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When people say "Steam Engine" it usually conjures up images of something from a Shay to a Hudson, or Mikado or Mountain or Berkshire or Northern, etc. etc. etc.

Then someone throws in "efficiency" and the design starts to swerve away from the mind's image to those of Turbines, first Turbine Mechanical (Turbine motor geared directly to the wheels) then to gain some more efficiency it becomes Turbine Electric (Turbine motor drives a generator which drive electric motors on the wheels... same as a Diesel Electric).

Then it swerves off into the fantasy realm of nuclear heat source and that will then lead to some other method of converting the heat to motion.

At this point the mind's image of "Steam Engine" becomes a box on flanged wheels... no "firebox", no "Boiler, no "Smoke stack", no "Cylinders", no "Side rods", no "STEAM"... and the question has to be changed to "What would a modern defibbledydo engine be like?" which is not the intent of the original question (to me, anyway).

I am not saying that there could never be some technological breakthrough that will turn a Mike or Berk or Big-Boy into the most efficient form of powered transportation but if you start from the ground up to design a Steam Engine, you will get a Shay or Northern or etc. etc. etc. and it will look like what was last designed 50 to 150 years ago.

Personally, I think a "Modern Steam Engine " SHOULD[/i] look like this...

("Heavy Metal Hero" by Rodney Matthews)

· Premium Member
5,578 Posts
Posted By jfrank on 02/26/2009 9:10 PM
With the highly efficient and high horse power diesels available now days, even pure electrics are having a hard time competing. Steam will never come back. Forget it.

"Forget it." ... "Forget it?"... FORGET IT?????

I do not know the original poster's reason for the question, nor what point he was driving at...

BUT, I think for most Steam Fanatics it is not about "effeciency" and it is not necessarily a simple "nostalgia" trip of "Oh I remembere when..."

It is a PASSION of unparalleled proportion.

Yes, I suppose that some technological breakthrough might be able to create a locomotive that uses steam some place in the energy conversion chain... maybe the boiler becomes an instant flash-steam set of coils that squirts superheated steam across a crystal of unobtainium which is then dribbled on a couple of lab rats such that they gain super strength and they run in the rims of the tires like squirrel cages to make the locomotive move (and the SPCA issues a waiver to do so...)

But if it is not beltching steam and smoke from the stack in a staccato chuffing that echos off the canyon walls (either in the rock canyons in the mountains or in the building canyons of the city), with steam leaking from all the joints, flexures and seals, and with the boiler bubbling, creaking and groaning, and the side rods whirling around flashing in the sun, and a steam whistle wailing in the night... alive, at work, in the hands of men doing real work for the good of the people and nation...
"Forget it"!

The cry is:


Semper: Everlasting, Continuously, Forever, Eternally!...

Vaporo: Steam "In Transistion", Active, Changing, Alive!...
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