South African Class 6E1, Series 5
The South African Railways Class 6E1, Series 5 of 1974 is an electric locomotive.
Between 1974 and 1976, the South African Railways placed one hundred Class 6E1, Series 5 electric locomotives with a Bo-Bo wheel arrangement in mainline service. One of them was later withdrawn from revenue service, for use as an experimental 25 kV AC locomotive.
The 3 kV DC Class 6E1, Series 5 electric locomotive was designed and built for the South African Railways (SAR) by Union Carriage and Wagon (UCW) in Nigel, Transvaal, with the electrical equipment supplied by the General Electric Company (GEC).
One hundred locomotives were delivered between 1974 and 1976, numbered in the range from E1546 to E1645. UCW did not allocate builder’s numbers to the locomotives it built for the SAR and used the SAR unit numbers for their record keeping.
The Class 6E1 was built with sophisticated traction linkages on their bogies. Together with the locomotive's electronic wheel-slip detection system, these traction struts, mounted between the linkages on the bogies and the locomotive body and colloquially referred to as grasshopper legs, ensure the maximum transfer of power to the rails without causing wheel-slip, by reducing the adhesion of the leading bogie and increasing that of the trailing bogie by as much as 15% upon starting off. This feature is controlled by electronic wheel-slip detection devices and an electric weight transfer relay, which reduce the anchor current to the leading bogie by as much as 50A in notches 2 to 16.
The locomotive itself used air brakes, but it was equipped to operate trains with air or vacuum brakes. While hauling a vacuum braked train, the locomotive's air brake system would be disabled and the train would be controlled by using the train brakes alone to slow down and stop. While hauling an air braked train, on the other hand, the locomotive brakes would engage along with the train brakes. While working either type of train downgrade, the locomotive's regenerative braking system would also work in conjunction with the train brakes.
When the locomotive was stopped, the air brakes on both bogies were applied together. The handbrake or parking brake, located in Cab no. 2, only operated on the unit's last axle, or no. 7 and 8 wheels.
These dual cab locomotives have a roof access ladder on one side only, just to the right of the cab access door. The roof access ladder end is marked as the no. 2 end. A corridor along the centre of the locomotive connects the cabs, which are identical apart from the fact that the handbrake is located in cab 2. A pantograph hook stick is stowed in a tube, mounted below the lower edge of the locomotive body on the roof access ladder side. The locomotive has three small panels along the lower half of the body on the roof access ladder side, and only one panel on the opposite side.
Series identifying features
The Class 6E1 was produced in eleven series over a period of nearly sixteen years. While some Class 6E1 series are visually indistinguishable from their predecessors or successors, some externally visible changes did occur over the years. Series 1 locomotives had their sandboxes mounted on the bogies, while Series 2 to 11 had their sandboxes mounted along the bottom edge of the locomotive body, with the sandbox lids fitting into recesses in the body.
The Series 3 to Series 5 locomotives are visually indistinguishable from each other, the only externally visible difference being the narrower stirrup middle step below the side doors of the first fifty Series 3 locomotives, those in the number range from E1296 to E1345.
The Series 6 and Series 7 locomotives are also visually indistinguishable from each other, but can be distinguished from all the older series models by the rainwater beading which was added above the small grilles on the sides, just to the right of the side doors.
The Class 6E1 family saw service all over both of the 3 kV DC mainline and branchline networks, the smaller Cape Western network between Cape Town and Beaufort West and the larger network, which covers portions of the Northern Cape, the Free State, Natal, Gauteng, North West Province and Mpumalanga.
Test bed for 25 kV AC research
One of the Series 5 units, no. E1600, was withdrawn from revenue service in 1978, rebuilt as a test-bed for 25 kV AC electrification and reclassified to Class Experimental AC. This was done while the electrification of the four isolated 25 kV routes was in progress. No. E1600 was never returned to revenue service. The four 25 kV AC routes are:
- From Pyramid South to Pietersburg, and via Rustenburg to Thabazimbi.
- From Ermelo to Richards Bay.
- From Port Elizabeth to De Aar and, from there, northward to Kimberley and southward to Beaufort West.
- From East London to Springfontein.
Reclassification and rebuilding
Reclassification to Class 16E
During 1990 and 1991, Spoornet semi-permanently coupled several pairs of otherwise largely unmodified Class 6E1 locomotives, reclassified them to Class 16E and allocated a single locomotive number to each pair, with the individual locomotives in the pairs inscribed "A" or "B". The aim was to accomplish savings on cab maintenance, by coupling the locomotives at their no. 1 ends, abandoning the no. 1 end cabs in terms of maintenance and using only the no. 2 end cabs.
Two known Series 5 locomotives, numbers E1549 and E1607, were part of such Class 16E pairs and became Class 16E numbers 16-319B and 16-335A respectively.
Rebuilding to Class 18E
Beginning in 2000, Spoornet began a project to rebuild Series 2 to 11 Class 6E1 locomotives to Class 18E, Series 1 and Series 2, at the Transnet Rail Engineering (TRE) workshops at Koedoespoort. In the process, the cab at the no. 1 end was stripped of all controls and the driver's front and side windows were blanked off to have a toilet installed, thereby forfeiting the unit's bi-directional ability.
Since the driving cab's noise level had to be below 85 decibels, cab 2 was selected as the Class 18E driving cab, primarily based on its lower noise level compared to cab 1, which is closer and more exposed to the compressor's noise and vibration. Another factor was the closer proximity of cab 2 to the low voltage switch panel. The fact that the handbrake was located in cab 2, was not a deciding factor, but was considered an additional benefit.
The known Class 6E1, Series 5 locomotives which were used in this project were all rebuilt to Class 18E, Series 2 locomotives. Their numbers and renumbering details are shown in the table.
All the Class 6E1, Series 5 locomotives were delivered in the SAR Gulf Red and yellow whiskers livery. The main picture shows no. E1629 in the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) Shosholoza Meyl livery. Illustrated below are some of the other liveries in which Series 5 locomotives served.
No. E1557 in Spoornet orange livery at Slypklip near Warrenton, Northern Cape, 22 September 2006
No. E1564 in the correct Spoornet maroon livery without “SPOORNET” at Beaconsfield, 17 September 2009
No. E1558 in an incorrect Spoornet maroon livery with “SPOORNET” at Orkney, 13 October 2009
No. E1603 in Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa blue livery, Durban, 24 November 2014
- 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
- Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. pp. 128–129. ISBN 0869772112.
- 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, 57, 60.
- "UCW - Electric locomotives" (PDF). The UCW Partnership. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
- Operation - South African Classes 6E, 6E1, 16E, 17E and 18E
- E1345 with narrow stirrup
- E1346 with wide stirrup
- Information gathered from the rebuild files of individual locomotives at Transnet Rail Engineering’s Koedoespoort shops, or obtained from John Middleton as well as several Transnet employees
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to