Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Always Something Interesting....

19th century steam technology wore its power on its sleeve, so to speak. The locomotive engineer presided over a roaring fire in the heavily riveted firebox beneath and in front of the cab, whose superheated gases passed up and forward through the boiler tubes, raising steam which was further superheated in the domes above the boiler before doing its work in the cylinders connected to the drive wheels. Unlike a steamship, with plenty of room to spread out, all this power must be concentrated in a motive unit fitting within the standard dimensions of a train and tracks. Contemplate the arrays of bolts, rivets and massive steel members required to channel this power and withstand the pounding of years of service. No wonder the engineer, riding this beast in exposed conditions, controlling this power (and the whistle) to make the train run on time, was the envy of every boy watching him work.

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