South African Class HF 2-8-2+2-8-2

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South African Class HF 2-8-2+2-8-2
Class HF 1386 (2-8-2+2-8-2) a.jpg
Class HF no. 1386, c. 1940
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
DesignerHenschel and Son
BuilderHenschel and Son
Serial number20698-20707, 21052
ModelClass HF
Build date1926-1927
Total produced11
 • Whyte2-8-2+2-8-2 (Double Mikado)
 • UIC1'D1'+1'D1'h4t
Driver3rd & 6th coupled axles
Gauge3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge
Leading dia.28 12 in (724 mm)
Coupled dia.45 12 in (1,156 mm) as built
46 in (1,168 mm) retyred
Trailing dia.28 12 in (724 mm)
Wheelbase69 ft 10 in (21,285 mm)
 • Engine22 ft 10 12 in (6,972 mm) each
 • Coupled12 ft 9 in (3,886 mm) each
Pivot centres42 ft 1 in (12,827 mm)
 • Over couplers77 ft 6 34 in (23,641 mm)
Height12 ft 11 34 in (3,956 mm)
Frame typeBar
Axle load13 LT 2 cwt (13,310 kg)
 • Leading11 LT 6 cwt (11,480 kg) front
12 LT 2 cwt (12,290 kg) rear
 • 1st coupled12 LT 7 cwt (12,550 kg)
 • 2nd coupled12 LT 17 cwt (13,060 kg)
 • 3rd coupled12 LT 14 cwt (12,900 kg)
 • 4th coupled12 LT 15 cwt (12,950 kg)
 • 5th coupled13 LT (13,210 kg)
 • 6th coupled12 LT 19 cwt (13,160 kg)
 • 7th coupled13 LT 2 cwt (13,310 kg)
 • 8th coupled13 LT 2 cwt (13,310 kg)
 • Trailing11 LT 16 cwt (11,990 kg) front
12 LT 1 cwt (12,240 kg) rear
Adhesive weight102 LT 16 cwt (104,400 kg)
Loco weight150 LT 1 cwt (152,500 kg)
Fuel typeCoal
Fuel capacity9 LT (9.1 t)
Water cap3,000 imp gal (13,600 l) front
1,600 imp gal (7,270 l) rear
Firebox typeRound-top
 • Firegrate area53 sq ft (4.9 m2)
 • Diameter5 ft 11 18 in (1,807 mm)
 • Tube plates15 ft (4,572 mm)
 • Small tubes169: 2 in (51 mm)
 • Large tubes34: 5 12 in (140 mm)
Boiler pressure180 psi (1,241 kPa)
Safety valvePop
Heating surface2,271 sq ft (211.0 m2)
 • Tubes2,062 sq ft (191.6 m2)
 • Arch tubes25 sq ft (2.3 m2)
 • Firebox184 sq ft (17.1 m2)
 • Heating area598 sq ft (55.6 m2)
Cylinder size18 in (457 mm) bore
24 in (610 mm) stroke
Valve gearHeusinger
Valve typePiston
Loco brakeSteam
Train brakesVacuum
CouplersAAR knuckle
Performance figures
Tractive effort45,640 lbf (203.0 kN) @ 75%
OperatorsSouth African Railways
ClassClass HF
Number in class11
First run1927

The South African Railways Class HF 2-8-2+2-8-2 of 1927 was an articulated steam locomotive.

In 1927, the South African Railways placed ten Class HF Modified Fairlie articulated steam locomotives with a 2-8-2+2-8-2 Double Mikado type wheel arrangement in service. An eleventh one was placed in service in 1928.[1][2][3]


The Class HF Modified Fairlie locomotive was designed and built by Henschel and Son to the specifications of Colonel F.R. Collins DSO, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the South African Railways (SAR). Ten locomotives were built in 1926 and were numbered in the range from 1380 to 1389 when they were delivered in 1927. Another locomotive, number 1390, was built in 1927 and delivered by Henschel in 1928.[1][2][3][4]

While Henschel of Kassel in Germany had built several locomotive types for German South West Africa prior to the First World War, most of which had come onto the SAR roster in 1922, the Class HF was the first locomotive class to be built by them for the SAR.[2]


The Class HF was designed for mainline work and was larger and much heavier than the Classes FC and FD Modified Fairlie branchline locomotives of 1925 and 1926. It was the Modified Fairlie equivalent of the Class GE 2-8-2+2-8-2 Garratt which was similar in both size and mechanical respects. If the earlier classification practice for Modified Fairlie locomotives had been adhered to, it should logically have been designated Class FE, but the inconsequent designation of Class HF for "Henschel Fairlie" was used instead.[1][3][5]

The locomotives had Heusinger-Walschaerts valve gear, bar frames and were superheated. They had round-topped fireboxes, unlike the earlier Modified Fairlie locomotives which had Belpaire fireboxes. They were fitted with the Parry soot-blower which enabled the boiler tubes to be cleaned during running conditions. Reversing was effected from the driver's cab by Hendrie's steam reversers. Provision was made for steam to either engine unit to be cut off in emergencies.[1][2][3]

The exhaust steam from the rear engine unit was conveyed to the smokebox through a pipe arranged on the left-hand side of the engine on the outside of the main boiler frame. In line with the left-hand side of the smokebox, it then passed through the frame and into the blast pipe. The exhaust steam from the front engine unit passed through a pipe connected directly to the blast pipe, which had two distinct orifices. The two engine units were virtually identical and could be interchanged by a slight alteration in the arrangement of their steam pipes.[2]

