The South Devon Railway has a superbly well equipped engineering workshop.

Our engineering staff are highly skilled and experienced in a range of services, from metal fabrication and presswork, through the manufacture of parts for GWR and other locomotives and rolling stock to the full restoration of locomotives.

Our facilities include:

– Wheel drop and two wheel lathes, one CNC operated
– 8′ diameter vertical boring machine
– quartering machine for machining crank pins
– Gibson ring rolling machine
– Tyre heating ring for retyring locomotive wheels
– 100 ton hydraulic press
– Milling and turning
– General and locomotive engineering
– Full locomotive restoration

The SDR also also operates a commercial engineering company, South Devon Railway Engineering (SDRE).

SDRE, which also incorporates the former R K Pridham Engineering, is one of the country’s premier steam boiler specialists, with over 30 years’ experience of manufacturing and repairing boilers for railway locomotives and traction engines.

SDRE specialises in the manufacture and repair of locomotive and traction engine boilers, with emphasis on quality and maintaining authenticity. We pride ourselves on the standard of our work and our ability to tackle most jobs, be it a firebox repair or the building of a new boiler from scratch. Our construction methods will wherever possible adhere to the original design and methods.

We have a number of standard parts which we can manufacture to order, including:

– GWR pannier and prairie locomotive side tanks
– GWR boiler ferrules
– GWR boiler cladding top feed covers
– GWR fire hole flap
– GWR oil tray
– GWR firebox cladding shoulders
– GWR brick arch bricks
– GWR and LMS coach roof ventilators
– GWR and LMS corridor connections
– Railway sand to BR600 and GM/RT2461
– AEC Routemaster bus Panhard rod cross members

We also manufacture components to order. Please contact us with your requirements.

As Pridham’s, we were pleased to have been host to some very well known names in the heritage railway industry and took a pride in helping to keep them running for future generations to enjoy. Boiler work has been completed on Severn Valley Railway-based Southern Railway West Country Pacific class No 34027 Taw Valley and the National Railway Museum’s Southern Railway 4-6-0 No E850 Lord Nelson (right, top).

SDRE now offers a full range of services, from manufacturing a completely new boiler from scratch using existing patterns or drawings, to carrying out repairs to existing boilers or supplying customers with parts and guidance to enable them to carry out the work themselves.

All of the works undertaken are under constant scrutiny by various bodies, including national rail authorities, to ensure high standards. Parts are produced in an authentic fashion, utilising modern techniques to ensure optimum results. We are continuing to grow and evolve to suit customers’ needs and are always looking for new skills and equipment to stay ahead of the field.

(Please note that some of the photographs shown on these pages were taken at R K Pridham’s works in Tavistock. The machinery is now at Buckfastleigh.)

Boiler Repairs

New boiler for steamship Clyde Puffer (above).

We specialise in the manufacture and repair of locomotive and traction engine boilers, with emphasis on quality and maintaining authenticity.

We pride ourselves on the standard of our work and our ability to tackle most jobs, be it a firebox repair or the building of a new boiler from scratch. Our construction methods will wherever possible adhere to the original design and methods.

We encourage the use of flanged plates as opposed to the use of square cornered fabrications. Plates can be flanged and welded or flanged and riveted to your preference. Our 700 ton flanging press has made this method of repair far easier and more efficient.

We are happy to work in steel or copper when producing boiler components and are capable of carrying out high quality repairs or manufacture in either of these materials. We have recently invested much time and effort in research into the successful forming and welding of arsenical copper and this has resulted in the first full, copper locomotive fireboxes being produced in preservation.

As well as locomotive and traction engine boilers, we are equally at home using our experience in the manufacture and overhaul of many other pressure vessels including maritime, industrial and heating boilers.

We work closely with all the major inspecting authorities and the HSE to ensure consistent high quality time and time again.


700-ton press.

Our 700 ton press allows us to produce hot or cold flanged plates to most dimensions required in heritage steam today as well as countless other industrial applications.

We can supply tube plates, back heads, throat plates, foundation corners and much more. Not just of use to the boiler trade but anyone requiring superior quality pressings.

