The reference for locomotives and railcars
South African class 25
South Africa | 1953 | 90 produced

In the desert areas of the Karoo and Kalahari, the large water requirements of powerful steam locomotives posed a major problem for the SAR. The contract for the development of a 4-8-4 locomotive and a condensation tender went to Henschel in Kassel. At the same time, the class 25NC was developed without a condenser. The prototype was built by Henschel and taken to North British in Scotland, where the rest was built. For the conditions of the Cape Gauge, these locomotives were very large and powerful.

In order to provide sufficient draft for the fire, the blower had to be particularly powerful. This did not work with a steam jet as usual, but with a fan driven by a turbine. When running under load, no exhaust beats could be heard, but instead the whine of the turbine.

In order to protect the fan from damage caused by solid objects in the smokebox, it was provided with a banjo-shaped extension. The fan still had to be changed later because it wore out very quickly. Instead of an injector, a turbo pump had to be used to feed the boiler because the condensed water was still at a very high temperature.

View with banjo-chaped cover on the smokebox
View with banjo-chaped cover on the smokebox

Timken roller bearings were installed everywhere, which caused problems in the early days. Oil was thrown from the bearings on the coupling rods against the underside of the boiler, which then dripped onto the wheel tires and made the locomotive more prone to slipping. This could only be remedied after the bearings on a large part of the locomotives had been replaced with ones from SKF and after Timken had repaired the remaining bearings.

The operations took place on the non-electrified lines in the desert areas in front of all types of trains. All in all, the locomotives achieved a range of around 500 miles or 800 km with one water filling, but at the expense of extensive maintenance. The fans in the smokebox and on the tender were particularly important here.

Therefore, between 1973 and 1980, 87 of the 90 class 25 locomotives were rebuilt into Class 25NC. The long tenders with a round water tank and no condenser were now called “Worshond Tender” because of their appearance, which stands for “Dachshund” and literally means “sausage dog”. They were retired around 1990 when all remaining steam locomotives were replaced by diesel and electric locomotives.

ManufacturerHenschel, North British
Axle config4-8-4 (Northern) 
Dimensions and Weights
Length107 ft 6 1/16 in
Wheelbase38 ft 0 in
Fixed wheelbase15 ft 9 in
Total wheelbase95 ft 1 11/16 in
Service weight269,808 lbs
Adhesive weight172,256 lbs
Total weight524,944 lbs
Axle load43,232 lbs
Water capacity6,005 us gal
Fuel capacity42,560 lbs (coal)
Power sourcesteam
Estimated power3,350 hp (2,498 kW)
Optimal speed42 mph
Starting effort51,408 lbf
Power Plant
Driver diameter60 in
Boiler pressure225 psi
Expansion typesimple
Cylinderstwo, 24 x 28 in
Grate area70 sq ft
Firebox area331 sq ft
Tube heating area3,059 sq ft
Evaporative heating area3,390 sq ft
Superheater area630 sq ft
Total heating area4,020 sq ft
Calculated Values
steam locomotive
last changed: 12/2023

We use cookies to save the following settings:

  • selected navigation structure
  • selected language
  • preferred units
  • spelling of railway company names

If you refuse the use of cookies, the settings will only be retained for the current session and will be reset to the default values the next time you visit the site.

Display of units

Here you can set the desired unit system for the technical data.

  • Metric: Lengths in meters, weights in tonnes, and volumes in cubic meters
  • Imperial (UK): Lengths in feet/inches, weights in long tons and volumes in imperial gallons
  • Imperial (US): Lengths in feet/inches, weights in pounds, and volumes in US gallons
  • Individual: Depends on the country of origin of each locomotive
Operator names

Here you can set the display of railway company names.

  • Short: Abbreviation or short form of the name
  • Standard: commonly used name, partially translated to English
  • Complete: full name in local language