1931 Aveling & Porter Orinoco back on the road!

Posted by Chris Graham on 2nd February 2023

Young enthusiast, Dylan Jones, recounts his experiences with 1931 Aveling & Porter Orinoco which was back on the road last summer.

Aveling & Porter Orinoco

Aveling & Porter Orinoco: All back together and going again in 2022. (Pic: Bob Moorman)

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend last year, at the Edenbridge & Oxted Show held near Lingfield, in Surrey, three engines brought steam back to this popular event for the first time in more than 30 years. 

Aveling & Porter Orinoco

Orinoco at the 2016 Woodchurch Steam Rally, not long before being taken off the road. (Pic: Bob Moorman)

The engines taking part were Roger Luck’s 1923 Ransomes Sims & Jefferies 2½hp portable No. 34240, the Pierce family’s 1920 Fowler A9 road locomotive No. 14754 Endeavour and 1931 Aveling & Porter L type 5 ton steam tractor No. 12766, which was originally supplied to work in Scotland. 

Aveling & Porter Orinoco

Out with the ashpan and firebars, in preparation for removing the boiler tubes in 2021.

Having steam at the show wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gone to Hadlow College near Tonbridge, in Kent, from September 2020 to June 2022, to study engineering. It was there that I met tutor Steve Pike, who said he was involved with the South Eastern Vintage Agricultural Club (SEVAC), as well as several shows, including the Edenbridge & Oxted event.

Aveling & Porter Orinoco

Pulling the lagging off ready for the hydraulic test and inspection.

Around the time of the Cowpie Show in May 2022, Steve had the idea of bringing steam back to the Edenbridge & Oxted Show. Although I don’t own a steam engine, my grandparents have two of them; the Bishop’s Move 1930 Foden 5-ton steam wagon (No. 13624) Margaret and, of course, Orinoco. So I spoke to them and they agreed that I could take the Aveling to the event, and it all kicked off from there.

Aveling & Porter Orinoco

All the tubes have been cut out, ready for the new ones to be fitted.

Orinoco isn’t the most well-known engine on the rally scene, and the last events she attended had been the Weald of Kent Steam Rally at Woodchurch, back in 2016 and – with Margaret – the National Open Farm Sunday in 2018. 

Aveling & Porter Orinoco

Pulled out of the shed and a power-wash is called for before the new tubes go in. The engine had a new boiler barrel and more in 1986, at Bicknell’s Boiler Works.

As part of my engineering course at college I was required to do work experience and, in February 2021 due to Covid, the only place this could happen was at Hillhouse Farm, in Dorking, Surrey which, conveniently, is owned by my grandparents, Gareth and Maureen Jones. One of the things I did while there was to assist top steam engineer, Jimmer Marsh, who was working there at the time. During Orinoco’s 10-year hydraulic test it was discovered that the engine needed re-tubing so, by the time my work experience period came to an end, the engine was stripped and ready for that job to be done.

Dylan protected the boiler barrel with a coat of red oxide before the lagging went on.

I helped Jimmer fit the new tubes early in 2022 and then, in July, the engine was steamed for the first time in four years. By that stage I was already booked into Edenbridge & Oxted, so the pressure was on to get everything finished and ready. However, the engine’s first steaming highlighted a problem; the regulator valve was leaking (quite common on this type of engine). You could push the reverser forwards and she’d turn over with the regulator in the closed position. Then, when oiling-up and rotating the flywheel to reach the various oil points, she went round half a turn with only a gentle push. Jimmer re-lapped the valve and later re-faced the block to sort this problem out.

Parading at the Edenbridge & Oxted Show, with Steve Pike learning to steer a steam engine.

The hydraulic test and steam test were successfully completed, thanks to Jimmer’s expert knowledge. We also had Steve Pike up for a trip around the block, so that everyone was on the same page, and this trip was also successful. The engine hasn’t really been on the road very much, so it was great to see how she bowled along steadily, and I was very happy with how she ran, as was my grandpa, Gareth.

Dylan Jones likes nothing better than his grandfather’s 1931 Aveling & Porter tractor.

The show date arrived and we low-loaded the engine to the showground on Saturday morning. There was also room to transport my 1955 Ferguson TE-F 20 tractor, which was also booked into the show. We made good time there and I spent the Saturday cleaning her. The weather was stunning, the engine ran well and my dad, Ian, said there were no problems with my grey Fergie. We enjoyed a lovely drive around the ring on both days, as well as going off for a trundle round the showground once the public had left on Sunday evening. We ended up winning the ‘Best in Show’ award with Orinoco, which tied with Endeavour, the A9 Fowler road loco that towered above us. We also took the President’s Award. I even did an interview for a YouTube channel, and father and I did one for BBC Surrey, which was broadcast later that day.

Dylan collecting his President’s Award at the Edenbridge & Oxted Show last year.

The coal we were given was a mixture of Russian, Colombian and something else I believe. It ran the engine rather well, although it was rather smoky. Water supply was sufficient and there was a good variety of exhibits at the show. However, as I was in charge of Orinoco, I didn’t get much time to wander round as I would usually have had.

Dylan with his tractor hat on, aboard his 1955 Ferguson TE-F 20.

Overall, this was a brilliant event and I hope to return next year. Having spoken to the show organisers, they said they would welcome more steam engines. I for one would say this is a good event to do with a steam engine, it’s well organised, good fun and has a good range of kit on show for all to enjoy. 

In another life, 1931 Aveling & Porter No. 12766 makes an appearance outside the 1985 Model Engineering Show, at Wembley. (Pic: Peter Love)

This feature comes from a recent issue of Old Glory, and you can get a money-saving subscription to this magazine simply by clicking HERE



Subscribe & Save today!

Subscribe to Tractor & Machinery today and pay just £3.44 an issue!