The reference for locomotives and railcars
South African class GF
South Africa | 1927 | 65 produced
State Library of Victoria

The South African Railways were looking for a powerful locomotive that could also be used on branch lines and that would be suitable for mixed service at a higher speed. Since at that time only articulated locomotives were to be procured and the required speed required leading bogies, the choice of wheel arrangement fell on the “Double Pacific” for the first time for the SAR, i.e. 4-6-2+2-6-4T.

The specifications were drawn up by Colonel F. R. Collins and sent to Hanomag in Germany, where 37 engines were made in 1927. In 1928, 18 more followed from Henschel and ten from Maffei. This made it the largest number of Garratts built for the SAR until 1953 when the GMA was introduced.

The origin of the locomotive could be seen from the sloped side walls of the driver's cab at the height of the windows. As the first South African Garratt, it had a bar frame that was now established in Germany. The chassis allowed a speed of 80 km/h, but the bearings of the trailing axles often overheated. The solution was to no longer store these axles in an inside but in an outside frame.

As planned, the locomotives were used in front of passenger and freight trains and on branch and main lines. The operational area of most locomotives was in Natal. A higher axle load was permitted on the line from Johannesburg to Mafeking, so that the quantity of coal was increased from 10 long tons to 11 long tons 10 cwt.

Four locomotives were sold to Mozambique as early as 1950, but the remaining machines remained in the SAR's inventory until 1972. At this point, however, not all of them were actively used and it only took until 1979 for the last remaining ones to be scrapped. In the meantime some had been sold to mine operators, most of them to the Enyati Railway. Some of these had received an air brake powered by a diesel-powered compressor. Two examples survive today and a third is being restored.

VariantHanomagHenschel, Maffei
ManufacturerHanomagHenschel, Maffei
Axle config4-6-2+2-6-4T (Double Pacific (Garratt)) 
Gauge3 ft 6 in (Cape gauge)
Dimensions and Weights
Length77 ft 1 in
Wheelbase23 ft 7 in
Fixed wheelbase9 ft 6 in
Total wheelbase69 ft 9 in
Service weight320,772 lbs326,063 lbs
Adhesive weight184,791 lbs188,164 lbs
Axle load31,350 lbs31,813 lbs
Water capacity4,804 us gal
Fuel capacity22,400 lbs (coal)
Power sourcesteam
Estimated power1,500 hp (1,119 kW)
Optimal speed25 mph
Top speed50 mph
Starting effort38,765 lbf
Power Plant
Driver diameter54 in
Boiler pressure185 psi
Expansion typesimple
Cylindersfour, 16 x 26 in
Grate area44 sq ft
Firebox area199 sq ft
Tube heating area2,043 sq ft
Evaporative heating area2,242 sq ft
Superheater area473 sq ft
Total heating area2,715 sq ft
Calculated Values
steam locomotive
F.R. Collins
last changed: 01/2023

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