28 June 2008

Calvinia - SAR Class 24 no 3608 "Makadas"

NOTE: The name "Makadas" also refers to the train which ran on the line between Touws River and Ladismith. You may find more information about the latter line here.

This locomotive was withdrawn from service on 16 March 1977.

Jimm Yarrow's image taken on 28 Oct 2014 - some 32 years after the image directly preceding.

#3608 Class 24 - The class 24 is a branch-line loco introduced in 1948 for operation on track as light as 40lb, much of which was laid in SWA (South West Africa - now Namibia). The 100 locos of this class were built by North British Locomotive Co.

The locomotive in these pictures was on display at the Calvinia museum ... the photos date from about 1982.

A photo display at the time (1982) in the museum showed how the locomotive was moved on short sections of track through Calvinia's streets from the station to the Museum grounds. (With our last visit in 2008 these images were missing in the exhibits - fortunately some of these photos have recently [2014] been posted on the museums fb page - see below)

#3608 Class 24
The tender is the "Vanderbilt" or "barrel" type with cylindrical water tank and 'Buckeye' bogies. Besides SWA, they were also placed in service on various branch lines in South Africa.

The name "MAKADAS" is said by some to originate from "Make a Dash!"

However, the name "Makadas" is present in the "WAT" ("Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal" - the official full dictionary of the Afrikaans language) and it explains that the name was often used in the middle of the last century when referring to certain slow moving branch line trains, especially those trains which operated on the Hutchinson-Calvinia and Touws River-Ladismith branch lines.

After an absence of 26 years, we again visited engine no 3608 in August 2008.

We were very happy to learn that the locomotive is shining proudly as these pictures prove.

Some information displayed with the locomotive.

It has a Vanderbilt cylindrical tender.

Following are some images which were posted in 2014 on the Calvinia Museum's fb page.

25 November 1977 - the locomotive had arrived at Calvinia station from Touwsrivier after having been withdrawn for service some 8 months earlier.

The "trek" through the streets started at 14h00. Certainly this event was the talk of the town!!!

By 19h00 the locomotive was at rest in front of the museum. Here it was guarded for the night by the local Commando.

Next day the work continued. Here 3608 is being swung to enter into the Museum grounds. Note the engine tender on the left foreground.

The Large Exhibit being put into position at the Calvina Museum complex - Unknown Photographer

In 1901, Cornelius Vanderbilt III, whose great-grandfather founded the New York Central Railroad, invented a cylindrical tender which was soon adopted by a number of American railroads with oil-burning locomotives. A round tank has several advantages over a rectangular tank.
  • A round tank holds more than a rectangular tank of the same surface area.
  • A round tank (a cylinder) is stronger than a rectangular tank (a box).
  • A round tank is lighter than a rectangular tank of the same capacity (partially because a rectangular tank requires a great deal of internal bracing).
On May 31, 1901, a patent was issued to Cornelius Vanderbilt for a tender with a cylindrical water tank.

Compared to rectangular tenders, cylindrical Vanderbilt tenders were stronger, lighter, and held more fuel (water in RSA loco's) in relation to surface area.

The tender is of the "Vanderbilt" or "barrel" type with cylindrical water tank and "Buckeye" bogies. These 6- wheeled bogies decreased axle load by spreading weight across 3 instead of 2 axles. This was an important design consideration to enable the locomotive to operate on the lighter branch line track.

Engine number 3608.

This number 3608 indicates that the loco belongs to the Class 24 - 100 of these were built by North British Locomotive Co. They were numbered 3601-3700.

The builders works no plate: NBL 26398/1949

The boiler certificate expired in March 1976. The locomotive was withdrawn from service on 16 March 1977.

The Class 24 is a branch-line locomotive introduced in 1948 for operation on track as light as 40 lb, much of which was laid in SWA (now Namibia). As such this they were intended to displace the old Class 6, 7 and 8 locomotives still in service there.

Pensioner Andries Strauss was amongst the team whom helped in 1977 to  put 3608 into position here at the museum. Nowadays he is still willing to re-paint the locomotive when it is time to do so. (source: Calvina Museum fb image)

On 18 June 2003 the Argus (in Cape Town) ran an article on the town of Calvinia. Included was a nice photo of the beautifully and highly polished preserved class 24 #3608. Noted that the loco was named both Makadas and Calvinia and that the train that ran between Hutchinson and Calvinia was the Makadas.

Johan Brink then wrote in the sar-L forum: "I travelled on that line in the 1960's and I can confirm that the train on the Hutchinson-Calvinia line had been called Makadas. The Touwsrive-Ladismith train also had been Makadas, and I wonder where the name then originated. I still am puzzled by the preserved 24 at Calvinia. That line was one of the first to be dieselized. I am not sure when exactly, but it must have been in the middle 1960's. I travelled on the train until the early 60's and the traditional motive power had been the 19C. The 24 class if it had been used on the line, could not have been used for a long time, and I think that a preserved 19C at Calvinia would have been more appropriate."

Les Pivnic replied: " You are quite right - the class 19C was the standard motive power on the Calvinia Branch before the line was dieselised. I was in the SA Railway Museum at the time that the 24 was donated to Calvinia Municipality. Unfortunately, I can't remember the details as to why they got a class 24 instead of a 19C. One would again have to find those elusive Museum correspondence files. The Calvinia file would reveal all."

Charlie Lewis then confirmed that 24's were indeed the last steam loco's to be used for a short period on the Calvinia branch line: "The last steam class that worked regularly to Calvinia was class 24 in 1969/70. This was after a gap of almost 10 years after withdrawal of the 19Cs from this branch and was due to a shortage of class 32s diesels in SWA. At the same time and also for a short period, the SWA main line went steam as far as Prieska. Locomotives for the Hutchinson-Calvinia branch were serviced and supplied by Paarden Eiland under the redoubtable Alec Watson."

The Class 24 is also depicted on a 25 June 2010 stamp release by the South African Post Office. (SAPO). This image is published here by kind permission of SAPO.

Two Class 24 locomotives are plinthed in South Africa. This one (#3608) at Calvinia Museum, and the other one (#3638) which is under a roof at Skukuza in the Kruger National Park - both are well cared for.

Regular train services to Calvinia was terminated in 2001.

The Calvinia station in December 2003 - Photo: Stefan Gutsch.

The Calvinia station in December 2003 - Photo: Stefan Gutsch.

The Calvinia station in December 2003 - Photo: Stefan Gutsch.

The Calvinia station in December 2003 - Photo: Stefan Gutsch.

Unfortunately the Calvinia station, after the last train, did not last for long before it was plundered for things which could be re-used elsewhere:

The following set of images was taken 2 Oct 2010 by myself.

 What a sad sight!

20 October 2014 - this image courtesy Jimm Yarrow.

From the past: A sister engine when still operational

Class 24 2-8-4

Photo: Leith Paxton - Click on photo to enlarge: Class 24 2-8-4 - No. 3650 [NBL 26362/1949] - at Sydenham Loco Depot (Port Elizabeth) 13 January 1963.


  1. Hmmm....

    "Makadas" was actually the name of the Touwsrivier-Ladismith train. Usually hauled by a Class 7 back in the 1950's, unless my forgettery is acting up again....

  2. Amazing pictures, I love trains, I always use the train to go to work.

  3. The original Makadas ran on the Calvinia line well before the Ladismith service even started and was known as Makadas from early one. Read Lawrence G Green.

  4. Do anyone have a photo of the Calvinia train station when it was in operation please