The International Steam Pages
This page contains individual reports (latest update 7th May 2002) which will have been posted for the season. My thanks in advance to the many people who contributed, every little bit helped. If you don't want to plough through all of this, then maybe you need to read my Zafra 2002 summary.
The loading point names will be found on the maps in World Steam and on our CD-ROM 'Zafra'.
Yoshi Matsuo reports (7th May 2002) on his third (!!) series of visits:
In addition, I met Ron Lingley and Andy Clark, Steam in Paradise at Ecuador. They were on the way from Rafael Freyre. RF is still milling and said to last through mid June!
105 Augusto Cesar Sandino
3-May. Mill still working. 1350 to Varela LP. 1667 to Santa Isabel LP. 1373 cold at shed. 1364 under repair (still partly dismantled but stands on 3' track).
107 Pablo de la Torriente Brau
3-May. Mill has already finished.
201 Amistad con los Pueblos
1-May. 1707 on northeast line. 1701 (from 210), 1803 and 1805 cold at shed.
207 Gregorio Alree Manalich
1-May. Mill still working. 1308 to adjacent LP. 1306 on patio. No action could be seen on SG.
210 Osvaldo Sanchez
1-May. 1507 to adjacent LP.
28-Apr. Mill has already finished.
315 Jose Smith Comas
2-May. Mill still working. A staff said Zafra lasts through 15 or 20 of May. 1531 on line beyond Santa Rosa. Crew aggressively demanded dollars just for normal work. 1415 and 1530 cold at shed. These 3 moguls are now grimy. "Super Shine" looking is sadly gone. 1531 lacks number plate on the smoke box door. 1614 from Julio Reyes Cairo is also at shed, cold but looks in working order. In addition, diesel 37010 is dead at shed.
403 Mal Tiempo
28-Apr. Mill still working. A staff said Zafra is to end on 3-May. 1355 on patio. 1345 in steam. Since I arrived late afternoon, no line work could be seen. 1320, 1321 and 1322 cold at shed. One more loco (# unknown) partly dismantled.
404 Ciudad Caracas
28-Apr. Mill has already finished.
440 Ifrain Alfonso
28-Apr, Mill has already finished.
441 Diez de Octubre
28-Apr, Mill has already finished.
446 Carlos Balino
28-Apr. Mill still working but no steam action. 1432 cold in shed, looks in working order. 1555 out of shed, looks in poor condition. A diesel works to adjacent LP.
503 Orlando Gonzalez Ramirez
29-Apr. Mill still working. A staff said Zafra is to end on 1-May. 1563 to La Gloria LP. 1732 to Dominica LP. 1837 in steam. 1836 cold in shed. One more loco (probably 1736) under repair.
30-Apr. Mill still working. 1578 on patio and on south line. 1821 brought 2 oil tankers to FCC Colorado Junction and returned LE, then on south line. 1904 to Guisa LP. At shed, 1564 cold, 1461 under repair and 1680 dismantled. At 2:30 PM, Venezuela's 1657 on intermill via Dos Palmas arrived at Ecuador.
515 Ciro Redondo
30-Apr. Mill still working. A staff said Zafra lasts through 10-May. No steam action. 1826 in working order but cold. 1830, 1832 and 1834 dumped.
29-Apr. 1657 to Moreno LP. Then said to intermill to Ecuador late afternoon (I did not have time to confirm it). 1742 cold in shed. Found an intermill to Ciro Redondo behind diesel.
4-May (Saturday). At 11:00 no train operation. At shed, 1 and 2 cold, looks in working order. 3 under repair. Shed staffs said they were just waiting for engineer arriving.
205 Camilo Cienfuegos (Hershey)
2-May. Mill still working. GE electric locos on line work.
This is a Zafra update covering 17.03.2002 to 05.04.2002 compiled by Alan Murray-Rust:
a.m.1703 brought loads in from western line 1103 shunting patio, then went out light
towrads LPs but returned light
Australia - a.m.
No steam activity. 1518 receiving attention on shed yard; 1593, 1607 also on shed yard; so did not stay around. 37172 on empties at Autopista crossing.
Jesus Rabi - p.m.
1216, 1413 in steam on shed yard. 1216 eventually went to shunt hoppers at n.end of mill yard. Mid afternoon 1413 to Cirineo with empties, returned with loads. As usual required second try to get round curve off FCC. Rewatered at shed; by this time 1414 also out of shed. 1413 took empties out to Demetrio; too late for light to wait for return.
Ifrain Alfonso - a.m.
1850 took empties to Julio Iglesias, caboose only to Pozo. Returned with 3 loads from Pozo, picked up more at Iglesias.
Mal Tiempo - p.m.
1320 took empties from mill, passed 1345 at Livia returning with loads from Potrerillo and Livia. 1320 then left part empties at Livia and continued to Potrerillo. Turned and return with loads. Did 2 run pasts in good light on bank up from Potrerillo; waited one hour at bridge for sun to come out from clouds, but no joy!! Light then too poor for further run pasts.
Simon Bolivar - a.m.
No steam activity expected that day - long transit day so no time to wait; on to
Noel Fernandez - midday
1664 idle on main yard on arrival, but crew appeared and it went down to recharge with steam. Then collected loads to shunt into tipplers. Struggled in vain on sharp curve with full load - no sand - finally crew decided to split load. Second portion was banked by diesel! Then returned to recharge.
A three-day disaster on the western line!!
a.m. - Loco smoke in evidence again on western line, so to bank above
failed to materialise, finally info arrived that loco had failed at Americanos passing
a.m. to mill. 1387 being prepared for tourist train. Informed that 1391 would be going
out to El Purial, as there was considerable urgency to make space there. All available
space was already full of loaded wagons and the LP had been forced to stop loading with
more cane still arriving.
Ecuador - late p.m.
1564 working patio. Later 1821 came from watering point to go light to LP at Guisa. Light now poor for stills but OK for video, so AMR, ARP, Andy Clarke followed. Picked up loads, but bad management at LP allowed 6 empties to run down onto main line. Tractor sent out but unable to haul them back, so 1821 effectively trapped. Had to abandon photography.
AMR, ARP to Ecuador a.m.
1904 on oiling road, but information was that there was no oil left in supply tanks, so no activity expected. On towards
Reached Jagueyal junction where informed that steam hauled train imminent from Venezuela. Arrived approx. half-hour later - 1742 with mixed train of gondolas loaded with bagged sugar and loaded cane cars. Also with 'tourist' car (converted box car) immediately behind loco, with party of photographers. In practice we were able to get good shots which minimised effect of this. Train then left towards Ecuador. Made spirited run across fields approaching first LP at Guare, where 1742 and tourist car were exchanged for diesel 38078.
Ecuador p.m. early
1821 shunting hoppers in yard for some time. (informed that it would be taking them up to main line at Baragua station, but we were headed for
Orlando Ramirez Gonzales p.m. later.
Arrived just as 1732 arrived from Domenica with loads. Acting on info, went out to Gloria, where main party also arrived. 1563 arrived with empties, departed to mill with loads. Sky now heavily clouded, but still to Limones for late afternoon departure - 1732 as last year and previous year!!
Ciro Redondo a.m.
(AMR/ARP separately for quick visit.) 1826 shunted patio then returned to shed.
Marcelo Salado p.m.
1342 in steam prior to working afternoon intermill to Batalla de Sta Clara. 1549 arrived from Caibarien with tankers. 1342 light with caboose to Jiraguayabo LP, picked up loads to Carolina (presumably continued later). On to Camajuani for intermill from
Luis Arcos Bergnes
but this was not running that day so quickly on to
Found 1910 at Autopista crossing with caboose heading for Pozo; on to Pozo but departure not expected till after dark so did not stay. Crew gave info that 1910 could be working intermill from 10 de Octubre to mill beyond Esperanza next day.
10 de Octubre a.m.
1661 in steam, no working proposed. Transfer with 1910 not to occur. On to
Ifrain Alfonso a.m.
1635 shunting the patio. 1910 expected to go to Ranchuelo shortly. Went to Ranchuelo. 1910 eventually arrived and picked up 6 loads from the exchange siding on the 10 de Octubre branch. 1661 arrived from 10 de Octubre with empties (special charter).
Cuidad Caracas p.m.
AMR/ARP separate from main group which went to Mal Tiempo to try to retrieve bridge shot. (CC was new mill for both of us). 1538 shunting around mill. Informed by trafico that steam hauled train due to leave LP north of Autopista in approx. half-hour. 1621 doing final shunting, then turned on wye. Did not wait for departure but up to Autopista bridge for shots.
1621 made spirited run up bank in ideal light/wind conditions, then stopped to offer second go (accepted) and prepared to co-operate with line-side shots into Lajas. (We found the staff at CC - mill, LP and train crew - extremely helpful and NOT asking for dollars as a prerequisite for co-operation. Under these circumstances a small reward is readily offered).
