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Steam Locomotion in the 21st Century

The Recent History of Steam Locomotive Development

Steam Improvements of the Last ~50 Years

updated 11 February 2022


There have been many projects to improve or modernize existing steam locomotives over the last 50 years. The following table provides a listing of these modernization projects, which continue through the present day.

Note- some links lead off-site.

Notable Steam Locomotive Modernization Projects of the Last 50 Years

Year Location Locomotive Type No. of Loco.s Work performed by Summary of work
1969 Britain National Coal Board Hunslet 0-6-0ST's 50 ? L. D. Porta Underfeed stoker, Gas Producer Combustion System (GPCS), Lempor exhaust. Some of these locomotives still active in heritage service.
1969 Argentina Belgrano Railway
4-8-2 No. 1802
1 L. D. Porta Improved water treatment, Lempor exhaust, and revised valve events
1979 South Africa Class 19D
No. 2644
1 David Wardale GPCS, double Lempor exhaust, detail improvements
Zimbabwe NRZ Class 14, Class 15, Class 16, & Class 20 Beyer-Garratts ~90 RESCCO Roller bearings on all axles, increased coal & water capacity, mechanical lubrication, improved exhaust on some engines
1981 South Africa Class 25NC
(changed to Class 26)
No. 3450
1 David Wardale GPCS, double Lempor exhaust, increased superheat, improved valves, feedwater heater, detail improvements.  Many of the modifications fitted by Wardale did not survive after he left South Africa. 

The locomotive was restored for excursion service in 2018/2019, but is believed to currently be in storage. 
1982 South Africa Class 25NC
1 Dr. P. Le Seur Double Lempor exhaust - transverse arrangement
1983 Wales Mountaineer
1 Boughey, Gibbard, Girdlestone, Walker Piston valve cylinders, superheat, etc.
1985? Southern Pacific Railway,
United States
Daylight 4-8-4 No. 4449 1   Improved boiler insulation, firebox circulator tubes (believed to be transverse type; see C&NW 1385 near the bottom of this list for photo).
1985? Wales Linda
1 Phil Girdlestone GPCS, Lempor exhaust, superheater, improved valves
1985 Sudan Class 310
10 Hugh Phillips Eng. Lmtd.

Phil Girdlestone

Lempor exhaust, detail improvements
1986 Poland Ty 2 2-10-0 1 (?) INTERLOK GPCS, stoker, improved exhaust. More information on this project is available at: (in French & German).
Bullied 4-6-2 34092 "City of Wells" 1
Giesl Ejector exhaust
Snowdon Mountain Railway, Wales 0-4-2RT No. 7 1 Nigel Day Kylpor exhaust, lubrication modifications
1987 China QJ 2-10-2 2 David Wardale GPCS (one cyclonic). No. 8001, the locomotive shown in the linked photograph, was also equipped with air ducts with automatically controlled dampers for the secondary air openings. Shutting these dampers when starting "re-activated" the fire more quickly, significantly improving the performance of the GPCS after standing periods.
1987 (?) China QJ 2-10-2
1 China Rail (?) Combustion air pre-heating system
1990? Paraguay Ferrocaril Presidente Carlos Antonio Lopez
No. 286
1 L. D. Porta GPCS (wood burning), Lempor exhaust, detail improvements. Porta found conditions in Paraguay nearly impossible, with very unskilled shop workers and trainmen and consequent very poor standards of maintenance and operation.

