South African Class GMA 4-8-2+2-8-4
Class GMAM no. 4079 Lindie Lou, Capital Park, 30 September 2006
The South African Railways Class GMA 4-8-2+2-8-4 of 1954 was an articulated steam locomotive.
Between 1954 and 1958, the South African Railways placed 120 Class GMA Garratt articulated steam locomotives with a 4-8-2+2-8-4 Double Mountain type wheel arrangement in service. All the locomotives could be configured as either a Class GMA branch line or a Class GMAM mainline engine. This was the most numerous Garratt class in the world.
The light rail branch line Class GMA and mainline Class GMAM Garratt locomotive, a single Class which could be configured for either branch line or mainline working, was a development of the large Class GM branch line locomotive which was introduced on the South African Railways (SAR) in 1938. Like the Class GM, the Class GMA was a tank-and-tender Garratt which ran with a semi-permanently coupled auxiliary water tender to augment its meagre water capacity.
The locomotive was designed in 1952 under the supervision of L.C. Grubb, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the SAR from 1949 to 1954. An order for the first 25 of these locomotives was placed with Henschel and Son in Germany. They were built in 1953 and were delivered and placed in service in 1954, numbered in the range from 4051 to 4075. These first 25 locomotives were equipped with Type X-17 water tenders, built by the SAR in its Pietermaritzburg shops in 1953.
A second batch of 35 locomotives was delivered by Beyer, Peacock and Company (BP) in 1956. Of these, 23 were built by BP and numbered in the range from 4076 to 4098, while the other twelve, numbered in the range from 4099 to 4110, had been subcontracted by BP to the North British Locomotive Company (NBL). These twelve engines therefore bore works plates showing BP as well as NBL as builders.
This was followed by a third and final batch of sixty locomotives in 1958. Of these, thirty were delivered by BP, of which only ten, numbered in the range from 4121 to 4130, had actually been built by BP. The other twenty, numbered in the ranges from 4111 to 4120 and 4131 to 4140, had once again been subcontracted by BP to NBL. These twenty therefore also bore works plates showing BP as well as NBL as builders. The other thirty locomotives of the third batch, numbered in the range from 4141 to 4170, were again built by Henschel in Germany.
The light rail branch line Class GMA and the mainline Class GMAM were the same locomotive of which the water and coal capacities could be adjusted to suit by installing or removing plates in the coal and water spaces. As a result, it is virtually impossible to list the GMA and GMAM versions separately since they could easily be converted back and forth between the two versions and often were. Up until about 1962, for example, the division was 20 Class GMA and 100 Class GMAM, but by 1969 there were 69 Class GMA and 39 Class GMAM, two locomotives having by then been scrapped after accident damage. By 1975, on the other hand, there were only 25 Class GMA against 93 Class GMAM.
The locomotive was thoroughly modern in design, with a one-piece cast steel frame with Franklin spring-loaded wedge horns, manufactured by Commonwealth Steel Castings Corporation in the United States of America. Like the Class 25 locomotive, it had roller bearing axle boxes on all wheels, but not on the crank-pins, with cannon boxes on all axles, except those of the inner Bissel trucks which had outside bearings. It had mechanical lubrication throughout, self-adjusting pivots, a U-shaped foundation ring welded to the inner and outer firebox bottom edges, and an all-welded firebox. The engine units also had Commonwealth cast steel type frames.
The boiler's inside diameter was 6 feet 11 1⁄2 inches (2,121 millimetres) at the first ring and 7 feet 1 1⁄4 inches (2,165 millimetres) at the firebox end. The boiler had an inspection manhole, fitted to the top of the boiler aft of the dome. The locomotive was superheated, with a mechanical stoker and Walschaerts valve gear. It could negotiate curves of 275 feet (84 metres) radius with a gauge widening of not more than 3⁄4 inch (19 millimetres) and a superelevation of 4 1⁄2 inches (114 millimetres).
Some of these locomotives, intended for working in areas where there were tunnels such as on the East London mainline, were initially equipped with steam-operated smoke deflecting cowls over their chimneys. When the smoke cowls were later removed, these specific locomotives could still be identified by their almost non-existent chimneys which had to be shorter in order to enable the cowls to fit within the loading gauge.