(Left to try and find some activity at Luis Arcos Bergnes; all finished by the time we got there, but did find FCC railbus at Carmita flat crossing)
1610 only loco working. 1410 warm on shed yard. 1611 workable, 1612, 1808 under repair.
Midday 1610 to eastern loading point with numerous crew - it turned out that there was a derailed loaded car at the head of the loads siding in the LP and they had been sent to re-rail it. This was not remarkably quickly and efficiently and 1610 departed with loaded train.
After lunch to Navajas for possible p.m. train to Pedroso; found 1610 with caboose waiting at end of mill line to run onto FCC. This turned out to be a special trip to pick up a Minaz travelling crane which was parked at Navajas station. (It was parked on the line to the LP at Roquilla which looked very unused).
Later 1610 reappeared, this time on the Pedroso working. Departed from Pedroso with fulls in the setting sun.
AMR/ARP separate from main party to mills new to us. (with Andy Clarke)
Amistad con los Pueblos a.m.
Quick shed visit - 1701 from Osvaldo Sanchez cold on shed. 1805 worked short loaded train from LP North East of Guines.
Osvaldo Sanchez a.m.
On approach to mill, Minaz diesel observed heading to mill for intermill working. 1204 just finishing shunting at western LP (Batey 2), then to mill with single empty. Took water then to eastern LPs and brought in 9 loads to mill.
Juan Avila p.m.
1807 on patio. 1720, 1721 at shed. 1534 still partly dismantled. (NB 1807's tender
light carries number plates from 1534!)
1306 working patio. 1351 took empties to close LP, returned with loads. 1307 came off shed, later departed with empties. Nothing to add to previous reports about locos on shed here, except thet the condition of the small 0-6-0 is very different from last year. It is now stripped of all boiler fittings and tubes, with large holes cut in the boiler barrel for patching. Most unlikely to be anything other than a cosmetic restoration.
Osvaldo Sanchez early p.m.
1204 again working eastern LPs - brought in 15 loads with hardly a trace of slipping! (Slow, but very sure). Other loco in steam on shed, possibly 1507 as appeared to be small (shed as usual not accessible).
Boris Luis Sta Coloma a.m.
Mill not apparently working. 1711 outside shed, clearly not worked for several days (rusty piston rods etc.)
FCC (Hershey) diesel 51031 then arrived with loads from norhern line and shunted these onto patio.
Via Roble (no activity expected) to
Ruben Martin Villena midday/p.m.
No activity on arrival but assured by trafico that there would be some afternoon working. Returned around 3 p.m. 1702 appeared at the LP next the mill, came up light to main road crossing to demand dollars but went away empty handed. Departure then observed from safe distance. To Roble, where helpful and undemanding signalman allowed the box to be used as photographic hide. Found the western arm of cross now occupied by empties. Shortly, FCC (Hershey) 71081 arrived from BLSC with train of loaded gondolas, dropped caboose on N arm of cross and proceeded beyond N junction. 1702 now arrived from Villena, continuing through the cross propelling the emties. 71081 then backed its train round the W curve and picked up the loads from 1702, returning N. 1702 then return towards Villena with the empties. 71081 set off N with the expanded train. We followed to be able to get the train coming through the street section in Caraballo. It turned up - an impressive sight - having picked up further loads at the Colorado LP (between Caraballo and the FCC Main line), then onto Camilo Cienfuegos via the Rosario branch.
Question - is the Villena to Camilo Cienfuegos working regular? By this time BLSC was smoking heavily so they could clearly have dealt with the cane from Villena. What LPs feed BLSC from the northern line for the train we saw arriving earlier?
Camilo Cienfuegos (Hershey)
General news bulletin from several days' observations.
The bulk of cane trains are still electrically hauled. There is one branch off the Jaruco line at San Antonio which is not electrified but appears used (we did not actually see anything using it), which has (according to the FCC working timetable) 2 acopios.
Other acopios known to be operating on the system are:
The formerly electrified branch off the main line to the west of the mill - Loma Redonda - is completely abandoned but the acopio is being used to load road vehicles. (Remains of overhead seen last year have now disappeared completely).
There are 12 electric locos on the books, most of which appear to be in working order. Apart from the single conversion of the French Brissonneau from diesel electric, they are all GE steeple cab locos. A small number still retain the tradiitonal sloping bonnets. An interesting modernisation is that all these locos are fitted with solar panels to power the control radios as they do not have any other low voltage circuits.
3009 is the only Brill car in working order and is the usual performer on the Caraballo section. (This working also includes the one daily trip on the Playas del Este branch).
3006 and 3008 are available for passenger service - they are the ones normally used for the tourist operation - but currently have to be loco hauled. We understand the problem to be burnt out low-voltage dynamos which they do not have funds to replace. A similar problem affects 3021, the converted mainline passenger coach, which was working last year. The other single car, 707, a Barcelona car fitted with a second driving cab, is also non-functional. As a result there is no suitable stock available to work the Santa Cruz branch which currently sees no passenger service at all.
The current working timetable book (Itinerario 13), as well as various station
departure boards, show a single daily working beyond Caraballo to Milian (Bainoa). This
involves a 1km branch off the line from Caraballo to Roble, alongside the FCC near
On site investigation of this branch shows that it is derelict and clearly has been for
some time. Our informant at the railway could give no date as to when it was last used -
his memory for other dates was excellent!
One interesting 'passenger' working was observed on 05/04/2002. This was a single Bill car (3006) being hauled by a loco, but clearly not a tourist charter. It set off eastbound from Hershey via Paula and was assumed to be working the Caraballo branch. However, it did not appear here. Later we found out that this is a twice-monthly working, on the 5th and 20th of each month - it is the staff pay-train delivering wages to points all along the main line!
On 01 and 02/04/2002 we joined a charter run for the Chicago based Central Electric Railfans Association - one member known to us was making his first visit to Hershey since 1956! - which consisted of loco 20803 and Brill coaches 3006, 3008. Over the two days this covered most of the system, including the Rosario branch. They were also due to do a charter on 06/04 with a freight consist which we were unable to join due to returning to the UK. We saw this under preparation the previous day - a wierd combination of Gondolas, caboose and of course one of the Brill cars because of the passenger numbers. (The caboose would not have been sufficiently large for the numbers!)
Rainer Macht reports:
201 Amistad con los pueblos (06.04.2002)
1701 is cold. 1805 in steam and went out the mill with caboose in the 4:30 pm. I didn't know the destination.
207 Gregorio Arlee Manalich
1402, 1365 and 1306 in action. 1365 went with empties to the loading points San Jose del Rio and Jicotea and returned with fulls to the mill. 1306 went out and soon arrived back on a fulls train from the loading point nearby Melena del sur.1402 shunting with freight cars for raw sugar on the standard gauge in the mill.
In steam : 1402, 1306, 1307, 1351. 1402 made available a goods train in Melena station. 1307 supplied in mid-afternoon the loading point Jicotea.
211 Ruben Martinez Villena (07.04.2002)
This mill is closed. 1502 in steam. In mid-morning she was shunting in the mill and later to the loading point near the mill. At 10:00 she went with 20 fulls to the triangle Roble and in exchange for empties. Return in the mill about 12:30.
212 Boris Luis Santa Coloma
Only diesel in action. The steam engines are dead.
306 Cuba Libre (05.04.2002, 17:00)
1610 in steam and shunting in the mill and to the near loading point.
314 Jesus Rabi (01.04.2002)
1216, 1413 and 1529 cold. 1414 in steam and was waiting for the trip to Cirineo.
315 Jose Smith Comas
1531 in steam went in midafternoon with empties to Delirio. 1530 was in steam in shed. 1415 cold separate from tender in shed.
1531 went with empties about 15.00 to the acopio down the line. 1530 drove with fulls from Delirio to the mill. 1415 dismantled in shed. 4117 was not in action.
1531 went at 09.45 to the acopio down the line.1530 went out to Delirio at 11.30. 4117 was shunting at the back of the mill.
319 Rene Fraga (05.04.2002)
Only 1820 in steam.
403 Mal Tiempo (30.03.2002)
1320, 1321 and 1355 in steam. 1355 drove in mid-morning to the acopio at Potrerillo and had a hard time with about 20 fulls on the return to the mill. In the afternoon 1320 went with numerous empties southwards.1322, 1345 cold in shed. Unknown steam engine dismantled in shed.
404 Ciudad Caracas (30.03.2002)
1621 returned about 14.00 with fulls from acopio Maceo. Afterwards she picked up full cars from the loading point El Guanal. 1538 was shunting in the mill.
428 Marcelo Salado (31.03.2002)
The mill is closed. 1429 in steam was waiting on the yard to the trip to Remedios. As everybody knows is here the factory security officers always present .....
433 Marta Abreu (30.03.2002)
This mill is closed. Fireless 1239 was in the yard and looks in very good condition.
435 Hermanos Armeijeiras (31.03.2002)
All diesel worked these day. No way from steam working !
