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Steam Locomotion in the 21st Century

The Recent History of Steam Locomotive Development

Steam News Archive

Archives of previous steam news entries
Updated  7 February 2022

Progress on Pennsylvania 4-4-4-4 T1 Replica Construction Continues

The Pennsylvania Railroad T1 Steam Locomotive Trust, a group building a new, replica 4-4-4-4, continues to make impressive progress on the construction of this locomotive.  The latest photos posted show the first three courses of the boiler complete and welded to one another. 

                    1-3 boiler sections
Photo (6/15/18) by Don Morice, former VP and fireman of Frisco 4-8-2 no. 1522

Previous photos showed completed front and rear flue sheets, as well as several driver centers, the cab, and the "sharknose" prow for the smokebox.  Other significant parts are already on order, and design work for the frame is well underway.   JAKTOOL Engineered Solutions, located in Cranbury, NJ is donating the engineering effort for design of the new frame.  The frame represents a significant engineering and fabrication challenge as the facilities and skills necessary to replicate the original one-piece cast engine bed are no longer available. The new frame will likely be built by welding together several separately cast sections, which should provide a superior frame to the original.

The group has also acquired the sole remaining 8-axle Pennsylvania Railroad "long distance" tender, originally used behind an M1 4-8-2.  The upper section of this tender will be modified to match those used behind the T1's.  Availability of this tender in relatively good condition represents a huge saving in effort and money for the group.

Read more at the group's webpage at, or follow them on Facebook.

Several Recent Steam Modernization Projects Around the World

Reports on steam modernization projects from around the world have shown up recently. 

Dr. Jos Koopmans recently designed a new exhaust system for 4-6-0 no. 6023 King Edward II in the UK and another for Essex Terminal 0-6-0 no. 9 in Canada.  Both these locomotives are reportedly performing well.

DLM recently commissioned an oil firing conversion to Puffing Billy Railway 2-6-2 14A in Australia.  The oil firing system is similar to those fitted to the new construction 0-4-2T rack engines built by DLM predecessor SLM in the 1990's for service in Switzerland and Austria.  The Lempor exhaust system previously fitted to 2-6-2 6A by Nigel Day was moved to 14A as part of the conversion. 

A second "austerity" class 0-6-0T, no. 19, was fitted with a Lempor exhaust at the Scottish Railway Preservation Society in the UK.  No. 7 was previously fitted with a Lempor a few years ago.  The performance of both locomotives is reported to be significantly improved with the new exhaust systems.

More details on these projects are provided here:

Book News from Camden Miniature Steam Services

The following news comes from Adam Harris of Camden Miniature Steam Services, a bookseller in the UK who specializes in steam as well as a variety of other interesting subjects:

(1) Famed French steam locomotive designer André Chapelon's book "La Locomotive a Vapeur" (English version) is now available as a 'Digital Edition' - see:

This isn't an ebook, but a downloadable file which can be read on any computer, laptop, or even, if your eyesight could cope, on a iPhone or similar. The UK price is £29.95 but this includes VAT, so anyone outside the EU doesn't pay this, and the price is £24.96. No delivery charge and instantly available from our website when payment made. Actually, as it is a very large file, 'instantly' available isn't quite correct, as the download time is quite long, depending on the speed of the customer's internet connection.

(2) Dave Wardale's book 'The Red Devil and Other Tales from the Age of Steam' is now Out of Print again, and we cannot currently supply it. It is possible this will be made available as a digital edition at some point in the future.

New Build Steam (updated)

Some time ago I stumbled across another great steam-related website, "New Build Steam". Following the success of the new 4-6-2 "Tornado" in the UK, numerous other projects have popped up to build new steam locomotives. The site was recently updated (November 2016) to a new format and it looks as if updates will be made more regularly. The site lists 21 new build steam projects currently under construction, I believe all in the UK, and it's worth noting this only includes the standard gauge locomotives. Another 3 locomotives are currently in the planning stage. Read more at the website:

Big News from Argentina

Following over 10 years of effort, steam is once again set to return to Argentina's Ramal Ferro Industrial de Rio Turbio (RFIRT). Located in the far south of South America, the RFIRT operated a fleet 20 advanced steam locomotives hauling immense quantities of coal from the late 1950's until the mid-1990's. Ing. L. D. Porta served as manager of the railway for several years, and performed signficant development work there improving the line's steam locomotives. The RFIRT mainline trains have been diesel-hauled since November 1996 when the last steam locomotives were retired and stored.

The RFIRT's locomotives are of the 2-10-2 wheel arrangement and were built by Mitsuibishi Heavy Industries in Japan. An initial order of 10 locomotives had been received and placed in operation when Ing. Porta arrived at the line in the late 1950's. These locomotives were modernized under his guidance and later, in the early 1960's, a second series of locomotives was built by Mitsuibishi incorporating the modifications made to the first locomotives as well as other improvements.

Recently, two of the line's locomotives were shipped from the port of Rio Turbio to Buenos Aires where they are currently being rebuilt. The locomotive number 116 (originally number 107) of the first series of locomotives and locomotive number 119 of the second series of locomotives are being rebuilt. In addition, a Sentinal steam wagon, used to haul coal prior to the completion of the railway, is being rebuilt. The locomotives will not only be overhauled, but all Porta-designed modifications many of which had been removed or disabled by later railway management will be reinstated.

A rapid pace has been set for the work and it is hoped that the locomotives can be completed by August 2015. Photos of the work can be seen at the CSR's Flickr site at:

UPDATE, November 2015- The restoration of locomotive #119 has been completed and the locomotive has been returned to the RFIRT.

Once returned to Rio Turbio, the locomotives will initially be used to power passenger trains, using new passenger cars which are currently under construction in Argentina.

Read more about the project at the CSR 130 Project's News page here:

Read more about the locomotives of the RFIRT here:

Developments from CSR 130 Project

The Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR) has been retained by the Harzer Schmalspurbahnen, GmbH (HSB) of Wernigerode, Germany, to design modifications for a 1918-built steam locomotive. The steam engine number 99-5906, is an 0-4-4-0T "Mallet"-type steam locomotive that has been modified many times over its service life.


Image courtesy of the Coalition for Sustainable Rail

Members of the project travelled to Germany in the summer of 2012 where they installed temporary instrumentation and collected detailed data from the locomotive in normal operation. This data is being used to engineer a new Lempor exhaust system as well as a "Master Mechanic's" spark arrestor arrangement. The new components will be constructed in the HSB's shops this spring (2015).

Read more about this project here: Modernized Exhaust for German Narrow Gauge Steam Locomotive

New Book on SAR Class 25 4-8-4's

Modern steam engineer Phil Girdlestone has recently published a book on the famous Class 25 4-8-4's of the South African Railways titled Camels and Cadillacs: A History of the South African Railways 25 Class Condensers and 25 NC 4-8-4's. The book is available from Camden Miniature Steam Services at this link:

Group Spins Off from 5AT Project

The Advanced Steam Traction Group, established in 2012 following the closure of the 5AT Project, recent introduced their own website. The projects noted below (Developments from the 5AT Group) are actually projects of the AST Group. Visit their website at:

Reprint of "the Fire Burns Much Better"

Dutch engineer and steam enthusiast Jos Koopmans has announced the release of a second edition of his book The Fire Burns Much Better which is being sold through Camden Miniature Steam Services. The book provides a comprehensive history of steam locomotive exhaust development from the birth of the steam locomotive through the latest development, and includes Jos' work to develop a comprehesive theory for explaining the function of steam locomotive exhausts. This second edition contains corrections, clarifications and amendments, many made in consultation with leading steam locomotive designers.

Additional information is available at Camden's page:

Developments from the 5AT Group

The 5AT Group in the UK, originally formed to oversee the detailed design and construction of David Wardale's 5AT "Advanced Technology" steam locomotive, has recently branched into a couple of other projects.

In collaboration with the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in the UK, the 5AT group has installed a Lempor exhaust system on the recently overhauled USATC S160 No 5820 'Big Jim'. The locomotive has recently re-entered service and is performing satisfactorily. The group plans to do detailed testing this summer to measure the performance benefits of the new exhaust system. Visit the 5AT page for more information, including a link to a youtube video of the locomotive in operation and a PDF presentation on the exhaust system:

In other news from the 5AT Group, the Clan Group has invited the 5AT Group to perform a Feasibility Study to suggest and evaluate improvements that might be incorporated into their locomotive. The Clan Group is working on a new-build Clan Class locomotive No 72010, Hengist. More information on this project is avaiable here:

Union Pacific "Big Boy" 4014 Restoration

Big Boy 4014

Probably the biggest steam news since the debut of the Rocket was announced last year; the Union Pacific Railroad has acquired one of the eight remaining "Big Boy" 4-8-8-4 steam locomotives from the Southern California Chapter of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society. The locomotive, number 4014 had been displayed at the RailGiants Train Museum at Fairplex at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in California. This locomotive was deemed to be in the best condition of any of the remaining Big Boy locomotives.

