Local team set new mini train record

2017-12-11 14:25
Andries Keyser and his team yesterday shattered the world record for the longest distance covered by a coal-fired miniature steam locomotive in a 24-hour period.

Andries Keyser and his team yesterday shattered the world record for the longest distance covered by a coal-fired miniature steam locomotive in a 24-hour period. (Pierre Retief)

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Pietermaritzburg man and his team have shattered the world record for the longest distance covered by a coal-fired miniature steam locomotive in a 24-hour period.

Andries Keyser (30), along with nine others, set a new world record of about 330 km — far surpassing the previous record of 269 km, which was set in 1994 in the UK.

The team hit 269 km four hours ahead of time on Sunday, finishing 881 laps and averaging about one minute and 49 seconds per lap.

The team rode a replica of a real engine that ran between Beira, Mozambique and Rhodesia (now Zim­babwe) in 1895. The replica is about a third of the size of the original.

The run to break the world record started at 3 pm on Saturday at the Pietermaritzburg Model Engineering Society’s track at Rudling Road.

The train, which weighs about 400 kg and is about 2,6 m long, was built over five years by Keyser, who is a professional toy train maker.

Covered in grease, coal and oil, and surrounded by a group of family and friends, an ecstatic Keyser yesterday praised his team for the achievement.

“I will have to take about a week to straighten my spine and wait for my intestines to recede back to how they were. This was the most exhilarating boring thing I’ve ever done,” he said.

He and the nine members of his team took turns to drive the steam engine.

He said that the team will today open up the locomotive’s engine and assess its condition. “But it’s still good to go. We could probably do another 24 hours,” he added.

Now Keyser will have to submit reams of paperwork and video footage to the Guiness Book of World Records organisation as evidence of the undertaking.

This includes log books and accounts from 20 people who assisted with tracking the progress.

“I don’t know how long it will take, but it took them about six months to grant us permission to actually do this, so who knows,” said Keyser.

He said he had to keep an eye on various components, including the water levels, steam pressure and amount of coal, while driving the engine. “You cannot pay attention to anything [else] that’s happening. I don’t know why we fitted a headlight, because you don’t look beyond the chimney. You have to look at the colour of the smoke, level of boiler water and your fire level.”

The event was widely circulated on social media and Keyser said they are already seeing other people from around the world considering challenging their record. “We’ve got quite a few guys from the UK who want to launch a counterattack, so we’ll see what happens there.”

As for his next crazy idea, Keyser said he is contemplating building a steam car replica of early models built in the early 1900s.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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