South Africa's professional steam train operator

Updates and Notices 2012

Reefsteamers Electric Fence Update

Dear Reefsteamers and Friends of Steam,

Please note that a new vehicle gate has just been erected in line with the west-end gates at the end of our depot.  (Germiston End)  Thus, you will now need to pass through two sets of gates to enter the Member’s Parking area next to the Forge.  The motor and railway gates will eventually be highlighted with reflective tape, but for now they are painted in black etching primer and that area is still not well lit at night.

So, please take care after you cross the bunch of railway lines and turn left
towards the depot on the last bit of road alongside the substation building. 

The gates, both original and the new ones, including the pedestrian gates, are soon to be allocated new numbers.  The updated security policy is still being drawn up, including as to when the inner and outer gates will be locked.

(Picture by Aidan McCarthy)

Also, on a slightly different note, as stated in the original invitation, the casual get-together that we planned for New Year’s Eve is for Reefsteamers Members and their families only.  It was clearly stated within the original invitation email, as well as upon Facebook, but there have been some misunderstandings on the matter.

Best wishes for the New Year and stay safe!
Lee Gates

30.12.2012 Reefsteamers New Gates

Major work today was the fabrication and hanging of the two motor vehicle access gates, painting the rail gate hung last weekend and wiring the last remaining gaps to complete the balloon electric fence extension. A big thanks to the many from the Reefsteamers team who put in many hours of work to complete this critical project to secure our depot.

all Photos Aidan McCarthy

24.12.2012 Reefsteamers Electric Fence & Depot Update

all Photos Alan Lawton
we still have to make the west road gates And here comes Jendre and Connie with the gate on a custom extra wide load rail trolley
It quite a climb and these guys were working hard in the hot sun The gate is in the hole and being fitted before welding
No wires strung on the gate yet, we have run out of braided wire, but will be using solid strand instead. To give you an idea of size this is a 4,6m x 2,4 m gate. The tools for the job arrive, petrol generator. mig/tig welder with gas bottle and the welder
Errecting a dropper on a concrete slab in the fence line

22.12.2012 Reefsteamers Electric Fence & Depot Update

all Photos Aidan McCarthy

The big project for today was making a new railway gate to help with completing the fence project. Lots of head scratching to make sure the 45 degree cuts all went in the correct directions. Gate turned out well square and rigid after all Gordon Bennett welding.
Another big project that is now almost complete is the erecting of the electric fence around the balloon. Coenie and Jeandre have been very busy with this project and have completed it in record time.
External External view of wheel lathe shop with new roof, the exterior will be painted in due course
All lights in the main shop are being replaced with energy saving bulbs will cut down on electricity bills and do our little bit to save the planet Wheel lathe shop now has it's new roof, so work can start on getting the lathe working again :-)

22.12.2012 Reefsteamers Electric Fence Extension & Rationalization Project

Reefsteamers have spent the last few weeks working on recovering land for car park extensions, removing obsolete fence paddocks, opening up a intact disused track, recovering unused track components and extending the perimeter fence to protect the entire turning balloon and substation. A set of new road and rail gates are under fabrication at time of posting (24 Dec) and solar powered flood lamps are being assessed.