As was done with the predecessor Class GM, the new locomotive carried water only in its front tank, but with the capacity increased from the Class GM's 1,600 imperial gallons (7,270 litres) to either 1,650 imperial gallons (7,500 litres) for the Class GMA or 2,100 imperial gallons (9,550 litres) for the Class GMAM. Likewise, the rear bunker carried only coal, but with the capacity increased from the Class GM's 10 long tons (10,160 kilograms) to either 11 long tons 12 hundredweight (11,790 kilograms) for the Class GMA or 14 long tons (14,220 kilograms) for the Class GMAM.
As with the Class GM, the Class GMA's water supply was augmented by semi-permanently coupling a purpose-built auxiliary water tender. The first batch of 25 locomotives were tended by the same Type X-17 water tender which was used with the Class GM, with a capacity of between 6,750 and 6,815 imperial gallons (30,700 and 31,000 litres). The rest of the locomotives were tended by Type X-20 water tenders with a capacity of 6,790 imperial gallons (30,900 litres). The tenders were numbered for their engines and were painted black with red buffer beams.
The locomotive was designed to operate on 60 pounds per yard (30 kilograms per metre) rail despite the maximum axle loading of 15 long tons 14 hundredweight (15,950 kilograms) of the Class GMAM. This had been accomplished by restricting the weight on the leading and trailing bogies to 22 long tons (22,350 kilograms) and balancing the coupled wheels so that the hammer blow was equal for all wheels and did not exceed one ton on any wheel at 45 miles per hour (72 kilometres per hour).
Although the SAR specifications called for a 15 long tons 14 hundredweight (15,950 kilograms) maximum axle loading, the Class GMAM spent its entire career running on track that could take 18 long tons (18,290 kilograms) or more. Without the restriction of the coal bunker and onboard water tank capacity to 14 long tons (14,220 kilograms) and 2,100 imperial gallons (9,500 litres) respectively and the necessity to haul along a water tender, the class would have been much more useful and their service lives could possibly have been prolonged. Their shortcomings as traffic machines was possibly one of the root causes of the rapid mainline dieselisation of the SAR in the 1960s.
South African Railways
The 120 locomotives of this class made it the most numerous Garratt class in the world. The Class GMA and Class GMAM saw service on main- and secondary lines in many parts of South Africa. Prior to electrification, a number were employed in Transvaal on the Komatipoort line across the pass between Waterval Onder and Waterval Boven. Along with the Class GM, the Class GMA served on the line from Krugersdorp via Zeerust to Mafeking.
They also served temporarily on the coal line from Witbank to Germiston until the electrification between Witbank and Welgedag was completed. The second and third batches of locomotives were ordered from 1956 to assist with moving large volumes of traffic, mostly coal, from the Transvaal to destinations in the Free State and Cape Province. Until the Class DE-1, the SAR's first road diesels, took over this task late in 1958, they were employed on block coal workings from Witbank to Kroonstad, a distance of 208 miles (335 kilometres). Since the track en route was built for 21 long tons (21,340 kilograms) axle loads, such a large order for locomotives with a 15 long tons 14 hundredweight (15,950 kilograms) axle loading was unusual.
In Natal, the bulk of the Class was based at Pietermaritzburg, from where they worked most trains on the two heavily graded branch lines to Greytown and Franklin. Others worked on the Natal North Coast line between Stanger and Empangeni, while some joined the Class GL on the coal line between Vryheid and Glencoe.
The Cape Western system's locomotives were stationed at Worcester, from where they worked the old New Cape Central Railway (NCCR) line via Riversdale to Mosselbaai until it was dieselised. Between 1981 and 1984, a number were allocated to the Cape Northern system to work the line from Vryburg to Mafeking, where they largely replaced the Class 19D locomotives which had earlier dominated on this line. This turned out to be their last term in mainline service since they were replaced by Class 25NC locomotives in 1984 when the line was relaid with heavier rail.
