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The Steam Engine
The Steam engine was the beginning of a new industrial
era in the second half of the 18th century. James Watt invented the
steam engine between 1768 to 1782, after this, there were various other
power engines on the market. Terrific developments in industry,
agriculture and traffic would follow.
Engines are toys with tradition. They convert water (steam) into
mechanical energy just like the originals. This energy can be used to
drive our models.
Today turbines and gasoline engines have replaced the steam engine,
nevertheless they still hold the interest of young and old alike.
Wilesco-Engines cater for this ageless interest in demonstrating the
basic principles of changing heat and water into mechanical power.
That's the reason why everybody can learn a lot from the steam engine.
Key to the diagrams:
1. The water in the
boiler is heated by the fire, this generates steam and because it is
trapped in the boiler pressure builds up. Steam can pass, however, to
the cylinder (blue dotted lines) via the
2. in the second diagram the steam can be seen
passing to the left side of the piston, pushing the piston to the right.
At the same time the exhaust steam from previous stroke is directed, by
the other port on the slide valve, out into the atmosphere, having done
its work, (dotted green line).
3. Just before the piston reaches the end of its
travel, on the extreme right, the slide valve cuts off the steam from
the boiler. This is the point where the crank is at the limit of its
movement and is known as "top-dead-center" or "bottom-dead-center",
referring to the two possible geometric positions. The flywheel carries
the crank over this critical position by the energy it has stored from
previous power strokes.
4. The slide valve continues to move in the same
direction this time opening the inlet port to admit steam to the right
hand side of the piston, again pushing the piston but now to the left,
exhausting the steam through the left hand port. The whole cycle being
repeated when the "dead center" is reached once more.