The part complete loco at Dinas after the fitting of its rebuilt boiler a mock-up cab during January 2023.
SAR chime (replica)
Chinese QJ chime
History in South Africa
134 was delivered to Walvis Bay and commissioned onto the Otavi Railway. The Otavi Railway was regauged to cape gauge in 1960 and 134, along with the other NG15s was transferred to Port Elizabeth to work the Avontuur Branch. 134 was withdrawn from service in 1990 for boiler repairs that were never completed due to the declining amount of work for steam locomotives.
Preservation in the UK
134 arrived in the UK at the same time as 133 and was initially brought over from South Africa for a railway at Robin Hood's Bay in Yorkshire but this fell through and the locomotives were purchased for the Welsh Highland Railway's future motive power in 1998. Subsequently two NGG16s (87 and 130) imported for the same project made their way to the WHR.
To the WHR
Commencing in 1999, work has gone on to strip, clean and assess the condition of the locomotive and its components, preparatory to its restoration and return to service. Initially this work was done by volunteers on a no-budget basis. Work continued sporadically for a number of years until 2008 when a new group was formed which aimed to get the loco back into service. The locomotive is being restored to working order at the Welsh Highland Railway's Dinas works. As of 2012, it was expected to be in the order of a 5-year restoration process with much of the work being conducted by volunteers, although this turned out to be an overly optimistic prediction. The project is under the auspices of the Welsh Highland Railway Society on behalf of the Festiniog Railway Company. A number of changes to the locomotive were considered to make it more suitable for use in Wales.
After disassembly, much of the funds were used to build a new tender tank, the original having been scrapped as it was life expired. The tank was built by Brunswick Ironworks in Caernarfon and features a modified design, to make rear view better, as the loco will spend 50% of its time running tender-first. The tank arrived in April 2012 and currently is sitting on 133's tender frames whilst 134's is refurbished. In September 2013 the frames were moved from the clip shed to the main loco shed at Dinas. In mid 2015, 134's original number plates arrived in Wales; they had been spotted by a supporter for sale in South Africa and were subsequently purchased by a generous sponsor.
In November 2018, it was reported that 134's boiler would be sent away for overhaul at Locomotive Maintenance Services in Loughborough once that of Garratt 130 had returned. The boiler of 134 was then sent away in December.
In March 2019, the driving wheelsets were removed from the frames and sent away to be re-gauged (from SAR 610 mm To F&WHR 600 mm) by an external contractor. In light of experience with the NGG16s, the third wheelset's flanges were thinned, allowing for easier passage through tight corners. The wheels arrived back in early September 2019. The Krauss-Helmholtz truck and the pony truck were removed and taken to Boston Lodge where the wheels were re-gauged. The pony truck frame was found to be bent, so this was straightened out, which was no easy job! As soon as the trucks were finished, they returned to Dinas. The Krauss-Helmholtz truck required a complicated reworking of the lubrication system, which now shares many common components with the NGG16s. Both trucks are now ready to be fitted. By August 2019, the boiler had been thoroughly assessed and the plan for refurbishment had been made. The overhaul of the boiler was just about to commence. When the boiler is finished, it will only have a hydraulic test before leaving the contractor. Only when the rest of the loco is approaching completion will the boiler be certified. This is to allow the maximum time out of the 10-year ticket. It was hoped that the loco would be a rolling chassis by Christmas 2019; however, this did not happen. The locomotive was rewheeled in March 2021. This, along with fitting of new drawgear, allowed the locomotive to be moved around much more easily. The axleboxes had suffered scoring, and so they were altered to be standard with the NGG16s. The cowcatcher has been made to fit around the new and lower coupling; however, it is in very poor condition and may need replacement..
The boiler was returned in January 2023 and placed in the locomotive frames along with a new ashpan. A wooden mock up of the cab was then fitted to the locomotive.
This loco is rapidly approaching completion and is expected to be trialled on passenger trains Spring 2024. Possibly during The Snowdonian weekend.