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Volume 8 Number 2. September 2006
The winter months were busy in Bulawayo and a number of projects, both big and small, have been dealt with succesfully. With such a small team of willing workers in the second City, their workload has been high and we all owe them a vote of thanks for a job well done. The school visit programme has stepped up a notch, with question papers being printed and distributed to participating schools. Without doubt, a lot more will be done, but for now we are at least off of the starting blocks.
Refurbishing six museum coaches would be a big project anywhere, and it certainly kept Chas, Juliet and Mike occupied for a few months as our rake made its way through the NRZ Mechanical Workshops. More on this big project later.
Another project that the Committee became involved in was the supply of a petrol drive water pump for use on steam charters. These projects, along with the traditional Museum braai, have tended to involve the Committee more in visiting rail tours.
Chairman Robin Doust has not been well recently, with a short spell in hospital stopping his involvement in the August tour. We all wish you a speedy return to good health, Robin.
I recently received an email from Diana Putnam, Dave Putnam's wife. For those who did not know Dave, he was Bulawayo shedmaster before retirement, and curator of the Museum for a while thereafter. Diana is now living with her family in the south of England, but clearly misses Bulawayo and her friends there. She was an Honerary member of FoBRM, and will now receive the newsletter regularly again. If anyone would like to get in touch with Diana, I have her email address.
Derek Radtke, a Committee member based in the UK, has recently become a proud Grandad. Well done, Derek and Ena. Derek has also had an operation on one eye, which has improved his sight. He is waiting for a similar operation on the other eye. Get well soon, Derek.
Geoff Cooke. Hon Editor.
Our Membership Secretary Reports
by Juliet Rickwood
Report from the Membership Secretary come all sorts! Here we are in September already. How the years are flashing by. Unfortunately these years are not being too kind to our Chairman, Robin Doust who is likely to be forced to give up working at his beloved City Library due to problems of mobility. He is no longer able to ride his bicycle and has never driven a car. It is difficult to find people who are willing to pick him up on a regular basis due to the continuing fuel shortages and ever increasing price when it is available. However, despite this the Friends continue to be as active as possible, and we have had an injection of new, local, younger blood in the form of the Round Tablers who have joined almost en masse.. They are still struggling with bureaucracy in getting the little train running in Centenary park much to the disappointment of the youngsters around. They are hoping that some of the expertise within the ‘Friends’ can be tapped to see it up and running soon but in the meantime they are enthusiastic to see things progress at the Museum. I am sure, very soon, one or two or even more might be persuaded to join the Committee. Then there should be no holding us back!
The few of us have been very busy with the two braais for German tour groups which are becoming an annual event.. The first catered for around 50 very hungry rail enthusiasts. This was held at the Museum and many who participated had not eaten since early morning!! The second group requested that we held the braai at Nyamandhlovu so in fear and trepidation we set off with all requisites to find a suitable site and satisfy hungry visitors. We took a Scottle gas braai to make things quicker and easier. (Gas is also in short supply!!) I was told to cater for 12, bought meat and accompaniments for 20, took 25 plates etc. out and all plates were used and some! It was just as well this group had an ample lunch as they eventually arrived back in Bulawayo after 1 a.m.the next morning having had no other food or conveniences all day!!
The Round Tablers joined the braai at the Museum as they were hopeful of getting advice on the little train from members of that group. I don’t know whether this was achieved. One big problem is that the longer this train stands unused the more it is subject to more vandalism. We were very grateful to local member Mike Glenshaw for arranging chairs and tables at the Museum. We are always disappointed that he never seems to join in the activities.
I am glad to report that whilst Robin Doust was recuperating recently he produced a questionnaire for school groups. This was used for the first time when a group visited from the local Jewish school and was found to be successful. The sheets have now been printed and our Curator, Bernard, has been instructed about them. We are getting quite a few school groups visiting and it is only a shame no one is available to go round with these groups to make the visit more memorable. We received a very nice ‘thank you’ from that group and they made a good donation as did the second tourist group. The reconditioned coaches are back at the Museum and look very smart.