So new that the wires are still shiny. Notice the asymmetrical spacing of the lower two wires, the lowest one being earthed. It makes for a more difficult fence to crawl under, but makes the fence prone to weed trouble. The solid-strand wire is more prone to expansion trouble than braided or composite wire, but it is less susceptible to arc cutting during a short circuit If the viewer didn’t know better, they’d hardly know that this used to be a bustling depot and that there were once buildings here. None of us hunt, so once the fence is up, this area might become a bit of a wildlife sanctuary, particularly as a place of safety for the local guineafowl. (Which ARE hunted by the locals)
The land clearance project yielded a good pile of bonus concrete sleepers from derelict track and lying loose amongst the foliage. Most of these sleepers are still in usable condition for our lighter service requirements. Notice the protruding side bolts for the Pandrol type rail clips – the western half of the turning balloon use these sleepers.
These sleepers cannot be used in the tight part of the curvature as they are not suitable for the use of the check rail saddles. So our check rail sleepers are of traditional; wood – which makes them vulnerable to theft for firewood and railway sleeper furniture, hence part of the motivation for the fencing project in the first place.
This section of the fence doesn’t appear to guard much, as there already is an existing fence out of view to the left, guarding the Members Car Park and the Coal Dock. However we tend to get a lot of trespassers on this land to use the old pedestrian subway to get to the PRASA Germiston Station. This keep them far enough away so that criminal elements can’t recce and check out the weak spots in the inner fence. This fence also protects our substation and the Transnet substation in that building, as well as their cables. This area is where the lions are going to be paddocked, so trespassers beware!
We were once pondering the use of this area for sidings to store rescue stock, but it is too far out to be secure. However, the ground has been levelled to fill in the several dozen fox-hole coal ‘mines’ that were dug out here last winter The flat ground will help eliminate hiding places for people checking us out for affirmative shopping. These long-disused points survived 100% intact, even with the tumbler outside of the original fence.. They need to have the rodding trench dug out and the slide-pads cleaned and lubricated before going back into service.
Here is the very useful TLB that we have been using on site the past few weeks. (Not for free but we did get a good deal!) The three gents are in the background, not in the bucket! The operator is filling a ditch that has long been a ankle twister and a parking space waster. The fence poles seen on the right originally ran up the center of the track. Being the thrifty skints that we are, the poles and insulators are being reused but all the wiring is being replaced. The trackwork was cleared a week previously via front-end loader and man power!
Alan gets to (gloved) grips with installing new jumpers on an existing pole at the members’ driveway entrance. With the removal of the paddock fence, some of the alternating polarities of the fence strands were incorrect. Note that one of the gate braces is a boiler tube! The existing carpark wasn’t altered much, but the collected spoil and ash was being used to level the old paddock which occupied the corner. This area is currently being paved with our locomotive ash, which works well at stabilizing raw ground and as a high traction ground cover.
The electric fence around the turning balloon is structurally complete. It is later to be upgraded by having zone resistors spliced in so we can locate break-ins and faults faster. The existing fence runs on Merlin energizers. This one is going to run at about double the Joule (Energy Delivery) rating of the existing energizers.
The existing fence actually leaves burn marks in your skin at the entry and exit points of the electric current, so this one is going to hurt! Notice how the wires are sagging in the day’s heat as they expand.
This is the recycled Pedestrian Gate from the now-dismantled Saki Salon Paddock from the north side. (Pic E05). This gate is easily accessible from the turning balloon and now functions as the ‘Midden Gate’. We are using the recessed ash wagon tracks as a non-ferrous and rubble dump. Reefsteamers recycles metallic scrap, uses wood for construction and fire lighting, and uses locomotive ash/clinkers for road and parkway surfacing. We don’t actually produce much rubbish for a compound of our size!
Our land actually extends up to the main line visible in the background, so we are not using public land
A view of the relocated fence that has been moved out to next the Transnet access road. The edge of the grass marks the original fence line. This area is intended for visitor parking and for long distance train passengers. Although the balloon area is technically industrial wasteland, some aspects are not unattractive. The fence-way has been cleared but there is also a contiguous pathway inside of the balloon for guard patrols.
Once the unearthed storage siding is re-instated and all the new yard lead points tumblers reinstated, the check rail on the turning balloon needs attention as many of the chairs are working loose. Notice the similarly bent bolts in this picture – somebody had derailed a locomotive long ago and the wheels had run on the inside of the check rail. Looking past the corner king post, roughly along the line of the new fence. (Since erected.) The ground had to be flattened out along the route so the lowest strands of the fence run as close to the ground as feasible. It discourages crawl throughs. (You can just see the retaining walls of the recessed ash wagon tracks for the coaling stage.)
A cleverly designed ratchet turnbuckle which doesn’t have a separate pawl. The barrel fits in a slotted hole and can move sideways. It uses the weight/tension of the wire itself to engage the ratchet cam into the integral pawl teeth. This is the visitors’ entrance gate. You can see the original line of the fence along the sleeper on the ground, and the still-standing corner post next to 25NC No.3488’s worshond tender. This gateway is not original to the depot.
The gang were using the tea coaster as a supplies trolley. Since being used to transport concrete sleepers for the head shunt, those wheels are even more buckled. The writing on the EOT marker says ‘Boiler Empty.’ The existing poles were tapped in. When you have a steam depot with four scrapyards in the vicinity and bracketed by squatter camps – you don’t dare leave your perimeter open even overnight.
Looking east along the North Fence, the Saki Salon’s Paddock is almost completely gone. The pedestrian gate has been removed and all wiring and the toilet facilities were cleared out before the fencing project started. This is the track that is going to be put back into service as a storage track. The recently planted foliage is already adapting along this original fence along the coal dock approach track. Note the fence has been cleared on the opposite side too – all the perimeter fences are to have levelled patrol paths on both sides.

17.12.2012 Last Magaliesburg Express in 2012

17.12.2012 Depot Visits

Dear Reefsteamers and Friends of Steam,

As always, our depot is usually open for visits every day of the week. provided that you contact us first.  For quite a few years now, we have been using our Oom Attie de Necker as our contact person for Depot Visits and for making other arrangements, as well as functioning as the Site Manager.

Attie is becoming advanced in years and is starting to find it stressful trying to keep up with visits and requests to forward messages to other people, especially requests of a last-minute nature.  He also doesn’t know how to use a computer, so that avenue of communication is not available to him.  We want Attie to be able to enjoy his retirement years at the depot ; pottering around with light duties as he is able, drinking endless cups of sweet milky ‘Spoorie Tea’, talking to like-minded people, teasing the youngsters and to just enjoy continuing to be amongst the great steam-machines that have been such a part of his life for so long. 

So, from the point of view of depot visits, we are booking Oom Attie off from Station Pilot Duties and placing him into preservation.  He will, however, continue to assist us as Train Manager and Senior Driver in the mean-time.

We thus ask that people do NOT try to contact Attie in matters concerning the depot or visits thereof.  Please email your depot-related queries through to or  Unfortunately, Attie’s cell number appears in many of the already-released Depot Reports and other documents.

We will have a new lower-mileage Depot Manager starting in January.  As soon as we have run him in, put the first dent in the tender and tightened all the loose bolts, we will then announce new contact details for you to use when you need assistance around the depot.

