The Fastest Steam Loco On Cape Gauge

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120 Kph Speedster

While researching locomotives with the largest driving wheels, there was only one contender on the 3’6″ “Cape” gauge, the preferred rail width in Southern Africa.

Of course, we are talking about the mighty 16E, which I only was mounted on a plinth outside Bloemfontein Station.

Just a few years earlier, US Photographer, Ron Wright, managed to photograph these in regular service.

SAR_857_16E_Vereeniging_atBloemfontein_Shed_SA_July1969_web

With a driving wheel diameter of 6′, they were larger than the NSW 38 class! Across the Karoo desert, they regularly clocked 120 kph on large Express Passenger trains.

I visited the country in 1975 and the best I could do was this shot on Christmas Eve.

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I know they got one of the 16Es running on specials just after my visit, but it was a real treat to find these shots from Ron on his website.

http://www.rwrightrr.com/photos/pv.asp?pid=4646

As it turns out the maximum speed of a steam engine is related to the size of the driving wheels. The 100 mph plus class all had wheels in excess of 2 meters.

 

Here are a couple more of Ron’s photos of 16E’s. He takes an excellent photo.

SAR pacific 16E 858 leaving Springfontein_South Africa with_10_cars_1Aug1969_web

SAR_858_class_16E_train_36_bet_Lofter_and_Trompsburg___SA__1August1969_web

Video of 16E in action.

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