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Steam Locomotion in the 21st Century

The Recent History of Steam Locomotive Development

Other Recent Steam Developers

updated 5 February 2022

This page provides brief information on several steam designers, not covered in detail elsewhere on these pages, who have recently worked to improve steam locomotives and steam locomotive design. See the other sections of the Ultimate Steam Page for more information on these gentlemen.

Sam Mackwell: Sam has been interested in alternatives to petroleum based fuels since a young age. and in 2016 he founded the Mackwell Locomotive Company. Mackwell Locomotive Company is based in Canterbury, New Zealand. Thus far, Sam has designed and constructed a full-size watertube boiler of an advanced design that retains the outline of a traditional locomotive firetube boiler and uses wood as fuel. He also completed a Lempor ejector installation on a heritage line railway in New Zealand. Finally, Sam is also working on the "AgLoco", a modern steam tractor which will also use wood as fuel. Read more about Sam's work here:

Shaun McMahon: From 2009 to 2022, Shaun worked for INTI, the government scientific establishment in Buenos Aires where Porta headed the Thermodynamics department from 1960 until his retirement in 1982. Shaun has steam experience in the UK, South Africa, and Argentina. Shaun and worked closely Nigel Day, Phil Girdlestone, and finally with L. D. Porta for several years. See the FCAF pages for details of Shaun's work there.  For several years, Shaun has worked at the RFIRT, where Porta did much of his work on steam locomotives. The line had dieselized in the 1990's, but there was a move to return to coal-fired steam power. Shaun worked to overhaul the line's remaining steam locomotives, restore the locomotives' Porta features, and further improve them. There were plans to extend the RFIRT into neighboring Chile and on to the Pacific Coast which would make it a transcontinental railway. While at INTI, Shaun worked on several energy related projects, adapting technologies developed by Porta to stationary steam plants to be used for power generation. Sadly, Shaun unexpectedly passed away in February 2022 at the age of only 57.

Nigel Day: A former driver on the Snowdon Mountain Railway in Wales, Nigel  made numerous technical improvements to his regular locomotive, No. 5, including oil firing and a Lempor exhaust. Additionally, he has installed Lempor exhaust systems on the steam locomotives of several other UK tourist railways. More recently Nigel worked at the Mt. Washington Railway in New Hampshire, making extensive modifications to one of their locomotives.  Later, he worked at the Grand Canyon Railway on their locomotives no. 29 and no. 4960, installing Lempor exhausts and improved oil firing systems.  See the News Archive page for photos of Nigel's work, and the Last 30 page for information on several steam locomotives he has worked on.

Roger Waller: Roger is the head of the steam locomotive design department at Dampflokomotiv und Maschinenfabrik AG - DLM. Roger assisted David Wardale with testing of the Red Devil No. 3450 in South Africa. Later, he was instrumental in the construction of new, modern rack steam locomotives at the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works (SLM). When SLM decided to get out of the new steam business, Roger and his team in the steam department convinced Hug Engineering to take them on and DLM was formed. DLM has improved several existing steam locomotives, made proposals for new modern steam locomotives and other steam-related projects, and furnished state-of-the-art reciprocating steam power plants for existing ships in Switzerland.

William Petitjean: Bill Petitjean is a professional mechanical engineer and steam enthusiast. Bill wrote a series of articles analyzing the technical reasons for steam's demise in the U.S. for the magazine Locomotive & Railway Preservation in the 1980's. Bill has devoted a lot of thought to how new, durable, mechanically simple steam locomotives could be built for tourist railway and "third world" service. His ideas are based on maximizing steam's inherent advantages of simplicity and durability, rather than emphasizing thermodynamic improvements. Bill was a sales engineer for the Skinner Engine Company, the last U.S. manufacturer of reciprocating steam engines.  For many years, Bill operated the Green Velvet Steam Engine Lubricants to produce and sell specialty lubricants for steam locomotives and engines. Bill is currently enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

Jos Koopmans: Jos is an engineer in the Netherlands who has conducted theoretical research and field testing with advanced steam locomotive exhaust systems. Jos developed his "Unified Exhaust Theory for Steam Locomotives", which advances the earlier work of Chapelon, Geisl, and Porta and explains aspects of the function of the exhaust system previously not explained. Jos has assisted with the design of improved exhaust systems installed on locomotives in the Netherlands, the UK, Canada, and the US.

Jos is married and has four children, (1 graduated, 2 students and the youngest still in high school). Jos studied naval architecture at Delft University and became a model engineer at the time. The Delft library was a "gold mine" for a lot of technical information which he still has in the form of a stack of photocopies. At present Jos is employed as a logistics consutant for the largest tranport and logistics supplier of the Netherlands. During 1987 he wrote a concept for a doctor's thesis about the history of exhaust research. This was based on the notion that research had stopped with the original problem unsolved! The work progressed slowly, but early 1993 he became one of the originators of the project to build a replica of one of the Arnhem streetcars of which the originals were destroyed during the battle of Arnhem in 1944. One thing led to the other and now Jos is president of the Tramway Society of the Netherlands, an umbrella organisation for a number of societies owning well over 150 tramcars and locomotives. One of the locomotive-owning societies was so kind to be interested in testing also, so that Jos was in a position to really test a number of vague notions that he had about multi-nozzle exhaust systems. The tests proved his concepts after which he formulated the condition for maintaining equal vacuum while changing to more orifices and the Unified momentum flux equation defining the equilibrium between draft and smokebox vacuum for exhaust systems with 1 to n orifices. As Jos puts it: "I think I have advanced exhaust theory and the computational possibilities for some years and I really hope that others will pick it up as a starter for additional work. Contrary to others like Giesl-Gieslingen I firmly belief that we do not know all there is to know about exhaust systems."

Jos' thesis was expanded into the book The Fire Burns Much Better.  More information on the book is available here: 

Ted Pritchard-Mr. Pritchard did considerable practical research on steam power for stationary and automotive applications.  Read more about his work here:

Harry Valentine- Harry Valentine is a transportation specialist from Canada who has written many proposals for advanced steam locomotive projects.  Many of Harry's proposals are available at Rob Dickinson's International Steam Page.

Tom Blasingame- Tom is a former production manager and equipment designer for the Morrison-Knudsen Company of Boise, Idaho.  Tom later formed his own company "T. W. Blasingame Company" which has done a great deal of work on modern, "diesel-equivalent" solid fueled electric drive steam locomotives.  Several designs incorporated Rand rotary expanders, which potentially offer the best performance characteristics of both steam turbines and reciprocating steam engines.  Read more about Tom's work here: Page Release 6-13-2005.pdf

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