On a similar note, my (Lee Gates) primary contact number has changed.  You can contact me on 081 010-9791, or use 078 181-9238 as a backup.  Due to the nature of my testing\QA job, I have numerous handsets accompanied by numerous SIM cards and they do get a bit swapped around sometimes.  Email or Reefsteamers Facebook remain the most reliable method of getting hold of me.

Reefsteamers runs their last train of the year today and here’s hoping it is a successful one.  Our next train will be a Magaliesburg Express, running on 2nd February 2013. 

Regards to all and enjoy the holiday season!
Stay safe

22.11.2012 Book Launch - 'Railways of Southern Africa - 150 years' by Jean Dulez

Dear Reefsteamers and Friends of Steam,

There will be a book launch happening on Sunday at The Model Train Shop, operated by our good friend in steam, Rinke Blok.  He has had asked for some Reefsteamers to be present there to advertise our cause and to also show some of the table-top steam enthusiasts that there are still real steam locomotives running not a million miles away!          

We have accepted the offer and I will be putting together a simple stand, especially as the main focus is to be on Jean Dulez’s new book ‘Railways of Southern Africa – 150 years.’  We are asking for volunteers to assist us in manning the Reefsteamers stand, even if only for an hour or two.  I am well aware that Reefsteamers are running a steam train on Sunday and the folks that are rostered on the rails will not be available.  But perhaps if you aren’t on the train that day, you can come along for a change of scenery and tempt yourself with the evils of buying extra model trains with your shank-of-the-month budget.  (If you have to eat cheap peanut butter sandwiches for the rest of the month ‘cuz Rinke led you into model railway sin … well, it’s worth it, isn’t it?)

The shop should have at least one model of our Class 15F No.3046 on display too!

We know this is a last minute notice – the Railroad Czar himself only found out later last week, as there were numerous delays with the book launch.

The event is at the shop itself, Sunday 25th November from 9:00 until 14:00, with the main presentation being between 12:00 and 14:00.  There will be light refreshments and snacks available from 12:00 to 14H00 as well.  You will need to RSVP me if you reckon you will be able to make it for the Reefsteamers stand on Sunday.  If you wish to come and help, please notify me by email before Friday night and I’ll send it along to Rinke.

The Reefsteamers display will mainly be mainly computer-based, running our DVDs n’ slideshows, with possibly a few items on display from the depot.  I’d like to take the oval RS headboard as well, if that hasn’t been taken home by somebody in the meantime.  I do need assistance as I don’t hear well and will struggle with talking to members of the public.  If we can get some assistants, I will ask Coenie and Diana to supply key rings and photos respectively – so we can make a little pocket money for Reefsteamers.  I will not, however, be selling Paul Hloben’s books as not to detract from the book launch.

I am also printing some membership forms as well as several copies of the ‘Falling Stars’ booklet.  If you can come – try to wear your RS uniform and a clean hi-vis vest if you can.

The book of the moment is entitled ‘Railways of Southern Africa – 150 years’
(Locomotives and Trains.) and it has been published by Jean A. Dulez.

If you wish to come as a visitor and browse the books and the store,
you will need to RSVP Uncle Rinke himself at  
For more information, visit the Model Train Shop Website at

Shop Location:

Honey Crest Shopping Centre (The old Top Crop Centre)
Corner of Beyers Naude Drive and Duiker Avenue
Randpark Ridge

GPS co-ordinates:
-26 5' 37.45", +27 56' 28.25" 

Contact details:
Tel: +27 (0) 11 795-3270  
E-mail: or

18.11.2012 Class 12AR Tube Plate Crack Assessment

The 12AR's blow-down valves had been unnecessarily removed by one of the workshop staffers, in spite of the fact that they are self lapping. We were putting them back and then planning to use our standard blank-off method of putting a rubber pad and a backing plate in between the discharge coupler and the down pipe-flange to seal the valve 100% for boiler hydraulic testing.

The Chip Wood Wagon with a DIY blow down kit and miscellaneous extras! Like the turret valves, the blow downs had been removed by the staffers for servicing – we were putting them back before the boiler hydraulic tests. SAR&H’s Blow-Down Valves are of the self-lapping type – popularly known as ‘Everlasting Valves.’ The valves use a rotary sliding action and are thus self-cleaning and they wear-IN instead of wearing out. They also present a 100% open bore when fully open, as not to obstruct the discharge. You can see a rotary disk in the closed position.
This is the reason why we prefer to blank-off the blow-down valves instead of removing them – disturbing and replacing the spacer tube that bridges the thermal lagging space introduces a potential leak point at either end. Note that the end seals are conical faces only, with no facilities for gaskets. Lucas reaches up to hold the spacer tube in place and as straight as possible, while Jeremy prepares to fit the valve. Note that the three mounting studs and the ends of the spacer tube itself have been treated to copper grease.
The separate discharge coupler simplifies the valve casting and allows for custom-angled fittings. It also takes the brunt of the impact of the particle-laden steam and can be replaced independently of the valve body if worn. The left side is complete except for the valve linkage. The blow-down drum is painted in red oxide and will be repainted black. Note that the pressure gauge is not original equipment!

18.11.2012 Class 12AR Tube Plate Crack Assessment

Checking and grinding open a discovered tube plate crack to discern the full depth of the crack and prepare it for welding. Permission has since been granted to weld the crack closed instead of cutting a section of the tubeplate out. We hope to have the 12AR running for the last day-trip of the year.

