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Recent Steam Projects

updated 29 December 2011

Recent New Steam Projects

Several new steam locomotives have been built around the world since the end of commercial steam locomotive construction in the late 1950's / early 1960's.  In the UK, several small narrow gauge locomotives have been (and are being) constructed in the last few years.  In addition, major restorations of steam locomotives were successfully undertaken.  New driving wheels have been cast for engines, motion work has been replicated, and new boilers have been fabricated. One of most amazing restorations was the rebuilding of the 4-6-2 no. 71000, "Duke of Gloucester", which required the fabrication of 3 new cylinders, Caprotti poppet valve gear, and rods.  Experience gained with the construction of small locomotives and restoration of large ones helped recreate the body of knowledge necessary to build full-size steam locomotives.  In addition, suppliers were identified and techniques developed (or re-developed) to allow the fabrication of the parts required to repair and build steam locomotives.

The A1 Trust

New Steam
                                Locomotive A1 Tornado

The A1

Inspired by the Herculean efforts of their predecessors, a group was formed in England who wished to build a new steam locomotive from scratch. While many British steamers were preserved, one particularly successful group of 4-6-2's were all scrapped, the "A1" class designed by Arthur Peppercorn in 1948. This design was chosen as the basis for the new locomotive and the group became known as the A1 Trust. Construction took place in the city of Darlington, and the locomotive was named Tornado, and numbered 61063.  The original planned completion date was 27 September 2000. The project took a bit longer than expected, with the locomotive being completed in 2008.  The locomotive entered excursion service in early 2009, and was officially named by Prince Charles.  

Apparently never one to miss an opportunity, Ing. L. D. Porta developed and submitted an incredibly detailed ~150 page proposal for improvements to the A-1 which would dramatically increase its efficiency and performance while maintaining the "stock" appearance desired by preservationists. His suggestions included modifications to the inside cylinder arrangement, provision of a gas producer combustion system, enlarged combustion chamber, increased boiler pressure, equalizers for the axles (a common feature in many countries but rare in Great Britain), and an advanced "Lemprex" exhaust system. Numerous other detail improvements were included as well, showing that Porta had devoted considerable time to the study of the design of this locomotive. While the A-1 Trust had already incorporated some of his suggestions (all-welded boiler, increased superheat, roller bearings, enlarged steam passages, and improved valves) they were hesitant to make some of the more radical changes to the design.

The locomotive was completed in 2008 and entered regular excursion service in early 2009.  Unfortunately, after some time in service the locomotive developed significant problems with the boiler, including an excessive number of broken staybolts and cracking of the foundation ring.  After a lengthy investigation the boiler was returned to its builder (DB Meiningen of Germany) in 2010 for major repairs.  There was a great deal of speculation among steam enthusiasts about the cause of the problems, and whether they were chiefly a result of workmanship or design.  The Tornado's boiler was of all-welded construction whereas the original A1 boilers were of hot riveted construction (standard at the time- 1948).  While Meiningen is very experienced with the fabrication of welded locomotive boilers it may be that some details were not designed properly in the adaptation of an existing riveted boiler design to a new all-welded one.  At any rate, the boiler repairs were completed in the summer of 2011 and the locomotive was returned to service and has apparently been free of problems since then. 

See The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust page for much more information on this locomotive and current news about it.

Other Recent New Steam Projects

I recently (December 2011) received information from Dr. Christian Hruschka on 2 recently completed locomotives in Germany as well as a project to build a main line steam locomotive which is well underway.

The first is the Saxonian I K:

The Saxonian I K was a narrow-gauge 0-6-0 tank engine, which was first built in 1881. For more than half a century it was the typical face of steam on the Saxonian narrow-gauge railways. Unfortunately the last locomotive was scrapped in 1964 in the German Democratic Republic.

From 2006-2009 in Saxonia a unique project was implemented: a replica of Saxony's first narrow gauge locomotive.  After three and a half years of dedicated work the "new" I K No. 54 was officially inaugurated in Radebeul. Since then the locomotive is under use on the the Saxon narrow gauge railways. Railway enthusiasts and tourists enjoy the rides of the "new-old" locomotive with great enthusiasm.

Project No. 2 is also located in the countries of the former GDR. The two towns of Bad Doberan and Kühlungsborn, both to be found on the German Part of the Baltic Sea Coast, are connected with a 900mm narrow gauge railway, named "Molli". Most of the traffic was done by three 2-8-2-tank locos, built in 1932 by the German Reichsbahn and because of that looking like a narrow-gauge-version of the BR 86 class.

After the breakdown of commmunism in East Germany both towns passed a touristic boom, and it was clear that on one side three steam locos could not cope with all the tourist trains, while on the other side tourists are not interested in diesels. So it was decided to take the plans from 1932 and built a forth one. The whole story of this new "Molli"-Loco can be seen here, unfortunately in German:

This 900mm gauge locomotive was built by DB Meiningen of German, and features extensive welded construction including the boiler, frames, and cylinders.

Project No. 3 is similar in intent to the A1 "Tornado" Trust in England. It’s the attempt to bring a mainline Pacific back to life, a German Reichsbahn 18.1 class, called - because of it’s wonderful architectural design – the "beautiful C" (during their time at the Wurttemberg railways the 18.1 was named "C-Class") or simply the "Wurttembergian Beauty": 

Don't worry if you notice the date when the homepage was last updated: The new "C" is in a better condition than the homepage, because the team around the new "C" are the experts from the South-german railway museum Heilbronn:


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