Sometimes I think we live in an engine shed rather than a house. We have only just waved farewell to Sir Percivale, our 10¼” gauge King Arthur class as it head’s north for a paint job and further boiler tests prior to running, then we hear the distant rumblings of the arrival of MOUNT KILIMANJARO.
I thought Sir Percival was big, but by comparison this 7¼” gauge Beyer Garratt is huge. It arrived on a 27′ trailer, a long streak of majestic maroon and a perfect replica of those unusual locomotives supplied to East African Railways by Beyer Peacock and Co. Ltd between 1955 and 1956. As with all these duplex engines they were designed and built to provide extra power, speed or traction, sometimes in areas of steep, unyielding, terrain.
The first thing I did on spying the uncovered locomotive was to count its wheels. 4-8-2 + 2-8-4. I have seen “Kili” as we affectionately call it, before. It has been at Weston Park for the past three years and may be heading off to Rugby next year. Take a look at this youtube
Aesthetically this engine is not very attractive, to my mind it is rather ungainly, looking like a conventional steam locomotive with a great big box stuck on its front with one huge Cyclops eye in the middle. Still beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I am none too pretty myself.
The original full-size locomotives of the class 59 were all oil fired, probably because the sheer effort required to feed these hungry beasts with coal would have been too great for their human operators. There were 34 of these metre gauge locomotives built in Manchester for the East African Railway. Nearly all were named after a mountain in Africa, a few after extinct volcanoes, and they were the largest, heaviest (252 tons) and most powerful locomotives to operate on any metre gauge railway in the world.
Designed to haul up to 1,200 tons on a 1.5% gradient they became the mainstay of freight transportation on the 330 mile run between Mombasa and Nairobi. They operated well into the late 1970’s. The last full-size locomotive being withdrawn from service in 1980. One preserved engine, MOUNT GELAI, remains in the Nairobi Railway Museum.
Our model MOUNT KILIMANJARO (5928) has livery representative of the characteristic traditional E.A.R. colours, maroon with yellow gold inlay, however the model is designed to be coal fired. This Beyer Garratt is a type of steam locomotive that is articulated in three parts. The boiler is mounted on a centre frame and the two engines are mounted on separate frames at either end of the boiler. This articulation permits the huge locomotive to negotiate curves and run on lighter track than a similar sized rigid engine would be able to do.
To give an indication as to the sheer size of these locomotives, here are the measurements of the model Mount Kilimanjaro:-
| Overall length :
| Height from rail:
| Boiler unit and front engine:
|| 14′ 2″
| Boiler unit:
| Total weight fully coaled and watered is a mammoth:
|| 4,400lbs (1995.806kg)
| Approximate axle load:
|| 314lb (142.428kg)
The model (miniature) is 5.430 scale of the full-size engine, or 2.209inches per foot, so it is evident how huge these great heroes of the E.A.R. were. Trevor Heath has set up a good website. Click here