A crew from the Union Pacific has worked for the last few months preparing the locomotive for towing to the steam shop in Cheyene, Wyoming. Bearings were checked and relubricated, parts of the machinery have been removed and stored, and the locomotive has been thoroughly inspected. The locomotive has been moved approximately one mile across a parking lot using panel track and now sits adjacent to Metrolink tracks. On January 26, the temporary tracks will be joined to the Metrolink tracks to allow the locomotive to begin its move. From here, the locomotive will be towed to Union Pacific's Colton Yard. In the spring, the locomotive will continue to Cheyene where it will undergo a 4 to 5 year restoration.

The Union Pacific has posted regular video updates on the project to youtube; these videos can be accessed at this link:

Here's a good story from a local newspaper on the locomotive:

Group Seeks to Build Replica Pennsy T1 4-4-4-4 Locomotive

Pennsy T1

From the group's website:

"The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) T1 Steam Locomotive Trust is a non-profit organization formed for the express purpose of constructing PRR T1 5550, the fifty-third locomotive of its class. The goal is to provide mainline excursion service, and to set the World Speed Record for a steam locomotive. "

Read more at the group's website here:

More White Papers from CSR 130 Project

The Coalition for Sustainable Rail has added several white papers to their site over the last few months, including papers on steam locomotive rail/wheel dynamics and the work of French locomotive designer Andre Chapelon. The papers are availble for download here:

"Red Devil" Reprint

(Updated 18 January 2014)

Following negotiations between Chris Newman (5AT Webmaster), David Wardale and Adam Harris, Camden Miniature Steam is offering a new print-run of the book for sale.

For those who don't know, "The Red Devil and Other Tales from the Age of Steam" provides a comprehensive account of Wardale's work in South Africa, the USA and China, and the principles of Modern Steam developed by L.D. Porta upon which Wardale's work was based.  There is more information on modern steam design and its practical application than any other publication. If you're a real steam enthusiast, this book should be in your library.

To order a copy, visit the group's website at:

White Paper Series from CSR 130 Project

The Coalition for Sustainable Rail, the group currently working to modernize a former Santa Fe 4-6-4 and convert it to burn biomass-based fuel (see story immediately below), has just announced a very interesting effort.  Working in conjunction with the University of Minnesota, the Porta Family Foundation, and other non-profit rail and biomass research organizations, they intend to make relevant scholarly works available to the public through their White Paper Program.  The intention is that papers will be periodically uploaded to their website where they will be available for download.

The first of these papers has just been made available, "the Case for a Better American Steam Locomotive".  This paper was written by Ing. L. D. Porta in the 1970's in response to the "oil crisis" of the time when oil-based fuel prices skyrocketed due to an oil embargo by middle-eastern nations.  The paper was written in response to two articles published in the U.S. railway enthusiasts magazine "Trains", titled "the Case for the French Steam Locomotive" and "the Case for the American Steam Locomotive".  These articles are also available through the CSR 130 website.

While Ing. Porta was a prolific writer (see list of known papers here:, most of these papers have never been made available to the public.  Hopefully this program by the CSR 130 Project will eventually make many of these papers available to steam enthusiasts around the world.

Bio-Fueled Steam Project from the University of Minnesota

A group known as the Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR) associated with the University of Minnesota, announced this week a project to develop a bio-fuel burning steam locomotive, using Atkinson, Topeka, and Santa Fe (ATSF) 4-6-4 number 3463 as the basis.  The 3463  is a "modern" 4-6-4, built for the Santa Fe by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1937.  It is the only remaining U.S. steam locomotive with 84 inch diameter drivers, the largest used apart from some much older experimental steam locomotives.

ATSF 3463

Image from the collection of Warren M. Scholl, photographer unknown.

The project is known as "Project 130" as it intends to establish a new world record top speed for steam locomotives of 130 MPH.  The current record of 126 MPH was set by the British 4-6-2 "Mallard" in 1937.  The fuel to be used in this locomotive is called "biocoal" produced from "cellulosic biomaterial" and is said to be "a fuel with the same energy, density and material handling properties of coal, without the associated carbon footprint, heavy metal or sulfur content."  This fuel is being produced by the University of Minnesota's Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) and the locomotive will partly serve as a showcase for the use of this fuel.

At least a couple of people associated with the project should be well-known to modern steam locomotive enthusiasts:  Shaun McMahon and Bill Withuhn.  Shaun worked closely with Ing. L. D. Porta for several years, and has been working on several advanced steam projects in Argentina since the 1990's.  Bill Withuhn, a Curator Emeritus with the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, was heavily involved with the American Coal Enterprises "ACE 3000" project to build a modern, diesel-equivalent steam locomotive for U.S. freight service in the 1980's.

It is expected that the 3463 will undergo a host of Porta-type improvements, including the Gas Producer Combustion System, an improved exhaust system, a streamlined steam circuit, and others, all of which will dramatically increase its efficiency and potentially its top speed.

Read more about the project at the group's website at:

Nigel Day- Update from Australia's West Coast Wilderness Railway

                  No. 1 Lempor

The photo above shows the results of Nigel Day's latest efforts at Australia's West Coast Wilderness Railway, where he has just fitted a Lempor exhaust to "Mount Lyell" No. 1.  Note the new tapered stack as well as some measuring instrumentation attached at the discharge.  Nigel had previously fitted Lempors to locomotives No.  3 and No. 5 last year with excellent results.  Nigel promises to send additional information as things progress.

Read more about the West Coast Wilderness Railway at:

Read more about Nigel's earlier work at the WCWR at:

5AT Project Suspended

Concurrently with the publication of an article in the April 2012 edition of Steam Railway magazine, the 5AT Group has announced the project to build an all-new Second Generation steam locomotive has been suspended.  The chief reason given for this is the current state of the world's economy, and hence the difficulty in raising funding for such a project.  More details can be found here:

Grand Canyon Railway Resumes Steam Operations

The Grand Canyon Railway has announced the resumption of regular steam locomotive operations on their railway this summer using modernized steam locomotive #4960.  This engine was fitted with a Lempor exhaust and improved oil firing system under the direction of Nigel Day, and was subsequently fitted with a Worthington type feedwater heater imported from China.  The locomotive has numerous other improvements to reduce maintenance and increase avaialability as well.  Steam operations began this year with a special train on 24 January 2012 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Arizona's statehood.  Further steam operations are planned this summer.  The schedule can be found here:

Second New Steam Locomotive Completed for the Nilgiri Mountain Railway

A second new oil-fired rack-and-adhesion steam locomotive was recently completed by the Golden Rock workshops in India for service on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and has since been delivered to the railway.   This follows the first new locomotive which was completed last year (see here). 

2nd oil-fired steam loco
                    for NMR
photo by M. Moorthy from the Hindu newspaper site

These locomotives appear to be copies of the SLM-built X-class locomotives built in the 1950's, altered for oil firing.  Some of the newspaper articles (see links below) make much of the fact that these Indian-produced locomotives were much less expensive than the proposed new locomotives from DLM would have been.  However, they fail to note that the DLM versions would have been significantly improved with more power and higher efficiency.  Here's an artist's rendering of what the DLM versions would have looked like:

New DLM X-Class

Read more at these links:

Update on A1 Tornado Boiler Repairs

As noted in the news update in 2010 (see news archive), after a relatively short period in service (the all-new locomotive was placed in operation around mid-2008), the boiler of A1 Tornado required extensive repairs and was returned to the builder, DB Meiningen of Germany, where numerous welded stays were replaced and cracks were repaired.  The repairs were completed successfully, the boiler was returned to the UK and the locomotive returned to service around April of 2011.  See story at the A1 Trust's website.

The locomotive has been successfully operating since that time; hopefully the repairs and alterations will be successful in ensuring a long service life for the first all-new mainline steam locomotive to be completed in the UK since the 1950's.

2011 Summary/2012 Preview

2011 was a slow year for steam news; let's hope 2012 will be better. 

Steam Returns to the Grand Canyon- Again

The Grand Canyon Railway, which ended regular steam operations in 2008 when a new environmentally conscious company (Xantera) took over management of the railway, announced that they would feature limited operations of their two steam locomotives in 2011.  Part of the reason for the company's change of heart were successful test runs in 2009 in which GCR steam locomotives were fueled with Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) which is obtained from the two restaurants operated in the Grand Canyon area. 

WVO is considered "environmentally friendly" as it is a "carbon neutral" fuel.  Basically any fuel produced from plants, such as vegetable oil, wood, or bagasse is considered carbon neutral.  The plants from which these fuels are derived take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and then release this carbon dioxide back to the atmosphere when they die and rot or when they are burned as fuel. 

The two active steamers on the Grand Canyon, 2-8-2 #4960 and 2-8-0 #29 were both significantly modernized previously by the railway's mechanical shop.  Both locomotives were fitted with Lempor exhaust systems, feedwater heaters, and improved oil burner arrangements among other improvements.  Click on the link below for more information; the site features a nice video with some very good running and still shots of #4960, as well as a discussion of the use of WVO in the locomotives.

