The International Steam Pages

More 'preserved' Thai steam

Some time ago, I heard that two Japanese pre-war Mikados had been reported in use in a rice mill in the northern outskirts of Bangkok. The story soon took on the status of an urban myth as I always heard of people who knew where they were, but never actually met them or got in touch. Finally in April 2006, with the help of Bangkok resident John Baker, I was finally able to see them, 351 and 353. It seems that they were rescued from the undergrowth in Nakhon Sawon in the 1980s and put back into working order. Both were mounted so that the driving wheels could revolve and drive a generator which provided electricity for the mill. Only one was ever used at a time with the other in reserve, as with the stationary engines in the rice mills, rice husks were used to fire the boilers.

The rice mill is no more, the area is used as a fertiliser store - of the organic variety as bat guano is the principal ingredient. When the locomotives were taken out of use, a concrete building was erected around them, it is used mainly as dormitories for the staff. The staff consider them to be haunted by spirits, consequently they are kept clean and tidy, their condition would put most of Thailand's conventionally preserved locomotives to shame. Their owner and his family are very fond of them and they are reasonably secure. The pictures show 351, 353 can just be seen in the background of the first picture. 

Being an industrial site, I am not including locational details as it would not be appropriate to initiate a stream of visitors. Hopefully, as the Thai preservation scene matures from its present rather less than satisfactory position, at least one of them will be a worthy candidate for restoration to working order. Only a few gauges and part of the braking systems seem to be missing. Of course, part of the concrete building would have to be demolished first! 

Rob Dickinson