There is nothing quite like the raw power inherent in the silence of a steam powered machine. A well tuned Steam Engine merely hisses as it turns over, none of the rumbles, explosions, and growls associated with an internal combustion machine. Of course a steam machine which incorporates both the engine and boiler co-located can get noisy as the bark of the exhaust up the chimney and the roaring of the fire give indication of their presence. Indeed you will often hear the phrase "The romance of steam" but never "The romance of diesel" - it just does not sound right.
The Steam Preservation movement around the world is probably at the strongest it has ever been, but with mostly older people involved the level of preservation may wane. On a personal level I try to keep my kids interested in steam hoping to introduce a new generation to the hobby. This is made a little easier by TV series such as "Thomas The Tank Engine" (© Britt Allcroft) which help our movement by encouraging kids to think of "good steam engine" and "bad diesel engine".
In Australia there have been some very public engine unveiling, the most notable being West Coast Railway's R Class No. 711 which has been rebuilt at considerable cost to be a more efficient running example of steam. Using South African technology and incorporating diesel controls the engine is now driven in much the same way as the companies diesel fleet, but there is no mistaking the attraction of the steam engine even in bastardised form like this one. WCR use the locomotive to run trains on their intercity mainline on Saturdays and have turned an empty train set into one which is always near full of enthusiasts, tourists, and more importantly kids. If more railway organisations take their preservation example we'll be well taken care of for this new millennium.
In this section of Steam & Engine you will find both details on the processes and engines, but examples of the usage of those engines.
The Railway line strikes due West and in places as straight as a gun barrel along the Tropic of Capricorn. It is 420 miles 670 Klm from Rockhamton on the Central Coast of Queensland Australia to Longreach in the Central West. A little over half way along this railway line there is a small town called Alpha (The Beginning of the Outback) . The building of the line was a mammoth task in the early 1900s reaching Longreach in 1905.…
Late in 1997 we embarked on a winery crawl of the Mitchels Town region (by boat). We visited a heap of wineries and consumed some very nice wine - not to mention gathered a heap of it to bring home. At the Tabilk winery I avoided the lets go down the hole and look at giant barrels full of rotting grape juice which might just turn into something nice in about ten years, and went wandering and found this collection of engines hiding in a shed. Unfortunately the owners want to see them rot to nothing rather than be restored "that is our museum". I am always disappointed at this attitude, even if they have plans to restore the engines and (if we are lucky) operate them - their main business is wine, sooner or later these engines will fall by the wayside and be lost to history for ever. Update 2000 This year I received a letter from the winery. Seems this article has prompted them into a little action. They now have actual plans to build a small museum on site and to look after the machinery better. Seems it will be a static display, but that is much better than ignoring it all.…
Great news for Victorian miniature engineering boiler operators.
Worksafe Victoria have approved the exemptions to allow AMBSC boilers to operate in Victoria. The exemptions apply to all 4 AMBSC Boiler Codes and come into effect in Victoria today.
The exemptions are attached to this article…
In late 2005 Orval Hill contacted me with some pictures of his creation - he built a working experimental steam engine from an old ride on mower engine using a pressure cooker for a boiler. I was intrigued, projects like this have turned up before, but Orv's is different in that it is so clever, simple, and straight forward that just about anyone could build one. The remainder of this article is Orval's words and pictures - read on, hopefully you'll be spurred onto building one! The article and pictures are © Copyright Orval Hill 2005 All Rights Reserved, used with permission.…
After a very successful weekend at a vintage machinery show in Bunbury Western Australia in February 1997, a customer overheard a chance conversation to the proprietor of a local hardware shop in Perth.. The conversation was between Peter Ogborne and the shop owner about the performance and quality of engines at the show. A customer, later to be identified as John O’Brian, listening to the conversation said he had an engine on his property in Mullewa (400 km north of Perth) and if it was any good it was available.…