440 Ifrain Alfonso
1910 was coming with about 20 fulls from the acopio Pozo at 16.00 After the crossing on the road Ranchuelo - Cruces she gave an excellent performance.
In the morning 1635, 1636, 1850 and 1910 in steam. Over and over again impressive performance on the rise nearby the triangle Santa Rosa with a heavy freight train. In the evening 1635 went on the line Diez de Octubre - Ifrain Alfonso with 15 fulls.
Roland Beier is another regular visitor/correspondent:
This report covers a visit from 23 March to 10 April 2002. Generally not much changes against Zafra 2001. The economic situation in Cuba further improves and peso stalls appear even in small villages now. Private acommodation seems now to be accepted even by government owned organisiations. Transtur easily delivered a replacement rental car to a private house at Santa Clara and even rang before they arrived. The government takes a different view, however and does not issue any more new licenses for private accomodation. By consequence a black market has been established but it is another question if it is wise to use it. Visa regulations are quite clear on this...
107 P.Torriente Brau
Mill not working, cane to Hector Molinas
Sadly by mid-March a boiler explosion happened when 1513 (I was told this number but could not verify it) returned to the mill. The reason was lack of water. All five crew members were heavily injured and one later died in the hospital. The remains of 1513 (frames and tender only, cab and boiler are missing) have been stored in a siding north of the water tank.
403 Mal Tiempo
Mill working, but not much cane (as with most Santa Clara mills due to the hurricane
404 Ciudad Caracas
Mill working, only 2 serviceable steam locos.
405 L.Arcos Bergnes
Mill not working, cane to J.M.Perez.
412 J.P.Carbo Servia
Mill not working, cane to J.M.Perez.
Mill not working, cane to Batalla Sta. Clara.
441 Diez de Octubre
448 Simon Bolivar
Mill not working, cane to O.Morales.
503 O.Gonzales Ramirez
Mill working. Cane from Venezuela (closed) arrives on lorries.
Mill working, staff expected the Zafra to last into May because of the extra cane from
515 Ciro Redondo
Mill not working, cane to Ciro Redondo (mostly diesel) and Ecuador (often steam) by
rail, to O.Gonzales by lorry.
The next provincial steam festival at Moron (Ciego de Avila province) is to be held on the weekend 14/15 December 2002.
Bernd Seiler has been to China too so his report is slightly delayed (added 10th April 2002):
The situation on Cuba was nearly unchanged according to the recent season. The availability of food for Pesos became slightly better, to get food for Dollars was no problem at all. Petrol was available at nearly every Cupet filling station. We were refused only twice. Changing flat tyres at the service points of Havanautos caused no hassle and was arranged very quickly (not compared with Cuban standards, compared with European ones). With only a few exceptions people were nice as ever and if you try to speak some Spanish the feedback you earn make it worth to learn some more of the language.
Hassle you may have: the crews demand money from you. Bad experiences we made in Mal Tiempo and Marcelo Salado (the latter you'll not found in the report but a freind of mine was there on February 24th and told me about. The demand in Marcelo was 20, in Mal Tiempo 15 Dollars. My friend paid in Marcelo, we refused in Mal Tiempo (and got a good shot anyway). Ifrain Alfonso and Australia can also be a hard experience if you try to avoid any payment. You may say at every place where many foreigners go year by year the crews will ask you for money. The difference between recent years might be that if you do not pay, the crew will not harm you or your car, they will accept it. But do not wonder if a train will delayed till the sun has set or if the locos drive very hard but without any smoke (yes, yes, they can go without making smoke).
Agusto Cesar Sandino
Nice as ever. Free access to the shed, no problems with the crews (demand of money). We fond E1667 and E1373 working. Three trains per day on the line to Barela, two trains per day to La Playa and one to Santa Isabel. In the shed we fond E 1350 cold serviceable, E 1364 under repair, E 1404 under repair, E 1404 dumped and E 1405 dumped.
Pablo de la Torriente Brau
Although they had several years time to repair their locos, the state of the engines was bad. Leaking boilers, hammering gears, shabby shape. The crews are friendly and you might enjoy a splendid cab ride if you like. There were three trains per day and two in the darkness to the last loading point in San Ignacio. The line has some potential however, in the gradients behind Libertador it is difficult to find a point where you have no bushes in front of the gear. The best positions are in Pablo itself, when the locos thrash along the steep gradient in front of the mill, passing the city. The work for the loco is hard and it's hard to believe that the locos were build once for such heavy trains on this gradient. The water level in the boiler was not visible for more than ten minutes while the loco climbed up the gradient, the pressure felt down to 7 bar only.
In use where 1401 and 1662, dumped 1101, 1501, in the shed we saw 1103 cold, serviceable, 1703 cold serviceable and 1505, heavy overhaul.
As usual: no access to the shed, some hassle in the yard (but not serious). Electric locos: 20 308 in use, 20 802 in use, 21 001 repair, 21 004 repair, diesel: 51 035 shed, railcars: 501 in use, 903 in use.
Victoria de Yaguajey
This mill will never work again. The shed is still in use for Granma locos. It is used for repairs and taking oil. 1812 was under steam, it was said it will be used "manana".
The staff here is keen to earn some money. However, very kind people. 1713 and 1714 in use. At noon 1713 went to Conteo and came back with a full train around 1:45 pm. Short before Conteo the FC-line runs parallel to the mill's line and with some luck (or some dollars) you can have a shot with a FC- and a sugar train.
Behind Conteo the line starts steep against full trains, unfortunately the access is as limited as the photographic potential. Short before the level crossing it will be better with a small bridge and afterwards, in a village, with a line of palm threes just behind the line.
Yardwork will be done by three small 4wd diesels.
José Smith Comas
Only passed by. Under steam were 1530, 1531 and 1415, all in immaculate state (as ever). Special trains were announced, so we hurried up to escape the steam circus.
EMP. Azucar José A. Echeveria
This is not a mill but belongs to MINAZ too. It seems to be a factory for other products made of sugar cane such as lemonade or something of this kind. The factory is situated just in front of the port of Cardenas. They have their own small diesel. It is a 0-4-0 diesel mechanic loco from Caterpillar, numbered 4208. Wheels indicated that it was in use. The wheels are coupled by rods.
We found the old railcars in use for a special. 3008, 3006 and 3009 were coupled together. But many details were not original any more and if you have seen these cars several years before you'll be not happy to see what they have done. However, still much better than the Spanish ones.
Gregorio Arlee Manalich
No access to the shed. One man even tried to kick us off the yard but we were four and he was alone. Nobody of the staff trust him and so we disappeared in four directions and got some nice shots. In use: 1308, 1338, 1365 (all ng) and 1402 (std gauge). 1402: we saw it only shunting in the Patio while diesels 38 225 and 38 255 handled the line traffic on the standard gauge. In the shed we found 1806 dumped, and the tender of 1897, new refurbished for a sugar museum. One worker invited us to follow him in the Taller. There he showed us 1182, a very small but workable loco on 15 ¼" gauge, built in 1902, builders number 301.
On the narrow gauge was not much happened, only trains to the first loading point some hundred metres outside the mill was busy. In the afternoon there was an other train to Estilita.
Narrow gauge steam locos still in place. Access to the mill was denied, one std gauge loco under steam but not much action.
Amistad con los Pueblos
Mill closed, intermill as usual. Working: 1701, 1801 (must be 1803 RD), 1805, in the shed (no problems here) 1804 dumped, 1303 dumped, 1302 serviceable but cold. In the mill 1707 withdrawn. Two others were I forgot to note the number, one I believe was the 0-4-0 tank engine 1106.
1593 and 1607 in use. 1607 minus last rods. Loco crew very kind and very keen on your money, as known.
In use 1593 (derailed), 1607, 1620; cold 1513, under repair: 1515, heavy overhaul 1716, out of use 1613. Diesel ex 1420 was also active. 1607 (with only two coupled axles) and 1620 for free line use, 1593 for shunting. First train to Apodaca was said to be run at 8:30 am. It starts not before 11 am. Returned around 3:30 pm.
Nothing new, the roof of the mill was repaired.
1850 with the well known evening train to Pozo, returned late (after 7 pm).
1551 minus first axle and 1517 were waiting for new special trains in the station. We paid more attention to the FC-railcars 4017 and 4008
I was really interested in finding out what these abbreviation means. All the people, I asked for, told me that F.N.T.A. is the full name, they call the village Feneta. However, we found one class 34 in use and 37 104 and 37 147 in the shed.
All diesel worked. In use 38 137, 38 202, 38 217 and 38 137.
Remberto Abat Aleman
Second trial here to enter the mill area. No success. The reason why I like to enter was the self made diesel mechanic loco 4201. It's an ugly but interesting loco.
FC in Camagüey produced: 71 012, 81 024 and 81 005, all in use. We found several passenger coaches from Germany, two refurbished "Silberlinge" and one also new painted (green/beige) Bm's. In Las Tunas we saw railcar 4144 and in America 71 030 with a passenger train.
