Johannesburg’s steam train

Reefsteamers News



Reefsteamers' Anthony 'John' Hammill died last night in hospital - 5 Sept. 2018. He was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, and had recently been involved in a serious motor car accident at his home. John also had weight and mobility issues, only able to move around with a walking frame.

In spite of his health issues which compounded in recent years, John had been involved with Reefsteamers one way or another for a very long time ... but usually in a background\support role. Recently, John donated a sum of money in excess of R50K to secure the naming rights on 12AR 1535 in honour of his wife 'Susan.' (So the renamed 12AR would actually retain her name too.) His company also supplies our security officers at a much reduced rate. John was also involved in the professional wind-up of the failed SANRASM organisation.

Thank you John for all your efforts in SA Rail preservation, you will have always a special place in our hearts, it was always a great pleasure to enjoy time with you


=== RIP FRANS van DYK ====


Another steam driver has just been booked into the big loco shed in the sky.  Driver Frans van Dyk passed away yesterday. (27 July 2018)  He voluntarily retired from driving for Reefsteamers due to health reasons and he drove for the last time for us on 16 Dec. 2011. (Operating 15F 3046, then named 'Janine' after a grand daughter.)

Fran's life on the irons:
Frans started his loco career as a firelighter in January 1956 in Greyville and had advanced to a firelighter/cleaner by that July, but at Escort.  He became a fireman 14 months after he started at SAR (Feb. 1957) and would be a fireman on the distinctive SAR 2 ft narrow gauge for 8 years.

Frans wrote his Passed Fireman exam in Nov. 1964 and got the actual job promotion 4 months later and was transferred to the Port Shepstone narrow gauge system.  He got his Driver Grade a year later in July 1966, but was still working primarily as a fireman.  

In December 1967, he took up duties as an official driver for the first time, and was mainly doing shunting work at the Durban harbours and docks.  Of course, he was now operating the 3ft 6in Cape Gaugers.  

1968 was an eventful year as Frans married Helena in January and was promoted to a full time regular driver on the 2 foot gauge again, this time based at Highflats.  

By 1970, Frans had been bunted out as a relief driver onto the Ixopo line roster as the Highflats depot closed down, and it looked like his career was winding down as well.  But he went back to Port Shepstone Shed again, as a driver position was open once more.

After over ten years steaming along the narrow gauge, in 1981, Frans was a Toaster Tender for 6 months at Germiston, before returning to Port Shepstone to drive electrics along the beach front and the local systems.  

I bet he was glad to be home, even if driving a very different machine.  Frans retired from Transnet service in 1993 – after 37 years of service.

Frans received awards during his service in terms of safety, never having once instigated an accident or a dangerous incident.

An engineless Frans drifted into Reefsteamers’ orbit and was captured in January 2003 and was recertified as a driver in November 2006.  Those were the years that Reefsteamers were really getting into some long distance tours, so Frans got some long-running time in on the Cape Gauge steam-machines – something hat he hadn’t experienced much during his official time on the railways.

In recent years, his narrow gauge experience has been invaluable in driving the rescued 2-footers at special occasions at the Sandstone Estates and it was magic to see Frans re-united with some of those old machines.

Frans chose to retire in December 2011 – while ‘on the crest of the wave’ as he put it.  (In English too!)

Here is an old-style Reefsteamers Photo Essay covering the event of the late Frans van Dyk's last run on behalf of Reefsteamers. (16 Dec. 2011.)


Progress on the retube contract for Sandstone Estates

All tubes out, boiler descaled and the MPI and thickness tests done. All tubes cut to length, copper ferrules being manufactured and just the annealing and swaging left to do. Once the BI has done his inspection we will start to fit the new tubes. All photos here


Day Sitter under restoration

one of our off-duty Day-sitter coaches undergoes restoration. The restoration work on our Day Sitter Coach No.22901 has started, the coach will join soon our steam trains along the rails

photos to find here


Planes, Train & Automobiles Event Photos and Videos


Reefsteamers @ MARK PILGRIM 11:10 28 MAY 2018


Sandstone Garratt NGG13 No.49 has arrived and off- loaded

Sandstone News:

NGG13 number 49 arrives at Germiston.

