Livio Dante Porta

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Porta (centre, with dark cap and scarf) and engine crew in 1959

Livio Dante Porta (21 March 1922 – 10 June 2003) was an Argentine steam locomotive engineer. He is particularly remembered for his innovative modifications to existing locomotive systems in order to obtain higher performance, energy efficiency and reduced pollution. He developed the Kylpor and Lempor exhaust systems. The Lemprex was under development at the time of his death.

Early years[edit]

Ing.L.D.Porta, the FCAF 500 mm gauge Garratt named in his honour

Porta was born in Paraná, Entre Ríos, and studied civil engineering, concluding his studies in 1946, at a time when steam was already giving way to diesel and electric locomotives in Europe and North America.


Argentina, his 1948 4-8-0

Naturally Porta's first projects were in Argentina. Taking the work of Andre Chapelon in France as his starting point he set out to show that the steam locomotive was far from reaching its maximum potential. His first locomotive project in 1948 took the remains of a 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge 4-6-2 converting it into a 4-cylinder compound 4-8-0 named 'Presidente Peron'/'Argentina'. This machine, Porta's first project, still holds a number of locomotive efficiency records[citation needed].

Porta moved to Patagonia in 1957 as general manager of the Red de Ferrocarril Industrial de Rio Turbio coal railway (Ramal Ferro Industrial Río Turbio) in Río Turbio; his work allowed the steam locomotive fleet to remain in service for another 40 years. In 1960 he returned to Buenos Aires to become head of thermodynamics at the Argentinian National Institute of Technology (INTI).[1] His writings on steam technology are of considerable volume, mostly unpublished.[2]

In early 1983 Porta and his family moved to the United States to work on steam locomotive development for the American Coal Enterprises project.[3] This was the only time in his life he lived outside of Argentina for any great length of time. After the collapse of this project he returned to Argentina in 1986 with further work being undertaken in that country as well as Brazil and Paraguay. During 1992 Porta was contracted by the Cuban government so as to implement an extensive rational use of energy project which included modern steam rail traction as well as general industrial steam modernisation of power stations and sugar mill plants. His final steam project was the development of a steam bus in the capital of Buenos Aires along with Gustavo Durán; Porta had already designed a modern steam car whilst at INTI during 1970.

Porta's influence[edit]

Porta continued advancing steam technology right up to the time of his death: from the mid-1990s he worked for the Cuban Sugar Ministry (Minaz) on locomotives using new fuels such as bagasse; he also considerably influenced most if not all of the more recent steam projects worldwide, notably those of David Wardale[4][5] and the 5AT Project,[6] Phil Girdlestone, Roger Waller,[7] Shaun McMahon, and Nigel Day.[8]

In 2001 he supported Shaun McMahon´s heavy rebuilding and modification of a 500 mm gauge Garratt for the Southern Fuegian Railway that had been produced in Argentina in 1994. McMahon included larger cross section for tubing, insulation of the boiler and improved front end as well as combustion system in line with Porta´s teachings over the years, the economy of this modern steam engine was improved vastly, more than doubling train length. As a tribute to Porta´s lifetime work and in celebration of his upcoming 80th birthday, McMahon named the locomotive "Ing. L.D. PORTA" when it was outshopped and presented to the public on 11 December 2001. Accordingly, a second Garratt was built and delivered to the FCAF in 2006.


He was a devoted family man and he and his wife, Ana Marie, had five children. One of his three sons died at an early age from cancer. On 7 July 1976, his youngest daughter disappeared during Argentina's Dirty War, having been taken at gunpoint from the family home in Banfield.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "INTI". INTI. 2012-12-19. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  2. ^ "The Ultimate Steam Page". Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  3. ^ "The Ultimate Steam Page". Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  4. ^ Chapelon, Andre (2000), La Locomotive a Vapeur (Translation by George. W. Carpenter C.Eng., M.I.Mech.E.), Camden Miniature Steam Services, pp. 615–616, ISBN 0-9536523-0-0
  5. ^ Wardale, David (1998). The Red Devil and Other Tales from the Age of Steam. Published by the author. ISBN 0-9529998-0-3.
  6. ^ "5AT Advanced Steam Locomotive Project". Retrieved 2010-01-09.
  7. ^ "DLM AG". Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  8. ^ [1] Archived October 12, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Jonathan Glancey (2003-08-02). "Obituary: Livio Dante Porta | World news". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-01-13.

External links[edit]