Happily, this locomotive appears to be currently stored in operable condition in Paraguay (2019).
1991 South Africa NGG16
2 Phil Girdlestone GPCS, Lempor exhaust, improved valves, mechanical lubricators
1991 Vale of Rheidol Railway, Wales 2-6-2T No. 8 1 Shaun McMahon, Nigel Day Kylchap mixing cowl added to existing exhaust
1991 Brazil Teresa Christina Railway 2-8-2's, 2-10-2's 3 ? L. D. Porta, Phil Girdlestone GPCS, Lempor exhaust
1991 Snowdon Mountain Railway, Wales 0-4-2RT No. 4 1 Nigel Day Kylpor exhaust (photo shows locomotive in current condition with Lempor exhaust)
1992 Snowdon Mountain Railway, Wales 0-4-2RT No.'s 2, 5, & 6 3 Nigel Day Lempor exhausts
Switzerland, Austria 0-4-2RT 8 SLM (New construction) Lempor exhaust, improved valves, improved insulation, all sealed roller bearings, light-oil firing, single man operation
Welshpool & Llanfair
Light Railway
"The Countess" (No. 2), "Sir Drefaldwyn", (No. 14) 3 Day & McMahon Steam Technical Services Lempor exhaust
1995 Britain
Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway
0-4-0ST Peckett "Annie" 1 Nigel Day Lempor exhaust, brick arch.  Note- this locomotive is no longer listed on Embsay & Bolton Abbey's website, and may be located elsewhere.
Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, UK
BR Class 2 2-6-0 No. 78022
Temporarily fitted with a Giesl Ejector for 12 months. Performance improvement on the 5-mile line was found to be minimal and many objected to the appearance, so it was returned to stock condition. Video of the locomotive with the Giesl fitted can be seen here:
1997 Grand Canyon Railway,
Arizona, USA
No. 4960
1 Robert Franzen Welded staybolts, improved exhaust, firebox circulators, oil firing, enlarged tender, improved lubrication, remote bearing monitors. Additional improvements fitted in 2005 under Nigel Day.
1997 Cuba Ferrocarriles de Cuba
No. 1816
1 L. D. Porta Lempor exhaust, increased boiler pressure, increased superheat, supplementary air compressors, detail improvements.

Sadly, this locomotive was taken out of service by 2012 and is now on display at the train station in Havana, minus the main rods, eccentrics and eccentric rods and with a gaudy paint job. Glad it was at least preserved.
1997 Isle of Man, Dubbs 0-6-0 "Caladonia" 1 Nigel Day Lempor exhaust
1998 DLM, Switzerland Kriegslokomotiv NG 52 2-10-0 #8055 1 SLM Originally modified for the Eisenbahnfreunde Zollernbahn in Switzerland, now owned by DLM.  Lempor exhaust, lightweight motion work, improved valves, improved insulation, sealed roller bearings, increased superheat. Still regularly operated by DLM.
1998 Great Smokey Mountains Railway, Dillsboro, NC, USA U.S. Army S-160
1 Great Smokey Mountains Railway Roller bearings on all axles. Read here for more info.

Update Feb. 9, 2004- Unfortunately, the bearings on the driving axles failed after a relatively short time and were replaced with conventional bearings in 2003.

The roller bearing installation did not follow typical 1940's American steam practice, but used off-the-shelf permanently lubricated Timken AP bearings, typically used on freight cars. While this avoided extensive modifications and fabrication requirements that would have been necessary for a typical steam locomotive driving axle roller bearing retrofit, it was not successful.