38 134 was the only loco we found. It was in use.
An interesting diesel is owned by Dos Rios: 2715, general Electric 1957. Was in use but only in the Patio behind a wall. Access was denied so I tried to find the loco driver. Security was helpful and two minutes later I could negotiate with the driver to move the loco out of the forbidden zone. One minute later the loco rolled over the level crossing for some shots! Also in use were 37 134 and 38 116. 38 104 was under repair in the shed.
This mill ownes two very short lines, one about 300 metres to Jagua, the other about 1 km to Santa Cruz. The line to Santa Cruz has good photographic potential and a steep gradient towards the mill. This line continues some km and has a connection to the FC line. Locos: 37 079 and 1592. 1592 is only in use if 37 079 needs repair. The staff quoted about twice per month. Also special trains are possible. They have a coach for such occasions. We had luck, 1592 was under steam and hauled a special train (with a (the) single coach) for a group of musicians from Santiago. A special stop was made for us and we could enjoy Cuban music under big trees while an American steam loco was waiting in the rear. Very pleasant. Access to the shed was no problem.
Stabling point is Dos Caminos at the FC-stop. Surprisingly we found one of the oldest and one of the largest big Russian diesels here: 37 002 in the shed (seems to be under repair) and 39 011 (built 1990). Beside these, 37 119 working and 38 147 waiting in Dos Caminos together with the class 39.
2713 (GE) is the only diesel they have and was in use. Seems that there is no line service any more (but not sure). Plinthed was a small Baldwin 0-6-0, numbered "3" at the smokebox, but at the cab I could read "1". Shape: awful.
We passed by but didn't find the time for a stop. Many wagons in use but no sign of a loco from the level crossing just opposite the mill.
34 056 and 1387 in use. Mill was working.
1387 in use for a tourist special. Tender 1391 in Patio, dumped. 1386 in use for line work. Four trains were announced but as the other locos had problems, 1386 was the only running loco. It served the loading point Luciano (also called Homeo Pena) twice, in the morning, return at noon and in the late afternoon, returning just before sunset. The well known "super-position" was reached at 5.42 pm, three minutes before the shadow of the hills covered the line. No access to the shed without permit. (No permit without the use of a Cuban travel agency.)
Orlando Gonzalez (Ramirez)
No access to the shed. In use 1563 (line) 1837 (line), 1836 and the green loco (forgot to note the number). The latter two only for shunting. Two trains in the afternoon, one to La Gloria (Portilla), the other to Limones Palmero.
Boring landscape but interesting villages, passed by the railway in the middle of the road or parallel to the road. Very nice crews. But they also like some dollars. Master of Patio like to have pictures of foreign railways. If you go there next time ...
M62: Five locos still in use. We found 61 602, 613, 613 in the shed. All in use. No scrapped loco seen. One of the other two locos is 61 605. Visiting the shed was without any hassle. One worker guided us (and ask afterwards for five dollars).
This is a workshop of MINAZ near Cruces. They have an own locomotive: 38 256. In Cruces we saw 38 259 with a cane train, 37 167 (maybe also a FERROAZUC loco) and FC-loco 51 210, shunting a freight.
Not very pleasant now. After the steam festival in November the prices rose and rose. The staff of the loco ask us for 15 Dollars for making a stop at the well known bridge. We were three, so we offered 9 Dollars, but they demand at least 10. So we paid nothing and got a nice shot at another position. The crew was not happy about that.
Under steam we found 1320, 1321 and 1355, dumped in the shed: 1220, 1322 and 1345 of which 1220 was out of use. Diesels: 34 044, 34 064 (under repair) and 37 101.
On February 23rd heavy rainfalls occur. The following day the number of trains was reduced because of the mud on the ways and in the fields.
1636 operated the only train (to Pozo) this day with a delay of two hours.
We continued to Mal Tiempo, where was no train at all.
Mill was not working. Cold in the shed the fireless 1239, intermill working by 34 062 and 37 127.
38 064 under repair and 1550 cold in the shed were the observations here.
Mill was not working.
Diez de Octubre
Positive surprise here with 1639 under heavy overhaul. The workers in the shed stated that they have serious trouble with their diesel so they are going to reintroduce steam for the free line service later in the 2002 season or from 2003 onwards. They also said 1638 will be repaired after 1639 has finished. Beside the shunting loco 1661 this mill seems to become more interesting in the next season. 1818 will never put into service any more. Diesels: 34 067 after an accident under repair, 37 097 in use. In the shed we also found railcar 15 031 4-4 (B'2').
Luis Arcos Bergnes
1823 in use, 1622 under repair, 1539 and 1755 cold in the shed, both serviceable. The saddle tank loco is plinthed now at the main road as described in other reports. Unfortunately the light is tricky nearly all the day and makes a good picture difficult.
At 6 pm they served the loading point just 1, 5 km outside the mill in Futes, where the crew had lunch (not dinner!). This train was scheduled to run at noon but the lack of cane gave it the serious delay.
Only one train was running, the fields were still nearly unreachable by tractors. The ways along the line were impassable too so we had a really hard drive to not stuck in the mud. The train left Poterillo in the worst light at 12.30 so we didn't make any effort to chase it.
Luis Arcos Bergnes
The intermill working this year was already described. I like to add that the loco runs chimney first with the fulls and return tender first with the empties. The square in Camajuaní is quite photogenic for the full train. It passed around 12 am (as we stayed still in Mal Teimpo) and returned 2.30 pm.
Very brief visit: 1607 and 1620 in use, 1513 cold. No missing coupling rods any more.
The "morning train" departs not before 10 am and crossed the autopista quarter to eleven - therefore the return would expected to run in the bad noon light and so we went further to ....
... where we met a organised group of Swiss guys. In use 1216, 1413 and 1414, overhaul 1529 and 1810. The diesel 37 015 was used for shunting only. Although it was confirmed by the depot staff that diesel is in use for shunting only I guess they will serve the FCC-line by diesel. Nothing new, staff is very kind and no demand of any kind of gifts were noticed. They were still happy as I handed over pictures from the recent year.
Not a mill but a cute small FC-station. 38 111 and 38 209 (both Minaz) were found here. FC was present with the railcar 4122 which reverses in the station and a freight, operated by an American 51.2-loco.
Absolutely no change. In the shed 1618 and 1532 still under overhaul and 1820 in use for the Patio. Free line work was done by diesel. If you see 1618 personally you would never believe this loco ever return into service however, the friendly workers of the shed reconfirmed that the loco is still under repair.
Some interesting tank locos (situation unchanged according to former reports).
Parque Lenin - Lenin Park
In use was No. 2, a 2-6-0 from Baldwin (56920/1923). The circle trip lasts about one hour. The line has photographic potential but, of course, the train is operated just for fun, like Disneyland. Fare was 3 Dollars respectively 3 Pesos. We paid 3 Pesos but you can not expect that the conductors accept Pesos from foreigners. We spoke Spanish to the conductor only and hid our real origin.
Tim Murray is another regular visitor who was in Cuba from 7th to 23rd March (report added 28th March 2002): Click here for Ron Lingley's response on behalf of Steam in Paradise.
Not all of the time was spent on gricing. The general situation in the country has improved so much that it is a very good holiday destination, as well as being a good gricing place. I now find this much better than China in most aspects. It is also a place where the unexpected happens. After more than a decade I still found totally different workings to that encountered before and also some new locos. Mornings are not normally that active but afternoon seem to be always fruitful.
A number of mills are now heavily into dollars. It is not unexpected considering that a Cuban needs dollars to obtain anything that is outside the normal ration system. The worst mill for this is Mal Tiempo which goes to the extreme of putting branches etc on the loco and then stops to demand money to take these off. Marcelo Salado is pretty bad as is R M Vilena and Ifrain Alfonso. These aside, all the other mills that I visited were no problem. We did give some fags and 'chiglets' to crews/staff and that was all.
The big tour parties can be a real pain. Although we were not affected, I spoke to two sets of gricers who encountered a big group. This was being led by the 'acknowledged cuban experts' as guides for a tour agent.
1) On a visit to Jesus Rabi, the Cooke engine could not be found. A large column of black smoke was seen near the autopista and the Cooke engine was found on a charter of converted boxcars. The gricers who encountered this were told to 'go away as this was their (the participants) train' In addition an orange towel was put in front of the loco. I guess it must have been a train for an infants school party! Annoying that the Cooke engine was taken for a set of 'plastic' photos as the normal run on fulls is infinitely better.
2) The same group were at Rafael Freyre and had a loco on a toy train of converted coaches. By all accounts this 'buggered up' the normal trains. We arrived a day later and found everything back to normal (thank heavens).
3) The 'acknowledged cuban experts' were encountered at Orlando Gonzalez by some gricers. This amounted to a six car grand prix which meant a minor change to plans for the other gricers to ensure avoidance.
