
August 1974 photo at Paarden Eiland steam shed: Courtesy Ted Polet. Impressive front end of the cold Class 25 condensing loco being shunted.
In 1969 as part of the special Blue Train trip to Cape Town behind steam, we visited Paarden Eiland Loco as part of the tour. Alec Watson was at that time Assistant Loco Foreman at the depot and he laid on a special display of every class of loco that he had in the shed - all spread out so that each class could be photographed separately with the magnificent mountain backdrop. He even got those horrible monstrosities - 19C "Takbok" and the GEA "Renoster" with their ghastly pipes attached to their chimneys, lined up for us to photograph. All this was done with the blessing of the Loco Foreman Mr G L Mitchell.
There was a canal to the east of the depot and on more than one occasion a loco in steam but not secured properly would quietly move off on her own and end up in the waterway. This would invariably result in a shedman being called to Mr Mitchell's Office and having his grade and salary reduced. The Administration did not take kindly to having its locomotives end up in the canal!! (NOTE: In the map image below one can see the canal - Piet)
Although its stature as a main line depot took a knock in 1954/5 with the completion of the electrification to Touws River, it took several years before the depot finally faced closure. Steam continued to work the secondary and branch lines in the Cape long after the 4E's were ruling the roost on the main line.
As far as I am aware, there is not a trace of Paarden Eiland Loco left today. A great Loco Shed is no more........
Ted Polet provided these 2009 Google Earth maps to show where the Paarden Eiland steams sheds were. Click on image to enlarge.
Ted Polet provided these 2009 Google Earth maps to show where the Paarden Eiland steams sheds were. Click on image to enlarge.
Also seen at Paarden Eiland Shed in the 1970's:
Class 24 No 3675 "ANNELINE" here seen at Paarden Eiland Shed. This 1970's photo courtesy Ian Goldie. Some say that the locomotive was named after the beauty queen Anneline Kriel. This locomotive is currently stored at the Hartenbos Voorbaai Shed.
Class 19C No 2439 "SANDRA" here seen at Paarden Eiland Shed. This 1970's photo courtesy Ian Goldie. Today this locomotive is safely on display in the Outeniqua Transport Museum in George. The 50 locomotives of Class 19C were delivered in 1953 by North British Locomotive Co - some worked on the Reef, but during WWII all were concentrated in Cape Town from where they worked on branch lines. All were with drawn from service in 1978 except #2439 which was kept in service and occasionally used for specials.
Paarden Eiland Shed in 1972
On May 8, 2008, John Faulkner remembered the Paarden Eiland Running shed as follows in the sar-L (South African Railway fans) group:
Les Pivnic's series on the various loco depots reminded me of my trip to Paarden Eiland way back in January 1972 - not long before it closed. The variety was just as good as in the 50's:
- Several class 1's - I photographed 1284 shunting at Rondebosch a few days earlier.
- A class 1B no.1442 in the workshop.
- Several 3R's still in steam from shunting.
- 6A no.462 displayed in front of the shed. Now rusting away at Millsite.
- 6H no.627 in the workshop. Later plinthed at Mafikeng.
- 7 no.987 next to the 6A. Later plinthed at Matjiesfontein.
- 8CW's and 8DW's including nos. 1181 and 1203, withdrawn, according to the foreman, the previous day!
- 10CR's including no.775, also recently withdrawn.
- Although I had photographed a couple of 14CR's (NB. neither B nor M on plate!) and a 14CRB on pickups, I did not see any in the depot.
- 15BR no.1979 outside shed without a tender. Due to be plinthed at Noupoort but now rusting at Millsite.
- 15E no. 2879 without driving wheels in the workshop. Anyone know what became of her?
- 16D's also withdrawn the previous day!
- Again, I had seen 19C's (including "Takbok"!) on pickups but none in the depot.
- 24 no.3623 - the only representative of her class.
- 25's nos.3464 and 3524 and 25NC no.3435 standing amid cinder piles north of the shed. On the way back to Jhb. I saw one of the 25's hauling the 6A just outside Laingsburg but my camera was not handy!
- Several S2's including no.3745 (but not blue!).
- A few GEA's including no.4009.
Last day of steam at Paarden Eiland Shed:
These "Last Day" pictures were taken by L Smuts, and published in THE SPIRIT OF STEAM authored by AW Smith & DE Bourne in 1983.