The coupled wheels had overhung springs and the leading Bissel and trailing carrier wheels of each engine unit had 34 inch (19 millimetres) play to each side, while the radial movement of each engine unit was limited at either end. Each engine unit was provided with a steam brake which was actuated automatically in conjunction with the vacuum train brake. In addition, the rear engine unit was fitted with a screw type handbrake, operated from the cab. The locomotives were fitted with Lambert sanding gear with eight sanders, four in front of four wheels in either direction of running.[2]

The locomotive had Pyle National electric headlamps which were fitted to brackets above the end buffer beam of each engine unit rather than at the top of the bunkers, to allow the lights to follow the curvature of the track. The turbo-generator to power the lights was arranged on top of the boiler ahead of the safety valves.[2]


As built, the locomotives were not successful, with the result that they were staged for some time while the Mechanical Engineer of the Durban workshops, G. Ramsay, carried out experiments with the blast pipe arrangement. After successful modification, their steaming capacity was improved to the extent that they could be placed in service. Like the earlier Modified Fairlies they proved to be powerful locomotives, but they were less successful than their Garratt equivalent.[1][3]

They suffered from the same shortcomings as their Class FC and Class FD predecessors. The long rigid frame resulted in severe overhang on sharp curves and was also prone to metal fatigue and cracked frames, brought about by the long frame overhangs at the front and back beyond the engine unit pivot centres. The overhangs, laden with the water and coal bunkers, tended to oscillate in an up-and-down motion while the locomotive was in motion.[2][5]

The pivot bearings were also subject to quite rapid wear since they carried a considerable additional vertical load concentrated on the centre of the engine units as a result of their water and coal bunkers which were mounted on the main frame instead of on the engine units like those on the Garratt equivalent. This resulted in increased frequency of maintenance and, as a consequence, increased operating cost.[2][5]


The maximum axle load of 13 long tons 2 hundredweight (13,310 kilograms) of the Class HF locomotives allowed them to run on 60 pounds per yard (30 kilograms per metre) rail. They were placed in service on the Natal North Coast line and on the Witwatersrand. They were withdrawn from service by 1951.[1][2][3]

No more locomotives of the Modified Fairlie design were acquired by the SAR.[5]

Knuckle couplers[edit]

In 1927, the SAR began to convert the couplers of its Cape Gauge rolling stock from the Johnston link-and-pin coupling system which had been in use since the establishment of the Cape Government Railways in 1873, to AAR knuckle couplers. Judging from contemporary photographs as well as the official SAR Locomotive Diagram Book and the dimensional locomotive drawings as published by Holland, which were for the most part based on the original as-delivered and unmodified loco­motives, the Class HF locomotives were delivered new with knuckle couplers fitted, as were the Classes 18, GCA, GF and U which also entered service in 1927.[1][6][7]

Transition era knuckle coupler

Conversion of all rolling stock would take several years and both coupler types could still be seen on rolling stock into the late 1950s. During the transition period, knuckle couplers on locomotives had a horizontal gap and a vertical hole in the knuckle itself to accommodate a link and a pin respectively. This enabled them to couple to vehicles which were still equipped with the older Johnston couplers.[1][6][7]

Knuckle couplers had first been used in South Africa more than two decades earlier. The Central South African Railways (CSAR) introduced Gould knuckle couplers on the rolling stock of its Limited Express and Imperial Mail passenger trains in 1904. The Limited Express operated between Pretoria and Johannesburg while the Imperial Mail operated between Pretoria and Cape Town. These knuckle-couplers also had split knuckles to accommodate coupling to the old Johnston couplers with a link and pin, since the CSAR retained the old couplers on all their locomotives to keep them compatible with their own goods and older passenger rolling stock as well as with that from the other railways it connected with.[8]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Holland, D. F. (1972). Steam Locomotives of the South African Railways. 2: 1910-1955 (1st ed.). Newton Abbott, Devon: David & Charles. pp. 52–53. ISBN 978-0-7153-5427-8.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Espitalier, T.J.; Day, W.A.J. (1945). The Locomotive in South Africa - A Brief History of Railway Development. Chapter VII - South African Railways (Continued). South African Railways and Harbours Magazine, December 1945. p. 968.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. p. 98. ISBN 0869772112.
  4. ^ Henschel-Lieferliste (Henschel & Son works list), compiled by Dietmar Stresow
  5. ^ a b c d Durrant, A. E. (1989). Twilight of South African Steam (1st ed.). Newton Abbott, London: David & Charles. p. 31-32. ISBN 0715386387.
  6. ^ a b South African Railways & Harbours/Suid Afrikaanse Spoorweë en Hawens (15 Aug 1941). Locomotive Diagram Book/Lokomotiefdiagramboek, 3'6" Gauge/Spoorwydte. SAR/SAS Mechanical Department/Werktuigkundige Dept. Drawing Office/Tekenkantoor, Pretoria.
  7. ^ a b South African Railways & Harbours/Suid Afrikaanse Spoorweë en Hawens (15 Aug 1941). Locomotive Diagram Book/Lokomotiefdiagramboek, 2'0" & 3'6" Gauge/Spoorwydte, Steam Locomotives/Stoomlokomotiewe. SAR/SAS Mechanical Department/Werktuigkundige Dept. Drawing Office/Tekenkantoor, Pretoria.
  8. ^ Soul of A Railway, System 8, Part 1: Pretoria: including local services, workshops and running sheds, Part 1. Captions 8, 13. (Accessed on 15 March 2017)