I cannot see any benefit nowadays from not going on an independent visit as all the information on mills, locations, maps is easily available. Car hire is no problem and I can only presume that some people like to stand in line for the same photo and have their arses wiped for them!! I used to think that gricers were full of initiative and unique sets of their own photos. Perhaps age is taking its toll?
A brief round up of things that I saw. I am not a great collector of numbers so have set out a brief synopsis of mills visited
A C Sandino working normally with two narrow gauge locos. P de la Torrent Brau working normally with two standard gauge locos. Gregorio Manalich visited late afternoon in perfect light, coincided with a narrow gauge empties departure to the local LP and return and the standard gauge loco out with the two crossing directly after each other on flat crossing. After spending about an hour photing all of this we were asked politely if we had a permit. Then told that we could photo outside of patio but had to visit some address in Guines to obtain a patio permit. Thanked for info and left as we had all the shots that we wanted.
Amistad con Los Pueblos working normally. 2-6-0 at LPs and 2-8-0 left on empties towards Hector Molina late morning. Jesus Rabi, saw 1414 on returning fulls from LP near main road at about 5.45 in perfect light.
Venezuela 2-8-0 on inter mill to Ecuador at about 2pm from Venezuela. Ecuador shunt with 2-6-0. Also 1904 to local LP in lovely condition.
Orlando Gondalez working normally. 2-8-0 from Limoges in afternoon. 2-6-0 from other LP. Followed each other into mill along road in perfect light.
14th & 15th March
Rafael Freyre working normally. Good weather in afternoon and one double headed empties out on seconf day as well as normal fulls.
1904 working at Ecuador to LP towards Venezuela. Inter mill was diesel (I think that there were two inter mills a day, one diesel and one steam dependent upon which LPs at Venezuela).
Equador in afternoon good with 1904 and green 2-8-0 on pation. Venezuela inter mill was 4-6-0.
Marcelo Salado 2-6-0 out to Remedios and down branch to pick up fulls to take on intermill. Got couple of shots but gave up as crew kept stopping to ask if we wanted run pasts for dollars.
Luis Arcos Bergnes - no intermill but 1755 did not go to LP until last thing. Left LP at 18.05 in perfect light.
Antonio Sanchez very good in afternoon. 1623 went out on long run to LP that involves going through town. Returned and was amazing charging through town, again in perfect light at about 5pm.
1910 working at Ifrain
Ciudad Caracas 2-8-0 did two trips (one morning, one afternoon) through town to LP other side of autopista. This was the best cane train on FCC action that I saw. Lcoo even picks up token on the move at Lajas station.
Finally saw Diez de Octubre loco (Had visited mill and seen in steam or was not there couple of days before). It left LP near mill at 10am on fulls. In afternoon Ifrain mill went down (told that it would be three days to fix). 1910 worked to Ranchuelo as did 1635. At the same time Diez de Octubre loco left mill at about 2pm on empties. Went to Ranchuelo and then reversed and traversed the FCC to the other side of Esperanza Nord station. This was a long run up hill. The fulls were due to come back late evening but I understand that it was after dark. This might have accounted for the loco being missing some days at the mill and also why they are overhauling other locos. There has been a lot of track renewals at Esperanza and extra loops added to enable to loco to route through to two LPs the other side. One to watch.
Found 1803 at San Nicholas on fulls. Exchanged these for fulls between station and Hector Molina mill and then returned through San Nicholas at about 1pm. When it got to Amistad it exchanged empties with 1707 at the junction to enable 1707 to go to LP and return with fulls early afternoon. Finally visited Gregorio Manalich but engines just sitting in patio area.
Steve Mourton reports (22nd March 2002) on his visit between February 20 and March 5 with Nigel Bird, Rod Smith and Chris Walker.
Inter-mill transfers are the best feature of the current season, with some new or revived steam workings over FCC routes. The thriving Minaz tourist initiative, with several mills having at least one 'home-made' carriage for the transport of paying visitors, does sometimes have beneficial side effects - locos which attended the steam festivals at Mal Tiempo in November and Moron in December tend to be cleaner than those that didn't participate. The worst feature was the unofficial demand for money at one mill in particular, not done subtly either, though let's add that it all seemed to be down to a ringleader amongst the large crew on the engine - quiet conversations with some of them pointed to one man stirring it up. So after our refusal to pay for something which was happening anyway, loco 1910 was not so much a branch engine, more an engine with branches on it. But the subsequent picture might make a decent Christmas card, or a subject in a 'What happened here' quiz.... At other mills where the subject of 'incentives' came up, we were able to discuss it to everyone's satisfaction - we got more pics than otherwise possible, from co-operative crews who got some beer money. Then there was the weather, not so good this year, sometimes grey skies, rain and cold for a whole day. But all in all, still a very worthwhile visit to see real steam in action.
103 Eduardo Garcia Lavandero Feb.23 Mill closed
Sr Porta's engine 1816 was still here, dead with motion part dismantled. Rumours suggest it will be towed to Santa Clara for conversion to biomass fuel.
105 Augusto Cesar Sandino Feb 23 Mill open
1350 worked fulls off the short line with 1373 following fairly swiftly from the long line in mid-afternoon. Overhaul of 1364 has progressed since last year, while 1404 is also still being overhauled. Dead locos were 1405 and 1667 with 1210 OOU. A rumour from Lenin Park is that 1405 will be going there.
107 Pablo de la Torriente Brau Feb.23 Mill open
1401 was shunting. 1703 went out to the furthest acopio with empties, getting there at 12.15pm. It left with 6 fulls, stopping en route and arriving back at the mill with 11 fulls at 1.15pm. It then ran out again light engine to collect some more. But 1703 was leaking steam, not making a great picture. Other locos - 1103 dead, 1662 dead, 1505 heavy overhaul, 1101 dumped, 1501 dumped, 1102 frame only.
201 Amistad con los Pueblos Feb.25 Mill closed
The engines here could do with attending a festival, it might get them cleaned them up a bit. On the first visit, 1805 was in steam, going out with just 3 empties to the acopio near the autopista. 1803 was receiving attention, as was 1707 which was steamed later. 1302, still lettered for Manuel Isla, was dead, but used. 1804 was dismantled. 1106, now numbered 21, is preserved at the mill tippler, with 1303 OOU nearby. 1712 is OOU in the wagon sidings. Around 5pm 1707 arrived light at El Mamey, leaving with 11 fulls, which it then split into trains of 6 and 5 wagons to take to the junction with the Rio Seco line. It doesn't look much, but there must be a fairly fierce grade on the line judging from the engine's performance. 1805 was nowhere to be seen, at the Rio Seco loader were 11 fulls and only 1 empty, so a transfer train from/to Hector Molina appeared to be likely soon.
205 Camilo Cienfuegos Feb.22 Mill open
Operating as normal, with electric locos on cane trains and Spanish units on main line services. Track maintenance car 072 was seen at Mena near Matanzas on March 5.
206 Manuel Isla Feb.26 Mill closed
1107 is still preserved at the roadside. 1602 is dumped by the shed, with 1603 and 1705 both OOU. One other loco was glimpsed, possibly workable, presumed to be 1708.
207 Gregorio Arlee Manalich Feb.24, Feb 25 Mill open
The first visit, on a Sunday, found things fairly quiet, possibly affected by rain overnight. 1308 went off shed at 2.30pm, took empties to the nearby acopio over the flat crossing, returning with 22 fulls. It then went to the acopio at the back of the mill for 12 more fulls. At the shed, 1365 was lit up, while 1402 was hot. 1306, 1307, 1338 and 1351 were dead, as was 1704. 1806 was minus its tender, 1510 undergoing overhaul, the little ng 0-6-0 2 (1181) is still here OOU. 1403, now painted black, is numbered 1897, seems more like a date than a number. Its tender is lettered 'CRCA Centro de Reference de la Cultura Azucar M M Prieto' so presumably 1403 has been away on exhibition.
Feb. 25 found 1306 and 1308 in steam in the yard at lunchtime. 1308 went out and soon arrived back on a fulls train from the nearby acopio. On the standard gauge, 38231 was on hoppers. The mill had not quite started up, as a result there were no less than 8 trains of fulls in the narrow gauge reception sidings, with another one in the mill yard. So there must have been a fair bit of train movement since the previous day.
210 Osvaldo Sanchez Feb.24, Feb 25 Mill closed
1507 was back in action, working the two ex-narrow gauge acopios near the mill.
Three ng locos, 1309, 1310, 1347 are still here.
211 Ruben Martinez Villena Feb.22 Mill closed
The sight of gricers here brings the mill officials into action, smoothly relieving us of $10 a head. But we got an escorted visit to the shed, which is normally out of bounds, so fair enough. At 11am 1702 was in steam, to work later. 1112, recently overhauled and painted, was being steamed for a tourist visit. 1207, 1311, 1411 and 1502 were dead. 1605 is being overhauled. 1201 and 1206 are dumped near the shed. Apart from 1112, the rest could do with smartening up, considering the number of visits they get. Why is there no steam festival for the Matanzas area mills ( and those west of Havana might benefit as well )?
