Quick Education

Links to the Right Information

 

            Here is a short listing of some of the better websites that will give a quick introduction to steam power.  I am assuming that this present website is attracting many people with little exposure to steam power in any form.  Those of us who have spent our lives thinking about it and collecting information about steam know so much that we are seldom able to describe the basics well enough so that we can communicate at all with anyone. 
            You will notice from looking at these websites that some people are salvaging, collecting, and restoring original antique steam automobiles.  These are mostly Stanley with some White and a few Locomobile marques.  What is interesting is that many of these run and go on tours every year.  They are carefully maintained with the owners doing most of the mechanical work themselves.  When judging modern steam power keep in mind that many of these old cars are running with 100 year old metal in them.  The steam power plant design on these old cars was frozen in about 1895, back before electricity had been invented for cars, and thus things were a little awkward to start up.  They at least show something that works.
            Some of these websites are devoted to steamboats.  Here, again, these things run.  Most of them burn solid fuel, wood or coal, and they are used a lot.  Because the steam power plants are in a boat weight is not an issue and so the boilers are almost always very old-fashioned and the engines are almost always of old design so that the boat drivers can enjoy watching all of the moving parts move up and down and around.  At least these things work even if they are not the wave of the future.
            What we are doing is burning fuel, making a big fire, boiling water, and running pressurized steam into an engine that consists of pistons and cylinders, connecting rods, wrist pins, crankshafts, and crank pins.  There are many worse designs than that.
            After the initial exposure to steam power, one always gets lost in making a steam power plant that is as efficient as a gasoline engine, as light weight, as reliable, and as easy to start.  This can be done and the next several thousand pages of explanation and history will cover that subject. 

            A final word of warning; there is not very much good steam information on the internet.  There is a lot of steam information.  What all of that information and people’s interest in steam indicate is that steam power has a magic, an allure if you will, an attraction as being both interesting and a solution to something.  I agree with that.---Tom Kimmel
     
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"There is enough information out there that we don't need to repeat the mistakes of the past to create the best modern steam engine." ---Tom Kimmel

Arm yourself with good scientific information. Learn from the past or you are doomed to repeat it...that means a lot of money spent on mistakes.

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Websites:    
Karl Petersen's Website   http://www.firedragon.com/~kap/SteamTopics/
Northwest Steam Society   http://www.northweststeamsociety.org/
Stanley Motor Carriage   http://www.stanleymotorcarriage.com/
Stanley Steamers   http://www.stanleysteamers.com/
Steam Car Club of Great Britain   http://www.steamcar.net

(The beginning of great things, more will be added in time. Check out Tom's Steam Library as well.)

Books:    

Lardner: How steam produces mechanical action

Chapter 1-7

     

Terms:    

Superheated Steam

From: Steam Engines, Boilers and Turbines by Sydney Walker

     
More terms? See the Steam Library page