This newspaper report in Afrikaans language mentioned that two photograhers - S Layda and K Walla came from West Germany for the occassion. Some 50 amateur photographers recorded the event on film. The caption noted that most of these locomotives would be taken to Touwsriver for preservation.
General background about South African Steam Sheds:
In the Western Cape there was a large steam locomotive workshop in Salt River (Cape Town) - named the Salt River Works, where large steam repairs took place in earlier years.
Additionally the Western Cape had a number of running sheds (also called depots). Adjacent to the Salt River Works, there was a large running shed in Paarden Eiland, which also served the shunters in Table Bay Harbour. Other depots were in Worcester, Touws River and Beaufort West.
The shed in Worcester would have been built in the first half of the twentieth century, when steam was still used on the mainline from Cape Town to the North. The shed building is large, and may have been able to house 12 to 18 locomotives of various sizes at a time. The Worcester running shed also served 3 sub-sheds located at Hermon, Wolseley and Riversdale. The Worcester depot and its sub-depots were still active in 1973, but by 1989 all of these were long closed down.
In his book Twilight of SOUTH AFRICAN STEAM AE Durant in 1989 wrote of these locomotive running sheds:
"The locomotive depot or shed ("loods" in Afrikaans) invariably becomes a mecca for the enthusiast, whether he (or she) be interested in 'sitting duck' locomotive portraits, or finding out what engine is going where, and when, in order to determine which train to ride, or to chase for action photography. "
"The shed itself always has a superb aura. A main line shed is constantly filled with the sight and smell of smoke, steam, hot oil and coal dust, while massive machines ooze around as they perform their daily chores of taking on coal, water, sand and lubricants, or discharging ash and clinker. Fitters and boilermakers move around fixing details ready for the next run, and the time office is always full of crews booking-on or off, and determining their next assignations."
"The larger shed also has a substantial repair shop, where wheel-less engines, dead as dinosaurs, can be seen propped up while essential moving components are in the machine shop, being made fit to perform another spell of arduous duty."
"At the other end of the scale is the small country shed, home to perhaps one or two engines, which may seem totally empty and derelict when the engine(s) are out at work, enjoying a brief instant of action at the start and end of the day's run, interspersed by another long period where the faintly bubbling and sizzling locomotive is the only sign of life." [The sub-sheds at Wolseley and Hermon would neatly fit in with this description!]
"SAR's sheds were allocated on a system basis, and as usual there are main sheds with all major facilities, including repair shops, washout facilities etc., sub-sheds which house locomotives for branch lines or local work, and a host of minor engine termini, some with water and ash disposal points only."
Lack of SAR steam shed histories.
IN 2003, in the sar-L group, Les Pivnic, former Acting Curator of the South African Railways Museum, gave his views on the problem to now starte writing a history of the SAR steam sheds:
"I am not aware of any written histories dealing with loco depots. During my time in the Museum, we certainly did not have anything on that subject. The snag is that one would have needed to tackle such research back in SAR/SATS days when relevant correspondence files would still have been available for research. I think that today, such a project would be nigh on impossible."
"In the old days there was a tendency to place loco sheds close to the main terminal station. After the 2nd World War, local authorities began to object to the smoke problem created by large loco sheds."
"Braamfontein Loco was moved out to Millsite near Krugersdorp but even earlier, Cape Town Steam Shed was rebuilt at Paarden Eiland and P.E.'s North End Shed was moved to Sydenham. Similarly, Pretoria Shed was moved out to Capital Park and Bloemfontein Loco was rebuilt out on the road to Mazelspoort. Kimberley Loco was moved to Beaconsfield and Noupoort Loco was moved to Midlandia outside the town etc. De Aar shed remained where it was as did Beaufort West."
"Some sheds survived near the main terminal - East London comes to mind and if steam had survived longer, I'm sure that Durban's Greyville Loco would have moved probably to a site near Bayhead as did Durban Mechanical Shops."
"That reminds me that SAR Mechanical Depots were also "moved out of town". Pretoria Shops went to Koedoespoort, Uitenhage to Cuyler Manor etc. Strangely, Salt River Shops survived in Cape Town. Bloemfontein Shops were already somewhat removed from the city centre."