1998 West Coast Railway, Australia R711 4-6-4 1 Phil Girdlestone/
Dual Lempor exhaust, "swirl" oil burners, improved valves, detail improvements.  Lempor exhaust has since been removed and the original "waffle iron" single exhaust restored.
1999? Blonay-Chamby Museum Railway, Switzerland 0-4-4-0 Mallet tank engine
No. 105*
1 ? Kylchap exhaust, flexible accordian-type S.S. steam lines to front cylinders
1999 Snowdon Mountain Railway, Wales 0-4-0RT No. 4 1 Nigel Day Lempor exhaust, efficient light oil burner system
1999 Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino,
Ushuaia, Argentina
1 Shaun McMahon Lempor exhaust, enlarged steam passages, improved oil burner
1999 Welshpool and Llanfair Railway, Wales "The Earl" 1 Nigel Day Lempor exhaust
1999 The Netherlands RTM56 1 Dr. Jos Koopmans Mutiple-nozzle exhaust system
2000 Britain "Duke of Gloucester" 4-6-2 1 71000 Trust Double Kylchap exhaust, improved exhaust cams, altered firebox arch, altered ashpan dampers, and numerous small improvements
2000 New Zealand former SAR Class 24 2-8-4 1 Mainline Steam Trust Modifications to cab and tender to suit Queensland loading gauge, conversion to heavy oil firing, addition of air brakes, sanders, and drain cocks. Installation of train control system and radio. Instrumentation has been fitted to allow evaluation of multiple-jet exhaust nozzle.
2000 Britain Large Pecket 0-4-4ST 1 Nigel Day Lempor exhaust
2000 Welshpool and Llanfair Railway, Wales Tubize 2-6-2 1 Day & McMahon Technical Services Lempor exhaust
2000 Yorkshire Britain 0-6-0 Hudswell Clark Tank 1 Nigel Day Lempor exhaust
2001 West Coast Railway, Australia R766 4-6-4 1 Phil Girdlestone/
Dual Lempor exhaust, oil burner, detail improvements (see R711 listing above for photo of nearly identical R711).  Lempor exhausts evidently have since been removed.  Engine under overhaul and being converted from broad to standard gauge in 2014; current status unknown.
2001 Bodmin, Cornwall, UK 0-6-0T Austerity
1 Nigel Day Modified Kylpor exhaust
2001 Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino,
Ushuaia, Argentina
0-4-0+0-4-0 Garratt No. 2 "L. D. Porta" 1 Shaun McMahon Lempor Exhaust, enlarged steam passages, improved insulation, improved valves, numerous mechanical and thermodynamic detail improvements
Puffing Billy Railway, Australia 2-6-2T NA 6A 1 Nigel Day Originally fitted with modified Lempor exhaust. This exhaust system was moved to NA 14A in 2018 as part of a conversion to oil firing by DLM. Original exhaust system was reinstalled on 6A at this time.
October 2003, Nov. 2004
The Mount Washington Cog Railway, New Hampshire, USA 0-2-2-0 (rack)
No.9 Waumbek
1 Nigel Day Lempor exhaust. Very notable for being the first Lempor installation in the USA. Feedwater heater, steam circuit improvements, and other modifications also installed.  Oil firing successfully trialed.  However, it was later removed. Mount Washington subsequently built new diesel locomotives and uses steam on a limited basis. Read more here:
November 2003 The Talyllyn Railway, Wales 0-4-0T No. 6 1 John Scott,
Julian Stow
Peter Mintoft
3 nozzle exhaust stand designed according to Dr. Jos Koopmans' exhaust research.
~2003? Bure Valley Railway No. 10 2-6-4T
"Mark Timothy"
1 Alan Keef Ltd Winson-built "ZB" (similar to Camila on the FCAF) heavily rebuilt by Alan Keef; Lempor exhaust installed
Winter 2003/2004 Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway Sandy River No. 24
1   15" gauge 2-6-2; Lempor exhaust installed
Greenfield Village
Dearborn, Michigan, USA
4-4-0 No. 1 "Edison"
Jason Sobczynski
Originally an 0-4-0; rebuilt by Henry Ford to 4-4-0 in 1932.  Lempor exhaust stack liner installed in 2004 to improve steaming.
May 2004 Golden Eagle Luxury Express
(originally Trans-Siberian Express)
4-8-4 P36.0032 1 Phil Girdlestone Russian P36 4-8-4. Fitted with dual Lempor exhaust.
July 2005, November 2005 Grand Canyon Railway,
Arizona, USA
2-8-2 No. 4960

2-8-0 No. 29

2 Nigel Day Lempor exhausts, improved oil burners, and feedwater heaters fitted.
January 2006 Strasburg Railroad, Strasburg, Pennsylvania, USA 2-10-0 No. 90 1   All-welded 304 stainless steel tender tank.
May 2006 Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino,
Ushuaia, Argentina
0-4-0+0-4-0 No. 5
'Ing H. R. Zubieta'
1 Phil Girdlestone New Garratt for FCAF. Combination of Argentinan-fabricated parts intended for a duplicate of No. 2 and new parts fabricated by Girdlestone & Associates in South Africa.  Features all the improvements previously fitted to No. 2, "L. D. Porta", plus superheating and others.
Welshpool & Lllanfair Light Railway, Powys, Wales
0-6-2 Joan
Nigel Day
Lempor Exhaust.
Welshpool & Lllanfair Light Railway, Powys, Wales 0-8-0 Resita
Nigel Day
Lempor Exhaust.

