Tag Archives: machine

How a steamer engine works

Last post I wondered why a steam car doesn’t have a smokestack. Here’s what I think the differences are between a steam car and a railroad locomotive.

Here’s a simplified diagram of how a steam car engine works.

The locomotive burns wood or coal in a firebox to heat the water in the boiler.
The steam car uses kerosene or other liquid fuel that gets transformed into vapor through pressure. The fuel heats a burner which spreads the heat over a wide surface to heat the water in the boiler.

Here’s the burner. Kerosene goes in as a vapor—like the burner on a gas stove. The gas comes out through the little holes where it catches on fire.

In the locomotive, hot smoke and steam (from the cylinder) are combined and expelled through the blast pipe. They leave a vacuum behind as they shoot upwards which draws air into the firebox and makes the fire burn hotter.
In the steam car, the water in the boiler is contained—it’s under pressure as it becomes steam. The steam only leaves the boiler through a pressure-relieving valve or else it goes into a condenser as water, to be heated into steam again.

Here’s the boiler for a steam car.

I suppose there is an exhaust pipe for the burnt-up gas on the steam car but I didn’t see one.

https://kids.kiddle.co/Stanley_Motor_Carriage_Company

Historic Engines – Stanley Steamer


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Motor_Carriage_Company

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Father’s Day 2020

As I drew a steam locomotive for a recent post, for a moment I was transported back in time. When I was a boy, we were forever doing ‘projects’ for school. Not just homework, but projects—like a diorama, or a big graph with colored paper, or a diary with specimens Scotch-taped onto the pages. One particular week I had to do a project about steam locomotives. My dad is a train enthusiast—and a good drawer, so after dinner we sat at the dining room table and he drew me a diagram of how a steam locomotive works. I can see him now, explaining how the coal in the firebox heats the water in the boiler, the steam fills the cylinder which pushes the piston which turns the wheels…

I’m lucky to have a dad who took the time to explain things like that. It’s my great regret that I don’t have kids, so I draw these steam engine diagrams for you guys. Enjoy! Have a blessed Father’s Day.

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The amazing fantastic clock of Piazza San Marco

In 1493, the Venetian Republic commissioned the clockmaker Giovan Paolo Rainieri, from the town of Reggio Emilia, to design and build a clock. This clock would be big and beautiful and expensive—a tower would be designed and built on Saint Mark’s Plaza to house it. It would face the lagoon and the sea beyond, so the whole world could see how prosperous was Venice.

If you visit Venice you can see the Rainieri clock. Its face is decorated in gold and lapis lazuli (a mineral you make blue out of—blue paint ain’t cheap); the hand tells what hour it is and the current zodiac sign; above the clock is a statue of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus (made of gilded copper); twice a year a mechanical angel and three wise men parade in front of Mary and tip their crowns to her; above Mary is the lion of Saint Mark with his paw on the Gospel (the statue of the praying doge isn’t there anymore); and at the top, every hour two bronze giants ring an enormous bell with their hammers.

The entire contraption from top to bottom used a verge and foliot escapement to regulate the gears.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/torre-dell-orologio-venice-clock-tower
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Mark%27s_Clock

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Mark%27s_Clocktower

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