29 April 2013

German Museum of Technology (Berlin) Class NG/NG78 Hanomag 10630

SAR Class NG/NG78 (Hanomag 10630/1928) returned to Germany in May 1988 with the help of German lottery money, and is now displayed in the German Museum of Technology (Berlin).

SAR Class NG/G13, was designed by Hanomag in 1927, in consultation with the SAR. This design became the standard narrow-gauge Garratt for the next 40 years.

The final order of 7 locomotives, added No's NG77 to NG83 to the class. These all went into service on the Avontuur line, except NG77 & NG78 which were swapped in 1965 with a pair of NG/G11's (No's NG54 & NG55) from Natal, where in their last years NG77 and NG78 (together with NG59) were used to run the daily "LILIPUTIAN"  (Also locally called the "Cabbage Express") train between Weenen and Estcourt on a 46 km line which was, due to dwindling support for the rail service, closed down on 31 August 1983.

Photo credit: Andreas Umnus 2005

Photo credit: Thomas Schaffhirt Feb 2013

Photo credit: Andreas Umnus 2005

The identity of the SAR Class NG/NG78 as a display exhibit in the Berlin Technical Museum is the subject of a bit of confusion, as today the locomotive carries the road number 83, and the Hanomag works number plate no 10635.

These are the wrong plates:

Photo credit:  Fritz Gallwitz

Photo credit:  Fritz Gallwitz

Two locomotives were shipped from South Africa at the same time with the assistance of German lottery money: SAR nos 78 and 83 - along the way it appears, that when these were landed in Germany, their identities got mixed up from a South African point of view, however the German rail enthusiasts are sure they have the engine in the museum correctly identified, and the locomotive is listed in the museum catalog as:

The Museum catalog states that it has "78 SAR", and comments that the locomotive carries the "83 SAR" engine number plate.

Today (22 Oct 2015) the wikipedia entries in German and English are switched around about the locations in Germany for NG SAR 78 and 83. My opinion is that the German wikipedia is correct in this regard.

The whereabouts in Germany of the actual NG no 83 locomotive is unsure at the moment - apparently it has a private owner (dr Muhr) after the museum in it was before let go of its collection.

Let's look at the information board next to the locomotive in the Berlin Technical Museum: The museum states that the locomotive is SAR NG/NG78 and that the Hanomag worksnumber is 10630.

Photo credit: Fritz Gallwitz

The locomotive in the Berlin museum carries many paint marks with the number "78" with confirms the museum information broad. Some examples follow.

Photo credit: Fritz Gallwitz

Photo credit: Fritz Gallwitz

Photo credit: Fritz Gallwitz

The current museum management appears unable to explain why the locomotive had been fitted with the wrong number plates. They say that they had these plates "available" and so fitted them to the locomotive. One possibility is that the plates were made back in South Africa some time after arrival of the Garratts in Germany, and were shipped incorrectly to the respective locomotive owners in Germany!!

There are other clues to no's 78 and 83's past: no 78 did service in Natal, and particular in its last days on the Weenen line, where as no 83 worked on the Avontuur line. This class of locomotive got a steam exhaust pipe modification in Natal which was never done on the Avontuur line. See image below:

Photo credit: Fritz Gallwitz

Here the modified steam exhaust pipe gives a clue that it is likely to be a Natal locomotive - the Avontuur line loco's never had this modification.

To compare with an image of NG83 with the steam exhaust pipe in original position you may check out PHG's images posted in RMweb.

Photo credit: Roger Siviter's "Focus On South African STEAM" published 1981 identifies this locomotive as no 78 - photo dated 1 August 1980.

From the images above and below it is possible to line up several drilled hole marks on the front end of the locomotive in the museum with no 78 which ran on the Weenen line. This is excellent proof the locomotive in the Berlin Museum is the same as one (NG Garratt No 78) pictured by in the book at Estcourt in 1980.

Photo credit: Fritz Gallwitz

More information about this class South African Class NG G13 2-6-2+2-6-2 may be found on wikipedia.



Estcourt – Weenen


Between 1907 and its closure on 31 Aug 1983, a narrow gauge railway connected Weenen with Estcourt, 47 kilometres to the west, and provided an outlet for its agricultural produce and was thus locally known as the "Cabbage Express".

SAR Class NG/NG78 did her last years of active service on the Weenen-Estcourt line together with NG77 and NG59. The daily train started off in the mornings from Weenen going to Estcourt - to return again in the late afternoon.

In the final years the engine carried a headboard "Weenen - LILIPUTIAN - Estcourt". The little train attracted quite a bit of tourist traffic in the form of extra passengers. The locomotive driver Billy Bester become almost legendary - his locomotives were always well turned out.

Unfortunately, due to dwindling support for the train service,  the line had to be closed on 31 August 1983 .

Here are some images provided courtesy of Roger Griffiths showing SAR Class NG/NG78 (Hanomag 10630/1928) during her working days in October 1976:

In October 2015 Roger wrote: "Here is a picture (the one shown below) of NGG13 78 in much happier days, with Mr Billie Bester at the controls. The strong rumour at the time was that the Weenen - Estcourt line was Mr Bester's "private" railway almost and what mainly caused it to close in 1983 was when he retired! A nice story that I hope was true - he certainly made myself and my two friends very welcome. Incidentally if you blow the picture up you will see the loco is carrying the correct works plate - Hanomag 10630 of 1928, so a change was made at some time - also note that the plate was unpainted in 1976 and the loco had a bell-topped chimney whereas in Germany it has a stovepipe.


My special thanks to all the owners of the images used in this article, also to people whom responded patiently to my many questions about this locomotive:

Thomas Schaffhirt
Leith Paxton
John Middleton 

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