It is close quarters working in amongst all that steel sheeting. I was tempted to close the firing doors and walk away. You can clearly see the old fashioned tall, narrow, straight Lucas holds the lamp while Dawie is considering the angle of his next grind. He was trying to keep the new cut to the depth of the crack and no more. It is not an easy job in the shadows unavoidably cast by that lamp and Lucas was constantly switching angles to cast the light in different directions. The white objects in the flues are the caps of the cans of penetrating dye (red) and its developer (white).
You can see the straight-sided ground-open crack between two open tube apertures in the white-painted area. This would need to be checked by the boiler inspector for permission to fill the crack by welding. (Since granted.) Note the boiler tube to the top left, which is one of seven fitted new tubes that has yet to have the rear end ‘beaded’ and welded – you can clearly see the copper ferrule. These rivet-like stay heads have been marked with chalk as they had been weeping and they need to be ‘caulked.’ Visible are three of the studs that support the side rail that supports the left side of the brick fire arch.
Here is the other end – with the seven new tubes easily discernible by their clean dark interiors. You can see the two open holes under & left of the left-most new tube. It will be a while yet before that scaffold is moved, as we are planning to install new draft plating and baffles, all custom laser-cut in abrasion-resistant steel plate.

07.11.2012 Kurt Darren & Snotkop Video Shoot at the Reefsteamers Loco shed

Kurt Darren - Stoomtrein - The video

07.11.2012 Re-assembling the 12AR's Turret valves on 20th October 2012

The workshop staffers had previously removed the 12AR's turret valves (and blow downs) while preparing the old locomotive for her eventual boiler inspection. The removals were not strictly necessary, but were done with the intent of giving each removed valve a good service on the work bench. The valves never did get that service, due to lack of time, and are now being replaced as they were. When Susie gets her boiler inspection she needs to start running immediately with a shake down run, without spending more time in the shop to get the valves sorted. Only the main center valve on the turret needs to be 100% sealed for hydraulic testing anyway, as it inherently isolates the rest of the turret-fed equipment.

The rather dusty turret manifold arrangement on the Class 15CA No.2056 ‘Dorothy’ is very similar to that of the titular Class 12AR. The small bore copper pipe and the angle cock in the center foreground is the steam line for the boiler’s pressure gauge – which sits angled inwards on the fireman’s side on this locomotive. This is the cab-side view of the 12AR’s Turret manifold. The big center valve is the ‘main switch’ for all the locomotive’s steam-using accessories. The workshop staffers had removed the turret valves to do a full service on them. For the hydraulic boiler tests, only the center valve actually needs to be 100% sealed.
A general view of the Class 12AR Locomotive being worked on. The scaffolding was put there as a support block for installing boiler tubes. The top-hat device on the chimney is actually the inverted Watson-style cover for the regulator valve chest. The blanking plate that shows where the clacks AREN’T. This will stay sealed for the boiler’s hydraulic testing – being much easier that trying to grind in and seal the clack valve elements and seats themselves. Note the conical bell-ends on the feedwater delivery pipes.
Whoever removed the valves didn’t label them, obviously thinking they were going to put them back later. So Jeremy now had the real-3D puzzle of working out which valve went into which sized hole and for which pipe. Jeremy Wood was put onto reassembling the valves – the first time that he has done such a job. Down below, Lucas and Dawie were pondering about a crack in the rear tube plate – so this was double-decker work today!

06.11.2012 Dear Reefsteamers and Friends of Steam,

Here is the latest Reefsteamers Depot Report.  There is a lot that has been going on, so  
to save time and catch up a bit, a few projects are covered by text rather than photos.

Reefsteamers Facebook:

I work on average 6-days a week and my working hours are quite erratic.  I even bring laptop-based work to the depot sometimes, as the workshop guys can tell you.  It is challenging to keep up with the Reefsteamers documents in the limited time that I have available. 

So, in an effort to work a bit smarter, a few months ago I adopted the process of doing the Depot Report updates in groups of 6, 12 or 18 indexed and captioned photos.  Always in sixes, like buying cartons of eggs.  Those photos and captions are uploaded to Reefsteamers Facebook at the same time that I put them into the growing Depot Report, section by section.  The system works quite well and it ensures that little bits of news keep coming out in a more-or-less constant feed, rather than nothing comes out for two months and then a massive Depot Report comes out that crashes everyone’s email accounts.

So, if you want more frequent (but shorter) Reefsteamers updates, you need to register with and log onto Facebook and visit our Reefsteamers Page and the sister Reefsteamers 15F 2914 page.  There are usually 2 updates a week from me – sometimes three.  (Not including updates from other people.)

Reefsteamers Facebook =
Reefsteamers 15F 2914 Page =

Usually within 1½ - 2 days after posting on Facebook, the same photos and captions are imported into the main website.  You will see them stacked under the ‘News’ section on the left hand side.  So, you can get frequent updates on our website, if you don’t wish to use Facebook or if your company’s IT department has blocked Facebook access.

Occasionally other people will post Reefsteamers depot, lineside and train-related pictures on our Facebook site as well and you will miss out if you never visit. 

