South African Class 5E, Series 2

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South African Class 5E, Series 2
SAR Class 5E E326.jpg
No. E326 leading at Touws River, September 1984
Type and origin
Power type Electric
Designer English Electric
Builder Vulcan Foundry
Serial number EE 2421-2465, VF E149-E193
Model EE 5E
Build date 1956-1957
Total produced 45
 • AAR B-B
 • UIC Bo'Bo'
 • Commonwealth Bo-Bo
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge
Wheel diameter 1,219 mm (48.0 in)
Wheelbase 11,279 mm (37 ft 0.1 in)
 • Bogie 3,430 mm (11 ft 3.0 in)
Pivot centres 7,849 mm (25 ft 9.0 in)
Panto shoes 6,972 mm (22 ft 10.5 in)
 • Over couplers 15,494 mm (50 ft 10.0 in)
 • Body 14,631 mm (48 ft 0 in)
Width 2,896 mm (9 ft 6.0 in)
 • Pantograph 4,089 mm (13 ft 5.0 in)
 • Body height 3,937 mm (12 ft 11.0 in)
Axle load 21,591 kg (47,600 lb)
Adhesive weight 86,364 kg (190,400 lb)
Loco weight 86,364 kg (190,400 lb)
Electric system/s 3 kV DC
Current pickup(s) Pantographs from catenary
Traction motors Four EE 529
 • Rating 1 hour 377 kW (506 hp)
 • Continuous 325 kW (436 hp)
Gear ratio 18:67
Loco brake Air & Regenerative
Train brakes Vacuum
Couplers AAR knuckle
Performance figures
Maximum speed 97 km/h (60 mph)
Power output:
 • 1 hour 1,508 kW (2,022 hp)
 • Continuous 1,300 kW (1,700 hp)
Tractive effort:
 • Starting 200 kN (45,000 lbf)
 • 1 hour 128 kN (29,000 lbf)
 • Continuous 104 kN (23,000 lbf)
Operators South African Railways
Impala Platinum
Class Class 5E
Number in class 45
Numbers E319-E363
Nicknames Balstamper
Delivered 1957-1958
First run 1957

The South African Railways Class 5E, Series 2 of 1957 was an electric locomotive.

In 1957 and 1958, the South African Railways placed forty-five Class 5E, Series 2 electric locomotives with a Bo-Bo wheel arrangement in mainline service.[1][2]


The 3 kV DC Class 5E, Series 2 electric locomotive was built for the South African Railways (SAR) by Vulcan Foundry (VF) on a sub-contract from English Electric (EE), who had designed the locomotive and supplied the electrical equipment. Forty-five series 2 locomotives were delivered and placed in service in 1957 and 1958, numbered in the range from E319 to E363.[3][4]

They were delivered in a bottle green livery with red cowcatchers. Yellow lines and whiskers were added later to improve their visibility. Beginning in 1960, a Gulf Red and yellow whiskers livery replaced the green and yellow. Since repainting was only done during major overhauls, some of these units were still working in their original as-delivered plain green livery without yellow whiskers as late as 1963.[4][5]


These dual cab locomotives had a roof access ladder on one side only, just to the right of the cab access door. The roof access ladder end was marked as the no. 2 end. A corridor along the centre of the locomotive connected the cabs, which were identical except that Cab 2 was where the handbrake was located.[1]


According to crews, the Class 5E gave a rough ride, which soon earned it the nickname balstamper. The successor Class 5E1 with its new design bogies gave a smoother ride.

SAR Class 5E Series 2 E343 (Dries 8) ID.jpg

The Class 5E entered service on the Natal mainline between Durban and Johannesburg and eventually served almost country-wide as electrification was completed on more mainlines. In 1960, sixty units of the Class 5E family were allocated to the Witbank section upon completion of its electrification. In December 1961 twelve of them were replaced by Class 32-000 diesel-electric locomotives and transferred to the newly-electrified Touws River-Beaufort West section. More followed to replace the Class 25 condensers that were being transferred from that section to Beaconsfield in Kimberley at the time.[6]

After withdrawal from service, three Class 5E, Series 2 locomotives were sold into industrial service.

Works numbers[edit]

The EE and VF works numbers of the Class 5E, Series 2 and their known disposal are listed in the table.[3]


The main picture shows Series 2 no. E326 and E319 and Series 1 no. E297, departing Touws River heading northeast towards Beaufort West in September 1984. The following pictures show the SAR Gulf Red and the Driefontein gold mine liveries. An overhead view of the locomotive is shown in a picture taken at an accident scene near Olifantsfontein in 1975.


  1. ^ a b South African Railways Index and Diagrams Electric and Diesel Locomotives, 610mm and 1065mm Gauges, Ref LXD 14/1/100/20, 28 January 1975, as amended
  2. ^ Dulez, Jean A. (2012). Railways of Southern Africa 150 Years (Commemorating One Hundred and Fifty Years of Railways on the Sub-Continent – Complete Motive Power Classifications and Famous Trains – 1860–2011) (1st ed.). Garden View, Johannesburg, South Africa: Vidrail Productions. p. 292. ISBN 9 780620 512282. 
  3. ^ a b c Middleton, John N. (2002). Railways of Southern Africa Locomotive Guide - 2002 (as amended by Combined Amendment List 4, January 2009) (2nd, Dec 2002 ed.). Herts, England: Beyer-Garratt Publications. pp. 50, 62. 
  4. ^ a b Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. pp. 127–128. ISBN 0869772112. 
  5. ^ Soul of A Railway, System 7, Western Transvaal, based in Johannesburg, Part 17: Northwards to just short of the home signal at Pretoria by Les Pivnic. Caption 20. (Accessed on 27 April 2017)
  6. ^ Soul of A Railway, System 7, Western Transvaal, based in Johannesburg, Part 21: Witbank Line by Les Pivnic, Eugene Armer, Peter Stow and Peter Micenko. Caption 10. (Accessed on 4 May 2017)