WW&F to Purchase Narrow Gauge South African Ballast Hoppers

Maine museum says the acquisition of two hopper cars from Africa would be a “down payment” on the future extension of the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington. Photo Courtesy of WW&F.

WW&F to Purchase Narrow Gauge South African Ballast Hoppers

By Railfan & Railroad Staff

Maine’s Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum announced recently that it was purchasing two 2-foot gauge ballast hoppers from South Africa. The cars will aid the narrow gauge railroad in maintaining its 3 miles of main line as well as serve as a “down payment” on a possible future extension. 

The two cars are in operating condition at Sandstone Estates in South Africa. The cars are designated NGY-1 and were built in 1968 and 1976. They were originally constructed for a project to upgrade the Avontuur Railway, which is the longest 2-foot gauge railroad in the world. The same type of cars have been widely used on heritage railways in Africa and the United Kingdom, but never in the U.S. The cars are ready to roll and officials say the only major change they will need to make is to put U.S.-style couplers on them. 

The railroad estimates that the cost of buying and shipping the cars will be $66,000 and it is currently raising money to achieve that. Donations can be made online

This isn’t the first time the narrow gauge railroad has looked overseas for MOW equipment. Previously, the WW&F imported at track tamper from Queensland, Australia.

“These cars represent a rare opportunity for rail enthusiasts around the globe to bring a unique piece of history to the United States — illustrating the worldwide appeal and utility of 24-inch narrow gauge railroads,” WW&F officials wrote. 

The WW&F was one of five 2-foot gauge railroads to operate in Maine between the 1870s and the 1940s. A dedicated group of volunteers has been rebuilding a section of the WW&F near Alna, Maine, since the 1980s. 

This article was posted on: March 27, 2024