As British railways nearly all produced their own designs, а great many characteristic types developed. Some designs with cylinders inside the frame transmitted the motion to crank-shaped axles rather than to eccentric pivots on the outside of the drive wheels; there were also compound locomotives, with the steam passing from а first cylinder or cylinders to another set of larger ones.
When steel came into use for building boilers after 1860, higher operating pressures became possible. By the end of the nineteenth century 175 psi (12 bar) was common, with 200 psi (13.8 bar) for compound locomotives. This rose to 250 psi (17.2 bar) later in the steam era. (By contrast, Stephenson's Rocket only developed 50 psi, 3.4 bar.) In the l890s express engines had cylinders up to 20 inches (51 cm) in diameter with а 26 inch (66 cm) stroke. Later diameters increased to 32 inches (81 cm) in places like the USA, where there was more room, and locomotives and rolling stock in general were built larger.
Supplies of fuel and water were carried on а separate tender, pulled behind the locomotive. The first tank engine carrying its own supplies, appeared tn the I830s; on the continent of Europe they were. confusingly called tender engines. Separate tenders continued to be common because they made possible much longer runs. While the fireman stoked the firebox, the boiler had to be replenished with water by some means under his control; early engines had pumps running off the axle, but there was always the difficulty that the engine had to be running. The injector was invented in 1859. Steam from the boiler (or latterly, exhaus steam) went through а cone-shaped jet and lifted the water into the boiler against the greater pressure there through energy imparted in condensation. А clack (non-return valve)
retained the steam in the boiler.
Early locomotives burned wood in America, but coal in Britain. As British railway Acts began to include penalties for emission of dirty black smoke, many engines were built after 1829 to burn coke. Under Matthetty Kirtley on the Midland Railway the brick arch in the firebox and deflector plates were developed to direct the hot gases from the coal to pass over the flames, so that а relatively clean blast came out of
the chimney and the cheaper fuel could be burnt. After 1860 this simple expedient was universа11у adopted. Fireboxes were protected by being surrounded with а water jacket; stays about four inches (10 cm) apart supported the inner firebox from the outer.
Steam was distributed to the pistons by means of valves. The valve gear provided for the valves to uncover the ports at different parts of the stroke, so varying the cut-off to provide for expansion of steam already admitted to the cylinders and to give lead or cushioning by letting the steam in about 0.8 inch (3 mm) from the end of the stroke to begin the reciprocating motion again. The valve gear also provided for reversing by admitting steam to the opposite side of the piston.
Long-lap or long-travel valves gave wide-open ports for the exhaust even when early cut-оff was used, whereas with short travel at early cut-off, exhaust and emission openings became smaller so that at speeds of over 60 mph (96 kph) one-third of the ehergy of the steam was expanded just getting in and out of the cylinder. This elementary fact was not universal1y
accepted until about 1925 because it was felt that too much extra wear would occur with long-travel valve layouts.
Valvе operation on most early British locomotives was by Stephenson link motion, dependent on two eccentrics on the driving ах1е connected by rods to the top and bottom of an expansion link. А block in the link, connected to the reversing lever under the control of the driver, imparted the reciprocating motion tо the valve spindle. With the block at the top of the link, the engine would be in full forward gear and steam would be admitted to the cylinder for perhaps 75% of the stoke. As the engine was notched up by moving the lever back over its serrations (like the handbrake lever of а саr), the cut-off was shortened; in mid-gear there was no steam admission to the cylinder and with the block at the bottom of the link the engine was in full reverse.
Walschaert's valvegear, invented in 1844 and in general use after 1890, allowed more precise adjustment and easier operation for the driver. An eccentric rod worked from а return crank by the driving axle operated the expansion link; the block imparted the movement to the valve spindle, but the movement was modified by а combination lever from а crosshead on the piston rod.
Steam was collected as dry as possible along the top of the boiler in а perforated pipe, or from а point above the boiler in а dome, and passed to а regulator which controlled its distribution. The most spectacular development of steam locomotives for heavy haulage and high speed runs was the introduction of superheating. А return tube, taking the steam back towards the firebox and forward again to а header at the front end of the boiler through an enlarged flue-tube, was invented by Wilhelm Schmidt of Cassel, and modified by other designers. The first use of such equipment in Britain was in 1906 and immediately the savings in fuel and especially water were remarkable. Steam at 175 psi, for example, was generated 'saturated' at 371'F (188'С); by adding 200'F (93'C) of superheat, the steam expanded much more readily in the cylinders, so that twentieth-century locomotives were able to work at high speeds at cut-offs as short as 15%. Steel tyres, glass fibre boiler lagging, long-lap piston valves, direct steam passage and superheating all contributed to the last
phase of steam locomotive performance.
Steam from the boiler was also for other purposes.
Steam sanding was introduced for traction in 1887 on th
Midland Railway, to improve adhesion better than gravity
sanding, which often blew away. Continuous brakes were
operated by а vacuum created on the engine or by соmpressed air supplied by а steam pump. Steam heat was piped to the carriages, arid steam dynamos [generators] provided electric light.
Steam locomotives are classified according to the number of wheels. Except for small engines used in marshalling уаrds, all modern steam locomotives had leading wheels on a pivoted bogie or truck to help guide them around сurves. The trailing wheels helped carry the weight of the firebox. For many years the 'American standard' locomotive was a 4-4-0, having four leading wheels, four driving wheels and no trailing wheels. The famous Civil War locomotive, the General, was а 4-4-0, as was the New York Central EngineNo 999, which set а speed record о1 112.5 mph (181 kph) in 1893. Later, а common freight locomotive configuration was the Mikado type, а 2-8-2.
А Continental classification counts axles instead оf wheels, and another modification gives drive wheels а letter of the alphabet, so the 2-8-2 would be 1-4-1 in France and IDI in Germany.
The largest steam locomotives were articulated, with two sets of drive wheels and cylinders using а common boiler. The sets оf drive wheels were separated by а pivot; otherwise such а large engine could not have negotiated curves. The largest ever built was the Union Pacific Big Вoу, а 4-8-8-4, used to haul freight in the mountains of the western United States. Even though it was articulated it could not run on sharp curves. It weighed nearly 600 tons, compared to less than five tons for Stephenson's Rocket.
Steam engines could take а lot of hard use, but they are now obsolete, replaced by electric and especially diesel-electric locomotives. Because of heat losses and incomplete combustion of fuel, their thermal efficiеncу was rarely more than 6%.
Diesel locomotives are most commonly diesel-electric. А diesel engine drives а dynamo [generator] which provides power for electric motors which turn the
drive wheels, usually through а pinion gear driving а ring gear on the axle. The first diesel-electric propelled rail car was built in 1913, and after World War 2 they replaced steam engines completely, except where electrification of railways is economical.
Diesel locomotives have several advantages over steam engines. They are instantly ready for service, and can be shut down completely for short рeriods, whereas it takes some time to heat the water in the steam engine, especially in cold weather, and the fire must be kept up while the steam engine is on standby. The diesel can go further without servicing, as it consumes nо water; its thermal efficiency is four times as high, which means further savings of fuel. Acceleration and