Steam Loco Safari Tours Photos and Report
Malmesbury - Moravia 16th June 2002
|An early start saw us arrive at Malmesbury before 8:00, the
weather looking 100% better than Saturday, but Malmesbury itself was
shrouded in heavy fog. Oil-burning 15F 2916 (now sporting black
smoke deflectors) waited at the platform at the head of a mixed
train (Water Tank, 6xFZJ, 2xDZ, 2xsuburban, crew caboose). Shortly
after 8:00, 2916 whistled out, her exhaust steam merging with the
fog. We managed to find a spot near the N7 overbridge, the fog was
much thinner up the hill. So I stood there by the track listening to
2916 barking up the grade, invisible in the gloom. A pinprick glow
from the headlight pierced the fog around the bend, a stray ray of
sun lighting up the exhaust whiter than the fog. As she approached
the fog cleared slightly more, giving a lovely half-light glint off
the loco and train as they steamed past.
They stopped a bit further up the line, and reversed back for a runpast in the deep mist closer to Malmesbury. When they were done, the glint conditions 100 metres further up persisted, giving another great opportunity for pictures.
We drove around to Kanonkop via the main roads, whilst other rally-drivers took the service road! Around 10 runpasts were held in the scenic section out of Malmesbury (in sun!) which the passengers were most pleased with. Another runpast near Rust (my son Thomas decided that they named the station after the condition of the sidings in the yard!) and a great looong video pan of the train near the Drieheuwels farm. More runpasts were held on the swinging curves before the summit before Moorreesburg, the 15F roaring up the hill for the cameras. About now, my kids decided that they had seen enough steam for the day, so I hitched a ride with Mr. Dulez in the JHB Gricemobile whilst my wife and kids headed back to CPT.
A water stop was held at Moorreesburg, with Mnr. Carstens and his ever-present bakkie and water pumps ready for action as soon as 2916's wheels stopped. A good number of local kids turned out to see the train, the second northbound steam working in three weeks! We managed another shot or two before Koringberg, the line then dipping down to the Berg River at Moravia. The fog persisted at Moravia as 2916 rolled across the river bridge, pausing for water at the station. Unfortunately the columns and tanks were not in operation so the water tankers and pumps were again put to use.
It was here that an oil feed problem became apparent on the loco which the crew tried to resolve. During this process, the extinguished burner was lit off the brick arch which caused accumulated gases to ignite in a spectacular fireball. Unfortunately a bystander was partially incinerated by this, but luckily he received only superficial burns, a free haircut and an eyebrow wax courtesy of 2916.
Back onto the train then for the winding climb up to De Hoek and the scenic (in an industrial way!) PPC Cement Factory. The little station there is quite a gem however, still intact and a fine example of a small SAR station. 2916 took a spin on the triangle while the passengers stretched their legs a bit before heading back to Moravia.
The afternoon's plans called for a run up to Koringberg with runpasts on the climb. The first runpast was held on the Berg River bridge with 2916 outing black smoke for the cameras. The runpast was completed a second and third time... Then the loco ran out of oil and had to retreat back to the station to take oil from the oil (road) tanker that had just arrived. This was done in double quick time, but the run to Koringberg was cancelled in favour of more runpasts on the bridge. So we did the sun shot side-on, rear 3/4, front 3/4, silhouette, reflection, silhouette reflection, glint, and any other angle we could think of. Got some lekker pics though.
The passengers were bussed off to their overnight accommodation, but we who were riding the train as extras found that our transport, along with Mr. Dulez, was still in Koringberg awaiting the train! While we waited, we divided up our collective food supplies (not much!) and ate, the station buffet and restaurant having already closed.
I'd like to say that the drive back to Cape Town was uneventful, but there was a little lamp glowing on the dashboard, which had a picture of a petrol pump on it. About 20km south of Malmesbury we realised that it wasn't actually a GPS petrol station locator, the coughing and spluttering of the engine as it died for lack of fuel gave a fairly clear indication of its true meaning. Like 2916, we were out of fuel, but unfortunately we didn't have residual steam pressure to get us back to the station, just 5 tired gricers who didn't really want to push the car the 10km to the nearest petrol station!
So myself and Mr. Benn set off for the nearest farm for help. A very helpful gent kindly offered his son's services to drive us to the nearest One-Stop petrol station, they even loaned us a funnel and container. It was an interesting ride, in a car that had no 2nd or 3rd gears, but 1st to 4th was okay if you gunned it enough in 1st. Meanwhile our driver explained to us the intricacies of overhauling the gearbox which he was to carry out on the weekend. I think I'll stick to computers... A while later we had transferred a few litres and were filling up again at the One-Stop. Whew... A mighty big thanks to our saviours for giving us a lift! highly appreciated! A late arrival back in Cape Town, just the thing before another early start - we had to be at Moravia for an 8:00 departure...
15F 2916 Moravia Sunset
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