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Keiwoon Krause is an apprentice technician that works full time for Integrity Automotive. He has a sincere interest in the automotive field, and has joined our team to discover where that interest could lead him. On the side, he’s also an accomplished steam locomotives enthusiast. It all started out when he was browsing Youtube and came across the channel, “The Steam Channel.” The great videos and information that The Steam Channel provided allow Keiwoon to grow his interest into a passionate hobby. Keiwoon (AKA Kei) has been interested in steam locomotive models for almost 5-7 years. He got the initial desire to buy one of his own and actively go to events when he was given a chance to operate a steam engine at an event in Monticello, Indiana. But, let’s take a step back and learn more about steam powered locomotives.

A Little Bit of History

Steam locomotives are vehicles that run on rails or tracks and are powered by steam engines. They were historically used for moving freight and other materials, as well as passengers. Although they were a popular method of transportation for a large part of the 19th into the 20th century, they were eventually replaced with more modern methods of transportation. The steam engine was developed by a series of inventors (adjusting it from the original innovation to foster more potential) between 1698-1763. In 1763, James Watt helped build the steam engine evolved into something that opened doors for steam locomotives.

In 1814, the first successful steam engine locomotive was built by the British Engineer George Stephenson, which could haul up to 30 tons of coal at 4mph going uphill. It was named the Blucher. Later in 1825, Stephenson also created the first public railway for steam locomotives. The first steam engine locomotive that ran in America was actually shipped over by the British, and it was named Stourbridge Lion. It was ordered for the purpose of hauling coal. The very first American made steam engine locomotive was the Tom Thumb by Peter Cooper. The Tom Thumb ran in 1830, hauled 36 passengers, and went 18mph. The Best Friend of Charleston was the first steam engine locomotive in 1830 that was made for traveling passengers.

All That Power

In order to understand how the locomotive works, one must understand how the engine functions. This involves water and fire, which is used to create heat. Coal, wood, and oil were fuel types frequently used to keep the engine running. Fire is used to heat the water which in turn creates the steam that causes the wheels to turn. Near the rear of the boiler was the firebox. The firebox is the area on the boiler where the fuel is burned, and they have a door that opened to add in more fuel (wood, coal, etc.). The heated gases pass through metal tubes that are submerged in the boiler’s water and convert the water into steam. This steam can be released manually if the pressure becomes too high, or it can be released into the steam pipes into a cylinder where it moves the pistons. The pistons are connected to the wheels. As the valves release the steam onto the pistons, the wheels move.

How It Transformed

The steam engine locomotive started as an opportunity to haul large amounts of supplies over a long stretch. However, the need for efficient transportation and fast travel developed the locomotive into a consumer service. The box cars that held passengers over time became more luxurious, and even made way for long term travel by providing cabins for its guests to sleep in. They became more powerful, larger, and more efficient as the locomotive’s need grew in demand. Steam power is one of the most important and key aspects of the Industrial Revolution. Today, most steam locomotives still in operation are for historical, educational or entertainment purposes.

If your interest to learn more about live steam engine models has piqued, please visit: The Steam Channel