Monticello Railway Museum

Monticello, IL, USA

2-8-0 No. 401 1

Dr. Jos Koopmans

(design of exhaust system)

Sweney/Armstrong Exhaust Nozzle with modern tapered stack liner and mixing chamber, all-welded boiler, welded tender, oil firing.
November 2008 Perrygrove Railway,
Coleford, Gloucestershire, UK
2-6-2T Lydia 1 Steam Loco Design New 15" gauge 2-6-2T for tourist railway.  Designed by Steam Loco Design and fabricated by Alan Keef.  Features Lempor exhaust and roller bearings.
Welsh Highland Railway, Wales
2-6-2+2-6-2 No. 87
Phil Girdlestone, Steve McCallum, and Shaun McMahon
Lempor Exhaust (installation is not mentioned on the WHR's webpages, but photo here shows the Lempor).   Thanks to Shaun McMahon for information on this installation.
West Coast Wilderness Railway, Australia
0-4-2RT* No.s 3 and 5
*(Abt rack and conventional adhesion drive on locomotives; 2 sets of cylinders)
Nigel Day
Lempor exhaust. No. 3 was later fitted with a larger chimney and larger, more streamlined exhaust pipes for further increases in performance.

Details of intial installations available on Martyn Bane's page at:
Scottish Railway Preservation Society Steam Group
J94 "Austerity" 0-6-0T No. 7
Lempor exhaust- curiously, a photograph showed this appears to be sort of a cross between a Kylpor and a Lempor featuring a Lempor 4-nozzle arrangement, but with a separate, very tall intermediate petticoat pipe. This photo shows the intermediate petticoat.
2-10-0 44 225
Dampflokwerk Meiningen
Former Deutsche Reichsbahn Class 44 2-10-0.  Improvements were to include bio-fuel firing, sealed roller bearings and a Lempor exhaust.  Work was to be done by Meiningen in Germany.  Intent was to rebuild the locomotive and offer it for rental, primarily to the Danish market.  The group had a webpage but it is now inactive.
West Coast Wilderness Railway, Australia 0-4-2RT* No. 1
*(Abt rack and conventional adhesion drive on locomotives; 2 sets of cylinders)
Nigel Day
Lempor exhaust.
Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway
0-6-0T Beatrice
Rocking grate, hopper ashpan, Lempor exhaust.  This locomotive previously worked for the National Coal Board and was one of those modified with GPCS, under-fire stoker, and Kylpor exhaust in 1964 by L. D. Porta.
2013 Keighley & Worth Valley Railway 2-8-0 No. 5820 "Big Jim" 1 5AT Group /
Advanced Steam Traction Trust
USATC S160 WWII design locomotive. Lempor exhaust added.
Rhaetian Railway
G 3/4 No. 11 2-6-0T "Heidi"
1902 SLM steam locomotive modernized by DLM, included new boiler with superheater, Lempor exhaust, new pistons and piston rods, new valves and valve rods, modern light oil firing system, and electric preheating system.
Harz Narrow Gauge Railways (Hazer Schmalspurbahnen, GmbH)
0-4-4-0T Mallet 99-5906
Coalition for Sustainable Rail
Lempor exhaust and Master Mechanics front end (for spark arresting) designed for locomotive following extensive data collection. Modifications on hold pending availability of funds.
Great Western Society
King Edward II 4-6-0 No. 6023
Dr. Jos Koopmans
Locomotive was modified for main line running in the UK which required a new, shorter stack had to be fabricated and installed which adversely affected the drafting. A new 4-nozzle exhaust and extended stand was fitted, designed by Dr. Jos Koopmans. The locomotive underwent trials on the Severn Valley Railway which were very successful. However, it was later found that certain components of the locomotive were too wide for mainline running. Since mainline running would not be permitted, the locomotive apparently was converted back to its original configuration in 2019 and is now on display as the boiler certificate has since expired.
Lynton & Barnstaple Railway
2-6-2T No. 762 "Lyn"
762 Club