"Getting back to steam loco sheds, I thought that it would be of interest to mention that the old sheds at Pretoria and Bloemfontein were "Roundhouse" sheds, while the shed at Braamfontein used a turntable, due to the lack of space for a triangle or balloon. This turntable was transferred to Culemborg Yard in Cape Town to turn mainline coaches etc. It was not needed at Krugersdorp."
In response Sue Lawrence had this to comment on steam sheds:
When in South Africa for a few months in 1984 (prior to spending a decade in South Africa in the 90's), my then husband and I had the opportunity to look over a number of loco sheds, which at the time were full of steam (Touws River, Mafikeng, Beaconsfield, Grahamstown, Bethlehem etc). They were absolutely fascinating places, but I was struck by the way in which they were all of a "run-through" design, whereas here in Australia all loco sheds are (or were) roundhouses. I loved the smoky atmosphere of the South African sheds, not to mention the fascinating variety of locos in various states of undress, from small 6, 7s and 8s at Touws river to the huge 25s that seemed to have spread throughout the country. It was quite mind-boggling to see these huge monsters on menial shunting duties at Kimberley and Mafikeng, but they seemed to be doing the jobs quite effectively (or at least that's how it seemed to me, and none of the drivers I spoke to complained that the locos were inappropriate for the work).
Touws River was a revelation. Although I had passed through the town by train once or twice as a teenager, I had never actually been there, and had a wonderfully romantic vision of this place where the electrics gave way to a mass of giant whispering steamers. All I knew of the stabling arrangements was gleamed from one picture in Day's Railways of South Africa which showed three of four of the monsters in the open air and I had visions of it being a romantic semi-desert town. So, when I finally got the chance to visit the town, it came as quite a shock to realise that there was a huge run-through shed, with masses of lines around, then chock-full of locos to be preserved. Not too far away was a huge marshalling yard, full of locos awaiting either scrapping or restoration (including a blue S2). There was also a large number of (abandoned?) electric locos and steel carriages.
Only four locos were actually being used - all 15F's and when I spoke to the only person who was there, he told me that it was his job every morning to light up one of the 15Fs that would be used for shunting in the afternoon. He was told the day before which one was to be lit up the next morning.
British Steam Running Sheds
As written by Vaughan Pendred in this book The Railway Locomotive [what it is and why it is what it is (1908)]
NOTE from Piet: This account, written more than 100 years ago, describes some of the activities one could expect to find in a typical British Steam Running Shed. Similar activities, with detail variations, were surely also to be found in South African steam running sheds.
Under this comprehensive title will be considered what may without inexactitude be termed the hidden life of the locomotive engine. It is not always drawing trains, it is not always being repaired or repainted. As a horse spends much of his time in the stable, so does the locomotive in the running shed, which has, indeed, not inaptly, been termed a stable ere now.
Originally there was provided a shed, literally a shed and nothing more, in which the engines stood when not at work, and in which they were cleaned and had small repairs effected. For many years and in the present day, a running shed is a large and important building, often provided with tools, and in which all but very heavy repairs can be effected. Turntables are arranged and many lines of rail with pits between to enable men to work conveniently under the locomotives.
There are various methods of laying out a running shed, which, by the way, is called a "round house" in the United States. Thus the general plan may be circular with a turntable in the middle, from which radiate lines of rail like the spokes of a wheel. When an engine comes in it is run on to the turntable, which is rotated until its rails coincide with a "spoke" on which there is room. The engine is then run off the turntable on to the spoke. The arrangement is very convenient, but has the serious draw- back that if anything fouls the turntable all the locomotives in the shed are imprisoned for the time being — an accident by no means unknown, and commonly brought about by moving an engine when the rails on the table are not in line with those of the spoke. Then the leading wheels of the engine drop into the turntable pit. A much safer system consists in providing a number of bays and shunting an engine into any bay by means of points. More space is required, but the gain fully compensates for the extra cost incurred.
The running sheds are placed in localities as convenient as can be got near large towns. They vary in the amount of accommodation they supply from holding half a dozen to a hundred engines.
On the care and skill with which the duties of the running- shed foremen and the hands under them are carried out depends in very large measure the satisfactory and economical working of the trafi&c of a railway. To mention only one point, the durability of a boiler is settled in the main by the way in which it is cleaned. If that is badly done, the boiler will steam badly, use more coal than it ought, and fail to keep time.