The machine was manufactured in 1975 by John Shaw and Company. Originally installed at the British Rail works in Crewe, the press then moved to a pipe fitting manufacturer in Warrington in 1995. In November 2000 the press was installed at Pridham’s works, moving to Buckfastleigh in September 2010.

The press is used mostly to produce flanged plates for steam boilers such as back heads, throat plates and tube plates. Also it enables us to develop large pressings like those for fire box side plates somewhat like a large press brake.

Although primarily intended for the manufacture of locomotive parts we are keen to offer the diverse capabilities of this machine to other industries not only in the south west but throughout the country. We can produce large diameter dished ends in plate up to 1″ (25mm) thick or other shapes to your requirements. Pressings can be an economical alternative to fabricated parts in many industrial applications.

The machine has a combined pressing force of 700 tons through three sets of upstroke rams. These rams can be operated independently to increase the range of capability of the machine.

We provide a full developing service or press only options to suit your needs.

We work from component drawings and produce one off or batches of parts to your specifications.

Alternatively we can use your free issue tooling for one off or longer runs. Please feel free to contact us to discuss any requirements you may have.

We have a three tonne and a seven tonne forklift on site and can accommodate larger pieces by special arrangement.

Press Arrangement

The press has a bed of 12′ X 8′ (3657 mm X 2438 mm) and a daylight of 5′ (1524 mm). The four main pressing rams (blue) lift the whole bed and provide about 515 tonnes of force.

The centre ram (red) can lift independently through the bed for a second press operation or as an ejector with about 205 tons of force. Alternatively it can be clamped to the main bed, taking the full push to over 700 tons.

The adjustable vicing rams (green) lift through the table and are designed for clamping the work piece in place during pressing. They can provide 200 tons of upward force between them.

Bottle Ends

We produce a full range of flue tube ends for locomotive boilers, in a host of different sizes.

Before you order your bottle ends please read the following notes as this helps to avoid confusion.

Bottle ends are supplied 12″ long as standard. In special cases we can supply ends above this length.

The large end diameter varies in 1/4″ steps. For flue tubes with O.D. in 1/8″ steps, the outside can be machined to suit.

The small end diameter varies in 1/8″ steps. Our standard sizes range from 4 1/8″ to 5 1/4″. Other sizes may be available on request.

Standard ends are supplied as one of two wall thickness, 3/8″ and 1/2″ wall. Other thickness may be available on request.

Bottle ends are produced from material complying to DIN 2448/1629, ST 52.0. See below for specification. For other materials please contact us.

Material certificates are provided at no extra cost.

Material Specification

DIN 2448/1692 ST 52.0 % content
Carbon 0.22 max
Silicon 0.55 max
Manganese 1.60 max
Phosphorus 0.04 max
Sulphur 0.035 max
Min Yield N/mm2 for wall thickness <16mm (355) 16mm-40mm (345) 40mm-65mm (335)
Tensile N/mm2 500 min 650 max



– 100 ton downstroke press. 2′ x 3′ (610 x 915) bed, up to 4′ (1220mm) daylight.
– 300 ton upstroke press. 5′ x 5′ (1525 x 1525) bed, 6′ (1830mm) daylight.
– 700 ton upstroke press. 8′ x 10′ (2440 x 3660) bed, 5’6″ (1675mm) daylight.
– Tooling manufactured on site.


– Colchester student lathe. 18″ (455mm) in the gap. 18″ (455mm) centres.
– Colchester Mascot 1600 lathe. 80″ (2030mm) centres.
– Elliot TV2 Mill
– Ormerod shaper. 2′ (610mm) stroke.
– Town radial arm drill. 3MT, 3′ (915mm) travel.
– Kitchen & Wade radial arm drill. 5MT, 4′ (1220mm) travel.
– Asquith portable universal radial drill, 5MT. 18″ to 10′ height capacity.
– Ridgid 1224 threading machine.


– Addison Jubilee band saw. 9″ (230mm) maximum diameter cut.
– BOC Imp. Gas straight line cutting up to 4″ (100mm) thick.
– Econocut 60-120. Plasma cutter.
– Arc welders up to 450 amps.
– ESAB Aristomig 500 amp, Synergic pulse (MMA, MIG, TIG)
– Fiat 7 tonne forklift. Linde 3 tonne forklift.

Please contact us with your requirements.