The Work of David Wardale

There is little point of writing my own version of what Dave has achieved as, in 1998, he published a book recounting his work. 'The Red Devil and Other Tales from the Age of Steam' is quite possibly the single most important book ever written on the steam locomotive. For anyone with an interest in modern steam this book is absolutely essential reading. For those that think modern steam has no relevance to them it is equally as essential reading. Very few people to have read it can genuinely claimed to have learnt nothing about the decline of steam in regular service and just what it is possible to do with a steam locomotive that is well designed.

To read a review of the book and to obtain a list of suggested suppliers please click here. The book is now out of print and becoming hard to locate. Get it whilst you can !

The Red Devil and Other Tales from the Age of Steam by David Wardale

The two locomotives modified in South Africa were 19D 4-8-2 No.2644 and 25NC 3450 rebuilt to such an extent that it was reclassified as class 26 and given the 'L.D.Porta'.

Click here to read an article from 1981 on SAR 3450 'L.D.Porta' (the Red Devil) by "Rooinek"

Modified 19D 2664 (second left) stands with other unmodified 19Ds at Mafikeng depot. March 28 1981.  Roger Griffiths

Modified 19D 2664 (second left) stands with other unmodified 19Ds at Mafikeng depot. March 28 1981. © Roger Griffiths

2644 pilots un-modified 19D 2737 on a freight train from Mafikeng to Warrenton. March 28 1981.  Roger Griffiths

2644 pilots un-modified 19D 2737 on a freight train from Mafikeng to Warrenton. March 28 1981. © Roger Griffiths

3450 L.D.Porta hauls a moderate length passenger service, by South African services, near Rayton. June 11 1983.  Roger Griffiths

3450 L.D.Porta hauls a moderate length passenger service, by South African services, near Rayton. June 11 1983. © Roger Griffiths

On the single track near Goedvertrouwd 3450, unusually, makes smoke whilst on a passenger service. June 11 1983.  Roger Griffiths

On the single track near Goedvertrouwd 3450, unusually, makes smoke whilst on a passenger service. June 11 1983. © Roger Griffiths

SAR Class 26 3450, known as 'The Red Devil'. This locomotive was converted from a standard 25NC by David Wardale. It is to be hoped that his Class 5AT 4-6-0 will be able to show that this fine locomotive was not the pinnacle of mainline steam development. © D.Wardale

SAR Class 26 3450, known as 'The Red Devil'. This locomotive was converted from a standard 25NC by David Wardale. It is to be hoped that his Class 5AT 4-6-0 will be able to show that this fine locomotive was not the pinnacle of mainline steam development. © D.Wardale

Accompanying the resurgence of interest in modern steam within the last few years David Wardale has proposed a new 4-6-0 - the 5AT - using the BR Standard 5MT type as a basic template. However do not be fooled in to thinking this is a modernised 5MT. It will be much more than this. Essentially the design will only adhere to the overall external dimensions of the 5MT engine unit and little more.

The current outline of the Class 5AT 4-6-0. © David Wardale

The current outline of the Class 5AT 4-6-0. © David Wardale

This project has considerable momentum with external funding allowing the fundamental design calculations to be undertaken. These were completed in late 2004. A realistic business plan has been produced and, along with other avenues, full commercial funding with attractive returns will be sought. Currently efforts are focusing on the engineering hurdles the 5AT will have to overcome the FDCs having proved the performance promised is possible to achieve. I have a page on the project here.

To read a considerable amount about the project and the locomotive (both technical and non-technical) visit the excellent website www.5AT.co.uk.


Pre-modification 25NC 3450 pilots 25NC 3461 on a freight service at Orange River. The amount of smoke was not untypical of SAR operation and can is a very visual reminder of why the steam locomotive became so unpopular. With the adoption of Porta combustion technology Wardale was able to show such scenes need not be typical. October 14 1976.  Roger Griffiths
Pre-modification 25NC 3450 pilots 25NC 3461 on a freight service at Orange River. The amount of smoke was not untypical of SAR operation and can is a very visual reminder of why the steam locomotive became so unpopular. With the adoption of Porta combustion technology Wardale was able to show such scenes need not be typical. October 14 1976. © Roger Griffiths

In 2006 David Wardale commented on the book "The fire burns much better ...", the Ph. D. thesis by J.J.G. Koopmans. His comments can be read here in PDF format (271KB.)

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