Steam Power

A plain English explanation of steam power

1. Fire Box
A box with coal in it. You light the coal on fire.

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2. Boiler
A sealed tank containing water. The boiler makes the water hot. There is always a pressure guage for safety purposes, and usually a small window for looking at the water level.

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3. Valve
Which is just a turny wheel for turning the flow of steam on and off (can cause explosion if turned closed while firebox is hot)

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4. Cylinder
High pressure steam is forced directly into the cylinder. The piston fits inside the cylinder, and the steam forces the piston to one end. There is a mecanical switch at each end of the cylinder that diverts the flow of steam to the opposite end of the cylinder, which causes the piston to move back and forth VERY FAST.

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5. Governer
Because this force is so powerful, there is always a governer (the whistle and the rotating ball thingy). This keeps the engine at a constant speed by opening and closing a valve that lets steam (and therefore pressure) out of the cylinder.

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6. Crank
You’ll have seen one of these on the drive wheel/s of a train. It converts the reciprocating (back and forth) motion of the piston into rotary motion on a gear. Basically a rod connected to the piston via a swivel, and to the drive-wheel at a fixed point (so it moves the wheel around).

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7. MACHINE (ok, the drive wheel is part of the machine)
Whatever machine is being driven!
A good example is a power plant, which is when the drive-wheel turns a dynamo to generate electricity. Or a train, where the drive wheels are literally the wheels on the engine car.

Now you know!

Steam Power

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