212 Boris Luis Santa Coloma Feb.22 Mill open
The briefest of brief visits here. 1606 and 1711 dead. At least one other steam in the shed. 38235 dead with 51031 shunting empties.
303 Australia Feb.21, Feb.26 Mill open
On the first date 1518 from mill 302 Reynold Garcia, looking smart and showing up the tatty state of the mill's own engines, was fueling up mid-morning along with 1593. At the shed was 1716 undergoing active overhaul, 1515 for repair, 1607 maintenance, 1620 dead. 1613 has been dragged from the undergrowth for putting on a plinth. 1513 left - tender first - crossing the autopista at 1.15pm with just 5 empties. It went to Apodaca, now the limit of working - still 24 kms from the mill - but there were no fulls and no return working for a while, so we made an excuse and left.
On Feb. 26 1607 was working, it left at 10am - tender first - calling at La Juanita to drop off empties before carrying on for Apodaca.
304 Granma Feb.20, Feb.21 Mill open
1714 and 1812 were dead late evening on the first visit. Next morning 1714 was shunting the yard before pushing empties down to Victoria de Yaguejay, coming back light to work a nearby acopio.
306 Cuba Libre Feb.20, Feb.21 Mill open
The shed on Feb. 20 had 1410 receiving attention to leaking tubes, 1610 in steam, 1611 hot, lit up later, 1612 having a new tubeplate fitted, 1808 heavy overhaul. At 1pm 1610 left and went to the acopio at Ciego, returning chimney first with 10 fulls and a caboose. A train to the acopio close to the mill was hauled by diesel 37153. 38271 came through Navajas from Union de Reyes at 4.25pm on a fulls working for the mill, probably a transfer from the closed mill at Puerto Rico Libre. 1610 was to have gone to Pedroso, but had a problem and 37153 was readying the empties instead.
Next morning 1610 was noted at the acopio near the mill, pushing and pulling a short train of fulls. The attractive little porticoed office used by the traffic department lost part of its roof in the hurricane, as did the loco shed, while quite a number of the fine old trees lining the mill entrance road were uprooted. Just mentioned to show some of the difficulties under which the mill staff often have to work, perhaps not always appreciated by us grumpy gricers moaning about the state of the locos, condition of the track etc.
314 Jesus Rabi Feb.21, March 4 Mill open
This year, it is again one of THE places to be....1413 in action, with 1414 also in use, as is Rogers 1216. 1529 is being overhauled with1810 OOU partly dismantled. 1216 shunted hoppers while 37015 brought in fulls from the nearest acopio. 1413 went off shed at 4.15pm returning at 5.30pm tender first from Demetrio with a full train. 1414 went off to Cirineo at 6pm, returning in fine style with fulls into the mill at 7.20pm. It then went to shed, to where 1216 and 1413 had already retired. 37015 was shunting during virtually the whole of our extended stay (due to a car problem).
On March 4, 1414 was at the acopio at Cirineo mid afternoon. It waited for the passage
of the regular FCC passenger to Guareiras before leaving with 23 fulls plus caboose,
probably the longest train ever seen by us at Rabi. It roared along the FCC line to La
Paz, but eased off for the pointsmen to catch it up and got stuck on the curve of the mill
line, so had to back up on the main before taking another run. The weather had closed in
by now, not helping its efforts.
315 Jose Smith Comas Feb.20, Mar.5 Mill open
Not much happening at 10am on Feb.20. 1415 and 1530 were dead, while 1531 was shunting two tourist coaches out to Progreso station (driven by yours truly...). A minibus with a few tourists arrived for their ride to Cardenas station. 1531 was, we were assured, going to do some real work later in the day.
On Mar.5, despite the lousy weather, things were busier. 1531 had gone out to Delirio, while 1415 departed at 10.15am on 18 empties to the acopio down the line, Dos Hermanos. 1530 was on shed undergoing maintenance. No hope of a small steam shunter these days, with 1121 and 1122 dismantled (there is a plinth at the mill just waiting for a small loco..). Diesel 4117 was pushing cars into the tippler, while two more small diesels have turned up at the shed - 4138, a 4WD, and Vulcan/ Caterpillar 0-4-0D 4208 lettered 'Emp Azuc. J A Echevarria', the refinery at Cardenas. We were told that when the mill is shut, cane goes with diesel to Espana Republicana, which we knew, and also to Granma with steam - has anyone ever seen this happen though?
318 Victoria de Yaguajay Feb.21 Mill closed
The spare engine for Granma, 1713, is here. 1514, 1519, 1594, 1811, 1813 all present in varying states.
319 Rene Fraga March 5 Mill open
A brief late afternoon drive-by found 1820 taking water, the only workable loco. This mill suffered in the hurricane, the loco shed no longer has a building, just a frame. It heightens Fraga's sad decline - apparently no line working now, only shunting the acopios adjacent to the mill. Various other locos still here: 1532 is under heavy repair with wheels out, 1618 has had a frightening amount of its boiler and firebox cut away, the tiny Henschel tank 1119 is very OOU, should be a candidate for plinthing rather than scrap, 1719 is OOU, as are the fine tank locos 1313 and 1524.
321 Julio Reyes Cairo Feb.20 Mill closed
The narrow gauge loco for repair ex mill 308 Humberto Alvarez is still here - not showing any visible signs that anything been done to it since last year. Shed not visited.
403 Mal Tiempo Feb.27 Mill open
The Festival of Steam took place here in November last year, 26 steam locos attended, another festival is expected this year...
Back in the workaday world, 1321 reached Potrerillo at 11.30am on Feb 27 with empties, then turned on the wye and went back to the mill on fulls after the arrival of 1320 on two tourist carriages. 1320 also went back on fulls, 19 cars, with the two empty tourist carriages on the rear of the train. At the shed 1322, 1345, 1355 were all usable, with 1220 OOU. Reaching an 'understanding' with the crews here produced some satisfactory runpasts over the river bridge.
404 Caracas Feb.26, Feb.27, Mar.1, Mar.4 Mill open
An interesting year, with regular steam on the main line from the mill to the acopio at Ajuria. The main line portion totals 11.7 km including going through the town of Lajas.
The empties were leaving the mill from 11am onwards with the loco tender first, taking about 30 minutes to get to Ajuria. The return varied from straight away to mid afternoon. The trains seen had from 6 to 20 fulls plus caboose, but they always looked impressive blasting up past the houses in Lajas. 1621, in good order, was the engine on each of the four days we were in the area to see the train.
1538 was performing shunting duties at the mill. Two diesels, 37126 and 38217, were also in operation. At the shed was the frame only of 1630, 1724 totally dismantled, presume for scrap, and 1725 OOU.
405 Luis Arcos Bergnes Feb.28, Mar.1, Mar.4 Mill closed
Another 'must visit' mill once again this year, with a different main line run - to J M Perez - to last season when cane was going to Abel Santamaria. 1346, erroneously numbered 1343, is plinthed at the main road turn-off to the mill. At the shed in the early afternoon on Feb. 28 1755 was in steam, but had a problem with its burner, so 1622 had been lit up. Then both had a problem with their bells, they were swinging round out of control for a while clanging away, perhaps calling the faithful to the loco shed! But 1622 eventually left, backing onto 11 fulls and a caboose sitting in the mill yard. It propelled out to the main line at Carmita station, before blasting away up the grade towards Camajuani at 4.50pm in less than ideal weather conditions. The line looks as if it could include some very worthwhile photospots, but we next saw 1622 going through Camajuani in the gloom, still impressive, basically running through the town. It arrived at the junction with J M Perez mill at 5.45pm, waiting for various shunting manoeuvres by that mill's diesels, before trundling into the yard. The distance from Carmita over the FCC is 17.5 kilometres, so is quite a good main line run.
The working went a lot earlier on Mar. 1 as 1622 was seen at J M Perez at 3pm. Noted passing by on the main line was a J P Carbo Servia (closed mill) empties train with its diesel 37123, probably returning home from Batalla De Santa Clara mill. So theoretically at least, with Carbo Servia having steam, it could bring more steam to the line. Perhaps it is one for tour organisers to mull over, especially as - if admittedly hazy memory serves - there is quite a viaduct on the line from J M Perez to Carbo Servia. The FCC distance between the two latter mills is 13.3 km. (Memory also recalls a completely lousy road between them...) On Mar.4 1539 was the working engine, going out at 11.30am to the acopio nearest the main road. It returned shortly after with 7 fulls, then retired to shed. 1823 was still dead here, along with 1622 and 1755, while 1541, noted slightly further into the mill, looked stored. All locos are in reasonably well-kept condition. From being a mill which barely rated a visit a few years ago when it was working, ironically it has become much more interesting since closure!
406 Guillermo Moncada Feb.26 Mill open
Their old engine, 1163, is still preserved at the autopista services at Aguada. 1126 is preserved at the mill. Rumours of steam from Pepito Tey helping out the diesels here appear to be just that - rumours.
