Steam-Powered Blog

Porta's First Locomotive - "Argentina"

argentina previewCSR released today its newest White Paper in its series on the Development of Modern Steam: "Argentina - Porta's First Locomotive."

Porta had corresponded extensively with Andre Chapelon, the focus of CSR's last white paper, following his education as a Civil Engineer. At age 25, Porta was able to convince financiers to back the concept of modifying an antiquated 4-6-2 into a modern 4-8-0. Over the next three years (from 1947-1950), Porta completely rebuilt and modernized the locomotive, the results of which laid the foundation for developments he championed in the half-century to follow.

The story of Argentina shows the incredible drive of a young, very industrious engineer in successfully conceiving, coordinating, financing, designing, building and testing a very modern steam locomotive. Virtually every known thermodynamic improvement available at the time was applied in its construction. The locomotive set world records for thermal efficiency and power-to-weight ratio for steam locomotives.

CSR Expands International Collaboration, Welcomes New Technical Advisors

iiroCSR is pleased to announce the addition of two new Technical Advisors to its team: Iiro Hirvensalo, M.Sc. and W. Hugh Odom, P.E. 

Hirvensalo, [SHOWN ABOVE], is an accomplished Finnish mechanical engineer and steam locomotive expert. His career has spanned all manner of heavy manufacturing, design, project management and consulting on behalf of a variety of Finnish companies.  Not only involved in mechanical engineering, his accomplishments include being a degreed Clarinetist from the Sibelius Academy and is active in the operation/maintenance of mainline steam locomotives.

Hirvensalo's current work, post-retirement, focuses on the completion of a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on modern steam locomotives from the Helsinki University of Technology.  CSR is excited to welcome Hirvensalo who is helping to  expand CSR's knowledge base and assisting on technical matters concerning boiler systems in Europe.  

He has maintained a life long passion for railroads, serving as a founding member of the Railway Historical Society of Finland in 1967, an organization with more than 1,000 members today. Hirvensalo is also heavily involved in the operation of Finnish mainline steam locomotives, including 4-6-2 type number 1009 [SHOWN ABOVE].

Hugh Odom, P.E. [SHOWN AT RIGHT] is no stranger to the world of modern steam locomotives.  A 1978 graduate of Clemson University with a BS in mechanical engineering and a registered Professional Engineer in South Carolina, he has worked as a project manager, mechanical engineer, environmental engineer, and nuclear engineer at various times in his career, and has over 30 years of professional experience. In addition to working for the Navy and the US Army Corps of Engineers, Odom spent 2 years with Norfolk Southern as a gang foreman in the motive power department. Odom was also briefly involved with excursions with NKP 765 and N&W 611 during this time.

In the 1980's, Hugh was an active member of the Charleston Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society and was a charter member of the South Carolina Railway Museum.

Since the late 1990's, Hugh has maintained a website dedicated to advanced steam locomotives called "the Ultimate Steam Page". Through this page, Hugh established contact with other advanced steam enthusiasts and professionals around the world. Hugh has assisted with projects such as the 5AT Advanced Steam Locomotive Project and the Cliffside 110 restoration project. CSR is excited to welcome Hugh's involvement in its research undertakings, including his assistance on recent White Papers.

Announcing Development of Modern Steam White Paper Series

doms-1 chapelon-1CSR has invested significant time and effort into creation of its "White Paper Program" with the intent of providing substantial bodies of information about the history, principles and viability of modern steam technology, advanced biofuel research and the union thereof to the general public. As 2014 begins, CSR is venturing into completion of its most in-depth white paper series yet - a detailed history of the "Development of Modern Steam." This series will focus on the history and technological developments undertaken in Europe, South America, Africa and North America.

This first paper, "André Chapelon and his Steam Locomotives" focuses on the predecessor mechanical engineers of modern steam locomotives, primarily the French locomotive designer André Chapelon. The application of fluid and thermodynamics to the steam locomotive was most successfully undertaken by Chapelon on the Paris Orleans Railway and, once nationalized, the Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF). His understanding of the "steam circuit," the utilization of advanced front end exhausts paired with large steam passages and his successful utilization of "compounding," that is using steam more than once, were as successful in theory as they were in practice.