Let us take the case of an express engine, which has finished its work for the day. It is unhooked from its train, and taken to the running shed. The duty of the driver before handing it over to the "engine turner," a man whose position resembles that of an ostler, is to examine the engine carefully and book all the defects he discovers. The turner then moves the engine to the coaling stage, the fireman locks up his tool chest and chalks on one of the boxes how much coal he requires for his next trip. The engine is, save under most exceptional circumstances, to be brought to the end of its journey with little or no fire on the grate. After the tender has received the stated number of tons of coal, the engine is moved to another part of the yard, and the smoke-box is cleaned out. As has already been explained, the box is floored with fire-bricks laid in fire-clay, and on this will be found collected ash and cinders which have been carried through the flues. A spray from a hydrant is used to keep down dust, and the box is cleared out by a lad with a shovel and broom. The engine, which has still steam in it, is then moved once more to stand over a pit, where two "fire droppers," one on the footplate and the other under the engine, take charge. Then some fire bars are lifted out, and through the space thus left, ash, cinders and clinkers are dropped into the ash pan by the man on the footplate, while his mate below rakes them out into the pit where they are sprayed by a hose pipe. In this operation, simple as it seems to be, we have another illustration of the importance of doing things in the right way. It seems quite obvious that it would be far better to make the grate invariably — as is done sometimes — with a hinged portion at the front end to which the bars always slope, rather than adopt the clumsy system of pulling two or three or more bars out. But the drop grate system has the great defect that if it is used while the boiler is still hot, and a rush of cold air into the fire-box takes place, contraction occurs and the tubes leak. Indeed, in some running sheds, fire dropping is not permitted while a boiler is hot, and the grate has to be cleaned through the fire door; but the operation lasts about half an hour, and the time is not always available. The tubes are then "run" — that is, swept out. A long rod about 3/8 inch diameter with an eye at the end is used. Through the eye is threaded a strip of canvas or old "waste." The smoke-box door is opened and a man standing on the front running board pushes the rod through one tube after another. In this way the tubes are swept. The operation lasts from forty minutes to an hour, according to the number of tubes. A steam jet at the end of a hose has been tried with great success, much time being saved.
The cleaners then take the engine in hand. It is rubbed down with sponge cloths and "cleaning oil," that is, petroleum. The cleaners are boys or lads. Cleaning is the first step on the way to be an engine driver.
Bound the ends of the tubes next the fire-box rings of coke deposit (due to the presence of minute percentages of iron in the coal) form and encroach on the size of the orifice. A boy goes into the fire-box with a stiff broom and knocks off the "corks," as they are called — they are termed "birds' nests" at sea ; they very closely resemble india-rubber umbrella rings. He then sweeps the ashes off the top of the brick arch, and replaces the fire-bars. The engine is then ready to have steam got up again. The "lighter-up" puts coal into the box, spreading it carefully all round the sides.
Conveniently situated is a brick furnace of considerable size. On the top of this sand is dried which is subsequently put into the sand boxes on the engine and used for increasing adhesion, as already explained. On the Great Western Railway an improved furnace is used. The wet sand is put into a chamber with a grated bottom over the horizontal flue leading to the chimney, and as the sand dries it falls automatically through the hot gas and flame. About five times as much sand can be dried in a given time in this way as by the ordinary furnace.
From this furnace some shovelfuls of burning coal are carried and put into the fire-box, and so lighting up is effected. As the fires are not to be hurried, which would be bad for the boilers, it requires about three hours to get up steam ; and the fire is usually lighted about four hours before the time at which the train starts. While in the shed the fireman takes in water and fills the sand boxes. The driver goes over the whole engine with minute care, examining every split pin, nut and bolt, knowing, as he does, that his own life and the safety of the train depend upon his vigilance.
It has been assumed that the engine requires neither washing out nor repairs. But washing out must take place every five or six days. To this end, the engine is allowed to cool down, then the plugs at the lower corners of the fire-box are unscrewed, and the water is allowed to run out. All the other wash-out plugs are removed, and the boiler is then cleaned out by the use of a jet, by preference of hot water, the nozzle being put into one plug hole after another. While one man uses the hose, another works with a rod to scoop out and loosen all the deposit he can get at. The boiler is then examined, preferably by a boilermaker. If he pronounces it clean the plugs are oiled with some heavy oil and screwed in again. The boiler is filled up with fresh water by a hose through one of the upper plug holes. Washing out is a very important operation. A book is kept in which are entered under separate heads, date, station, number of engine, name of washer, by whom examined, and remarks as to dirt. When tubes leak, neglect in washing out is always assumed as a probable cause.
