Shaun McMahon began his railway career on the Ffestiniog Railway, joining the permanent staff there as a trainee technician engineer in 1984 when Phil Girdlestone was Works Manager. Thus began a working relationship between the two of them that continued up until the time of Phil’s death in 2016.
Shaun moved from the FR to the Vale of Rheidol Railway in 1989, becoming heavily involved in boiler water treatment schemes on various UK preserved lines. At this time he formed “Day McMahon Steam Technical Services” with Nigel Day. A number of successful locomotive redraughtings were carried out by the partnership.
In 1994 he became Assistant Mechanical Engineer to Girdlestone on the Alfred County Railway in South Africa. He continued on the ACR until 1999 when he moved to Argentina as Technical Manager for the Argentine railway development company Tranex Turismo S.A. He was subsequently employed by Tranex as Technical and Technical Projects Manager at the Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino on Tierra del Fuego (FCAF). This 500 mm gauge railway continues to be committed to an innovative program of steam locomotive development for hauling tourist trains over its 7km of steeply graded track.
For many years Shaun worked under the guidance of Livio Dante Porta frequently being charged with getting Porta’s ideas translated into hardware.
Since 2009, Shaun has worked for INTI, the government scientific establishment in Buenos Aires where Porta headed up the Thermodynamics Department from the time he left the Rio Turbio Railway in 1960 to his retirement in 1982.
The photos shown below show two of Shaun’s “demonstrator” locomotives which show what can be achieved with minimum investment to improve the performance of poorly designed locomotives. Further modifications are planned for both locomotives when funds become available.