How Steam Locomotives Really Work

How Steam Locomotives Really Work

Paperback Popular Science

By (author) A. J. Goldfinch, By (author) P. W. B. Semmens


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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 127mm x 191mm x 20mm | 249g
  • Publication date: 10 June 2004
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0198607822
  • ISBN 13: 9780198607823
  • Illustrations note: numerous halftones and line drawings
  • Sales rank: 59,059

Product description

Following the pioneering work of Trevithick, Stephenson, and many others, steam locomotives continued to evolve and be refined until overtaken by diesel and electric traction technology. Although the last main-line steam service was operated by British Rail in 1968, there is still immense interest in steam traction, as demonstrated by the increasing numbers of privately renovated and preserved locomotives and heritage railways around the world. In How Steam Locomotives Really Work, the authors, both railway experts, cover the design of locomotives, the many processes in the conversion of fuel to tractive effort, the dynamic characteristics of the locomotive as a vehicle, the braking equipment, and a host of other systems, major and minor, that make up a working locomotive. They also explain the reasons for running and maintenance practices. Their explanations will fascinate enthusiasts, whether practical or armchair. Steam locomotive design may have started in the United Kingdom, but it quickly developed parallel and sometimes diverging techniques in other countries, leading to many distinct developments that contribute to the national characteristics of some locomotives. The authors embrace this diversity, and railway enthusiasts from around the world will find this book engrossing and enlightening.

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Author information

Alan Goldfinch was Chief Mechanical and Electrical Engineer, British Rail Eastern Region, until he retired in 1989.

Review quote

Review from previous edition ...if you are only buying one book for a steam railway enthusiast this Christmas, it has to be this one. National Railway Museum Review This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the realities of steam traction. Transport Digest ... an excellent treatment of theory, practice and history ... It will fascinate engineers and railway enthusiasts, as well as prove a source of interesting historical and technical teaching material. New Scientist Enthusiasts will be riveted. Yorkshire Evening Press ... a most worthy book at an attractive price for anyone interested in steam locomotive technology. The Newcomen Society Excellent value for money. Railnews To enable train enthusiasts to understand the workings of the various types of engines in use, this book describes the anatomy and physiology of the steam train. It covers the design of the engine, the process of converting fuel into mechanical tractive effort to haul passenger and freight trains, the function and design of the various components of the engine, and the safe and efficient operation and maintenance of steam locomotives. Although the steam locomotive originated in the United Kingdom, there were parallel lines of development in North America and Europe, and the individual features of these are also covered. Mechanical Engineering

Table of contents

Introduction ; 1. Why use steam? ; 2. Burning the fuel ; 3. Raising steam ; 4. Using the steam ; 5. Transmitting the power ; 6. The locomotive as a vehicle ; 7. The steam locomotive at work ; 8. Brakes ; 9. Designing a steam locomotive ; Index