While in the running sheds that careful inspection takes place which renders the explosion of a locomotive boiler an event of the rarest occurrence. Practice varies, but it is not far from the truth to say that more than a month seldom elapses without an examination of a very thorough character being made by a boiler- smith. As a rule there is little trouble with the shells ; grooving and corrosion are rare, and are detected when the lagging is taken off and tubes drawn for a thorough repair, which will not be needed as a rule for three or four years. But the fire-box is a continual source of anxiety. The wear and tear have been much increased by the rise in pressure. Boxes which give little or no trouble with 150 lbs. steam require the utmost vigilance to make them endure 200 or 220 lbs. pressure. The higher the pressure the denser becomes the deposit and the more firmly does it cling to the plates. A fairly soft water is essential to the well-being of the modern locomotive. The most common defects in a copper internal fire-box are cracks. The examiner has a special book in which he records in a species of shorthand all the defects which he finds. A great deal of information is got into a small space by a system of hieroglyphics. As an example of the progress of events in the life of a locomotive boiler, the following statement is given : —
"Nothing of note occurred to the box during that year, but on January 13, 1904, the stay heads were slightly reduced. Fifteen new stays were put in on January 27, 1904. The stays were reported reduced on April 19, and on May 12 a crack had developed in the right-hand flange of the tube plate; also, the top flange of the back plate had dropped down near the second crown bars. On August 28 the tubes were dirty, and the casing plates were corroded near the foundation ring. On August 30, 1904, eighty-four new tubes were put in to replace those taken out to facilitate the removal of dirt, and this time also the sides were found to be slightly bulged. Twelve more stays were put in on April 11, 1905, and on September 12 another crack had developed in the tube plate, this time in the left-hand flange, and the sides which had been previously reported as "slightly bulged" were reported as "bulged." On October 17, the tubes were again reported dirty, and after the engine had been kept running as long as it consistently could be in this condition, it was sent to the factory for general repairs on January 31, 1906."
The preceding quotation is taken from a paper read before the Swindon Engineering Society by Mr. Henry Simpson, of the Great Western Railway.
It must, of course, be understood that running-shed work is not carried on in the same way on all railways. No more can be done than give the general arrangements and methods adopted. Thus, for example, on some lines it is the practice to coal the engines after they have been cleaned and left the running shed, but in effect practice is the same everywhere.
A locomotive is not cleaned after every trip as described above. Slag is taken off the grate by the fireman, and the tubes are run and the smoke-box cleaned out, but steam is not let down below 80 or 100 lbs. pressure, and a fresh supply of coal is, if needed, put on the tender.
The day's work of an engine is very often worked out as though it had been running steadily from the time steam was got up until it returned to the shed. The mileage varies with the railway, the time of the year, and traffic conditions. At one time on the London and Brighton line it was four miles an hour for goods and about eight miles an hour for passenger engines. A goods engine, for example, will be under steam and out on the road for say, fourteen hours. Of that time, five hours will be spent standing still. Two or three hours will be used up at different stations shunting, the whole distance traversed being quite small. The rest of the time the engine will spend in hauling heavy trains at, say, twenty miles an hour.
The average annual mileage of engines in this country is about 20,000. Of course to this there are numerous exceptions, the mileage being much greater. Individual engines sometimes make enormous mileages. In the United States it is very much higher, but as a result the total life of the engine and the number of miles run is less. The American locomotive is treated very much on the principle followed by Legree with his slaves, "use up and buy more."
- Ted Polet (webpage and personal communication)
- sar-L (South African Railway fans) group
- THE SPIRIT OF STEAM authored by AW Smith & DE Bourne in 1983.
- Twilight of SOUTH AFRICAN STEAM - by AE Durant - 1989 published by David & Charles Publishers
- The Railway Locomotive [, what it is and why it is what it is ] Vaughn Pendred published by A. Constable & Co., Ltd., London in 1908.