409 Antonio Sanchez Feb.26 Mill open
Diesel 38213 was seen heading away from the Primero De Mayo area on a train of cane and subsequently arrived at Antonio Sanchez. 37120 was shunting here, this has been a P De Mayo loco in the past. Of the steam, 1624 was taking fuel, while 1625 shunted a cleanish 1623 out of the shed and took it to the fuel point. 1629 is being overhauled.
411 Jose Maria Perez Mill open
All diesel apart from the daily visit by a steam loco from Luis Arcos Bergnes
413 Espartaco Feb.28 Mill closed
1326 was working some empties at San Francisco for a visiting group. Otherwise everything dead with some repair work being done - 1130, 1131, 1327, 1328, 1329.
This mill's old Porter 0-4-2T is still at a park in Cienfuegos, looking very sad and sorry - plinthing it at the mill would be a kinder fate.
416 Catorce de Julio Feb.26 Mill open
Diesels only, operating from a relatively well appointed newish shed. So any rumours of steam greatly exaggerated etc.
418 Obdulio Morales March 4 Mill open
All diesel worked. Shed not visited, three locos could be seen stored, presumably 1333, 1334, 1420. But 1360 was here from Simon Bolivar (which see).
424 Primero De Mayo Feb.26 Mill closed
1543 and 1848 appeared to be usable. 1544 and 1545 are receiving heavy overhauls. 37105 looked OOU.
428 Marcelo Salado March 1, March 4 Mill closed
On our first visit, 1429 had just arrived on shed at 4pm.1549 was said to be returning on a train from the post-revolution mill at Batalla de Santa Clara. At the shed, 1147 (returned from where?) , 1342 and 1343 were dead, 1426 appeared OOU. The working locos look quite tidy once more.
At 10.30am on Mar.4 1549 went out on the main line with a caboose, right away to Remedios chimney-first. It then reversed up the Jinaguayabo branch complete with caboose. It was later said to be going on to Carolina, then on to Batalla de Santa Clara with the collected fulls. This happens twice a day.
431 Ramon Balboa Feb.26 Mill closed
The shed and mill area was devoid of all locos, so it appears the diesels that were here have been transferred elsewhere.
433 Marta Abreu Feb.27 Mill closed
Fireless 1239 is OOU but looks in good condition. Diesels 34062 and 37127 on shed.
437 Carlos Caraballo Feb.28 Mill closed
1550 is back here being overhauled after its season at Marcelo Salado. No sign of any other locos, so presume 1556 has been scrapped. It was confirmed that the two very, very derelict old tanks which used to be here in the undergrowth have been scrapped.
440 Ifrain Alfonso Feb.27, Mar.1 Mill open
Feb. 27, 1850 left on empties in the morning. At the shed - 1635 towed out, 1636 shunting, 1637 repairs, 1910 lit up.
On Mar.1 1910 went to Pozo on the morning working. 1636 was at Santa Maria station, where the crew had their breakfast. 38064 came off the main with a caboose and headed for the mill.
441 Diez de Octubre March 1 mill open
1661 dead, its Westinghouse pump was being repaired in the shed. 1638 was OOU in the yard, and 1639's overhaul progresses. Diesel 38135 working, with 37097 dead and 34061 under repair.
448 Simon Bolivar March 4 Mill closed
Seven locos at the shed - 1361 dumped, 1138, 1354, 1362, 1363, 1366 and 1367 dead, Unfortunately no improvement in the external condition of locos, still as scruffy as ever. 1354 and 1366 looked used.1360 was in steam at Obdulio Morales at 9.45am with a train which would eventually consist of 5 molasses tanks, said to be a daily working.
460 Batalla de Santa Clara Mar.1 Mill open
This very modern mill, which sees visiting steam from Marcelo Salado, is in a rather featureless area, so photo opportunities may be somewhat unexciting. A 37XXX was noted shunting.
503 Orlando Gonzalez Ramirez March 2 Mill open
Plenty of steam activity. 1732, still painted green, was working the short distance to the north acopio at 10.30am and several more times during the day, the latest seen being at 6.30pm. 1836, painted blue, shunted the yard, but retired to shed late morning, where 1563 had been lit up.1837 worked to La Gloria and returned early pm. 1563 also did a trip there, but seemed to have trouble with its burner, staggering back with huge volcanic clouds of black smoke. 1736 is still dismantled. Diesel 38008 was in the mill yard and did not appear to be in use. 38232 arrived off the main line with hoppers and departed again the same way. 1837 went out at 2.25pm on empties bound for Limones Palmares, dropping some at the acopio en route. It finally left Limones at 5.40pm on 12 fulls, with a good 'thrash' on the return journey..
504 Ecuador March 3 Sunday Mill open
The mill appeared to be undergoing routine maintenance, starting up at about 2pm. So the morning was quiet - 1821 taking fuel, 1578 in steam on shed, 1564 hot, 38078 shunting in the mill yard, 38099 out on empties with a caboose, suggesting it was going over FCC tracks. There were 3 other steam on shed including 1904 under repair.
At 1pm 1578 was out at Guisa, returning chimney first with 17 fulls. Meantime 38078 went out to the acopio at N Van Troi. 38099 arrived back at 1.25pm with 25 fulls, just after 1821 had come off shed. At 2.30pm 38197 arrived on fulls with a transfer working from Venezuela mill, which is closed this year. 1821 left chimney first about 2.45pm on 5 boxcars, which it took to the main line at Baragua. It was held at the junction there to await the passage of two FCC trains, before working into the loop just beyond the station. It returned to the mill with 6 boxcars. The mill line junction at Baragua, which is a wye, is very overgrown with overhanging bushes etc and we (ok some of us, ok me! ) were fooled into thinking that no train would traverse it. Wrong!!!
505 Carlos Manuel de Cespedes March 3 Sunday mill open
All diesel worked these days. Two steam could be seen in the shed - 1445 and 1838 - but neither work in normal circumstances according to staff. One old looking diesel here - was 33012, an 0-6-0 rod drive, that number series is not particularly familiar. A drive right round the mill perimeter did not reveal any other steam locos, just the odd tender.
515 Ciro Redondo March 3 Sunday Mill open
It was good to see the only Alco here, 1826, shunting the yard. Last year it looked OOU, which proves you can never be certain about the status of many locos. Otherwise only diesels working - 38022, 38026. Also 29003 had worked a transfer train from Venezuela mill. A novelty just down the main road from the mill is a preserved class 38 diesel on an isolated piece of track! It defied attempts at identification, but has the 'FerroAzuc'lettering on it.
522 Venezuela March 3 Sunday Mill closed
In the afternoon 29003, seen at Ciro Redondo in the morning, was back on shed. Other diesels were hanging around, while the two workable steam, 1657 and 1742, were both receiving attention. Staff said 1902 is in the shed getting a heavy overhaul.
Lenin Park, Havana Feb.24 Sunday
Still attracts lots of local passengers for its 10 km or so circuit. Loco 2 was working with vast amounts of whistling at times. Loco 1 was glimpsed while passing the shed. 1108, the preserved 30 inch gauge loco, is under cover at one of the wayside stations.
Cardenas Docks Mar.5
Two diesels here, both useable according to staff, though tracks around the docks area do not suggest much regular movement. Both are interesting locos - 'Cardenas Ironworks 4' is an ancient 4WD built either in 1927 or 1929 (the two dates offered by locals). 4446 on the other hand, an 0-4-D, is almost the last of the enormous number of locos built since the 1830s by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. It is BLH 76148/1956. A plate on the loco shows it is 225 horsepower, locals said the original engine had been replaced.
The station and goods shed at Manguito have totally disappeared, presumably victims of the hurricane. Also the station and the tall signal cabin at Guareiras have likewise gone.
Moron station on the evening of March 3 saw ex-works GM diesel 50908 looking very smart in yellow and green livery. The 5.50am passenger from Santiago De Cuba arrived two hours late at 6pm behind 52669. Also present was diesel 81014 and Budd railcar 2306. A bit earlier we saw 'FerroAzuc' diesel 38252 at Pina (Ciro Redondo) on a hopper train and 50927 on a southbound passenger at Santo Tomas crossing 52669. At Baragua, the junction for Ecuador mill, we noted ex-Mexican Railways diesel 53018 going east on a container train at 3.30pm, before our first sighting of 52669 on the Santiago passenger.
The second Moron steam festival was held at Moron station from December 14 to 16 2001. Among locos in attendance (gleaned from photos displayed in our hotel) were 1564, 1657, 1742, 1821, 1826, 1827, 1904.
On March 4, ex-CN diesels 51219 and 51207 were seen on a passenger train heading
towards Calimete at 15.50, the same working that we have seen for the last two years. The
track is so rough that the coaches rock alarmingly, looks enough to make passenger feel
seasick! Later 51219 was noted standing at Guareiras.
