Selection of Papers by L.D. Porta – Volume 3

Boiler Water Treatment and
Other Aspects of Steam Locomotive
Design and Operation

[undergoing proof checking – not yet available for sale]

The Argentinean engineer Livio Dante Porta (1922 – 2003) remains an unsung hero in the long history of steam development. Following in the footsteps of Chapelon, he rebuilt numerous locomotives in Argentina and elsewhere, and designed several revolutionary locomotives, both large and small. Like Chapelon, none of his designs were built and most of his rebuilds have been lost to the scrap merchants. He has however left a rich legacy in the form of several hundred technical papers covering a wide range of subjects and written in a variety of languages. A few of his papers were published in conference proceedings and some were left in typed format, but the majority were left as hand-written manuscripts.  Some were written for specific purposes such as his “A1 Paper” that was written in the hope of influencing the design of Tornado, and his “Compounding” paper that was written to try to influence David Wardale’s design of the 5AT. Others were written for the purpose of ensuring that the development of steam locomotives would continue into the 21st century.  The papers that are left to us are mostly of poor quality, having been photocopied many times and circulated amongst the “modern steam aficionados”. These can be hard to read, and most contain “Porta-isms” (grammatical errors) that require interpretation.

Chris Newman has transcribed over 30 of Porta’s English-language papers and is publishing them in five volumes through the auspices of the Advanced Steam Traction Trust and with the permission of the Porta Family Foundation. This third volume offers 19 of Porta’s papers relating to boilers, fireboxes and combustion that should be of interest and relevance to the 21st Century student of steam locomotive engineering.

This third volume subtitled “Boilers, Fireboxes and Combustion” includes 19 papers as follows:


  • Notes on responsiveness to quick load changes of a boiler when burning wood;
  • On the Hudson-Orrok heat transfer equation as applied to locomotive boilers;
  • A new superheater-economizer element for advanced steam loco technology;
  • Improvements to superheater element joints for sdvanced steam locos;
  • What steam pressure for old locomotive boilers?


  • Notes on firebox construction for loco boilers working at 30 and 60 atm. pressure;
  • Note on burnout heat transfer;
  • Thermo-mechanical behaviour of the steam locomotive firebox – an overall view;
  • The worm grate and ash disposal system;
  • Note on the present status of the grate design in connection with the GPCS;
  • An essay on steam locomotive boiler tubeplate birdnesting (ash fouling);


  • Combustion calculations – the Heat Balance – a criticism of the Lawford Fry method;
  • Hand firing in connection with the Gas Producer Combustion System;
  • Note on combustion efficiency of the Gas Producer Combustion System;
  • The GPCS as an answer to coal-derived pollution from steam locomotives;
  • Locomotive type boiler for bagasse, peat and wood refuse burning;
  • Application of the Gas Producer Combustion System to the 141R;
  • A note on the Gas Producer Combustion System with fluidized bed conditions;
  • Comments on a paper by G.G. Thurlow on fluidised bed combustion.

Covering around 280 A4 pages in black and white, this volume is expected to be priced in the region of £27.

A brief description of each of the 19 papers can be downloaded here.

Expressions of interest in this title are welcome.  Please address them to the