Enjoy the read! Lee Gates

22.10.2012 Reefsteamers took a beating today (20.Oct) with hail stones literally the size of golf balls and larger. (I took photos) The roof of the old running shed (now the carriage shed) has been destroyed with literally hundreds of holes, as well as the translucent roof panels in the 15M shops. The guards hut roofs were also penetrated by hail stones. We had some mild injuries amongst our people, many broken windows and damage to everyone's cars as well as broken windscreens on Shongololo's three parked midi-busses. The C22 articulated coach had all the windows smashed on one side. ... What did we do? We carried on working!

Hail Storm
Checking out and photographing the damage in the 15M shop. Notice the canted light fitting above the loco tender – it had been clipped by incoming hail through the roof. The Carriage Shed roof (Old Running Shed) has been practically destroyed with the literally hundreds of holes punched right through it. This roof is of a compressed fibre type instead of the more common IBR sheeting as you might expect.
We got thoroughly soaked moving our cars under cover, with hail stones beating the depot … and us. We kept our hardhats on! Gordon, recovering from a hernia op., couldn't run so he resignedly left his car out there. These are typical example of the frosty pellets from heaven. There are MANY broken windows on the North and Western sides of the depot. These examples are unusual as they are in the ‘protected’ access alley between the 15M shop and the canteen – and they STILL got broken.
The 15M No.1 road here and the work bays in the Top Shed are strewn with shattered glass chips on the floor, amongst the shelves and mixed in amongst the machinery. We even saw a fluorescent tube that had been smashed out of its fitting by a rebounding hail stone. The titular hail storm came on suddenly at about 3pm. The quicker guys were already moving their cars to safety and this was last picture I took before I got my arse into gear. Alan Lawton and I could actually hear the deep roaring, hissing lashing of the hail from that cloud burst.
Like classic Highveld storms are, the hail storm was brief but vicious. The somewhat-shocked Depot Grunts are returning from inspecting their motor cars, which were parked alongside the ‘Millsite Stores’ in a desperate attempt to get them under some cover. Not having tempered safety glass like a more modern steel coach, the plinthed C22 articulated coach lost about ¾ of the North-facing windows. Of the main line coaches, only the bar coach lost a window to the hail.
Nearly all of us got hit, bruised or lamed by those monster hail stones. Oom Attie’s car was parked up at the main gate and he had the furthest to run. He ended up getting more injured than his car did, as it was under a tree. The translucent panels in the 15M workshop roof were all holed and means that our young depot lads are going to be rafter walking soon! Luckily the rest of the roof is galvanized IBR sheeting.
Three of the four Shongololo Express mini-busses that were parked here ended up with cracked windscreens as they were, unluckily, parked pointing outwards from the awning. Moose the Ranger took quite a beating as he was the last car to be moved. (My car keys had uncoupled from their chain and had gone adrift in the bottom of my depot kit bag.) The bonnet dent in the foreground IS a hailstone dent. Everyone’s car picked up dimple-dents, but thankfully none of our windscreens or headlights were smashed.

19.10.2012 Depot update

James Thomson gets to grips with dismantling a spare locomotive steam-turbine dynamo for rebuilding. James normally works weekends and has been scarce lately, but will not be on weekend shift for a while, so we will soon see more of him sitting at the red-topped bench. A view of the turbine enclosure with the characteristic exhaust baffles. This will the 7th dynamo that James has rebuilt from damaged or spare stock. (He has also rebuilt two stokers in his time.) We always try to keep one intact turbomo aside as a spare, especially on long distance trips.
Here is a view of the steam turbine itself. James says it is usually the shaft bearings that fail first, then the most troublesome part would be the weighted centrifugal governor, followed by the pintel valve.
More component testing is in progress in the wheel lathe’s gearbox. The output shaft that drives the lathe’s chucks is at the top right. This enclosure is upside down. The center shaft is a fixed cluster with the left and rightmost shafts providing two speeds each. Here is an end view of the previous assembly. Notice the brass speed-ratio plate bolted to the upside down cover. There is a selector fork sitting on the cart board too.

12.10.2012 Depot update

The gear selectors have been installed for a test fit with the new components. You can see the selector ring on the big double gear cluster. Barring nasty surprises, we hope to have the wheel lathe running in very early 2013. A top view of the wheel lathe’s secondary gearbox being test-assembled. The goal was to check the gear positions, keyways, shaft alignments and the fit of the selectors. The bearings will be re-fabricated in Vesconite.
More depot cleaning. The compressor room after demolition of the unused wood-framed office in the back corner. The recently repaired starter gear is still operating, but it can only be started/stopped by designated personnel. A rare view across two empty tracks in the 15M shop – I’m standing on 15F No.2914’s nose. I had never noticed the two electrical insulators on the roof’s center brace beam before. Notice too the forgotten wire sling halfway along the span.
It is summer time and the new(ish) translucent roof panel really picks up the late afternoon sun. The Hunslet is waiting for the Jackshaft gear to be cut and the 12AR is waiting for official authorization to fit one last boiler tube. The oil store benefitted hugely from the recent depot clean-up drive – that bench usually being crammed full of empty loco oil cans. The plastic bucket under the bench very handily (pun intended) contains a detergent mix.
A trio of spare dynamos await for James Thomson’s attention. The one on the right has been completely rebuilt and just needs the external pipe fittings. This is James’ department, when he doesn't have turning work to do.

