The Class 59 Garratt locomotives
the East African Railroad
Nelson Riedel
Initial: 9/03/07 Last Revised:12/11/2008

At the suggestion of a friend I did a bit of research on the Garratt locomotive before going to Tanzania in the summer of 2007.     The Garratts seemed really neat.  I also learned that there are a bunch of Garratts at the Railway Museum in Nairobi (Kenya) and that there is regular shuttle bus service from where I was going to be in Arusha, Tanzania to Nairobi.   After several weeks in Arusha I had the opportunity to take a three day weekend so I took the ~5 hour shuttle to Nairobi on Saturday, visited the museum on Sunday and returned to Arusha on Monday.   I had the museum all to myself on Sunday --- laterally ---- there was no other visitor.  I was able to climb all over the Garratts without anyone telling me to get off.   

The museum has a number of interesting displays which tell the history of the railway that ran from Mombasa on the coast through Nairobi to Lake Victoria.  The following brief history of the Kenya Railways was on a large poster in the museum: 

A Brief History of the Kenya Railways

The idea of a railway in this part of Africa came about in the late 1880s when both Germany and Britain were actively interested in acquiring territory in the region.   In July 1890, Germany and Britain signed the treaty of Berlin and divided the region then ruled by the Sultan of Zanzibar and now know as Kenya and Tanzania, into British and German East Africa.  Shortly afterwards both colonies began surveying routes from the coast to Lake Victoria, the source of the River Nile.   The Germans started a line from Tanga towards Mount Kilimanjaro, while the British surveyed a route from Mombasa.   In December 1895, George Whitehouse stepped ashore at Mombasa and in May 1896, the first rails were laid of the project that would become known as the 'Lunatic line".   Its name was coined in a speech in Parliament in London regarding the every increasing cost of what appeared to be a futile exercise.

Metre gauge track and rolling stock came from India together with large numbers of craftsmen.  Construction was plagued with numerous difficulties including man eating loins, hostile tribes , wild animals that attacked the trains, mosquitoes, flies, locusts and caterpillars that caused the locomotives to slip on the rails.   Torrential rains washed away bridges and track and derailed trains.  When the line reached a level area at a place known as Nyrobi, a workshop was built and preparations made for the difficult upcountry construction.  This area eventually grew into what is now the capitol city of Nairobi.  When the railroad reached the edge of the Great Rift Valley, Whitehouse built an inclined line in four stages down the side, at an angle of 45 degrees.   This enabled construction to proceed along the valley floor while a gentile slope was cut down the side.  On reaching the other side, numerous wooden bridges, later replaced by steel, had to be built to carry the track across deep ravines.   The line reached Lake Victoria in December 1901.  On reaching the lake at Kisumu passengers would take a steamer to Port Beil in Uganda before proceeding by road to Kampala the capital.

It was named the Uganda Railway which remained in use until 1926 when it was renamed the Kenya Uganda Railway.  In 1948 the Tanganyika Railway and the K. U. R. amalgamated to form the East African Railways and Harbours.    When the three countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania separated in 1977, the lines from Mombasa to the Tanzania and Uganda borders became Kenya Railways.

Note that German East Africa was lost to the British during World War I.   The movie Africa Queen takes place during that war.          

The map above (photographed at the museum) shows  the route of the Uganda Railroad.   Mombasa is on the coast on the right.   Kisusmu , the other end of the railroad in on lake Victoria on the left side.   The red line is the route of the shuttle bus I took between between Arusha and Nairobi.  Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti are places I visited on safari a few weeks after the trip to the Nairobi.  Note that the equator is about 100 miles north of Nairobi but the temperature is usually in the 70s in the afternoon because of the high altitude.

The chart above shows the grades on the railroad.  The horizontal distance is 1000 miles and each horizontal line represents 1000 feet of elevation.  Mombasa is on the left at sea level and Lake Victoria is on the right at a little over 3000 feet elevation.  The red dot is Nairobi at ~5500 ft.    The dip to the right of Nairobi is the Great Rift Valley.

