David Rodgers reports:

One of the world’s most iconic steam locomotives – South African Railways Class 26 4-8-4 No. 3450 ‘Red Devil’ is to be restored to working order.  In the last few days the loco, which has stood out of use in a secure part of Cape Town’s Monument station for a decade, has yesterday (19th) been removed and today (20th) has been towed in an electrically-hauled freight from Bellville to Worcester depot for overhaul. 

It had been the intention to take the loco to Voorbaai depot at Mossel Bay, where a team led by Bobby Rudman, has been instrumental in recently overhauling several 19Ds and 19B No. 1412.  However the severe curvature on the line east of Ashton precluded taking the ‘Red Devil’ and so the repair team will undertake the work at Worcester.

Already four 4-day/3-night trips have been advertised from Cape Town to the wine-growing area at Robertson although, as the loco will remain coal-fired, the Red Devil’s use will be restricted to the low fire risk months of May to August in the Western Cape.

No. 3450 was originally a standard Class 25NC 4-8-4 until rebuilt and converted at Salt River Works, Cape Town in 1981 under the direction of David Wardale.  After extensive testing it settled down to regular use on the De Aar – Kimberley and Kimberley – Bloemfontein lines working from Beaconsfield depot, Kimberley until regular steam finished in 1992.  In the preservation-era it saw out its final days in the Western Cape based at Dal Josafat depot.  Still in Transet ownership it appears that Ceres Rail Co., who wish to operate her on the Robertson trips, have been instrumental in getting the loco overhauled.

Apparently No. 3450 will operate ‘as is’ ie. minus several refinements that were later removed, rather than her original 1981 condition.

South Africa Steam: The Red Devil

Recently converted and still on test No. 3450 is seen with a 1200t test freight train complete with dynamometer car from Kimberley to De Aar and return. On this southbound test run the Red Devil takes on water and has her fire cleaned at Orange River. Note that the loco still has her small German-style wing smoke deflectors.


South Africa Steam: The Red Devil

Now with large full height smoke deflectors No. 3450 restarts from Kraankuil station en-route from De Aar to Kimberley.


South Africa Steam: The Red Devil

99-3450 and 3410 doublehead through Kilmarnock on the Bloemfontein – Bethlehem line.