12.10.2012 Water Main upgrade

The copious water spray was starting to make rainbows in the lowering afternoon sun. Here we have the unethusiastic start to a double rainbow... Thar she blows! This is one of the inlet pipes that has let go. The pipe walls themselves were badly corroded rather than the pipe parting at a joint. — mit Alan Lawton und Jeremy Wood.
Nothin' like dancin' in the rain! We have asked Transnet\Propnet numerous times to fix this pipe but to no avail. So, we're gonna have to sort it out ourselves! Smudge Ackerman sticks his oar in it and deliberately bashes the weak pipe to open up the hole further to reduce the head end pressure
The gate valve has been screwed in against an old-fashioned hemp-sealed joint, which has been backed up with liberal use of 'Stag' pipe sealer. Trenches have been dug throughout the yard for a replacement buried water main. The current surface-routed pipe is not UV resistant and is literally splitting every week or so now. It is estimated that we are losing between R5000 to R8000 worth of water a month - for which we are billed via potable water and sewerage rates.
See that evil grin? 'Smudge' is just about to lower that torch and gently toast Coenie-raad's damp buns. Coenie is bent over to use a hammer and a drift to knock out freshly cut bolts. Shaun is cutting away the third of seven rusted bolts holding that pipe coupling in place. The gas bottles were within the boundary fence - we have a very generous length of hose for the oxygen and the acetylene.
More cutting. Notice the spade that had been placed over the spray to keep the water down. Smudge is now standing further back and is using his long arms to advantage! Shaun took over after George. It's hard work using a 16 pounder when your footing soil is being washed away with high speed soil erosion.
Hott-Nutts is a good wekka. He wheks anything you point him at. They are trying to knock that coupling out the way and have it pivot around to an under slung position, hanging on the last remaining bolt.. That's seven out of eight bolts done and the H2O is really starting to fly. By now, the lusty gusher in the depot was just a prostate-choked dribble.
Now they are trying to get the open gate valve over the pipe, and to tie it on hopefully with one and then more frantically threaded bolts. To make matters worse, we had bolts too short and/or too thin. There were a few swear words by this stage but the grass was too wet to scorch. Gimmie that bolt! What a way to break in two brand new board members!
They've gotten three bolts on and notice that the water is now discharging through the gate valve itself. The spanner unthinkingly placed on the valve wheel is literally just seconds from disappearing into the run-off, never to be seen again. Facing the rising moon, the water runs away down the steeply graded access road. (Which used to be east-bound loco access tracks) Oddly enough, all that water didn't cause much bogging or mud traps because of the speed of the run off.
That's Coenie standing JUST out of range of the spraying water. Coenie-raad empties his highly effective (not) welly-boot.
Success! The valve is in and closed. You can see how the coupler was swung away. Coenie has been tasked to refill the washed-out trench and to paint that valve black. The game plan is to cut the dented pipe back - and to feed a flexible pipe through the old pipe until it pops up where it blew within the depot. There we will make a water bowser. In other words, we will be using the old pipe as a conduit. The depot water mains replacement project is about done. This is a globe valve 'tap' on the ash pit water bowser - painted blue to deter scrap thieves (hiding the brass) and to also indicate that this is actually drinking quality water. By contrast, some of our taps are fed from the open-topped loco water tower.


Dear Reefsteamers

Over the last four weeks, ye olde depote has been having a brisk general spring cleaning!  Carriage Shed Road No.1 is being cleared and optimized as a dedicated coach repair track for the use of ‘Captain Curly’s’ Coach Crew.  In addition, the long-overdue new water mains pipe network has finally been installed.

We are anticipating saving money with a decent, buried water main of properly-rated material, that should not be bursting and wasting literally thousands of Rands of water every week or so.  Furthermore, once the joints have all settled into service, we can now set the water mains at full pressure without bursting the synthetic pipes.  This means that our tanks and tenders will fill up faster and the water tower will top-off quicker.  It is also important from a safety point of view in terms of available water pressure for the fire fighting hoses in the event of a fire.

The depot now looks cleaner and is a safer place in which to work!  It should also require less work to clean up for special events such as Photo Shoots and Open Days.

However, the young men that have been performing the clean-up and water mains work are now being assigned to restoration and repair duties rather than housekeeping chores/projects.  They are now working according to a pre-set schedule from the job board and the process is reported to be working well.  However, their work and progress will be hindered if they have to perform random housekeeping tasks as well.

This means that there is no one available to clean up after you.
Daar is niemand wat beskikbaar is om in jou spoor skoon te maak.

Thus we are asking active Reefsteamers Members to take special care in cleaning up their various work areas upon completion of their projects and tasks.  And we need to do what we can to keep the canteen, ablutions, toilets and the kitchen clean and civilized after usage.

Everyone already knows this stuff and we don’t need to post a long bulleted list of rules.

Keeping the depot clean is about common sense and consideration.

We are very fortunate to have a genuine old steam depot both preserved and reserved for our use.  Even though it is elderly and unavoidably a bit scruffy, it doesn’t have to be untidy and dirty as well.  Let’s show our pride in Reefsteamers in terms of our workplaces, whether it be locomotive, coach, yard, sheds, stores or workshop.  We are volunteers, yes, but that doesn’t need to stop us from being professional in what we do!

We trust that you will all cooperate with us and help make Reefsteamers come out on top, one step at a time!

