01 June 2009

Some "Names" used for Steam Locomotive Classes and some none steam types.

This list was compiled by Werna Maritz and posted to the SAR L group.

Herewith quite a few names as received from various railway men . Not all of them are for steam but I am mentioning all that I know af. Please correct spelling and translations as I do not really know all of that !

They referred to electric locomotives as "Draadkarre" ( Wirecars ?) and steam locomotives were generally referred to as "Asvarke" ( Ash pigs) or "Stofies" (Little stoves)

Diesel Locomotives was known as "paraffin tins" but also as "red starvation" as overtime on then was scarce .

The Class 1 was known as Bombari and the 19D as Dolly. The 19D with their sleek Van der Bilt or torpedo tender was known as "perdeby" (hornet or wasp).

The Class A , build by Dubs was called "Dubs A" and the 23 Class nr 3244 was known as "Ye ole 44".

The square appearance of the Class 15F earned for her the name of "Chocolate box" and "Kierieklappers" (do not know how to translate that !) was the Class 14 locomotives.

The Class 15E was "Bongols"(They say that the Zulu word for Donkey is Ibongolo and that it either referred to the fact that it had a fireman working like a donkey or maybe her steam deflectors reminded of donkey ears.)

The Class 16DA's with their wide fireboxes was "Boepense" (Potbellies) and the 25NC's were named "Cadillac s" thanks to them riding very soft. a Rebuild Class 25 condenser was named "Worshond" ( Dachshund).

The GB Garratt was called Baby Garratt. The GEA Garratt was called "Peacock , the GMAM Garratts was "Gammats" (do not know how to translate that !)".

The Metro trains was called Taxi's and the H2 was "Reid ten wheeler" because it had 10 driving wheels (or whatever you call those wheels in english !) and was designed by Reid.

NZASM B was "46 Tonner" and "Kalahari" was the NG15 because she worked in the then South West Africa.

"Pompie" was the 3R with her small drive wheels (!!) and the 5A with the big driving wheels for Karroo conditions had the same name as this region.

The Class 13 was "Walloper" (sorry, no translation !) and the copper kettle bands of the Class 14R earned for her the name of "Striped Zebra".

"Big Bill" was the 15 CB that was manufactured in America and the 16D with her big driving wheels was named Big Bertha.

The 16E with her 6ft driving wheels was "Windhonde" (Greyhounds) . "Baby" was the name of 19B.

The Class 23's tendency to slip got her the name of "Sandtrapper" (Using a lot of sand ?) . Sometimes they also referred to this Locomotive as "balstamper" ( Oh gosh ..!! Translate please !) but actually the real "balstamper" was the 1E Electric Locomotive , thanks to the fact that she bumped very much when in motion.

The Class 24 was called "Vlakhaas" (Cape Hare) and the bad riding ability of the EMU earned her the name of "Rattler" or "Yo-Yo".

The Class 25 was called "Silent Suzie" but the loud noise of her fan earned the 6E1 Electric locomotive the name of "Screaming Suzie" .

The humming noise of the 33 Class Diesel had her called "Brommer' (Blowfly/meatfly) .

Then there was the Red Devil - Class 26 that was accidentally painted red when the person who had to issue the order for the paint from the stores, entered the wrong colour number.

Because the wild animals on the rails were used to steam locomotives, they did not hear the 3E locomotives coming after electrification and was this locomotive thus called "Bokslagter" (Buck slaughterer).

Thanks to its length and green colour the 4E unit was called "Groen Mamba' (Green mamba).

The 5E/1 was called "Kriek' (Cricket) and the battery driven shunting Locomotive was a Queen Mary.

The ES shunting Unit was "Studebaker' and the 36 class Diesel shunt locomotive was a 'Ruk en Pluk" ( (Pull and tag) or "Perdeby" (wasp).

XPD Petrol tanks was "Hot Dogs" and XBJ-11-14 trucks (trokke ?) were "Peperpotte" (Pepper pots) .


The name "Makadas" was often used in the 1950's and 1960's for the train which ran between Touwsrivier and Ladismith. One explanation put forward for the name's origin, was it was a phonetic variation of "Make-a-dash".


  1. The only name I know of for the 36 class diesel electric locomotive is "Glaskas" (glass box), due to its big windows and windows all-around the cab.

  2. 'The square appearance of the Class 15F earned for her the name of "Chocolate box" and "Kierieklappers" (do not know how to translate that !) was the Class 14 locomotives.' -- I remember these locomotives. We called them "kieriestampers" --"walking stick thumpers" The name referred to the sound they made when entering a station -- like an old man walking with a cane ("kierie"). If I remember correctly they were smallish and considered a bit old-fashioned by the late forties. Thanks for this site!