South Africa's professional steam train operator

Easter Eggspress
From 07. April 2012

A few photos of our Easter Eggspress Train
Steamed up well in time overnight by Victor Mienie and Jeandre Gordon, Class 15F 3046 ‘Janine’ faces a somewhat spotty autumn sunrise, said sunbeams forcing their way past the east-facing Running Shed gates.
The first aid kit rides in style within one of the staff compartments of Kango the Catering Coach.
The world’s youngest steam train enthusiast. We had a two year old visitor mildly freak out at seeing the big black hissing monster in the shed that very morning, but Emily takes it all in her bubbles. (Not ‘stride’ as she isn’t walking yet.)
Vol stoom! 15F 3046 is in full steam with nut-sized coal of a harder variety. The steam oil is on the hob and they are draining the leftovers from the lubricator. The five-port hydrostatic lubricator uses 3 oval cans to top up from a typical Magaliesburg return run. This shop-made can has a higher capacity because of the square corners, hence the ample leftovers.
.Ready to move. Driver Molentze, with his grease gun, is hidden on the dark side of the locomotive.
The locomotive was facing the wrong way so she had to be turned before service. Here, she is just coming off the cross over after completing a circuit of the turning balloon. On a normal trip, the turning, coaling and road-worthy checks would have been done the previous day
These four girls were posing for a photo shot that I doubted would come out – standing against a big black machine and all backlit by the rising sun.
Bathed in warm morning sunshine, people-person extraordinaire Aidan McCarthy takes one of the first tour groups around the sizzling 15F locomotive.
Another tour group. Some of the questions that were later asked were quite comical but also shows how much these people are disconnected with trains in general, much less steam powered traction. The indigenous folk are often more familiar with trains, many riding on the commuter sets – but this places Reefsteamers in the role of preserving RAIL TRAVEL in general as a heritage, much less the big steam machines themselves.
As the second group descends the ramps into the dungeon, Cousin Rob sneaks the opportunity to wipe down the ashy dust from Janine’s portly duco-coated form.
Attie (Dark shirt) guards an entrance into the machine shop while ‘Lappies’ hopefully kicks at one of the newly cut wheel lathe gears.
The second last group descends the ramps. The locked-up guard dogs were dementedly woofing for the first group but had barked themselves out by now. This was a peaceful scene with just the hissing of the locomotive to hear.
The old place was just seething with Homo Sapiens and it seemed rather unnatural. Normally at this time of the day the 4 or five workshop regulars have just had their morning tea and ‘toppers biscuits’ and would still getting their tools out before the hammering and mallet work starts. Even the resident pigeons took off and not a coo or rustle was to be heard.
A curiously di-chrome photo with only the red clothing standing out against the over-exposed eastern end of the shops. That’s Uncle Wilfred’s Cowans Sheldon crane on the left and the 12AR tender on the right. We tend to use Road 2 (Where the 12AR is) for intermediate work as it is close to the workshops that exit out into the yard in the background.
The coaches were shunted to the outer track in the washout area for boarding. It would be a pleasanter and safer experience for the passengers to board in sunlight. The only obstacle on the way was a small slough-pit caused by a leaking Transnet water main. (Which we cannot switch off and they won’t rectify.)
Warren Meldau towers above our visitors as he points out the 25NC’s cylinders. Notice that the locomotive is still wearing her End-of-Train disk from the last shunt.
Parking was a challenge, but we managed to cram everyone’s cars in place.
The ‘new’ coach No.25206 is filled to capacity for its first run. As the PR person for the trip, ‘Smidge’ Ackerman is squeaking through her introduction and safety speech and could have doen with a megaphone! Normally a qualified coach controller (which Lauren is) would do this but we had the Easter Egg angle to explain properly as well.
The coach crew for Sandstone Heritage Trust’s No.25206 first revenue run in Reefsteamers service. Safely out of the way in the west-bound vestibule stands Mark Berry (LHS), Carl de Campos (Center) and Lauren ‘Smidge’ Ackerman. (RHS)
Cark and Mark plan their strategy for maximum Easter Egg distribution. They eventually got busy on the home bound trip.