The drawing above shows the late Garrett locomotive --- the 59 class.   The locomotive is articulated (hinged) at each end of the middle section.  The wheel configuration is 4-8-2 + 2-8-4.   The front tank is for water. The rear tank holds water in the bottom and fuel oil in a separate upper tank.   The tag on right was below the drawing
This tag was on a photo of one of the 59 class Garratts. It gives a bit more data on the locomotives.

There are  5 or 6 Garratts in the museum yard.  I chose to concentrate on number 5930 of the large 59 Class.

Above is the left front of 5930.

The right rear of 5930


This shows the rear of the locomotive.
This is the side view of the front coupler which is connected to another Garratt locomotive.


The above photo shows the right side of the middle section.   The steam reversing cylinders are in the middle.   The vertical pipe in front of the cab is the steam line to an injector.  The vertical line on the right side is the injector output pipe which feeds into the boiler at the top through a check valve.   Thatís the throttle linkage running along the upper side of the boiler.   The large pipe on the side of the frame is the water line from the front water tank.   The water lines have rubber hose sections at the hinges.  The steam supply pipes from the throttle valve run down the middle of the locomotive under the boiler and under the tanks.  There is a ball type joint in this pipe at each hinge.  

Photo above shows the left side of the center part of the locomotive.  Note the two simplex air pumps and the steam powered generator to the rear of the pumps.  There are two injectors on this side of the engine.  The upper large pipe along the side of the frame is the steam exhaust for the rear cylinders.  The lower large pipe is another water pipe connecting the front tank to the cab area Ė probably to the injectors.  

This photo was taken from the top rear of the rear tender.   That is the oil tank which sets inside of the tender.
Looking down into the oil tank.
Looking back from the front of the rear tank.  That is the water hatch near the rear.
Looking down into the water hatch.
The front of the locomotive.
This photo is taken from the top of the smoke box looking toward  the rear of the locomotive.  The aluminum colored pipes are injector output pipes that feed check valves at the top of the boiler.
This is looking down the smokestack into the exhaust nozzle.  I assume the paint can is not standard equipment..
This is the engineerís side of the cab.  The red disk is the revering control.  That is the brake valve just to the left of the red disk.  The long lever hanging down is the throttle.  
This is the firemanís side of the cab.  Note that the fireman also has a throttle lever.  (Maybe it is so stiff it takes both the fireman and the engineer to move it.)  The little lever near the cab side is the oil control for the burner.  The atomizer control valves have been removed from this cab.

Photo above shows the left side of a different Garratt, this one with the red handled valves for the burner steam controls still in place.   One valve controls the steam feed to both fuel nozzles.  The other valves control steam to a heater for the fuel oil.

Photo above shows the inside of the firebox.   Note that there are two nozzles.  Also note the firebrick around the fire pan.  The raised section in the middle is to allow the steam feed to the rear cylinders to pass underneath.

This shows one of the oil nozzles from the outside.  The oil feed is on the bottom and the steam feed is from the left side. 

Photo above shows the side door on the fire pan that probably allows additional air to enter.  The door opening is controlled from the cab.   That is the oil feed line directly above the door.  The fat section around the oil line is a steam jacket and insulation.  

The ties in the museum are steel as shown on the right.  I assumed they were also used on the railroad.  The ties bend down in the middle so that they can be covered with ballast. They are cup shaped on the bottom.
This is the under side of a steel tie.

The railroad also owned seam powered boats on Lake Victoria to move passengers and freight all the way to Uganda.   The boats were usually manufactured in Europe, shipped by sea to Mombassa, then by rail to Lake Victoria where they were assembled and launched.  This is a model of a 1900 era lake steamer. 

Update 9/18/07- 7.25" Gauge Model: Mike Green sent the  following photos of a model of an East African Railway 59 Class Garrett that is in The National Railway Museum (York, UK).  The scale should be ~ (7.25/39.4)12= 2.2" per ft.    That is one large model!        

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