Unfortunately at least 6 NRZ coaches were lost in the recent head on passenger/goods train crash just short of Victoria Falls. Again, unfortunately, there was heavy loss of life through fire.
Charles and I will be leaving on an AirZim safari, i.e. we never know where we are going to take on fuel, last year it was Entebbe, now we hear it might be Lusaka or even Windhoek! It is always an adventure to fly AirZim. When we arrive in the UK we will be away for the next two months so maybe we should wish all members and their spouses and families a very happy festive season and say we will report again in 2007 all being well!!
The ups and downs of the Bualwayo steam scene by Mike Taylor and Chas Rickwood
27 August 2006: Got down to the steam shed this afternoon. Rosters this week have seen... Belmont 424 rostered Mon/Tues and Wed (good to see steam back on the Belmont after a few weeks diesel). West End 525 (Monday) 611 on Tues/Wed. Far Rails Special 611 (Monday). Coal shortages are still prevalent. 519 and 416 were in for washouts. 525 in steam on shed today and presumably used for Loco shunt...this is not rostered these days and presumably the shedman drives. 22 September 2006. Only one loco rostered because of continuing shortage of coal. 611 - Belmont. 424, 525 and 519 on Shed but not in steam 416 in P15. 395 has come out of refurbishment and was put into steam today. Planned to be used for local shunting next Monday Some painting has been carried out. 613 in refurbishment has been stripped right down - boiler shell on bogie wheels. Fairly severe corrosion to exterior of boiler shell. Eight wheelbarrows of mud were removed from the boiler! Decision next week on next loco for refurbishment Engineers say it will be a 15th Class possibly 394 "Umzwazwa". 612 and 386 have been removed from refurbishment queue because of damage to fireboxes. Engineers say that they do not now have the skills or facilities to repair fireboxes. Boilers can be retubed by NRZ , but damage to the fireboxes will put them on the scrap heap. Museum 19th Class loco 330 has been brought into P15. Attempts will be made to continue repairs to the off side piston, started over ten years ago!!. When labour becomes available. Continued use of "Breakdown Gang and Steam crane" create a shortage of labour in P15. Breakdown gang left yesterday for Machipanda, - across the border in Mocambique from Mutare - where a DE11 derailed and ended up in a gulley with wagons. Museum loco RR1 "Rhodesia" is having a replacement cab roof in teak. Materials and Labour donated by a local Company.
25 September 2006: 611 rostered Belmont. 424 on Shed in steam - maybe rostered tomorrow. 395 in P15. Low water level overnight melted fusible plug. Boiler to be inspected for damage tomorrow. 519, 525 and 416 not in steam.
29 September 2006: 424 has replaced 611 as the rostered loco for Belmont. Examination of 395 has revealed that both fusible plugs were activated by low water levels. Repairs have been carried out on 100 leaking tubes and distortion to firebox crown. Plans to put 395 in steam on Sunday 1 Oct 2006, and local shunting on Monday 2 Oct 2006. Steam crane and breakdown gang still in Machipanda, Mocambique. Reports suggest that steam crane has been working in conjunction with breakdown crane from Mocambique. This week - one crane had purchase on a derailed wagon loaded with granite blocks. As the wagon was cut away from granite blocks etc - it suddenly moved into a group of onlookers. One person was killed, two critically injured and several others seriously injured. The fatality was a NRZ loco driver from Mutare. With regret, Mike.
06 October 2006: 395 Rostered Belmont. 611 in steam on Shed. 525 and 519 on Shed - not in steam. 416 and 424 in P15. 613 in refurbishment being retubed. Coal shortage persists - approx one wagon per week. Huge Chinese manufactured Dump Trucks have been passing through Bulawayo on their way to Hwange Colliery. Could expect an increase in coal supplies in the New Year. "Chronicle" report suggests that commission of enquiry into Dibamombe accident has agreed that eight people were killed and 34 injured. "Reading between the lines" - suggests that alcohol may have been a contributing factor!! Steam crane not yet returned from Machipanda, Mocambique.