India Announces Construction of New Steam Locomotives for the Nilgiri Railway

New Nilgiri 0-8-2T steam locomotive
Photo: R. Ashok from the Hindu

The 19 January issue of "the Hindu" newspaper reports that the Golden Rock Railway workshops are building 4 new rack and adhesion oil-fired steam locomotives to replace the Swiss-built SLM locomotives which have served the line for many years.  Based on the photo above, the new locomotives appear basically identical to the original SLM locomotives apart from the change from coal firing to oil firing.  The article notes that the locomotives will have a pilot burner fired by diesel fuel, and a main burner which will burn "furnace oil" which is likely a heavier, less expensive fuel.  The cost of the new locomotives is reported as 40 crore, which works out to about $8.8M U.S. or a little over $2M U.S. each.

The first of the new locomotives is expected to be delivered by February 2011.  Read more at this link:

  A1 Trust Sends Tornado Boiler Back to Builder for Repairs

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust recently (2010) revealed that the boiler of their A1 Peppercorn Pacific, completed by DB Meiningen of Germany around 2007, had suffered cracks to the firebox and a higher-than-expected number of cracked stays during the relatively short service life of this locomotive.  Repairs will include weld repair of the cracks and replacement of broken stays as well as the pre-emptive replacement of several hundred stays.  This expensive and unexpected setback is of interest to many steam operators around the world, many of whom will eventually have to fabricate new welded boilers for their own steam locomotives as their original boilers pass the point of economical repair.  Hopefully the A1 Trust will share the technical findings of the analysis of their boiler's problems with other steam operators so that lessons learned can be incorporated into future locomotive boilers.  Read more at the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust's site:

Brief Steam Return to the Grand Canyon Railway

After the new owners stopped all steam operations last year, they have announced a special commemorative steam trip to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the railway's rebirth on 19 September 2009.  2-8-2 no. 4960, previously modernized extensively under Nigel Day's direction will be returning to steam.  Fuel for this run will be recycled vegetable oil. 

More information at the railway's website at:

British Steam Car Challenge Sets New Land Speed Record

While not locomotive-related, I'm sure this story is of interest to most steam enthusiasts.  From a team press release:

Edward’s Air Force Base, California: Wednesday August 26th 2009:

Yesterday at 8.22am (California time) Don Wales successfully set another land speed record for a steam powered car.  The car set the record for a measured kilometre – achieving an average speed of 148.308mph on two runs. 

After Charles Burnett III’s heroics on Tuesday in breaking the record for a measured mile, test driver Don Wales piloted the car for the attempt at the kilometre record and reached a peak speed over 155mph. Both new international records are subject to official confirmation by the FIA.

Don Wales said: "What a great feeling, the car felt better than ever today. We peaked over 150mph and the car was handling beautifully. The team has worked so hard over the last 10 years, especially over the last few weeks! Having set two FIA world records is an amazing achievement and no-more than the team deserve after their perseverance”

Project Manager Matt Candy said: "It’s fantastic to set another record for the team and all that hard work has been worth it. After Charles broke the record for the measured mile on Tuesday, we decided to have one more run with the car and attempt the kilometre record. We took some of the inhibitors from the boilers for this run and it helped get a bit more speed out of the car. The weather was perfect today and the air temperature was just 62 degrees Fahrenheit, the team turned around the car in an amazing 30minutes which is their quickest ever! Don has worked so hard with the team, it’s fantastic that he should go home with a record too.”

More info on the project's website here:

Steam 2008 Update

I'm afraid I was pretty lax in updating this page in 2008.  2008 was a year of a few ups and mostly downs for steam power world-wide. 

Probably the most positive news of the year was the successful completion of "Tornado" in the UK, a new, full-size, mainline 4-6-2 of the A1 class.  Tornado has made several successful trips across England and was recently officially named by Prince Charles.

Most U.S. steam news has not been very good.  The Mt. Washington Cog Railway placed a new diesel-hydraulic locomotive into service and evidently has several others under construction. It seems steam will soon be relegated to only occasional operation for special occasions.  As detailed elsewhere in these pages, Nigel Day had done significant modernization of one of their locomotives, and successfully converted it to oil firing. 

Again in the U.S., the Grand Canyon Railway was taken over by new management (Xanterra Corporation) who soon decided that steam locomotives were incompatible with their desire to maintain a corporate "green" image.  Locomotives 4960 and 29, both of which had been extensively modernized, have been parked.  These locomotives had been fitted with Lempor exhausts and new oil-firing systems designed by Nigel Day.  More recently, Chinese copies of Worthington "SA" type feedwater heaters had been fitted.   Further improvements were planned.  It's a shame that one of the biggest steam modernization success stories has been side-lined.

The world-wide spike in oil prices in 2008 had one positive effet.  Rumor had it that at least a couple of groups were again looking at new coal-fired locomotives.  I'd imagine interest has once again waned with current prices less than half of what they were in October 2008.

Steam seems to be still holding on in Zimbabwe.  A report on a steam tour trip here:, states operations were extremely marginal in 2008, with coal shortages, water shortages, sporadic electrical power, among other problems.  However, working steam still continues in Bulawayo and elsewhere.  Steam operations continue to wind down in China, but from all indications there are still a few places where real working steam can be found.

The world-wide financial crisis probably spells hard times for steam tourist operations, but it has had the favorable impact of reducing steel scrap prices which hopefully slow efforts to scrap out-of-service steam in China, South Africa, and elsewhere.

I'm hoping for some positive steam developments to report in 2009.  Stay tuned for more regular updates.

New British Steam Locomotive A1 "Tornado" Steam Test

The A1 Locomotive Trust, the group in the UK that's constructing a brand-new, standard gauge, mainline steamer, announced this week that the first fire had been lit in the firebox of their locomotive in preparation for steam testing on Friday, January 11, 2008. The locomotive has been under construction since the early 1990's, and this marks a major milestone in the completion of this engine.  The engine's boiler was delivered by Dampflokwerk Meiningen last year.

The locomotive is expected to be complete in time for testing an excursions in summer 2008.  Read the latest news at the Trust's website at:

The Economics of Coal as a Locomotive Fuel on US Class 1 Railroads

Steam student and enthusiast John Rhodes has just finished compiling a paper titled "The Economics of Coal as a Locomotive Fuel on US Class 1 Railroads".  The result of over two years work, the paper provides an up-to-date detailed comparison between the operating costs of current diesel locomotives and updated coal-burning steam locomotives.  The paper shows that due to the continuing huge cost differential in diesel oil and coal, moderately improved steam locomotives would be far cheaper to operate than current diesels.  The paper draws background information from an extensive variety of sources, ranging from the steam/diesel tests on the Norfolk and Western Railway up to current published performance data from EMD and GE. 

John's paper is available for download at this address: Locomotive Final Paper.pdf (1.85 MB)

For additional information, contact John at:  johntrhodes [at] gmail [dot] com

The Vapor Locomotive Company

John Rhodes paper above mentions a new company which is investigating the production of bio-mass fueled locomotives.  See their website here:  The Vapor Locomotive Company

Bio-Diesel Fired Steam on the Mt. Washington Cog Railway (update January 2, 2008)

Roger Hahn has updated his webpage with additional photos and details on Nigel Day's work on the Mt. Washington Cog Railway.  Read more here:

Earlier report on Nigel's work follows:

Nigel Day reports the latest developments from his work at the Mt. Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire.  Nigel has been working on improvements to their locomotive "Waumbek" (No. 9) for the past several years, including installation of a Lempor exhaust, steam and exhaust piping refinements, and others.

The latest change was the fitting of oil-firing equipment to No. 9 which allow it to burn bio-diesel fuel.  These photos show No. 9 after the conversion.

Visit Mt. Washington's website at: for more information and photos on No. 9's conversion. Other photos of No. 9 in operation with the new oil firing system are scattered around the site.

For more information on biodiesel fuels, see this page at Wikipedia:


Belated Long-Term News Update

It occurs to me it's been several months since I've provided any updates to this news page.  Unfortunately I've been busy with a new job and haven't had time to keep it up as I should. There are several things of interest going on in the steam world that I'll attempt to relate and update further as time allows.

Shaun McMahon has sent me several reports on his progress in southern-most Argentina.  Progress continues to be made on plans for upgrading the engines of the RFIR as well as plans to extend the RFIRT to the west coast of Chile.  Shaun promises more details in the future.

In the U.S., some VERY interesting things are happening with Union Pacific 4-6-6-4 no. 3985.  The engine has undergone some major boiler and combustion system work and most interestingly, significant revisions to the exhaust system.  Wasatch Railroad Contractors is heavily involved with the assistance of a well-known proponent of Ing. Porta's work.  Further information on this project will be forthcoming once the engine has been returned to service and the modifications have been proven.

I haven't heard any news from DLM In Switzerland in some time; hopefully we'll be hearing something from them sometime soon.

I'll try to get back on track with updating these pages on a regular basis in the future; please stay tuned.

UK's Hunslet Engine Company Producing New Steam Locomotives

Hunslet Engine Company has recently built 2 new Quarry Class 0-4-0 saddle tank steam locomotive.  Hunslet has been producing locomotives since 1864, so they have quite a history with steam.

Go to and click on "Hunslet Steam Co" for more information on the new locomotives and other services they offer related to steam locomotives.