The Board of Reefsteamers

Lee Gates


Dear Reefsteamers and Friends of Steam,

We will be running another train between our Germiston Depot and the Rhodesfield Metro Station on Saturday, 20th October.  Our guests will then be given a guided tour around our locomotive fleet, the workshop and the facilities. 

People can catch the Gautrain from anywhere on the Gautrain system and then transfer
to our steam-hauled train at Rhodesfield, where the Gautrain and the Metro lines cross.

Bookings are essential!

Please contact us at or (011) 025-4363.

Check out our latest, rather wet, photo album up on Facebook.  A quiet day at the depot ended with some rather frantic plugging of a ruptured water main that has no valve to shut the water off.  It made for some energetic and rather wet plumbing work!

Well worth a look:

Our Website is :

Our Facebook Page is :

Our Locomotive Restoration Project Page (15F 2914) is

Lee Gates


Dear Reefsteamers and Friends of Steam,

Time is at a premium for me at the moment as I am entering the pre-release phase for some Mxit–based Android software that needs to be released at the end of the month.  However, I have managed to carve out a few hours to do a summarized Depot Report to keep you up to date.  The recent Open Day was a great success, but was also quite an interruption into our normal routines and plans.  Now we can get back to the workshop projects and as you can see from the attached Depot Report, there is a lot that is happening!

Thank you to those who came out to the Depot on the 11th August to assist with the Bar Coach Bogie Boogie.  We had a very good turnout.  It WAS a bit of a last minute request, but it all had to be fitted in between the Open Day work and the scheduled Rotary Great Train Race.  The traction-hauled train to Witbank could have run without the bar coach.  But the missing bar and lounge facilities would have caused contractual and payment problems, as the bar coach was a signed and paid-for facility.  Thanks again for allowing us to keep the train running while maintaining the good customer relationship with Rotary.

I have been sporadically updating photos from the Open Day onto Facebook, and have been saving the captions locally.  When I can get some time, I will convert them into a classic sequential Depot Report type document.  We did well and the event is well worth recording!

Please also find attached a table showing the planned trains that we are running until the end of the year.  As we are proposing to hold our AGM 2012 on the 29th September, that particular trip had to be cancelled.  All trip-related enquiries to go to – not to me, please!

The AGM itself was delayed this year because of the long time required for the financial audits to be completed.  In terms of the present Articles of Association, the AGM must be held within 6 months of the financial year end, which means by the end of September for 2012.  We hope to have the audits finished by the end of next week so we can be in compliance.  The official announcement for the AGM, with accompanying instructions and forms, will come out later this month.

My next project is to update the customer mailing lists and then to review the Reefsteamers Membership Forms to send them out.  We are badly behind in our memberships, partially because we hadn’t really had a reminder campaign this year. 

Enjoy the read!
Lee Gates

23.07.2012 Good day Everyone

We just realized that our e-mail server, hosting the address was out of service and all the messages sent on this address from 18th July until today 23th July 16.27 never arrived on the server. If you sent any e-mail to during this time periode, please send your e-mail again.

for any inconvenience caused, we would really sincerely apologize

Philipp Maurer,

18.07.2012 Hi Everyone,

Here is a reminder for our Reefsteamers
Open Day, which is but a mere two weeks away.

Since our poster was released, there have been a lot of queries and points of confusion, partially  
because people are making assumptions according to the way that we do things on a typical day-trip run.

To clarify the poster further:
-There are NO BOOKINGS required.You simply need to get yourself to the Rhodesfield Gautrain station and buy yourself a ticket.
-Tickets are allocated on a first-come first-served basis.
-There are two steam powered shuttle trains departing Rhodesfield in the morning, each with capacity for about 400 passengers, so there is plenty of room!
-The morning shuttles leave 2 hours apart at 08H50 and 10H50.
-The price does not change depending which train you take to or from our depot.
-The steam train ride from Rhodesfield to the Germiston Depot is about 25 minutes.
-There will be snacks and drinks for sale on the train.
-The Reefsteamers ticket stand will be sign posted and set up on the Gautrain concourse. (Not at the PRASA station, as was incorrectly stated earlier.)
-There WILL be Reefsteamers people available to show you the way from the Gautrain station to the PRASA station.  They will have high visibility vests on, with jeans and maroon tee-shirts.
-No, the Reefsteamers train cannot wait for you.  We have been slotted into the PRASA schedule in between their normal commuter trains and we must leave on time!
-The Reefsteamers ticket stand and signage will be dismantled upon the departure of the 10H50 shuttle and the staff will leave on the same train.

On other points often queried:
The model steam train ride is free – included in your cover ticket price.
-The model steam train ride will be running all day.
-There will be no entry tickets or parking available at the Depot. 
-Entry is via the Rhodesfield steam train only.
-The workshops will be opened every hour for tours – included in the ticket price.

Loco Driver’s Experience:
-The tickets for the Locomotive Driver’s Experience are separate from the cover tickets.
-No bookings will be taken for the driver’s experience – you need to purchase a ticket in person.
-Driver’s Experience Tickets are sold on a first come first served basis.
-Driver’s Experience Tickets will be sold from the club house.  (R300 each).
-Just to note, the driver’s experience is for a real locomotive, not the 5 inch gauge model.
-You will need to sign an indemnity form before being allowed to drive the locomotive.
-Potential drivers will need to use a breathalyser before being allowed to drive – so if you intend to drive the locomotive, be careful of consuming alcohol beforehand!