School visits increase
An FoBRM project bears fruit by Chas Rickwood
School visits are on the increase at the Museum and the quiz has now been launched and each child will be given an information sheet and be invited to participate. Hopefully we will also be able to get more recruits to FOBRM locally...eg teachers and parents and hopefully junior members. Any comments or suggestions welcome
Maintaining exhibits and generating revenue by Geoff Cooke
In September, 2005, The FoBRM ran a charter train to Victoria Falls to commemorate the bridge centenary. Museum coaches were used. They proved fit for purpose, but in need of workshop attention. The NRZ workshops in Bulawayo were willing to do the work, but could not commit funds for materials and consumables that were not already in stock.
Globe Steam, a German rail tour operator, was planning a trip to Zimbabwe for August 2006,and needed to provide on-train accommodation and catering for the group. It was clear that NRZ would not be able to supply a well maintained rake of coaches for this purpose. The best option was to upgrade the museum coaches, and cover the cost of materials.
Six coaches were taken into the workshops and given an intermediate overhaul, which included re- roofing where necessary, painting inside and out and the replacement of damaged wood and fittings. Globe Steam donated the necessary funds to the FoBRM Committee, who managed the supply of material to the workshops as required.
The six coaches worked well for the tour. Dining Car 644 VUMBA served all of the meals on the three day journey. Accommodation coaches 1045, 1058 and 2024 presented a fine sight. Private saloon 754 was the jewel in the crown, and the rake was topped off with van 2602. This vehicle housed the guard, but also provided storage for a water pump, first aid box and other equipment apropriate to running an enthusiast tour.
Geof Calvert (pictured above at Thomson Junction) accompanied the tour at FoBRM representative, managing the water pump and putting into practice his army medical corp training on a few occasions (minor injuries and headaches). He has submittted a report that will go a long way towards improving the liaison between client, Museum and NRZ in the future.
Another enthusiast tour is planned for July 2007. Globe Steam are again involved, and have offered to partly fund the restoration to working order of 20th Class number 730. The tour will be managed by Geoffs Trains Limited, who would like to add a second dining car to the working rake, again contributing material as needed, as well as supplying a portable electrical generator to improve lighting on the train.
This project has generated a great deal of goodwill and liaison between the FoBRM, NRZ Historical Committee and NRZ Management. We now have a rake of serviceable coaches that can be hired out to other clients, generating extra income for the Museum.
George's book is slowly raising steam by Hon Editor
Those of you who have had a chance to see George's book will have noticed a number of printing errors such as incomplete graphics on pictures, half filled tables and truncated paragraphs. These errors are being addressed, and the book is due to be reprinted soon. I have been advised that anyone who has already purchased a copy will have it replaced free of charge. The delivery of sales items has been slow this year. A busy workload and other commitments have made it difficult for me to do this distribution satisfactorily. Derek Radtke has agreed to take over the task as soon as his eye operations are over. This will, I am sure, result in a big improvement.
This is YOUR Newsletter
So why am I writing so much of it? by Hon Editor again
I need small snippets of news to put in future newsletters. Comments about the Museum, questions about the exhibits, complaints about the Editor. ANYTHING will be welcomed, preferably on an email so I do not have to retype it.
by Hon Editor again, again
Changing the Newsletter from paper to electronic has now been achieved. However, before this was done it was agreed by the Committee that a printed Yearbook should be produced that would include the longer articles and research papers previously serialised in the printed newsletter. In this way, we continue to produce publications that can be archived. The first Yearbook is in production, and should be released early next year. It will focus on the Victoria Falls Bridge and associated topics, such as the North Line.
At present, I have an article on the construction of the bridge, drawings of the structure, information on the Centenary Train run by the FoBRM. I will also include Robin Taylor's article on the North Line. If you have any contributions or suggestions please let me know.