On Feb.25 we saw the Havana to Cienfuegos passenger - 1 van and five coaches- at San Nicholas station ( between Amistad and Hector Molina) with ex CN 51206. Contents of the van included smalls traffic such as furniture, while the local cinema received a new batch of movies, last week's being loaded up in exchange - good old-fashioned railroading!
On March 2 'FerroAzuc' sector diesel 38272 was on a hopper train heading along the main line near Taguasco.
'La Junta' the 1843 built loco, painted red, is still preserved inside Havana Central station.
Yoshi Matsuo reports (22nd March 2002) on his second series of visits:
105 Augusto Cesar Sandino
20-Feb, 1350 on South Line. 1373 on North Line. Mill name lettering(Ameijeiras) on tender side of 1373 has been erased. 1667 cold in shed.
107 Pablo de la Torriente Brau
20-Feb, 1662 on South Line. 1401 on North Line. 1103, 1505 and 1703 are under repair in shed. 1101 and 1501 are dumped out of shed.
201 Amistad con los Pueblos
19-Feb, I found an eastbound loaded train behind 1803 at San Nicolas. Then I moved to
Hector Molina and waited for 1803. However, the loaded train came behind Molina's Diesel,
instead of 1803. After that I visited 201 mill and found 1803 had already returned home.
Supposedly the engines were changed around FCC/Morina Junction. 1805 to LP's east of mill.
207 Gregorio Arlee Manalich
19-Feb, 1308 and 1338 are working on patio. Another NG engine (probably 1365) is also in steam deep in mill. No SG loco could be seen.
210 Osvaldo Sanchez
19-Feb, 1701 to nearest LP.
211 Ruben Martinez Villena
10-Feb, 1702 to Roble.
212 Boris Luis Santa Coloma
10-Feb, 1711 in steam.
302 Reynold Garcia
17-Feb and 18-Feb, Mill closed. 1518 cold, under maintenance.
10-Feb and 19-Feb, When I passed Autopista crossing, I found 1607 on line.
21-Feb, 1714 and 1812 working to LP's.
306 Cuba Libre
21-Feb, 1610 on east line. 1410 in steam. 1611 cold out of shed. 1612 and 1808 under repair in shed. 1409 is plinthed.
314 Jesus Rabi
17-Feb, Mill temporary closed. No loco in steam.
315 Jose Smith Comas
21-Feb, Mill NOT working (has not started yet?). 3 moguls are cold and being prepared for work.
319 Rene Fraga
17-Feb, 1820 in steam but no work.
320 Juan Avila
21-Feb, 1721 to LP. 1807 in steam.
404 Ciudad Caracas
17-Feb, 1538 on patio 1621 in steam.
409 Antonio Sanchez
17-Feb, 1624 on patio.
418 Obdulio Morales
11-Feb, No steam action except for 1354 intermills from 448.
424 Primero de Mayo
17-Feb, Mill closed. 1848 could but looks in working order.
428 Marcelo Salado (Visited with MINAZ permit)
11-Feb, 1147 cold in shed, needs repair. 1343 under repair in shed. 1426 dumped. 1342 in working order, under maintenance. 1429 to LP's and intermills to Batalla de Santa Clara. Now mill has an open passenger car for tourist group.
437 Carlos Caraballo
11-Feb, Mill closed. 1550 under overhaul, said to attend next Steam Festival.
448 Simon Bolivar
11-Feb, 1354 intermills to Obdulio Morales with molasses tankers.
503 Orlando Gonzalez Ramirez
16-Feb, 1563 and 1732 to LP's. 1836 cold. 1837 got in steam late afternoon.
15-Feb, 1578 on patio. 1821 on line. 1904 in steam. Intermill from Venezuela was behind diesel.
505 Carlos Manuel de Cespedes
12-Feb, No steam action.
15-Feb, Mill closed. All 4 fireless locos are stored.
515 Ciro Redondo
11-Feb, 1826 on patio.
520 Noel Fernandez (Visited with MINAZ permit)
15-Feb, 1664 on patio. Probably this is the only working fireless in this Zafra. 1568, 1658 and 1844 are cold out of shed.
615 Bartolome Maso
13 and 14-Feb, 1590 to LP's and intermills to 637 (see below). 1589 plinthed.
635 Rafael Freyre
12-Feb Mill has NOT started. #1 is now in yard, needs repair.
637 Ranulfo Leyva
14-Feb, A steam loco (probably 1464) is stored in shed, No steam action except for intermill from 615.
In addition, I joined Steam in Paradise's tour partly, just for 12 and 13-Feb. They offered very interesting charter and visit as following.
12-Feb, Chartered Rafael Freyre 1387 round trip to
Dr. Reinhard Fichtl reports on his recent pre-season visit to Rafael Freyre (18th February 2002):
"Thanks to your advice and the Zafra CD-ROM I have visited Rafael Freyre mill right now during my holiday near Guardalavaca - the mill is within bicicle distance from there. It has not yet started to work, and they say it will in the end of February or beginning of March, but they run a tourist excursion train mostly on Monday, ca 10 o'clock. It is always the same locomotive in steam, but 3 others seem to be in relatively good condition. They say, they will get the others running, even so a small 2-6-0, which is hard to believe if you see the condition in which some of the locos are. Very interesting is to see 1:1 locomotves with the only indicators in the cab being the water gauge and the pressure gauge, the water being fed by a crosshead driven pump, just like a big gauge one model! Steaming up was done in ca 2 hours from lighting the fire to leaving with a train! Anyway, when we left on 15th of February, the mill was not yet working, but even so the tourist train ride is in nice landscape and worth a visit."
Wim Verver had time for a little gricing during a mainly social visist in January:
105 Augusto Cesar Sandino (15.01.02)
E1373 and E1667 from Ameijeras in action with long trains.
107 Pablo de la Torriente Brau (15.01.02)
Passed without visiting. Mill in service. Steam loco probably as well (as smoke was detected in the fields.)
212 Boris Luis Santa Coloma (13.01.02)
Passed without visiting, but the mill and at least one loco producing smoke.
409 Antonio Sanchez (11.01.02)
Steam locos of this mill seem to serve acopios around Primero de Mayo, as smoke was seen near an acopio north of the road Aguada de Pasajeros - Cienfuegos, and Primero the Mayo not working. Loco 1625 was in steam at Antonio Sanchez (again with very friendly crew).
304 Granma (12.01.02)
Loco 1714 busy between the acopio and the mill.
314 Jesus Rabi (12.01.02)
No steam in service. Repairs were carried out on 1216 and 1414.
403 Mal Tiempo (11.01.02)
Locos 1355, 1345 and 1320 in steam in front of the shed during siesta. Ugly passenger coaches present for visitors from Beach Resort Rancho Luna near Cienfuegos.
404 Ciudad Caracas (11.01.02)
1538 shunting around the mill.
435 Hermanos Ameijeiras (09.01.02)
Diesels 2724, 2731, 2726 and 2729 around noon at the mill.
440 Ifrain Alfonso (09.01.02 and 11.01.02)
1850 spotted at dawn at the acopio between the crossing with the motorway and the crossing with the main road Ranchuelo - Cienfuegos. As at Diez the Octubre we were enthousiastically invited on the loco, in this case even within seconds! I'm not aware of the behaviour of loco crews during the last Zafras, but I do know that this is quite different from my experiences in 1999, when nothing seem to work here without some 'regalos'.
On 11.01.02 1850 was spotted climbing the hill opposite the small lake south east of the Central. The photographer was spotted as well, and the loco-crew suggested by wild gestures to do an extra run past, which they did without any reference to payments or whatsoever! Again quite different from earlier experiences. Could it be that Minaz has ordered the mills to change their behaviour towards gricers, or will this change (again) as the Zafra-seasons grows older and more people will have paid visits? In the shed 1910 and 1637 were in (minor) repair, and my guess is that these locos could be in service within weeks. 1636 shunting at the mill.
441 Diez de Octubre (09.01.02)
1661 serving the acopio just south of the mill, and after that continuing to the siding just before Ranchuelo. Personal invited us for a cab-ride within five minutes after our arrival (around 16.00 hrs).
503 Orlando Gonzalez (08.01.02)
1563 exchanging wagons at the acopio northeast of the mill (on the line to Guayacanes) around 16.30 hrs.
504 Ecuador (08.01.02)
1821, 1904 and 1564 in steam. Around 14.00 hours 1564 and 1821 shunting at the mill. 1904 on its way south of the mill, combining two sets of loaded wagons near the village about two kilometres south of the mill. Arrival at the mill around 14.45.
Trinidad Tourist Train (10.01.02)
1517 pulled the tourist train from Trinidad to the watch tower at Manaca Iznaga, and further on to the hacienda Casa Guachinango (both 'stations' with covered platforms).
On the way north from Jesus Rabi the impact of hurricane Michelle on the station of Guareiras became visible: signal box and station building have disappeared, apart from one wall of the station building.