The boiler section of number 49 has now arrived in Johannesburg at Reefsteamers where it was offloaded by the Reefsteamers crane. This was originally a steam crane but is operated now by compressed air directly to its cylinders. Number 49 was offloaded from the Sandstone lowbed together with the new boiler tubes and placed on a DZ truck for movement into their main workshop. Here it will be lifted by the workshop gantry crane from the DZ and placed on blocks for the retubing to begin shortly.

Our pictures from Reefsteamers show 12AR 1535 hauling the crane into position and the lifting process from the lowbed to the DZ.



Reefsteamers Engineering retubes Sandstone Garratt NGG 13 No.49


Reefsteamers have been contracted to do the re-tubing work of Sandstone Estates Garratt NGG 13 No.49. Actually the Garratt is loaded on a lowbed truck and will arrive tomorrow at our Steam Workshop in Germiston
We are looking forward to this interesting work!

Sandstone News message:
NGG13 Number 49 Boiler Retube.
The second of our Garratt locomotives to require retubing, NGG13 number 49, had had its boiler section split from the engine units and loaded on the Sandstone lowbed for transport to Reefsteamers in Germiston who have been contracted to do the retubing. Although we retubed NGG16 number 113 at Bloemfontein, the pressure is now on there to complete the NG10 number 61 hence we have contracted out the retube of 49.
The locomotive will arrive at Germiston on Tuesday 15th May with the repairs due to begin in June.



Buy the naming rights for 25NC No.3472


Buy the name right for the 25NC No.3472 and support us to get this masterpiece of engineering back to the rails. The naming right includes the Nameplate, mounted under the headlamp at the smoke-box door and a 5years period. With Rand 60'000 you will help us to bring this engine back to steam! contact our chairman for future details:



Hunslet Shunter "Andrew" upgrade


Our Hunslet Shunter receives a bigger upgrade:
New bearings and bushes, New Windows, new floor and seats, insulated Cab to protect the Crew from engine heat and noise and a vacuum break system will be built in for safe shunting



Great Country Life Magazine Article about Reefsteamers


Country Life Magazine was at Reefsteamers and created an amazing article about Reefsteamers preservation and operation efforts. Thank you for the great day Country Life Magazine Crew                    Download the Article



Coaches on Fire at the Germiston Steam Depot


To all the Members and Friends of Reefsteamers Assoc.

I have deliberately delayed writing this open letter to you, the members of Reefsteamers until I was in a position to give you a factual report on the dreadful events that unfolded at Germiston Depot on Friday 23rd February 2018 at about 9:30pm. Having now been fully briefed on the facts I wish to share the information with you.

At about 9:30pm that evening I received a call from a Reefsteamers member informing me that a fire had broken out on our train which had been formed up ready to go to Magaliesburg the next morning. I was at that time in the U.K. having been called to be with my Mother who was very seriously ill. I contacted other Board members by telephone who later confirmed my worst fears.
It would appear that three of our coaches including a day sitter were ablaze and that George Hoddinott who was the Loco minder that night, had single handedly driven the 12AR from the Loco Shed across the yard and then coupled to the blazing train, detached the blazing coaches and hauled the rest of the consist to safety. The local fire brigade had been co-ordinated and directed to the scene by Mark, the Paramedic and were in attendance. Although they attended very promptly they were unable to save the three coaches that were on fire and they were completely destroyed. I would like to commend George Hoddinott on behalf of the Board of Directors and the Membership for his quick thinking, as without him we would have lost our complete train.
As a result of the fire and loss of three coaches plus smoke damage to the rest of the consist, I had no choice but to cancel the next day’s train and another the following week. This has hit Reefsteamers very hard financially and it will be a massive task to overcome in the future.
Our rolling stock is insured and as a result an insurance assessor was called to examine the wreckage with a view to ascertaining what had caused the fire. This examination has now been completed and I have been advised that the fire was most likely caused by an electrical malfunction in a light fitting in the roof of one of the vehicles destroyed.
The loss of these three vehicles will have a huge impact on our activities as we can no longer carry 500 passengers. We are actively searching for replacement vehicles and are receiving help in this regard from PRASA who have been most supportive.
I will come back to you all if there are any further developments and hope you understand my decision to not publish this letter until I was in possession of all the facts.

Clive Holliday, Acting Chairman