Lee Gates


Hi Everyone!

Please find attached a PRELIMINARY announcement for our forthcoming Reefsteamers Depot Open Day to be held on Saturday, 14 July 2012.  We are extending our exhibits this year with more exhibits from the engineering and model engineering world. 

Come and visit a real old Steam Locomotive Depot.  Get up close and personal with the magnificent fiery-hearted steam machines of the past!  (In various scales too!)

We are well into the organizing stages, but have received commitments from nearly all the parties concerned.  We plan to release the official event flyer at the beginning of July, said flyer having the final times, prices and special attractions. 

One of the major changes this year is the possibility of using the Gautrain Rhodesfield parking for our visitors to drop their cars off, and be taken to our depot on a steam train-powered shuttle service.  (On the nearby commuter line of course, not on the Gautrain’s tracks!  J )    Naturally, this means that you will also be able to come to Rhodesfield from any other convenient station on the Gautrain System (Including the airport) or by using the Rhodesfield/Kempton Park Gautrain busses.  Use of their parking is still under negotiation, hence contributing to the delay in getting the finalized event flyer out.

Our event will be a little shorter than previous ones, from 9am to 3pm. 
Thus, including travel time, you will be home before the chill of the winter’s evening. 

We will let you know the details as soon as feasible!  The day of steam n’ steel is going to be a lot of fun and it would be a shame to miss it – so mark that Saturday on your calendar and bring the family along!

Reefsteamers Members – We have had our initial planning meeting and preparations are already under way.  You will hear from me very soon about rostering for Open Day duties – we need everyone to get involved, but it must be done in a structured fashion because of the increased size of the event and the subsequent public exposure.

Lee Gates


Dear Reefsteamers and Friends of Steam,

There is a lot happening around the ol’ depot over the next few weeks, so here is an update for you all.
Please read through them all as not to miss something important!

15F No.2914 Work party – Saturday, 9th June 2012.

Although the Lunch Train will be running on this day, the 15M workshop will still be open for business.  The 15F No.2914 locomotive team will be continuing the boiler surface refurbishment sub-project.  They will be removing the last bits of lagging from the recently exposed boiler shell, and starting to de-scale the boiler in preparation for the new primer coat.  The old graphite on the smoke box is also to be removed and cleaned back.  Come and lend a hand, even if only for an hour or so.

Check out our Facebook-based photo-album of the removal of the boiler cladding at :

My next planned photo essay will be mainly based on 2914 (Not the Lunch Train)  
so those that cannot access Facebook will be brought up to date.

Reefsteamers Winter Open Day – Saturday, 14 July 2012:

This is the confirmed date for the next Open Day, but the trains and the various display features are still to be planned.  Unless something unusual comes up, we will probably open the Depot Gates to the public at our usual time at 9am until 5pm.  We are bringing in photographers for an early morning winter shoot.

Open Day Planning Meeting – 10am, Saturday, 16 June 2012.

We will be holding an Open Day Planning Meeting at the Depot two Saturdays from now, to discuss what we will offer at the depot and what needs to be done.  The meeting will be convened by Board Member Stewart Currie, with the assistance of Shaun Ackerman.

If you are both willing and able to assist in some way on the Open Day, please confirm your attendance at the meeting by emailing ME (not Shaun) by latest Wednesday, 13th June, and I will pass on the attendees list.   We usually need help in areas such as marketing, ticket sales, coach staff, loco crews, exhibits, catering, crowd control, souvenir/book sales, set up, models, parking attendants, etc.  We will suggest and discuss various ideas and possibilities during the planning meeting – and will start delegating jobs.  As always, we need many hands, so please join in to make this Open Day as successful as the previous ones … or even better!

It is not necessary to be available all day for the Open Day – we would be happy to arrange and coordinate shifts if necessary.

Both Reefsteamers and Friends of Reefsteamers are welcome to attend the meeting and to assist on the Open Day, but only competent, registered Reefsteamers Members will be permitted to staff the trains and the various locomotives.  But there are lots of other valuable roles in which to partake.

Reefsteamers AGM - Saturday, 21 July 2012.  (Tentative DATE)

A TENTATIVE date has been set for this year’s AGM meeting.  The actual date will depend upon when the financial audits are completed and handed over.  You will be informed beforehand with the legally required lead time, as to what the date, time and venue of the AGM will be.
Anyone can attend a Reefsteamers AGM, ask questions and hand in a proxy form, but only registered and paid Members can vote on matters pertaining to the operation of the company.  (Whether in person or via the options on a submitted proxy form.)

Reefsteamers Membership 2012:

The annual Reefsteamers Membership renewal drive was held off for 2012 because of the change of date of the AGM, amongst other things.  Technically, we should have started Membership Renewals from 1st April.  So please put funds aside and start filling in and handing in Membership Renewal forms.  I include a blank copy of the RENEWAL FORM (Version 4) for convenience.  Please follow the payment and processing instructions on the form itself.  I (Lee Gates) do not process memberships.

However, I do still need to update the membership APPLICATION FORM for this year.  So if you would like to apply as a new member to Reefsteamers, please feel free to send me an email by reply and I can send you a form once I can get them done.

Thank you!
Lee Gates

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