Thanks to Mr. Andrew Ross of Hunslet for supplying this information.

York Steam Conferencee

A One-day Conference on "Development in Modern Steam Traction for Railways" was held at the National Railway Museum in York, UK on December 11, 2006.  Technical presentations were made by Dr. J. J. Koopmans, David Wardale, Martyn Bane, A. Hass, and Chris Newman. 

I'm also happy to report that two steam experts from the U.S. were able to attend, CMO Dave Griner and WRC Foreman Matt Janssen of Wasatch Railroad Contractors (WRC).  A brief report including photos is available on their website at:  WRC has shown great interest in applying modern steam technology to operating steamers in the U.S.

Here is a listing of the technical presentations given at the conference, with links to websites or documents:

Dr. Koopmans's presentation
D. Wardale, Modern Steam in England: The Design of the 5AT's_York_paper.doc
M. Bane, Water Treatment for Modern Steam Locomotives
A. Hass, Modern Steam on the Hauenstein steam for a region.pdf
C. Newman, Traction Cost Comparisons for Indonesian Coal Haulage's_Cost_Comparison_Paper.doc's_York_Conference_Presentation.ppt

Modern Steam Interviews on BBC Radio

A program titled "Steam Driven" was broadcast on BBC radio on Wednesday 19 July 2006 21:00-21:30 (Radio 4 FM).  The tagline for the program read:
"It's almost 40 years since steam disappeared from widespread use on the railways, but the development of steam locomotives has never stopped. Technical advances in fuel, efficiency, design and new materials have been adopted and this 'modern steam' is now pulling many passengers and much freight in several corners of the world.

Claire Barratt meets some of the dedicated engineers working with modernised locomotives and hears about a new design on the drawing board for a 21st Century loco."

Modern steam proponents interviewed included Shaun McMahon, David Wardale, Roger Waller, and Martyn Bane.  Portions were recorded on the Ffestiniog Railway in Wales while another portion featured a cab ride in DLM's modernized Class 52 8055. It was an interesting and informative program and hopefully enlightened quite a few listeners on the possibilities for modern steam traction.

New Garratt Delivered to the FCAF

Shaun McMahon reports that the second Garratt locomotive, FCAF No. 5, was completed for the FCAF railway in Ushuaia, Argentina. The locomotive was evidently built by Girdlestone and Associates of South Africa, using some parts originally fabricated in Argentina when the first Garratt, no. 2 "L. D. Porta" was constructed in the 1990's.

Few details have been publicized on the locomotive so far, but it is believed to incorporate all the modifications made to no. 2 by Shaun McMahon (with guidance from L. D. Porta and assistance from Phil Girdlestone). In addition the photos show a Belpaire firebox, a small well tank underneath the boiler (which may be part of a feedwater heating system) and an external throttle valve located near the front of the boiler, indicating that the new locomotive is superheated which should greatly increase its power and efficiency above that of no. 2. Finally, significant changes in appearance are evident including revised cab and tank contours, as well as a much larger smokebox (likely to accomodate the superheater components).

Photos of "tuning up" in Ushuaia in May, 2006:

FCAF No. 5 During Tuning Up in May 2006

FCAF No. 5 During Tuning Up in May 2006

                              Garratt under construction

New Garratt for FCAF Under Construction at Girdlestone & Associates in South Africa

photo courtesy of Shaun McMahon

This link shows photos of the locomotive in the shop prior to shipment, and being loaded for shipment to Ushuaia.

For more on the FCAF, go to

Number 29 Doing Well at the Grand Canyon Railway

My wife recently took a trip out west with her mother and sister and was treated to a ride behind the Grand Canyon Railway's No. 29, which has been fitted with a Lempor exhaust and improved oil firing equipment designed by Nigel Day.  She stopped by to say hello to the crew and mentioned that she was the wife of the "Ultimate Steam Page" author.  Evidently I have a couple of fans on the GCRR crews.  Thanks for your friendly greeting to my wife.  Hopefully, I'll be out there to see things soon.

GCRW No. 29

Grand Canyon Railway No. 29 and Crew

GCRW No. 29

Front End of Grand Canyon Railway No. 29 Showing Lempor Stack

Big Chinese Steam Delivered to U.S.

(update 11 August 2006) A photo of the two QJ's in Iowa City, Iowa on the rails, undergoing re-installation of  parts removed for transport and being checked over:

(update June 2006)  Evidently the two QJ's were delivered to the port of Houston, Texas in June 2006 and loaded on special flat cars for shipment to Iowa.  The link below shows some excellent photos of the locomotives and tenders:

(previous story) TRAINS News Wire Breaking News, April 21, 2006

More Chinese steam coming to the U.S.

PITTSBURGH — Mainline steam in China is finished, but two Chinese locomotives will have a second life in U.S. in 2006, with three more possibly coming later. Railroad Development Corp. of Pittsburgh said Friday it has acquired a pair of Chinese class QJ 2-10-2 locomotives, including No. 7081, which had the distinction of hauling the world’s last regularly scheduled mainline steam passenger train. The other is No. 6988. RDC ( is a privately held railway management and investment company which owns or has financial interests in rail properties in the U.S. and six other countries in Latin America, Africa, and Europe, including the Iowa Interstate Railroad linking Chicago, Des Moines, and Omaha.

According to RDC Chairman Henry Posner III, the two locomotives were overhauled in China by the Jinzhou 701 Works to meet U.S. Federal Railroad Administration standards, under the supervision of steam consultant Dennis Daugherty and under contract with U.S. company Multipower International. They were being shipped through the Chinese port of Dalian, and upon arrival in the U.S. will be shipped to the Iowa Interstate on special eight-axle flatcars. Once in Iowa, the pair will be fired up and operated once, to demonstrate that they are FRA compliant and operate properly. Posner says the locomotives will probably be tested in regular freight service on the Iowa Interstate.

Why bring Chinese steam to the U.S.? “It’s a test of the market, without any preconceived notions,” Posner said. “I didn’t see anyone else putting their hands up to buy these engines in the last year.” Ideally, there would be a market to resell the engines to regional or tourist railroads. Absent that, other methods of generating revenue would be examined, such as serious photo charters or renting them out. If there is a market for the locomotives, RDC has an option to buy three more QJs.

The QJ (a derivation of the Soviet LV class) was the last Chinese steam design to go into production and was the most numerous steam class to run in China. The first prototypes were introduced in 1956. Eventually more than 4,700 QJs were built, the majority between 1964 and 1988. The Datong Locomotive Works built No. 7081 in 1986, while No. 6988 was built in 1985. Two Chinese-built steam locomotives, both 2-8-2s built in 1988, currently operate in the U.S., hauling tourists. A class JS runs on Iowa’s Boone & Scenic Valley, and a class SY, built for Connecticut’s Valley Railroad, was sold to the New York, Susquehanna & Western, which transferred the engine to the NYS&W Historical Society, which operates it on the Bel-Del line at Phillipsburg, N.J. A third 1988 Chinese 2-8-2, also class SY, is in storage in Pennsylvania, having worked on the now-embargoed Knox & Kane tourist line to Kinzua Viaduct. - Steve Glischinski

Audio Recording of Puffing Billy Railway No. 6A

Audio recordings of the Puffing Billy Railway's steam locomotive no. 6A, which was equipped with a Lempor exhaust designed by Nigel Day, have been posted to the Right Away! Railway Recordings website at No. 6A's power and efficiency were both significantly increased with the addition of the Lempor.

Sacramento Solar Train Project

Harry Valentine passed along this link to a group in Sacamento, California seeking to develop a fireless steam locomotive powered tourist train using solar-generated steam for charging. Read more at their website at:

Steam Commuter Rail Project for Switzerland

Andreas Schwander just forwarded these pictures of a proposed modern steam commuter train for Switzerland (undoubtedly using DLM power in the form of the 2-8-2T). From Andreas: "Last week there was the official start a company that intends to operate commuter steam trains in Switzerland. Now a business plan is in the making and some news soon to come..." Andreas was involved in the publicity for the project. We look forward to hearing more about this project.

Much more information is available at the project's website (in German) below:

Schematic Drawings of the Proposed Equipment
(note the control cab on the back of the rear car to allow bi-directional operation)

Steam Improvements on the Grand Canyon Railway

Grand Canyon has recently completed the installation of Lempor exhaust systems to their steam locomotives no. 4960 and no. 29. These two locomotives mark the first Lempor installations on conventional steam locomotives in the U.S. The Grand Canyon operates a first-class operation, with significant grades, heavy consists, and heavy ridership. It will be an excellent proving ground for the benefits of the Lempor in the U.S.

Nigel Day is the designer behind this work on the two front-line steam locomotives of the Grand Canyon Railway. Number 4960, a former Burlington Route 2-8-2, and number 29, a former LS&I 2-8-0, were fitted with Lempor exhausts over the past few months. The following photos show the modified engines in operation, as well as the fabrication and installation of the Lempor exhausts. The two locomotives are reported to be performing well.

Nigel is currently working on the Mt. Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire (see story below) peforming modifications on No. 9 "Waumbek".

For more information on the Grand Canyon Railway, visit: .

