How Do Steam Locomotives Work - Steam Engines Explained

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This was probably one of the hardest things to animate, especially the rods and cranks. With more time I would've been able to fully and properly animate them - but, alas. Time was my enemy.

The video explains how steam locomotives use a fuel (usually coal) to start a fire and get water boiling, in order to create steam, which drives the reciprocating piston. Much like a piston in your car, although there there's one tiny "explosion" that happens when the piston is on the top of the stroke (along with a few other pistons).

In reciprocating steam engines, pistons get pushed and pushed, meaning: They get pushed by pressurised steam from both sides, alternating (obviously). Using this back-and-forth motion, using a smart connection to the drive wheel - offsetting it from the center - you can get that wheel to move. And thus, move the train (and whatever it's pulling).

There are different types of steam engine, the most popular one (and the one used in most steam locomotives) is the reciprocating piston engine. A piston moves left and right, pushed by (super)heated steam. This directly drives the wheels.

A few things were skipped in the animation, such as the steam whistle or how the safety valve works. I also left out the superheater, because of time constraints. Basically, what a superheater does, is run the steam entering the main steam pipe and rerouting it passed the firetubes, thus further heating the steam. This to make absolutely sure the water in the steam is too hot to condens in the pistons.

Of course there is more to the story of locomotives and trains than just how they work, the whole idea of moving cargo by train is interesting. As is the rules of the road - or rail, rather - that apply.

???????????? Care to add your own language in subtitles?


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