The Port Elizabeth Apple Express - NG Express Bi-monthly Newsletter - October 2008
The Port Elizabeth
Apple Express

NG Express Newsletter


NG Express

Postnet Suite 124, Private Bag 13130, Humewood, Port Elizabeth

October 2008

Wednesday 29 October 2008 at 12.58pm locomotive NG 15 No.119 took her first tentative steps under her own (steam) power.

It was a momentous occasion for the few spectators and proud staff of the Apple Express when Hennie Van Rooyen carefully opened the regulator valve and steam surged into 119ís cylinders and she moved under her own power for the first time in many years. It had been a long time with plenty of sweat and tears to get her going again and what a joyous occasion it was.
The previous week, she was fired for the first time but understandably steam started escaping from every conceivable corner and loose joint there was and it was decided to drop the fire once the problem areas had been noted.
A week later her fire was lit once again and this time around she held her steam better, much to the relief of everyone watching. After setting her safety valves and tightening a few joints she was let loose on her first run. It was brief but majestic. The loco staff were by now so fired up with enthusiasm, they swarmed over her with renewed energy like worker bees attending their queen. It was a grand occasion and the smell of coal smoke and steam added to the excitement of the day.
It is a pity that there was not a bottle of bubbly to hand as breaking this across the smoke box would have been the ultimate to the re-launch of a rejuvenated lady.
In a few weeks when the steam fitter is satisfied that she is capable, she will be taken out on a lengthy test run to Chelsea Junction.
Then once again the long awaited sound of a steam whistle will resound around the suburbs of Port Elizabeth.
Once No.119 is complete and has been roadworthied, it is expected that work will commence on repairing the Garratt NGG 16 no 131 which has been patiently waiting for attention.

150psi and slowly climbing

Date - Wednesday 29 October 2008. Time - 12.58pm

As of the end of August Transnet Rail Freight have seen fit to close the Humewood Diesel Depot and transfer all their staff to the Swartkops Diesel Depot. When the Apple Express Company first heard of this move they were very concerned because it was then not known how the move would affect their access to the secured area of the depot. It was with relief that the Company heard that the move would not affect the Apple Express in any way and that restoration and maintenance work could still carry on as normal at the depot workshops.
The Diesel depot staff move was probably due to the lack of work at the depot because of the minimal freight working on the line. If any of the NG diesel locomotives need repairs, staff will be brought in from Swartkops.
Official security measures will remain in place which is also good news for the Apple Express.
One possible advantage of this move is that it may become possible for the train passengers to begin their trip from the diesel depot. The depot would be an ideal embarkation point with its secure parking and better toilet facilities.
It is hoped that the railway authorities will give their permission for the depot to be used as a station.

The intrepid team of coachbuilders have over the past couple of months, been busy restoring the long neglected passenger coach No. 50. This coach had been standing in the open air at the steam depot for many years. It had been stripped for refurbishment but funds had run out before the job could be completed. The skeletal shell was recently brought down to the workshops and inspected. After some deliberation it was decided to try something new with this coach and rebuild it as a lounge car with chairs and tables and a bar counter. This is something the AE Company has not previously attempted and if successful it will be unique to the coach consist. Everyone is eagerly waiting to see what the coach builders can achieve with this project.

Coach 50 before work commenced
Photo Clive Nell 
Coach No.50 starting to take shape

The recent introduction of the three day weekend trip into the Langkloof has received a mixed response from the general public. Some trips have been fairly well supported, specially the trips to Assegaaibos but two others have had to be cancelled due to a lack of support. It is hoped, though, that once the word spreads and customer satisfaction is assured, the trips will become a sort after item by the tourist.
The whole initiative has Government backing as well as that of the local Langkloof tourism industry which conceived the idea of a Route 62 tourism route as inspired by the famous Route 66 in the USA. With all this muscle behind the idea, it will be interesting to see if it will take off in the future. Maybe with the reintroduction of steam power for the train, interest in this pricy excursion will be revived.

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