Most of the Class was then allocated to the Cape Midland System in 1984, with most of them initially stationed at Voorbaai where they replaced the Class GEA on trains from Mosselbaai to Riversdale and across the Montagu Pass to Oudtshoorn. Their allocation was later extended to the sheds at Sydenham in Port Elizabeth, Rosmead, Klipplaat and Graaff-Reinet, with the result that they worked most of the trains over the route from Port Elizabeth to Rosmead via Klipplaat and across the Lootsberg Pass from Graaff-Reinet.
Towards the end of their service lives, the Eastern Transvaal system still had an allocation of them, where locomotives from the Waterval Boven and Breyten sheds worked the line down to Vryheid in Natal.
Zimbabwe and Mozambique
During the period from August 1979 to September 1981, altogether 26 locomotives of the Class were hired to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, but not all at the same time since they were rotated with Capital Park in Pretoria as their nominal home for the occasions when they had to return to South Africa for major repairs. On the Rhodesia Railways (RR), later the National Railways of Zimbabwe, they worked from Bulawayo to Gwelo and to Wankie and beyond to Victoria Falls.
In Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, these locomotives normally worked chimney first with the water tank at the rear. Since the Rhodesian bush war was still ongoing in 1979, the locomotives were equipped with armour plating around the cab. Since this obscured the number plates, the engine numbers were then usually stencilled on the cabsides. The Class GMAM was similar in size with a similar coal capacity to the Rhodesia Railways 20th class 4-8-2+2-8-4 Garratt, but it had a voracious appetite for coal and frequently ran low on fuel with the result that trains often had to be dumped. In an attempt to solve this problem, RR extended the height of the Class GMAM's coal bunker by a foot to increase the capacity.
Industrial and private
Several locomotives of the class were sold into industrial service and some later ended in preservation in private ownership. The majority went to the Randfontein Estates Gold Mining Company (REGM), while two were sold to the Hotham Valley Railway in Western Australia where they were to haul tourists in ex SAR passenger coaches. These two locomotives, however, never left South Africa.
- No. 4059 became REGM's no. R16 Sarah.
- No. 4060 became REGM's first no. R15 May, later scrapped.
- No. 4073 became REGM's no. R17 Coria.
- No. 4079 became REGM's second no. R15 May and was later restored as Lindie Lou by Sandstone Estates.
- No. 4083 went to New Zealand for preservation, fitted with the front engine unit of no. 4126 and the rear of no. 4088.
- No. 4084 became REGM's no. R10.
- No. 4088 went to REGM's Cooke Plant.
- No. 4090 was to go to the Hotham Valley Railway in Western Australia, but was still on the inventory of the Transnet Heritage Foundation (THF) by 2009 and staged at Bloemfontein Loco.
- No. 4107 became REGM's first no. R14 Cherrie.
- No. 4108 went to Tweefontein Colliery.
- No. 4110 became REGM's no. R15.
- No. 4112 went to Scotland for preservation at the Summerlee Heritage Park in Coatbridge.
- No. 4114 became REGM's no. R6.
- No. 4119 became REGM's second no. R14 Cherrie.
- No. 4123 became REGM's no. R11 Vivienne.
- No. 4125 was sold to Dunns, first hired to Durnacol and later to Tweefontein Colliery as their no. 2 Margret.
- No. 4126 went to Tweefontein Colliery and was later restored by the Umgeni Steam Railway as no. 4074.
- No. 4128 became REGM's no. R9 Kathy.
- No. 4129 was to go to the Hothan Valley Railway in Western Australia, but was still on the inventory of the THF by 2009 and staged at Bloemfontein Loco.
- No. 4130 became REGM's no. R8.
- No. 4133 became REGM's no. R10.
- No. 4135 became REGM's third no. R14 Cherrie and, by December 2015, remained stored at Hermanstad, Pretoria.
- No. 4136 became REGM's no. R12 Barbara.
- No. 4168 was sold to Dunns, first hired to Durnacol and later to Tweefontein Colliery as their no. 1.
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|South African Steam - Garratts at Randfontein Estates Gold Mine 1994-1995. (30.16 minutes)|
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