Death of ABMA President and CEO W. Randall Rawson

CSR is sad to announce that W. Randall (Randy) Rawson, a superb friend, mentor and advocate, died on November 23 after a brief period of treatment for a recently diagnosed illness. In June, Rawson celebrated his 25th anniversary with the American Boiler Manufacturers Association (ABMA), including having served 13 years as its President and CEO.

Rawson was a major booster of the research CSR undertakes, encouraging ABMA members to support the mission of CSR through in-kind donations and he himself encouraged the Association to provide sponsorship to the Coalition.  He had a sharp sense of humor, a dry wit, and a passion for family, friends and the boiler manufacturing companies he represented.

Randy leaves his family to cherish his memory including his wife Teresa Rawson, daughter, Jamie Catherine and son William Zachary Rawson, and his dog, best friend and faithful companion Winnie.

Randy’s favorite saying was “the more people I meet, the more I love my dog.” In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to GRREAT P.O. BOX 190 Merrifield, VA 22116, for Randy’s love of Golden Retriever’s.

rawsons  wardAbove: Randy Rawson, Wife Teresa and CSR President Davidson Ward at the 2013 ABMA Summer Convention

White Paper: Mechanical Balancing of Steam Locomotives

slrwd 2_iconCSR is pleased to provide this second part of a two-part series on locomotive balancing.  This white paper provides an in-depth, yet approachable explanation of steam locomotive rail wheel dynamics.  From defining dynamic augment to explaining how a Franklin Radial Buffer helps alleviate the need for overbalance, the Mechanical Balancing of Steam Locomotives white paper provides the fundamentals of steam locomotive balancing.

This paper attempts to distill important concepts into more understandable verbiage. Beginning with defining key terms, CSR presents equations relevant to the rail wheel dynamics of steam locomotives, takes a closer look at the techniques and technology introduced to facilitate high speed operation and concludes with a discussion of how advances in materials science, physics, computing, and machine design over the last 50 years provide additional tools for the modern locomotive design engineer – tools which may just help CSR relegate dynamic augment to the history books.

New White Papers Available

CSR is excited to announce the release of two new White Papers: 1) Visit to Mauritania to Explore NRRI-Developed Option for Conversion of Typha australis to Biocoal and 2) Steam Locomotive Rail Wheel Dynamics Part 1: Precedent Speed of Steam Locomotives

mauritania report

The first white paper outlines exciting research CSR research collaborator, the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) of the University of Minnesota - Duluth, is undertaking in pursuit of converting invasive species to energy in Mauritania. Working with the non-profit  Agency to Facilitate the Growth of Rural Organizations (AFGRO), NRRI has investigated the ability of turning Typha Australis, an invasive relative of the North American cattail that is choking the Senegal River in Mauritania and Senegal, Africa, into a usable, clean cooking, heating and electricity fuel source.

In late June 2013, CSR Board Member and Director for the Center for Applied Research and Technological Development (CARTD) at NRRI, Dr. Don Fosnacht, and Peter P. Strzok of AFGRO traveled to Mauritania to meet with officials and share information about the torrefaction technologies NRRI champions.  

slrwd-precedent speed_of_steam_locomotives-1-iconThe second white paper is the first in a two-part series on steam locomotive rail wheel dynamics.  An outgrowth of having received a number of inquiries concerning the feasibility of a modern steam locomotive to operate efficiently and safely at higher speeds since announcing "Project 130" in May 2012. That in mind, it has decided to formulate a two-part white paper on steam locomotive speed and rail dynamics: 1.) Precedent Speed and 2.) Primer on the Mechanical Balancing of Steam Locomotives. This paper focuses on the anecodotal history of traditional steam locomotives at speed, while the next paper will provide an in-depth engineering investigation of locomotive wheel balancing and engineering.

The current interest in the Norfolk & Western Railway (N&W) J Class steam locomotive, due to the recent announcement of the Virginia Museum of Transportation's Fire Up 611 committee to investigate the feasibility of restoring locomotive 611 to operation, provides an ideal segway into a solid precedent on steam locomotives at high speed. In this white paper, the high-speed performance of the N&W Class J will be explored. While the 3460-class of locomotives, of which CSR's 3463 is a member, were well suited to running at 100+ miles per hour, it is valuable to take lessons learned from the Class J, which has 14" smaller diameter driving wheels and could attain similar operational speeds.