James Watt’s (1736-1819) voice echoes every time someone mentions steam engines. Watt, however, was preceded by a bunch of inventors whose names are less often mentioned: Heron (c. 10–70 AD), Giovanni Branca (1571-1645), Denis Papin (1647-1712), Thomas Savery (1650–1715) and Thomas Newcomen (1664-1729) to mention a few. Based on the basic principles of thermodynamics and mechanics, the steam engine nothing less but revolutionized manufacturing and logistics. Here’s a couple of ways of using one in case you feel compelled to build one!
Steam locomotives are a great way of travelling from one place to another. Although not as eco-friendly as taking a high-speed train powered by electricity or even driving a car, there’s nothing more impressive than the sound of the whistle accompanied by the large thuds caused by the piston inside the combustion engine. Steam locomotives as a travel form become even more impressive when you realize that you have to build the railway to your destination a) because no railwayexists or b) the existing railway dimensions do not match those of steam locomotives. The one shown to the left is a British Railways Standard steam locomotive from 1966. Steam locomotives fell out of fashion in the early 20th century as a result of advances in internal combustion engines (e.g. modern cars) and more efficient fuel options.
If you like toffee and are feeling nostalgic, then this single cylinder piece of wonder is the thing for you! It’s a steam engine that powered a Mancunian toffee factory for a century from 1860s to 1960s. Despite its relatively large size, its indispensable uses and detailed decorations, such as valves, pressure meters and life-threatening moving parts that can be used for party game purposes, contribute to its comeback to modern 21st century living rooms.
With the city sport utility vehicle (SUV) sales seeing a considerable rise, why not take the next step to the Fowler traction engine? With zero petrol consumption, you can stop worrying about sparsely located gas stations. Furthermore, its solid, several tons in weight, iron frame guarantees top marks in crash tests. Additional protection is provided by built-in speed limitations that are likely not to rise over those of racing bicycles. Just like any modern vehicle, it doesn’t need a key for ignition either. This particular model is from 1951, although built decades earlier in early 20th century. As a cherry on top, their resale price development outperforms any of its present-day rivals.