Showing posts with label Trains. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trains. Show all posts

Friday, October 20, 2017

Steam Locomotives

A recreated CP # 60 steam locomotive at the Golden Spike National Historic Site in Utah - Photo: Wikimedia
The first steam locomotive was introduced in 1804. Everyone was very excited about what it could offer in regards to moving materials and even people. By today’s standards through the first steam locomotive was nothing impressive. The top speed was five miles per hour and it could haul up to 15 tons of material. Yet you have to remember that this was before automobiles so the steam locomotive offered fast speeds and more power than anything else during that period of time.

As time went by steam locomotives were able to become more powerful and move faster. This was due to new designs for both the steam engines and the tracks. From observing what wasn’t working inventors and scientists were able to implement new strategies that were quite effective. 

One thing you will immediately notice about the steam locomotives is their unique wheel design. This was done to resolve the problem of keeping a steel train in steel rails without slipping. Each steam locomotive actually features two sets of drive wheels. Even with the usefulness of steam locomotives, it took plenty of time to build them as well as to lay the tracks. The first railroad wasn’t ready for operation with the steam locomotives until 1825. 

Steam locomotives were the main type used for the railways from the early 1800’s until the 1950’s. It was at that time the majority of them were replaced by engines running off of diesel fuel. Steam locomotives are large, powerful pieces of machinery that were made from steel and heavy iron. The majority of them can only be found in various train museums today. There are still a few early steam locomotives in use for various types of recreational trains out there. 

If you visit steam locomotives featured in the various museums you will quickly notice all of the differences they offer. Each one was custom made for the railway company it was going to be delivered to. This is why the controls can be found in various locations, the sizes of the smokestacks are different, and even the type of steam whistle to let people know about approaching trains are different.

The concepts behind steam locomotives were very advanced for the 1800’s, but as technology advanced they were replaced by faster trains that could run on diesel fuel. Still, they are a vital part of the foundation that was built long ago for the railway industry. It is rumored that one day in the future steam locomotives will be making a come back. The cost of diesel fuel continues to rise and it does create a large amount of pollution for the environment. 



Of course, these new steam locomotives would have all of the latest features. Don’t expect to see a couple of people shoveling fuel into the compressor in order to generate enough steam to power it. All of the movement would be able to be done by the use of advanced parts that would allow this process to be automated. 

There is plenty of history to be found in the steam locomotives of the past. They provide us with useful information about the early development of the industrial revolution. The fact that early inventors were successful in building these steam engines with limited technology or information is amazing. It just goes to show you that great ideas can happen at any time.