One of the inspirations for visiting Java was provided by some Colin Garratt photographs which appeared in a book which I was given
many years ago.  These included a series of images of Javanese locomotives taken at night with vast trails of sparks emitting from the
chimneys.  The effects are extremely dramatic and are caused by locomotives burning bagasse.  Because the bagasse is so fibrous a
considerable amount passes through the firebox and along the boiler tubes without being fully burned until it is ejected from the
chimney where it catches light.  In daylight hours this process goes largely unnoticed except for the tiny pinprick holes which appear in
your t-shirt as the sparks land on your clothing!  At night however it is a different story!   All that is required is for the crew to add some
more bagasse bales to the fire or turn on the blower and suddenly the sky erupts into a spectacular firework display!  For the price of a
local packet of cigarettes such moments can be had to order, thus removing the unpredicable nature of such proceedings.
Merican (25)
I had been advised that Merican was one of the best mills at which to
observe the night time fireworks display. The mill always seems to
have plentiful supplies of bagasse and c^opertive emngine crews.

Spending the early hours of the morning enjoying the sunrise at Mount
Bromo and then travelling to Merican by bus meant that I turned up at
the gates fairly late in the afternoon and so didn't really have enough
time to enjoy the mill in daylight hours.

The situation was further complicated by the fact that the office staff
who would have normally issued my mill permit had already gone home
and the security guards took some time to find a way of extracting my
fee and issuing the necessary paperwork.

By late afternoon the main yard was full of loaded cane wagons and
most locomotives were sitting patiently in the road delivery yard
awaiting their turn to move their trains.  With lengthening shadows it
was only really possible to get half-decent shots of the engines in their
red and yellow livery before waiting for the sun to set and the show to

(Left)   The shadows of the fence are already beginning to obscure
Orensteain and Koppel 0-8-0T No.8 (built 1927) as it waits in the road
delivery yard
Another centenarian still at
work is this Orenstein and
Koppel 0-4-2T No.6 (built
1901) seen standing outside
the shed.  The late afternoon
sun highlights the attractive
red and yellow livery worn by
these engines.
Orenstein and Koppel No.4 is a sister engine to
No.6 and is thus another centenarian, also
being built in 1901.  This engine had been in
this position for over two hours as a result of
the congestion in the main mill yard and I had
to locate the crew in order to get the blower
switched on and sparks to fly (left)

Note the ghosting effect as one of the crew
came up to the footplate during the lengthy
time exposure - an occupational hazzard of
this kind of photography in a working
A second Orenstein and Koppel was also
waiting in the road delivery yard.  Orenstein
and Koppel 0-4-2T No.5 is slightly younger than
here two sister engines, not having been built
until 1923.  The bagasse trailer appears to be
loaded to the very roof
Taking photographs at night is something of an inaccurate science and the number of failed shots far outweigh the successful ones -
at least in my case!  A sturdy tripod is the first and most important requirement closely followed by the need for a small torch - in reality
there is far less light than there appears to be in the photographs.  There was a small amount of light from a few distant yard lamps but
not really sufficient to illuminate the engines so I opened the shutter on my film camera and then used the flash on my digital camera to
provide additional illumination.  Time exposures varied from 15 to 60 seconds with differing amounts of fill in flash.  Given all of the
above its easy to see why It is almost impossible to successfully take night shots with a group of people unless tight discipline is
Gempolkerep (31)
This 700mm gauge mill is located on the outskirts of Mojokerto.  As with so many other mills the steam operation is limited to bringing
wagons from the road delivery yard to the mill but the final part of the operation is particularly interesting.  Locomotives are connected
to the train of loaded wagons by a long steel hawser.  As the train approaches the mill it takes one track and the points are changed
between the engine passing and the wagons arriving!  This means that the wagons take a parallel road to the locomotive which can
then be released to return to the main yard.  Just what would happen if one of the hawsers snapped whilst under tension is perhaps
best left to the imagination.   Gempolkerep is also home to a pair of Orenstein and Koppel 0-10-0 Luttermollers but unfortunately on the
day of my visit one of them was undergoing a boiler washout.
Orenstein and Koppel 0-8-0T No.11
was in charge of the road delivery
yard which can be seen in the
backround.  The large balloon
smokestack sets off the engine in a
most pleasing fashion.         (24
August 2004)
Meanwhile in the main yard it was
Orenstein and Koppel 0-10-0 No.4
(built 1928) which was the star  
attraction.  I had always been wary
of some of the liveries worn by
Javanese locomotives but the
combination of yellow cab and plain
boiler makes this engine look most
Also in the main yard was Orenstein
and Koppel 0-8-0T No.18 (built 1923)
The method of working using the
steel hawser can be clearly seen in
the picture.  The locomotive will
continue down its track but the
wagons will continue down the line to
the left of the engine.
With the sun gradually sinking into
the west, No.4 comes through the
main yard with another train in tow
Orenstein and Koppel No.11 catches
the low afternoon light as it shunts a
single empty wagon at the western end
of the road delivery yard..  This was
actually the last afternoon of my visit to
Java and Gempolkerep certainly left
me with some golden memories in
every sense.
Orenstein and Koppel Nos 4 and 11
stand side by side in the main delivery

I don't like interfering with the
workings of a 'real' railway but have to
confess to having persuaded the crews
to pose the locomotives for this final
shot at Gempolkerep
Tersana Baru, Jatibarang and Pangka

Sumberharjo, Sragi and Tasik Madu
Steam in China
Steam In Zimbabwe
Steam in Cuba
Steam in Germany
Steam In Poland
Purwodadi, Kanigoro and Pagottan

Olean and Asembagus
Java Trip Report