A short introduction to the world of steam and Steampunk technology. From E.F. Gloriosky
|It has come to my attention that many people do not really have a basic understanding of steam and Steampunk technology. While there are many exhaustive references available for steam technology, here is some basic information concerning steam power. |
Wherever you need something to turn, or pressurize something, steam is a good resource to use. In it's simplest form, all you need is a copper globe with a couple of tubes that extend outwards and bend in the same direction, with an axle running perpendicular to the axis of the tubes. Fill it with water, start it heating up, and as the water begins to boil, the steam will escape through the tubes similar to a jet engine exhaust, and the sphere will begin to spin on the axle.
To use it with more efficiency, let's look at the steam engine for a boat. It's actually simple. All you need is a boiler to hold the water, a burner or firebox underneath it to heat the water, and steam lines that lead to your motor. The motor is very similar to an internal combustion engine, except that the steam lines lead into the piston chambers to force the pistons downward. As the pistons are forced downward, they turn the crankshaft which is connected to the propellor shaft. Valves operate to ensure the steam enters the chambers and stops when the piston must be allowed to return to the top of the cylinder. This is steam operation at it's simplest. The only things that have changed over the years is the resource used to create the steam.
In the beginning, it was wood. Then it was coal, followed by black oil. Today, the heat generated by nuclear reactors is used to create steam to operate the engines of aircraft carriers and other warships, as well as the steam turbines of electric plants that create electricity for our homes and businesses.
So, one can see that steam power is still very much a part of our lives. In the world of "The Files of Elias F. Gloriosky, Ph.D." the only thing that changes for us is that we are using a combination of Aether and ectoplasm to create the heat for steam to operate the motors of our airships, and to create the power needed to operate many other devices.
Some people believe that electricity in Steampunk is not easily explained and are therefore not likely to utilize it. In reality, the ancient Greeks were aware of both electricity and magnetism. While we are often taught as children that Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity, that is not actually true. Electricity was already something we knew about, we just didn't know that lightning was actually a form of static electricity, and that it could be stored with the proper medium. Franklin's experiments with lightning proved those ideas.
So, to think of Steampunk Engineering, let's just think of this:
Steam is a technology that is still in use today, and is one of the most versatile forms of power there is. If one looks into the history of this technology, you will learn that the city of London had miles and miles of steam lines that led from central steam plants to nearly every building in the city. These steam lines were used to warm their homes, turn the compressors for cooling commercial refrigeration devices, operate manufacturing tools, and turn the mills that created textiles, ground grain, and pumped water. Many of those lines can still be found today, they're just not pressurized. Electricity became more readily available, and the wires that carry it often are found close to the old steam lines throughout London, right close to the gas lines.
Anything you can do with an internal combustion engine, you can do with steam. It just might require a little more space to place the equipment if it's going to stand alone. In my writing, there is a very large vehicle called a Velocitor Model 7. It is basically a steam-powered automobile that utilizes the Aether/ectoplasm mixture to heat water in a closed-loop that creates steam to operate the steam engine that runs the drive train of the car.
For examples of how steam equipment looks, check the internet for images. I usually use Bing to look for images, and pretty much always get good results. You can see examples of lumber mills, locomotives, drill presses, lathes, and other machine-shop equipment. There are also a couple of diagrams that can give you a good idea of how much space is required to achieve the goals for equipment needed to get the job done in your world.
While I know this short treatise wanders about a little, I do hope it gives you some help in understanding the amazing power of steam. I will expand on this soon, as well as discuss some of the more esoteric things that Dr. Gloriosky has been willing to share.