Coenie-raad operated the tuckshop. It normally sells out well but with the high proportion of kids on the train, the goodies were just FLYING from the shelves. I was wondering how many of our passengers had taken time for breakfast.
Kango the Catering car did a brisk trade both outbound and back. Unusually, we offered pancakes on this trip but they proved to be a bit of a bottle neck as only two pans would be in service at a time. Here, the passageway in front of the counter is still relatively empty.
This is the two-tone brown exterior of the first H-2 type Sandstone Day-Sitter No.25163 that had the interior stripped and refitted primarily by Shaun Ackerman. The brown semi-gloss paint is holding up well under regular usage within the coach fleet.
A bunnie-bag. I personally saw the PR person sneaking at least one! (And the Train Manager was photographed sneaking one too!)
The Easter ‘Smidge’ is hopping around and doing the bunny-patrol as well. Each one of the three coaches had two coach controllers (One had three) and each of them had a question to ask the kids and to hand out mallow Easter eggs as a reward for getting the answer right
Safely away from the piercing gaze of his lady, Jeandre Gordon is a real smoothie with those of the female persuasion. Notice the pernickety hold of the young lady receiving her mallow egg in the picture – did she think it was going to bite or hatch or sumthin?
Carl de Campos holds court with three youngsters. Sneaky little buggers – they were going for repeat questions to earn more eggs and once it was discovered that Carl cannot see, he was a prime target!
A very satisfied little customer clutches his chocolaty booty while his sister appears to be pensively looking for the mallow yolk center.
This little blonde cutie got her answer right without prompting. Carl’s question was ‘How many people are working on the engine.’ (Three, as we had a trainee.) Normally it would be four if you add a pilot, but as Piet Molentze actually works on that line as a TFR driver, he has no need to be piloted.
Another Carl pic. We actually found that most of the kids were perhaps a bit too young to take part in a question-and-answer type game. But we chivvied them on and prompted heavily for answers and handed out lots of eggs. It was all meant to be fun rather than a serious quiz.
In the center of the three day sitter coaches, Carl is posing the question to two enthusiastic chaps. Mark Berry was the Easter Bunny of the team.
Flat out – this little guy must have fallen asleep while drinking from his bot…. zzzz!
More quizzes.
A mallow Easter egg and a Fanta drink – sugar rush! But this little girl obviously doesn’t get much sugary stuff in her day-to-day life … look how white her teeth are! Notice the brown and very light brown colour scheme of this particular coach.
A view of the rear coach. All three day sitters were about 90%-100% full. Unfortunately, because of the fact that we are billed per-coach for rail access, we can’t just add an extra coach for reserve space.
A high view of the kitchen. The pancakes were very popular and these poor ladies cooked pancakes non-stop. For safety reason, only the front two gas-burners were in use and it caused a bit of a bottle neck. Eventually Coenie (rear) was taking orders.
We had to stop at New Canada station because of points failure. We officially let some passengers out to grab a smoke break. (The whole train is non-smoking.) But some of the kids wanted to get out too and got a bit upset when we wouldn’t let them onto the platform without their parents.
There was a delay on the line and it transpired that none of the phone numbers were up to date. Dennis Edgar (LHS), Attie de Necker (CNTR) and Hennie Mienie (RHS) were looking for numbers on their phones. Oom Attie was not officially on duty this day, hence his lack of a hi-vis vest. However, as a regular Train Manager and ‘ou spoorie’, he has a lot of contacts on his phone.
Mari and Dysie (RHS) still look fairly cheerful as they meet up. Diana was one of the CC’s within the center of the three day sitters. No, I don’t know why Mari is holding the toilet door handle.
They ran the locomotive around the train and coupled onto the rear to pull us back towards Johannesburg instead of going around the loop non-stop.
I like this way of sleeping, using your own child’s head as a back-stand for a padded head rest! The little guy was the only person still awake.
The kitchen corridor is starting to fill up again.
These three height-sorted girls were fascinated by the moving gangways between the coaches (like most of the kids were.) They were also concerned about the couplers coming undone – obviously from watching too many movies and cartoons!
Finally Cark and Mark do their Easter Bunny thing during the home bound trip.
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