New narrow gauge (2 foot) steam locomotive based on a 1898 Baldwin design.  Completely designed using computer aided design (CAD), incorporates the following modern features: superheater, piston valves (cylinders disguised to look like the slide valve cylinders of the original), GPCS firebox, Lempor exhaust, roller bearings on all axles, welded boiler, Porta wheel profile.
Waterloo Central Railway
Essex Terminal 0-6-0 No. 9
Dr. Jos Koopmans, Michael Guy
New 4-nozzle exhaust and extended stand fitted below existing stack.  Design by Dr. Jos Koopmans and fabrication by Michael Guy.  (Photos courtesy of Michael Guy.)
Puffing Billy Railway, Australia
2-6-2NA 14A
Conversion to oil firing.  New 5 burner system fitted (one pilot burner and 4 main burners), similar to the new construction 0-4-2RT rack locomotives built by DLM predecessor SLM in the 1990's.  Lempor exhaust previously designed and fitted to 6A by Nigel Day was transferred to this locomotive at the same time.
Puffing Billy Railway, Australia NGG16 Garratt
Puffing Billy Railway Shops
Lempor Exhaust
2018 (?)
Scottish Railway Preservation Society Steam Group J94 "Austerity" 0-6-0T No. 19
Lempor exhaust
Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railway
River Esk 2-8-2
(photo by Nigel Day)
Nigel Day
New main steam pipe, exhaust system, Kordina and Lempor. New valves, piston rings and cylinder liners done to Porta type standard with modifications by Nigel. Full air brakes, two whistles and a full set of new boiler fittings. Steam sanders and improved lubrication.
Doe River Gorge
Crown 4-4-0 (3 foot gauge) No. 3
New inner exhaust chimney and Lempor exhaust nozzles were planned for this locomotive during its recent rebuild, but had to be omitted due to time/funding. They may be installed in the future.
Puffing Billy Railway, Australia 2-4-2T No. 861
Puffing Billy Railway Shops
New enlarged, internally streamlined exhaust stand and multiple-nozzle exhaust. Their site specifically says this is not a Lempor, but it closely resembles one. It appears no changes were made to the exhaust stack (chimney) so perhaps this is the reason for the distinction.
2019 (?)
Canterbury Steam Preservation Society,
New Zealand
A&G Price two truck geared drive, very similar to US Heisler locomotive
Sam Mackwell
Heisler-style geared drive locomotive with V-type engine mounted below the boiler driving both trucks via shafts and gears. Locomotive was fitted with a Lempor exhaust by Sam Mackwell. Date unknown.
Mid-Continent Railway Museum
C&NW 4-6-0 No. 1385
Continental Boiler Works
New all-welded boiler fabricated. Upgraded from original design with transverse arch tubes of the type developed by the Norfolk and Western Railway and fitted to their modern steam locomotives. This photo shows the new arch tube arrangement. This arrangement works similar to the better known Security Circulators (inverted T arrangement), which were a proprietary design.

There are many other projects which could be classified as improvements which aren't included above. Some of these include Giesl installations on several locomotives in the UK and Giesl "copy" exhausts on locomotives in China. Several U.S. steam locomotives which were restored have been fitted with modern air brake control equipment (26-L brakestands). All-welded replacement boilers are becoming commonplace. A significant number of live steam locomotives have been equipped with similar improvements to those listed above.

Sadly, with changes in railway management or mechanical personnel, locomotive improvements are sometimes removed due to a lack of understanding or because "that's not how we did it on the railway where I previously worked." Education and persuasion of railway staff is often a bigger challenge than the technological challenges of improving steam locomotives.

If you know of other steam locomotive modernization projects that I have omitted, please write me at