Reports from Sandaoling
January 2018
Snow over New Year
Although Jun reported snow on 28 December 2017, some doubt has been raised about whether these snow pics come from this last winter. The current thinking is that these photos were taken December 2016 or January 2017. Photos of snow at Sandaoling by Jun (© Liu Xue Jun 2018)
It wasn't all good news. Jun reports that post snow, visibility was poor and photography was challenging.
This looks like an early morning Nanzhan to Erjin deep mine working just after sunrise.
There is now a photo page of tour members and local scenes. Click here to view.
January 2018 Sandaoling Tour Selfie Competition

I've challenged the group members to come up with a good selfie from Sandaoling. These two photos don't count as they were taken on previous trips but show what you can aim for.
My own sample from March 2017
A contribution from Jürgen - I assume this was taken at Sandaoling. Having someone else take your 'selfie' will be allowed but if there is a tie, the real selfie will be judged the winner.
11 January
The group has arrived in Sandaoling. Steve, Jürgen and CJ report:

8167, 8225 and 8190 all working in pit. 8053 has been repainted and overhauled(?) at Nanzhan.

Traffic seems to be a bit slow, about 7 workings in daylight from what we have heard from other railfans in and around the pit.

The weather was relatively sunny (bit of a haze) and cold... well below freezing.

No snow as seen in this photo of JS 8167 on a 13 wagon coal train near the pipe approaching the exit to the pit taken 11 January taken by CJ.
12 & 13 January

On 13 January 8173, 6224 and 8225 were working on the pit circuit but there were long delays due to loader problems according to Steve. Others in the group went to Nanzhan and 4 JS were seen in use. Jürgen reports; I only took pictures of three of them: JS 8053, 8358 and 8366. The fourth was hidden behind a train

Steve reports (12 January) 'a good day out. 8225 at washery, 8225, 6224 and 8173 at the shift change and those three working the pit. 8077 working to/from Erjing mine and another loco shunting at Nanzhan'.
Locos seen so far:
Dongboli: 6224, (8167), 8173, (8190), 8225
Nanzhan: 8053, 8077, 8358, 8366
Works: 8167, 8190, 8089, 8197
14 January

Steve saw; JS 8225, 6224 and 8173 on pit circuit. 8053 plus at least one other shunting Nanzhan. SY1729 left in two sections on lorries as viewed from cab of 8225 which also shunted a live steam crane in the works. JS 6224 sparks display this evening (by arrangement). According to Jun, the SY has gone to Urumqi to be plinthed.
15 - 17 January

Things have become quite stable and the group seem well ensconced although they will leave in 2 days' time. Steve reports for 17 January; Same locos on pit circuit today. Rapid service today and bright sunshine and clear mountains. Crane had 4 on it but we couldn't get out of the cab. More rides had today by all that wanted. Works tomorrow and they will be steaming a loco.

On 16 January Steve reports; Same locos on pit circuit and sparks again tonight. 8173 seems to have recovered somewhat!

8053 and 8077 shunting Nanzhan. One other spare. 8366 to Erjing mine at 15:27.

On 15 January he wrote; Today, 8173, 8225 and 6224 still on the pit circuit. 8173 seriously struggling to get out of the pit. 8225 provided a fireworks display this evening!
In addition SY 1729 removed from store and sent to Urumqi for public display and steam crane 'No. 4' in steam at the works
CJ responded to my request for a photo of JS 6224 in its new role as a coal hauler at Dongbolizhan. It's the only 6xxx series loco (with double side bars) currently in use and it went into the secure compound when the Xibolizhan spoil end of the pit stopped using its railway. Its role there - see right - was as the loco assigned to the Jordan Spreader.
JS 6224 at Xibolizhan on 25 November 2013. She looks a bit smarter now!
18 - 19 January

On their part day 19 January Steve reports no change to locos working the pit but 8077 with a chime whistle* propelling to Erjing.

18 January from Steve; It has been an excellent trip! Same locos on pit circuit again. Works visit this morning. 8167 dead, 8190 under maintenance, 8089 under repair, 8197 under medium overhaul. Also 8053 and 8366 arrived whilst we there (both in steam coupled, then split). (Much busier than last April when I last visited but they may be struggling to keep enough locos active for the open cast system!)
* I have a theory that the Nanzhan locos mainly use their chime whistles and Dongboli locos always use their air horns. Assuming that they are all equipped with both, why? Is it to know on which system a whistle/horn is coming from? Is it that Nanzhan locos cross a public road? Can anyone comment on this?
I will probably organise at least one more visit to Sandaoling before the end of steam there. Click this box to email me if you are interested in a Linesiding with John small group visit.
Update: I have provisionally agreed 8 - 17 December with Jun for a visit guided by Alan Beijing - Beijing but I have also received a request for a March visit which should be possible with 4-6 people. Let me know if either of these potential visits appeals to you.
1 May 2018
Post-Tour Reports
Those who rely on gmail didn't get much mail while they were at Sandaoling! Since they have returned home, I've received information from some I didn't hear from during the trip.
Others who overlapped with the group at the beginning but had arrived earlier have cast doubt on the reports of snow over New Year 2018. While Jun did report snow on 28 December, the suspicion is that the snow photos are from the previous year.
Two more locos have been seen stored in the uniform factory near Nanzhan. One of these is JS 6204.
More post-tour information will follow.
There is now a photo page of tour members and local scenes. Click here to view.
Steve Rogers has sent me a detailed report of this trip - click this box to view. Added 1 May 2018