Mike Taylor’s report on zimrail:
On 12 December 2010, 15th Class Garratt 395, looking quite smart, connected to a train consisting of water tanker, caboose , four wagons with a total of 150 tonnes of cement – to be dropped off at Plumtree for Botswana delivery – two dining cars and three 1st class museum coaches, observation car 754 and composite guards van 2602 , combined with a white-painted coach previously used for surgical eye procedures around the country.
The train arrived on time in Plumtree at 12:00, after a fire and water stop at Figtree, and short stops at Khami and Marula to obtain orders to proceed. The loco worked well, and at times achieved speeds of 80km/h.
Departing from Plumtree at 14:00 after a barbecue lunch for the passengers, the loco again performed well. Unfortunately, approaching the last stop at Khami – 20km from Bulawayo – a large brass nut securing the rear left-hand piston control valve piston to the piston rod came loose. The nut then became jammed between the piston and the end cover plate, breaking the rear-end cover plate.
Efforts to effect a temporary repair came to nothing. A class DE10 diesel was called from Bulawayo and towed the whole train back, arriving not long after scheduled arrival time.
All in all – an enjoyable time was had by all.