Read more about Nigel on Martyn Bane's webpage at . Click on "Modern Steam Locomotives", then "Nigel Day", then "Mt. Washington", or you may go directly to the Mt. Washington section:

Here, we see GCRY No. 29 in operation, evidently on a test train of freight cars

The tapered diffuser of the Lempor chimney shows clearly in this shot

Closeup of No. 29's smokebox showing Lempor stack

Another Shot of No. 29 on a Freight Train

Nice 3/4 Front shot of No. 29

GCR 4960

Grand Canyon Railway 2-8-2 No. 4960 with Lempor Exhaust

(note that the diesel "B" unit behind 4960 is emitting considerably more smoke than the steam)

Lempor nozzles being fabricated

Lempor nozzle stand after fabrication

No. 4960, a former Burlington Railway 2-8-2 was already listed on my steam improvements page for several updates fitted to it when it was first acquired by the railway around 1997. Locomotives 4960 and 29 are reported to be performing well with their new exhausts.

Smokebox Showing Lempor Nozzles and "Mixing Chamber" Portion of Stack

Another Shot of Grand Canyon No. 4960 with Lempor Installed

Photos from Mt. Washington

I just received a few photos of the Mt. Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire. Further modifications to locomotive No. 9 were accomplished over the winter and spring and the locomotive just re-entered service and is performing well. Known modifications include a Lempor exhaust system and streamlined exhaust piping, and a feedwater heater and pump. Enclosed gear boxes have been fabricated for the geared drives to the cog wheel shafts but are not yet installed.

Mt. Washington Locomotive No. 9

No. 9 "Waumbek" (now known to the steam crews as "Vickie" short for "the victim")

No. 9 also known as

No. 9 Fresh Out of the Shops

The new feedwater heater is visible alongside the fireman's side of the boiler

No. 9 simmering

No. 9 "Simmering" While Waiting for Service

Roger Hahn has paid several visits to Mt. Washington in New Hampshire and seEn the progress on locomotive No. 9. Roger has just updated his site (June 22, 2005). Read more at Roger's website at:

Also see recent updates at Martyn Bane's webpage: . Click on "Modern Steam Locomotives", then "Nigel Day", then "Mt. Washington", or you may go directly to the Mt. Washington section:

Steam Loco Design Webpage

I received an e-mail this week from Ian Gaylor of Steam Loco Design in the UK. Ian's company has done some very interesting steam improvement work including significant modernizations of existing steam power. They recently undertook the refitting of two Bure Valley Railway locomotives with new cylinders, valve gear, and Lempor exhaust systems. These modifications increased the power of the locomotives by more than 100% and descreased the fuel consumption by 25%. Read more at their webpage:

Steam Loco Design has also been added to the steam repair links page.

Update from T. W. Blasingame Company

I just this week heard from Tom Blasingame of T.W. Blasingame Company, Inc. Tom's company has been doing extensive research on modern steam-electric locomotives for some time and continues to refine and expand their range of steam designs. The attached document details some of the history of the company since the late 1970's. Especially interesting are the details of how these designs have been refined to incorporate new technologies as they have become available. Blasingame's association with former locomotive builder/rebuilder Morrison-Knudsen shows the company's experience with modern railways and diesel-electric operations, vital knowledge for any company that hopes to introduce new technology locomotives. Read more here:

Steam Page Release 6-13-2005

Mr. Blasingame can be contacted at:

Post Office Box 1532

Boise, Idaho 83701-1532            
208-342-6879 Fax

DLM News

Swiss steam locomotive company DLM (Dampflokomotiv und Maschinenfabrik) has just announced that share certificates are available for their modernized steam locomotive, number 8055. This locomotive was extensively modernized (by DLM's predecessor company SLM) during the late 1990's. Modifications included light oil firing, sealed roller bearings on all axles and motion, extensive thermal insulation on the boiler and cylinders, a Lempor exhaust system, as well as many other improved details.

Purchase of the share certificates entitles the owner to privileges including having their name engraved on a plaque in the cab of 8055 and a cab ride invitation.

Very interestingly, the funds are to be used to finance further modifications and improvements to the locomotive. This should be interesting to watch.

Complete details of the share certificates issue are available here:

Issue of Share Certificates of Steam Locomotive 52 8055

Learn more about DLM at their website:

Recent Progress on the RFIRT

Shaun McMahon sent me detailed information on plans for the RFIRT some time ago. The RFIRT is the coal hauling 750 mm gauge railway in Patagonia where Ing. Porta carried out much of his steam locomotive development work in the 1950's and 60's. Steam power was used there until the 1990's when it was displaced by imported (used) diesels. Unfortunately I have been too busy with other matters to write a proper update to this page to cover it. The following provides only a brief synopsis of Shaun's plans for steam locomotive development on the RFIRT

Plans are to begin passenger excursion service on the line in the near future, hopefully powered by steam traction. 11 of the Mitsubishi-built 2-10-2 steam locomotives remain in Rio Turbio where they are available for use. Steam locomotive no. 116 is operable (although in far from ideal condition) and has been used to operate a temporary local passenger service. This locomotive is representative of the "de-modified" state of most of the remaining steam locomotives on the RFIRT. This "de-modification" took place in later years as Ing. Porta was able to spend less and less time at the railway. No. 116 will require further work to be suitable for daily service; it is intended to be used for back-up power and to serve for baseline testing. However, for steam traction to be used reliably and efficiently, steam will not just have to be returned to its original condition as designed by Ing. Porta, but it will have to incorporate improvements that Porta and others (including Shaun) have developed in the ~41 years since these locomotives were introduced.

Work is underway to restore steam locomotive no. 119 to its original Porta-designed state to serve as a baseline locomotive. The real work will be done on locomotive no. 120, which is set to become the "Advanced Santa Fe" (ASF) locomotive. The illustration below by Robin Barnes (done in mid-2004) gives some idea of how the locomotive will look when modifications are complete.

ASF steam locomotive

"Advanced Sante Fe" Steam Locomotive

illustration by Robin Barnes

The locomotive is set to include the Cyclonic Gas Producer Combustion System (C-GPCS) (briefly tried on no. 118 in the 1960's and later by David Wardale in China in the 1980's), a feedwater heater, new Lempor exhaust system, heavy boiler insulation, ergnomic improvements to the cab, and roller bearings, as well as numerous other improvements. Pending the successful conversion of this locomotive (which entails considerable development work) other remaining locomotives of the class may be modified as well. Operation of course would incorporate the Porta water treatment system which, in conjunction with the C-GPCS will drastically reduce boiler maintenance requirements. It is hoped that eventually there will be an opportunity to return to the use of steam traction on the coal trains, which would be of considerable economic benefit to the railway and country.

More details on the proposed work are covered in an upcoming article by Shaun in Locomotives International magazine.

April 1, 2005 Update

I finally got around to posting some "April Fools" headlines this year, maybe next year I'll post the complete stories to go with them: American Coal Enterprises Announces Full Funding for Modern Steam Locomotive Project, Norfolk & Western Steam Turbine Electric Locomotive "Jawn Henry" Discovered Intact in Virginia Scrapyard, China Railways Reverses Dieselization Policy

The "Argentina" Rescue Fund Announced (January 6, 2005)

Member of engineering staff Gino
                              Margutti with "Argentina" during

Argentina was Ing. L. D. Porta's first steam locomotive project. In 1949, at the age of only 27, Porta obtained funding and oversaw the complete re-construction of an existing 4-6-2 into a 4-8-0 incorporating numerous advancements to increase its power and efficiency. The locomotive was mainly intended as a showcase of what could be accomplished with steam motive power. After about 10 years of operation, the locomotive was put aside and has languished at various locations in Argentina ever since. It is now in a particularly precarious location in the northern city of Tucumán where it is subject to be stripped by scavengers.

Following Martyn Bane's visit to Argentina in October 2004 to ascertain the condition of the locomotive, a fund has been established to move the locomotive to Buenos Aries for safe keeping and eventual restoration. The locomotive will be moved by truck, and is estimated to cost 10,000 GBP (about $19,000 U.S.).

Argentina is one of the most significant steam locomotives still in existence and it would be a great shame for it to be lost at this late date in steam locomotive history. I encourage all steam enthusiasts to contribute to the effort. PayPal donations are accepted making donationseasy for international donors everywhere.

Information on the rescue fund is available at:

Information on Argentina is available at Martyn Bane's webpage at:



Things Are Heating Up Again on the RFIRT (updated Nov. 2, 2004)

                                      No. 116

Hot off the Presses- October 27, 2004

News Release from Shaun McMahon- RFIRT.pdf (Adobe PDF document)

The linked PDF News Release above details present plans for the RFIRT and its steam locomotives. Background info follows below.

Photos of Chilean steam locomotive added below November 2, 2004

Shaun McMahon has recently moved from the FCAF to duties on the RFIRT (Rio Turbio railway), home of Porta's fleet of modern 2-10-2's. From the time of Porta's arrival in the late 1950's, these 2-10-2's moved millions of tons of coal from the mines to the port of Rio Gallegos where the coal was loaded onto ships. Porta moved back to Buenos Aires in the 1960's, but maintained close contact with the railway for many years, ensuring that "his" engines were maintained to his specifications. Unfortunately, in later years things were not as well maintained and the performance of the steamers suffered. Eventually, the railway was dieselized in the 1990's, but a significant number of the Sante Fe type engines remained in servicable condition.

