Jozi's own steam train

Reefsteamers News


Reefsteamers needs you

Dear Reefsteamers and Friends of Steam,

A worrying trend has been the shrinkage of the number of people busy in the Reefsteamers Workshops on Saturdays.  We have dwindled down to sometimes only three or four people being present for a workday.

With the current low numbers of willing hands, we can just about keep up with the maintenance of the rolling stock and one locomotive in-steam to keep our trains safe and reliable.  We are hamstrung in terms of taking on new projects.   We are struggling to keep up with maintenance and improvements for the depot facilities.  We are constantly having to beg for footplate crews, trainees, fire lighters, loco-minders and coach staff.

The Class 15CA 2056 locomotive which was planned to be running by the end of this year has been badly delayed due to lack of hands.  We also urgently need to work on converting spare coaches into Day Sitters to replace three coaches that we lost in a yard fire early on this year.  We are consistently losing potential revenue with the lack of seating capacity that we now endure.

We do understand that Reefsteamers asks a lot.  But running steam-hauled trains is a labour-intensive task by nature.  Even more so when you consider the high standards of engineering, safety and operations to which Reefsteamers abide.   Although it is a hobby (some would say a calling), we still have to abide by time tables, logistics and safety standards. We cannot just put Reefsteamers away under a dust cloth like a model train set when it suits us, as there are bills to be paid monthly and rust never sleeps.

We have a huge old depot that was abandoned and partially demolished over 25 years ago.  While the surviving railway tracks and cavernous old sheds are wonderful to have, they need a lot of maintenance and improvements.  We are also sending out a locomotive nearly 100 years old on regular 180km plus round trips – she needs looking after!

Please don’t make the assumption that there will ‘always be another train’ and I can get involved later when I’m not so busy.

There might not always be another train!

The worsening economic climate means we need to be more efficient, more creative and proactive in making the best of our resources and capturing the dwindling leisure market … very difficult with only a few people.  Failure to do so will result in the eventual closure of Reefsteamers.

It isn’t all gloom and doom though.

After some years of poor financial management, we ended up with a monstrous debt to pay off.  We nearly lost Reefsteamers as a result.  But we’re still here after sticking to a recovery plan, but the financial restrictions thereof cost us about five years of progress.  Not only have we wrestled that debt down to size, we have achieved getting the 15M Workshops to support themselves; with useful machines such as the Tube Swager and the Wheel Lathe.  We are also taking on contract work for locomotive restoration and the retrieval \ relocation of locomotives from various sites.

What a shame it would be lose all that we have achieved …

So we ask that Reefsteamers Members and General Railway Enthusiasts on this site seriously consider their time and take up the challenge of doing something practical to keep steam
alive.  Not only at Reefsteamers, but at any of the other heritage operators.  Reefsteamers asks for only one or two Saturdays a month.  There is a special satisfaction in working on steam locos and railway equipment, and being a part of something that brings joy and ignites memories for others.

Even if you aren't handy with your hands, something as simple as supporting the work crews with refreshments, drinks and transport would be greatly appreciated.

You could even help with marketing, fund raising, recruitment, seeking sponsorships and messaging, activities that don’t require your physical presence at the Reefsteamers Germiston premises.  It is even easier to do those tasks with computers and on-line technology that we have available today.

It just takes some imagination…

If you wish to be involved in the workshops, please contact Shaun Ackerman at and tell him what skills you have and when you can get involved.  Contrary to popular belief, not all of the work is heavy and involving complicated engineering.  We do have lighter duty \ non-specialist tasks to be done.

If you are interested in staffing coaches, you can contact Diana Sanderson at You will need to become a member before becoming a coach staff member – but you can at least get an overview before hand.

For details concerning membership, contact Lauren Ackerman at  Lauren can also put you into contact with the relevant parties should you wish to be involved on line and\or off-site in terms of advertising, fund-raising, sponsorships, etc.

Kind regards,

Clive Holliday, Chairman

Directors:      Clive Holliday (Chair & Engineering); Shaun Ackerman (Engineering & Depot); Simon Bennett (Safety); Marinus Kort (Operations); Alan Leesam (Finance); Philipp Maurer (Website & Tours); Greg Zurnamer (Marketing)


photo credits to Paul Hloben

Thank you Piet for all your efforts in the early days of Reefsteamers, you will have always a special place in our hearts, it was always a great pleasure to enjoy time with you. Enjoy the times with all the great steam characters in the Steam Heaven. 



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