Nigel Day spent his early working life on the Snowdon Mountain Railway (SMR), at a time when its motive power staff had responsibility for all aspects of operating and maintaining the locomotives. In 1986 he began his career as a locomotive “moderniser” by modifying one of the line’s 0-4-2 rack tanks, No.7 Ralph. This being successful all the SMR’s operational steam locomotives were subsequenty fitted with Lempor exhausts and other modifications to Nigel’s designs. He then set about converting SMR locomotive No. 4 Snowdon to oil firing, using his own design of burner for burning gas oil. Whereas previous attempts to oil fire SMR locomotives had failed, No. 4 was an excellent performer, and gave fuel savings of 25-30% compared to the coal fired engines. The railway subsequently came under new management which implemented new policies that resulted in all of its locomotives reverting to standard and all of Day’s modifications being removed. Day thereupon left the SMR and began a new career as a private consultant and contractor.
In parallel with his work on the SMR Day had gone into business with Shaun McMahon, forming “Day McMahon Steam Technical Services”. This partnership was responsible for the first stages of development of the SMR’s oil firing system. In addition the partnership specialised in redraughting locomotives beginning with the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (WLLR) in Wales which went on to fit all of its locomotives with Lempor exhausts hidden within the outline of the original chimneys. Typically, the WLLR locomotives achieved a reduction in coal consumption of 10% with a 16% increase in power with no change to their external appearance.
When McMahon departed for South Africa in 1994, Day formed Modern Steam Technical Railway Services and has undertaken redraughting work on railways across the world including the Ffestiniog Railway in Wales, the Isle of Man Steam Railway, Puffing Billy Railway in Australia, the Mount Washington Cog Railway in America and the West Coast Wilderness Railway in Tasmania. Most recently, Nigel has worked almost single-handedly on the reconstruction of the Ravenglass and Eskdale‘s 1923-built 2-8-2 “River Esk” which was largely destroyed in a disastrous workshop fire in 2013 (as reported in a May 2018 News page).
Day is an accomplished craftsman, especially in brasswork and in the production of brass whistles. These have been fitted to locomotives on SMR; to BR 4-6-2 71000 Duke of Gloucester; to locomotives of the Llanberis Lake Railway and 15 gauge locomotive Northern Rock II (built to order by the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway for export to Japan); and most recently to River Esk. All his whistles are fabricated rather than cast.
Nigel can be contacted by e-mail at Nigelsteamday@aol.com. See also http://www.martynbane.co.uk/modernsteam/nday/nigeldayhome.htm.