Plans are presently underway to establish a steam-powered tourist train on the railway which may eventually run into neighboring Chile. It is hoped that steam traction will also be returned to use on the coal trains. The government of Argentina is presently investing in modernizing the coal mining operations which will no doubt benefit the railway as well. One of the steam locomotives has already been restored to service (no. 116, seen above and below), with plans for additional work on it as well as work on some of the other remaining 2-10-2s, including updating them with the latest Porta modifications. Shaun writes:

"Steam testing of 116 took place on September 29th/30th September. The locomotive was evaluated for its present state of repair and general condition including boiler. A few kilometres were run around the works yard at Rio Turbio. Some mechanical and boiler work needs to be completed before the loco enters traffic on the initial passenger service between Rio Turbio and 28 de Noviembre during December of this year. The next locomotive to enter the shops is scheduled to be 119 which will undergo a general machanical repair and conversion back to GPCS followed by 120 later on in 2005. 120 will be rebuilt and further modified so as to produce the prototype locomotive for the "Advanced Santa Fe" class. The photos show 116 in steam with members of RFIRT staff standing alongside. Then author also took the chance to begin initial thermodynamic testing of the locomotive in unmodified state so as to evaluate conditions in preparation for future re modification to GPCS."

                                        No. 116

No. 116 During Tests

                                        Next to RFIRT No. 116

Crew Standing Next to No. 116

The following photos were added November 2, 2004. Shaun describes them: "I am attaching photos of the Chilean based Avonside built locomotive as mentioned in the text concerning TOR/RFIRT. These were taken when we went to inspect the loco in Puerto Natales back in August of this year prior to carrying out a review, specification and costing of the potential work. The team working on the engine are from Rio Turbio RFIRT locomotive and rolling stock depot. The smokebox photo shows up "the worst cannot exist" front end arrangement (similar to FCAF Camila in pre-modified times) that of course is to be rectified as part of a modification scheme."

Chilean Locomotive Under Inspection by RFIRT Crew

"Worse could not exist" Front End Arrangement

RFIRT Inspection Crew

photos courtesy of Hector Alavarado and Shaun McMahon

FCAF Celebrates 10th Anniversary

                                      3 & No. 2

This report comes from Shaun McMahon and Martyn Bane (who is visiting Argentina at present):

"On 11th October 2004 FCAF celebrated 10 years of operation. Locomotives No.3 (left) and No.2 (right) can be seen in the works yard at Estacion fin del Mundo. Camila underwent winter maintenance during May/August of this year which included replacing a broken driving axle and connecting rod both of which had failed in traffic during early May 2004. Some improvemets were alos carried out to the Lempor exhaust arrangement and the layout of cab instrumentation. Full gas emision evaluation is to be carried out during the coming high season with respect to both FCAF steamers. No.2 passed through shops immediately after Camila and can be seen in part complete state, having been reduced to essential components. Further mechanical work was carried out to the power units along with a full repaint. A fair amount of outstanding mechanical maintenance has had to left out of the work schedule so as to get the engine back in traffic in time forthe high season which is just about to begin in Ushuaia during the latter end of this month (October 2004). Stage 2 work to No.2 is still scheduled to take place during 2006. "

                                      10th Awards Ceremony

Awards were presented to current and former FCAF staff and management during the 10th ceremony at Estacion fin del Mundo, these were given for "exceptional contribution to the development of the railway during the first 10 years of its operation and initial construction".

FCAF 10th Anniversary photos courtesy of Martyn Bane

Nigel Day Returns to Mt. Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire (update November 2, 2004)

As a result of his successful installation of a Lempor exhaust system on Mt. Washington locomotive No.9 Waumbek, Nigel Day is returning this month (September 2004) to do additional work on Mt. Washington's locomotives, chiefly to improve combustion conditions. Preliminary reports on No. 9 indicate impressive fuel savings compared to the unmodified locomotives. (Sept. 16) Martyn Bane has just updated his pages with further info on Nigel's work at Mt. Washington. Further modifications were carried out on No. 9 earlier this year, prior to Nigel's arrival. Nigel left the UK for New Hampshire on September 13 and expects to spend several years at Mt. Washington improving their fleet of steam locomotives.

For photos and more details of the Lempor installation on No. 9, see Martyn Bane's website at:

More information on the Mt. Washington Cog Railway and its locomotives is available at:

November 2, 2004- A very nice article on Nigel at Mt. Washington by Dave Lathrop was posted to the Railway Preservation News website November 1, 2004. Read it at:

Partial Lempor Exhaust Installed on Steamer at Greenfield Village

This story comes from Jason Sobczynski. A steam locomotive at Greenfield Village, a part of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, was recently outifitted with a partial Lempor exhaust system. The locomotive fitted with the Lempor style funnel is the "Edison" . This locomotive was built at Ford Motor Company's "Fordson" locomotive shop (located within the Rouge complex) using parts (cylinders, wheel centers, bearing boxes, domes and bell, and not much else) and tender from an 0-4-0 constructed in the 1860's. She is for all intents and purposes a Ford Motor Company 4-4-0. The loco received a new funnel fit inside of a new stock-appearing stack. The funnel was built to the proportions obtained from L. D. Porta's "Lempor Theory" on the Ultimate Steam Page. The funnel consists of a straight lower "mixing chamber" section and a tapered upper "diffuser" section. The locomotive is reported to steam remarkably better than prior to the modification. The funnel was designed by the assistant railroad manager and fabricated by an outside fabrication shop. Jacob installed the funnel as well as fabricate and fit some related parts. As to the success of the installation, here's how Jason puts it: "While I had not fired the Edison prior to the installation of this funnel I can attest to the steaming capabilities of the loco now...and I am told by others that the difference is like night and day. "

Interestingly, this exhaust is very similar to what is now installed on the modern SLM rack steam locomotives operating in Austria and Switzerland, which were built in the 1990's. Initially fitted with full Lempor systems, the 4-nozzle exhaust stand was replaced with a single exhaust nozzle when the locomotives were found to have "excess" steaming capacity. (The single nozzle was used to save cost; an altered 4-nozzle system would provide even better performance.)

It's great to hear of a second successful Lempor exhaust installation in the U.S. For more on Greenfield Village, see:

Thanks to Jason Sobczynski for the information and photograph.

Another Proposed Steam Locomotive Website

Russell Brown has recently posted a new website with his proposal for an alternative steam locomotive design based on the Garratt concept, called the Paragon Steam Locomotive. The proposed design would use a combination of a piston engine with compound expansion of the steam through a turbine powering a generator, driving some of the locomotive's wheels via electric motors. The site contains detailed information on various aspects of the design, including a diagram of the locomotive arrangement. Read more at:

Recent Stories

A1 Trust Announces Boiler Supplier Chosen

The A1 Trust group that is constructing a new, full-size 4-6-2 steam locomotive in England, recently announced that Dampflokwerk Meiningen has been chosen to supply the boiler for the locomotive. This is the last major outstanding component required to complete the locomotive. An intense search had been underway for several years to find a suitable supplier for the boiler, and it was hoped that it could be built in the UK. The Trust finally determined that Dampflokwerk Meiningen of Germany was the best choice for the project. The new boiler will differ from the original A1 boilers in being of all-welded construction and having a steel rather than copper firebox. Read more at the A1 Trust's website at:

Read more about Dampflokwerk Meiningen at their website at:

New Webpage on Proposed Steamers

Clive Collins wrote me a few months back about his webpage on a proposal for a new mainline steamer for the UK. His design would be based on a previous UK 4-6-2 design with significant improvements. His design is at least in part a response to the 5AT Project including features which he believes would be better-suited to modern-day steam. Read more at his page at:

Webpage on Steam "Alternative History"

As a reader of science fiction, one of my favorite categories is so-called "alternative histories"- stories which explore answers to "what if?" questions ("What if the South had won the Civil War?", "What if President Kennedy hadn't been assasinated?", etc.). Norman Clubb of Germany has an interesting webpage which presents answers to the question "What if steam motive power had survived in Germany to the present?" His page covers the mythical Ruhnian State Railways (RSR) and their cooperating rival, the Kroplihne Railway (RK) and includes numerous well-done graphics on an array of steam locomotives which would have been developed in the 1950's through the present. Check out his very interesting webpage at:

George W. Carpenter Receives Engineer-Historian Award

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) awarded George Carpenter it's 2003 Engineer-Historian award in London last summer for his contributions to the historiography of the steam locomotive engineering. Carpenter has written over 40 papers and other publications, and translated Andre Chapelon's massive work La Locomotive a Vapeur into English. Read more at ASME's website at:

Exhaust Improvements on the Talyllyn Railway

Jos Koopmans of the Netherlands forwarded this report from Wales regarding the application of his work on steam locomotive multiple-jet exhaust systems to locomotive No. 6 on the Talyllyn Railway (website ). The modifications were carried out by John Scott, Julian Stow and Peter Mintoft. Interestingly, the nozzle configuration used consisted of 3 exhaust nozzles, chosen for ease of fabrication. Read about it below (Adobe PDF format).

