Class 15F No.3046 "Vreni" was the first restoration project undertaken by Reefsteamers in 1992. The project took too long and the young group had to work with locomotives requiring less work to be able to earn revenue. Thus, this machine was laid aside under cover and remained in a partially restored state for over 15 years. She was finally restored to steam in 2009 and is named after the daughter of one of the firemen.
The Class 15F is a heavy mixed-traffic locomotive of the four-eight-two wheel arrangement. ("Mountain") It is based on the Class 15E ‘Bongol,’ but with Walshearts Valve gear instead of the 15E’s rotary cam gear. The class was very successful and 255 of them were built by several manufacturers, making it the most numerous locomotive class in Africa. The 15Fs were initially used in the Free State and Western Transvaal but were eventually found in service all over South Africa.
They are conventional locomotives by SAR standards, but advanced in Glasgow, where the later batches were built. They feature full vacuum braking, powered grate shakers, powered reversers, self-cleaning smoke boxes, hydrostatic lubrication and mechanical stokers. A distinguishing feature on the "F’s" are the prominent, wide Wootten type fireboxes and the long, high pitched boiler which allowed room underneath for 5 ft. dia. driving wheels. (Large wheeled locomotives are difficult to design on the Cape Gauge.) They were also noted as being built with a standardized boiler (The Watson 3B) whereas many other locomotive designs were re-boilered in CME A.G. Watson’s standardization policy. The 15Fs were amongst the last steam locomotives to remain active in SAR service. No.3046 is famed for having pulled the royal train in 1947, with the then-princess Elizabeth on board. Built in 1945, this locomotive was retired from service in 1988. No. 3046 was kept intact by then-Spoornet as a reserve and underwent steam testing for 4 consecutive years, until use of steam traction officially ended in 1992. No. 3046 is also one of the 44 SAR locomotives named in 1945 by the minister of Transport, the Hon. FC Sturrock and originally bore the name "City of Bloemfontein". Naming of locomotives on the SAR was not the usual official practice. Unusually for an SAR locomotive, No. 3046 was painted dun green instead of black.
Numerous examples of 15Fs still exist. Reefsteamers has 6 Class 15Fs on the premises, four of which are intact and 3046 is the one currently operating. As of May 2011, No. 3046 "Vreni" is the only operating Class 15F locomotive in South Africa.
WANTED: If you have any parts/photos/film or videos of this engine in your collection, we would like to ask you to share the details with us. We also looking for different parts who still should exist: as the original buffer beam number plates, nameplate and other parts. We would like to bring those parts again together with the engine. Thank you for your kindness to share your details with us: firstname.lastname@example.org