Notes on Modifications to Draughting on No 6

2004 Outlook

2003 seemed to be a pretty dismal year for new steam developments, the worst news being the death of Ing. L. D. Porta. However, some good things have happened and 2004 promises to be a better year for steam development. Nigel Day has recently introduced the Lempor exhaust system to the United States, David Wardale seems to be making good progress on the 5AT project in the UK, Phil Girdlestone has some interesting projects in the works, and Shaun McMahon continues to fine-tune operations at the FCAF. Hopefully I'll have much to report in 2004.

Update on Overhaul Progress on the Duke of Gloucester

The official site for the British steam locomotive "Duke of Gloucester" has recently been updated with information on the progress on the comprehensive overhaul the engine has been undergoing for several years. The Duke is a 3-cylinder 4-6-2 with Caprotti rotary cam poppet valves which was saved from certain destruction by an enthusiasts group in the UK. The present overhaul includes several significant improvements. Read more at:

Duke of Gloucester

Report on Roller Bearing Conversion Failure on GSMR No. 1702

The Great Smoky Mountains Railway, a tourist line in North Carolina operates former U.S. Army Transportation Corps 2-8-0 No. 1702. In 1997/1998, the railway's mechanical department took the progressive step of converting all the axles on the engine to roller bearings.

The job required some innovative engineering to make work, as the small pedestal openings in the engine's frames were not designed to accomodate roller bearings. This was dealt with by using relatively small outside diameter roller bearing assemblies. To provide sufficient diametrical clearance for the bearings, the diameter of the driving axles had to be reduced. This was done by pressing off the drivers and turning the end portion of each axle down. The roller bearing assembly, mounted in a suitably modified driving box, was then pressed on, a bushing was pressed on to restore the original axle diameter at the end, and the driver was pressed back on. The roller bearings were expected to last for 15 years. Unfortunately, the roller bearings failed after only five of seasons of operation and a decision was made to restore the engine's original friction bearings (at least on the driving axles).

Many people were interested in the reasons for the failure but little information has been published. Last week, Ryan Scott, Operations Manager at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, posted this information to the Railway Preservation News Interchange Board ( in response to an inquiry by me. Mr. Scott notes that the following is his opinion and not necessarily the offical opinion of the GSMR:


There were a few "flaws in the slaw", so to say, that led to earlier-than-expected replacement of the roller bearings.

1. The rollers were Timken "AP" bearings. In other words, they were sealed for life with grease. They could not be "flushed" periodically like any other true steam locomotive roller bearing. The ability to change the oil periodically may have helped. Also, the use of oil instead of grease will let some of the loose metal particles collect at the bottom of the bearing box, instead of continuing to grind the remaining bearing just like grinding compound.

2. The rollers were not housed in a common box, as in standard locomotive roller bearing boxes. In roller bearing locos, such as the NKP 765, the left and right boxes on a particular axle were actually all one box. There are two halves to the box, and upper and a lower. Thus, as the box encountered the frame during lateral movement, both bearings were loaded exactly the same, because they were located in a precise machined "common" box. Also, with the common box, the spring rigging cannot induce moments on the bearing in the same axis as the rail. Also, the bearing designs themselves differ from the standard loco bearing to the AP bearings.

3. The AP bearings were designed to be used in two to three axle trucks that had a much smaller wheelbase than a steam locomotive. In this case a 2-8-0 with 57 inch drivers. Also, they were meant for smaller wheels and higher speeds, say 36 inch wheels and 45-60mph. At the higher speeds the AP bearings would heat up enough to evaporate whatever water might pass the seals in weather changes, and in the case of a steam loco, steam cleanings. The AP bearings just couldn't handle the lateral load that a 2-8-0 on a curvy RR will create.

The conversion to Roller bearings on this loco was an experiment. Unfortunately, as with any experiment, we are sometimes disappointed with the data that we are presented with after starting the experiment. Couple that with the fact that AP bearings are meant to last for "life", with "life" being measured in the length of time it takes to wear out the wheel on the same axle. On a steam loco, it is MUCH more involved to remove a roller bearing than on a freight car axle. One must dismount/mount the wheels which over time will "wear" the interference fit between the axle and wheel, and also requarter the crankpins after each of these "lifetime" replacements. Thus, axles and crankpins last much longer with true RR roller bearings or friction bearings.

The #1702 has been converted back to friction bearings on all drive axles for many of the reasons above. For all of those contemplating a roller bearing conversion think long and hard about the costs versus benefits both short and long term.

Ryan Scott


Because the stock axles and axle boxes were extensively modified to accept the roller bearing assemblies, new friction bearing axle boxes had to be cast and machined to return the engine to its original condition. The conversion back to friction bearings was completed as a cooperative project between GSMR, Steam Operations Corporation, and TVRM.

Thanks to Ryan Scott for allowing me to re-publish his post here.

New Steam for DHR (updated 9/9/04)

UK publication Steam Railway magazine (no. 291) includes an update on three new locos being built for the Darjeeling Himalaya Railway at the Golden Rock works in India. Indian Railways published tenders for these engines several years ago and then re-issued the tenders about a year later. SLM worked hard to interest IR in new modern locomotives incorporating the improvements successfully used on SLM's new steam rack engines built for Switzerland and Austria. SLM successor DLM also lobbied hard for new locomotives but IR was not willing to make the large investment required. Several other groups also expressed an interest in providing new-design locomotives. After all this time, it appears IR opted to have copies of the original ~1895 design Class B steam locomotives produced locally. While the construction of any new steam locomotives in 2003 is good news, it is a disappointment that evidently no modern features have been included in these engines.

The first locomotive is reported as being nearly complete and it is hoped it will be on the DHR in January 2004. This locomotive has been given the name Snow Chariot. Work on the second and third locos has not yet started. Snow chariot's boiler is one of 5 ordered in 1998, evidently as replacements for the existing Class B locomotives. The other boilers are reported as being on number 794 at Matheran, on 787 for oil burning trials, one for number 791 which is stripped for overhaul at Tindharia and one as yet unallocated.

Later reports say the first "new" steamer suffered immense steaming problems, likely due to its highly unorthodox oil-firing arrangement which used a diesel generator to supply power to run electrically driven fuel pumps, combustion air blowers, air compressors, and a myriad of lights in the cab. The engine was reportedly sent back to Golden Rock for modifications. Recently, it was reported that the second new locomotive was completed and that both engines would be delivered to the DHR in the near future. It will be interesting to see if the complex locally developed oil firing system can be made sufficiently reliable for daily service.

Modernized Steam Locomotive NG52 8055 Purchased by DLM

Swiss Steam locomotive manufacturer DLM recently announced that they have purchased the modernized steam locomotive class NG (for "next generation") 52 number 8055 from Eisenbahnfreunde Zollernbahn (EFZ). 8055 was modernized by DLM predecessor SLM under the direction of Roger Waller with assistance from L. D. Porta. The locomotive required an extensive rebuild, in addition to the many modifications made to improve performance, efficiency, and reliability. These modifications included increased superheat, a streamlined steam circuit, Lempor exhaust, light oil firing, the application of sealed roller bearings to all axles, rods, and valve gear components, centralized lubrication, and more. The locomotive was successfully tested in Switzerland, and once some teething problems were worked out, it was transferred to Germany where it was intended to be used to pull the world-famous Orient Express passenger train. Unfortunately, German authorities refused to allow the engine to operate because some features which had been allowed in Switzerland were not recognized in Germany. Now that the engine is back in the hands of the men who designed and built it, it is planned to use the engine as a test bed for additional steam locomotive improvements. It is also expected that the locomotive will reguarly operate on passenger excursion trains in Switzerland.

Update December 3, 2003
The 52 8055 has been on display today together with the Orient Express in Zürich Hauptbahnhof. Test runs have been successful and the locomotive pulled the train on mainlines at 80 km/h between express trains and fast electric commuter trains. The photos below were supplied by Andreas Schwander.

Update December 19, 2003
Additional photos can be seen at:

DLM 52
                                      8055 in Zurich

DLM Modernized Steam Locomotive "NG" 52 8055 on display in Zürich Hauptbahnhof

                                      Showing SLM Plate

Detail of Right-hand Cylinder Showing Heavy Insulation and
DLM-predecessor SLM Builder's Plate

52 8055
                                      Cab Exterior

52 8055 Cab Showing New DLM Plate

52 8055
                                      Cab Interior
Inside the Cab of 52 8055

52 8055
                                      Boiler Backhead

A Youngster Getting a View Inside a Very Hot Firebox

52 8055

Front View of 52 8055

For more information, see the press release (PDF format) at: DLM Press Release on 8055

and DLM's webpage at

Update on New Steam for the DHR

Dr. Ken Walker of the Darjeeling Himalaya Railway Supporters Association of Australia recently reported further news on new steam locomotives for the DHR. Global tenders for 3 new "state-of-the-art" steam locomotives had been issued several years ago and it was known that DLM (and formerly their predecessor SLM) was very interested in supplying the locomotives.

In early March, it was announced that the Southern Railway's Golden Rock workshops at Tiruchirappalli had been awarded a contract to provide the new locomotives. Evidently, the Chittaranjan Locomotive Works also offered a proposal which was not accepted. While several international companies had made proposals, DLM was the only company whose qualifications were considered satisfactory. Unfortunately, DLM's price was considered too high and was not accepted. It is understood that DLM is still pursuing options to at least assist in the design of the new engines.

While the Golden Rock workshops has recently completed the successful rebuild and conversion to oil-firing of several of the SLM 0-8-2RT steam locomotives for the Nilgiri Railway, there is concern that the new locomotives for the DHR will merely be new oil-fired versions of the ~1890 design 0-4-0T locomotives used on the DHR for the past ~110 years.

While any new steam locomotive constructed in the year 2002 is good news, I certainly hope that this opportunity to apply proven modern steam technology to new steam locomotives is not missed. DLM, based on their extensive experience with new rack steam locomotives built (by SLM) n the 1990's, was confident that new-design steamers could be built which, while retaining the traditional appearance of the existing engines, would out-perform not only the existing steamers, but the diesels as well.

This story will be updated as more details emerge.

"The Red Devil" Reprint Published

The third printing of David Wardale's excellent book "The Red Devil and Other Tales from the Age of Steam" has just been released. This is by far the most detailed, in-depth, technical analysis of steam locomotive performance written since the 1940's. The book is based on Wardale's experiences at the South African Railways, on the U.S. American Coal Enterprises "new steam" project, and finally in China. The following information comes from Rob Dickinson:

(book no longer available, June 5, 2005)

Note- I have no financial interest in either of these book sources.

Kirklees Light Railway's Modernized Steam Fleet

The 15 inch gauge Kirklees Light Railway in Huddersfield, Yorks, UK is a passenger hauling railway with recently constructed coal-fired steam motive power. Over the last 3 years, a simplified form of the GPCS has been fitted to three of these locos, one built with the system from new, principly as a means of reducing emissions as most of their summer running is with open coaches. The modifications have been a great success. Clinker has been eliminated, much appreciated by the drivers as a fifty minute round trip in an hourly schedule doesn't allow much time for fire cleaning.  Fox, a 2-6-2T, and Badger, a 0-6-4ST, have both been fitted with Lempor type exhaust within the existing chimney outline and large radius bends in the breeches pipe along with a Kordina. Owl, an 0-4+4-0 Avonside type geared loco (similar to U.S. design Heisler locomotives except with V-4 vs. V-2 engines) has had the GPCS fitted from new.   While the locomotives are not, unfortunately, super-efficient due to comparatively low boiler pressure (170 psi), saturated steam and a far-from-ideal steam circuit, they are consistent, reliable, clean and easily operated by a pool of crews with varying driving techniques.    

According to the railway's website at , plans are to incorporate the GPCS on the line's other steam locomotive, an 0-4+4-0 Kitson Meyer articulated named "Hawk" in the near future. Hawk is already equipped with a multiple jet exhaust nozzle.

The Kirlees Light Railway's sensible application of coordinated modifications to a fleet of intensely utilized steam locomotives clearly illustrates the value of modernization of existing steam locomotives in tourist service. The cleanliness, efficiency, and availability of these locomotives has been significantly improved through relatively minor modifications.

much thanks to Ian Screeton for this information

Former Southern Pacific #4449 Repainted into "American Freedom Train" Colors

John Craft's "Steam Central" webpage( reports that former Southern Pacific Railroad 4-8-4 #4449 is being repainted into its "American Freedom Train" colors which feature red, white, and blue stripes, replacing the engine's famous "Daylight" red and orange stripes it wore during its days in passenger service. 4449 was first restored for mainline service in the U.S. in the mid-1970's for use on the American Freedom Train, which was organized for the U.S. bicentenial celebration in 1976. This train toured the U.S. throughout 1976 and introduced a whole generation to big steam railway power. 4449 was the first, large, "modern" steam locomotive restored for service in the U.S., and it lead the way for later restorations of other mainline steam locomotives in the 1980's and 1990's. 4449 qualifies as a "modernized" steam locomotive as it was modified with firebox circulator tubes during the 1980's (a modification devised by the Southern Pacific but never made to 4449).

Read more about the engine at the Friends of 4449 website at

Rebuilt FCAF No. 2 Enters Service

FCAF No. 2 "L. D. Porta" and Ing. L.
                    D. Porta

Ing. L. D. Porta and His New Namesake Locomotive at the FCAF
Taken December, 2001 by Shaun McMahon

Heavily rebuilt Garratt locomotive FCAF No. 2, recently renamed "L. D. Porta", re-entered service on Saturday, January 19, 2002. Shaun McMahon says the locomotive performed well. As you can see below, passenger cruise ships are thankfully still visiting Ushuaia despite the economic crisis in Argentina. The situation has caused the FCAF some problems, but they are working through them. No. 2's return to service was held up for a few days by a tempermental air pump, but Shaun had it straightened out by Friday and was able to put No. 2 in service on Saturday. Fine tuning of the locomotive remains, as well as lagging of the cylinders and some steam pipes. Comparitive testing of the locomotive's "before" and "after" performance will also be done to confirm the degree of performance improvement afforded by the modernization. Shaun will be forwarding further reports on the engine as time allows.

Rebuilt FCAF No. 2 on Passenger Train Cruise ship at

FCAF No. 2 Renamed "L. D. Porta" (December 2001)

                    No. 2 "L. D. Porta"FCAF No. 2 "L. D. Porta"

The following comes from Shaun McMahon, Technical Manager of the Ferrocarril Austral Fuegino in Ushuaia:
Today (December 11, 2001) at 18.00 (Argentine time) FCAF KM Class Garratt locomotive No.2 (formerly known as "Nora") was duly named 'Ing. L.D. PORTA' at a ceremony at Estacion fin del Mundo attended by over 70 invited guests, including the Provincial Governer and Mayor of Ushuaia, where L.D. Porta himself delivered a very interesting speech reflecting upon the role of modern steam in the modern world and in particular Argentina and Cuba. At the same time he mentioned the fact that the rebuild and modernisation of No.2 represented the first stage of the development of FCAF as a serious comercial tourist railway, the second stage will now commence and probably take another 3 years to complete. The locomotive was christened by Mrs. Helen M. McMahon who is here in Ushuaia on a vist from North Wales in the traditional way by cracking a bottle of champagne on the pilot beam!

                    D. Porta" Renaming CeremonyFCAF No. 2 "L. D. Porta"

Shaun has sent numerous additional photos of the work on No. 2 which I will add to the page as time alllows.

DLM Website Additions

Swiss steam locomotive builder DLM has recently added Adobe PDF versions of pamphlets to their webpage to provide more information on their products. Pamphlets for rack steam locomotives, reciprocating steam ship powerplants, the electric pre-heating device for steam locomotives, and a new narrow gauge 2-8-2T steam locomotive are included.

Visit DLM's webpage at: , and click on "Pamphlets" on the menu at the left side of the page.

Former EAR #5918 on Test Run in Kenya

(AP photo courtesy of Trevor Heath)

Class 59 5918 First Test Run in Kenya (November 2001)

Former East African Railways 59th Class Beyer Garratt No. 5918 completed a successful test run this week after overhaul by current and retired railway employees. A massive 4-8-2+2-8-4 Garratt, 5918 will pull excursion trains between Kenya and Uganda (see story below). The 59th Class Garratts were built in the early 1950's, and incorporated roller bearing axles, roller bearing "big ends" on the main rods, massive boilers, and oil firing (with provision for conversion to coal if necessary). In the late 1950's, a Giesl ejector exhaust system was tried on 60th class No. 6029 (a somewhat smaller 4-8-4+4-8-4 Garratt) and results were so successful that virtually all modern steamers on the EAR were so fitted, including the entire 59th Class. Despite some alleged controversy regarding the improved performance of these locomotives, official EAR timetables in 1962 actually listed different scheduled times for trains powered by standard and Giesl-equipped locomotives, partly due to increased power and partly due to reduced requirements for fuel and water stops due to increased efficiency. Dusty Durrant, famed steam locomotive enthusiast who passed away last year, actually worked for the EAR during the time these engines were fitted with Giesls. It's a pity that Dusty is not around to see this engine restored to steam.

For up-to-date information on this project, join the Steam in Kenya mailing list at:

DLM News (November 2001)

Andreas Schwander has an update of the latest from DLM:

Here is some news from DLMs from the DLM web-page. They plan to increase their equity by issuing a new series of shares by the end of the year. They intend to do that while expecting some major orders in the near future.

People interested in buying shares can contact DLM (look at the web-page ) and receive documentation.

Also the Montreux (the paddlewheel boat which was converted from diesel back to steam power) with its new steam engine seems to be roaring success on lake Geneva and the modernized HG 2/3 (rack steam locomotive) is quite successful with its runs to Zermatt.

It's now a unique chance to your own little piece of maybe the one and only company in the world that seriously invests into research and development of the reciprocating steam engine!

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