Steam locomotive

LNER Class A4 4468 Mallard is officially the fastest steam locomotive, reaching 126 mph on 3 July 1938.
LNER Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman was the first steam locomotive to officially reach 100 mph, on 30 November 1934.
Trevithick's 1802 Coalbrookdale locomotive
The Locomotion at Darlington Railway Centre and Museum
The Stourbridge Lion
Photo of the Adler made in the early 1850s
First locomotive in Russia. 1834
The main components of a steam locomotive (click to enlarge)
A steam locomotive with the boiler and firebox exposed (firebox on the left)
Aftermath of a boiler explosion on a railway locomotive, c. undefined1850
Thermal image of an operating steam locomotive
Running gear animation
Steam-cleaning the running gear of an "H" class locomotive, Chicago and North Western Railway, 1943
Running gear of steam locomotive
Water gauge. Here the water in the boiler is at the "top nut", higher than the normal maximum working level.
A locomotive takes on water using a water crane
A locomotive crew in France
The boiler safety valves lifting on 60163 Tornado, creating a false smoke trail
Pressure gauges on Blackmore Vale. The right-hand one shows boiler pressure, the one on the left steam chest pressure.
Typical self-cleaning smokebox design
Watering a steam locomotive
South African Class 25 condensing locomotive
"Wakefield" brand displacement lubricator mounted on a locomotive boiler backplate. Through the right-hand sight glass a drip of oil (travelling upwards through water) can be seen.
Big-end bearing (with connecting rod and coupling rod) of a Blackmoor Vale showing pierced cork stoppers to oil reservoirs
Preserved Great Western Railway locomotive 7802 Bradley Manor, with two oil lamps signifying an express passenger service, and a high-intensity electric lamp added for safety standards
A typical AWS "sunflower" indicator. The indicator shows either a black disk or a yellow and black "exploding" disk.
U-127, the oil burning De Glehn compound locomotive that pulled Lenin's funeral train, in the Museum of the Moscow Railway at Paveletsky Rail Terminal
A South Australian Railways 400 class Garratt locomotive, built in 1952 to a Beyer, Peacock & Company design by Société Franco-Belge. Articulation is enabled by pivots at the ends of the locomotive's central frame.
David Lloyd George Leaves Tan-y-Bwlch Station, Gwynedd - a Fairlie locomotive on the Festiniog Railway, Wales
Fireless locomotive
Heilmann locomotive No. 8001, Chemins de Fer de l'Ouest
The Gov. Stanford, a (using Whyte notation) locomotive typical of 19th-century American practice
Esh 4444 at Varshavsky Rail Terminal, St. Petersburg
Great Western Railway No. 6833 Calcot Grange, a 4-6-0 Grange class steam locomotive at Bristol Temple Meads station. Note the Belpaire (square-topped) firebox.
60163 Tornado on the East Coast Main Line in 2016
California Western Railroad No. 45 (builder No. 58045), built by Baldwin in 1924, is a Mikado locomotive. It is still in use today on the Skunk Train.
The 200th steam locomotive built by Clyde Engineering (TF 1164) from the Powerhouse Museum collection
60163 Tornado, a new express locomotive built for the British main line, completed in 2008
Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad 425 being readied in Pennsylvania, US, for the daily tourist train in 1993
Er 774 38 0-10-0 on Steam Special Train in Moscow 11 July 2010
2-6-0 type "N3" steam locomotive built by Beyer, Peacock & Company in 1910 and restored 2005–2007 by the Uruguayan Railfan Association (AUAR). The photo shows the locomotive with a passenger tourist train in March 2013 at a Montevideo railway station museum.
South African Class 26, the Red Devil

Rail vehicle that provides the force to move itself and other vehicles by means of the expansion of steam.

- Steam locomotive

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Steam engine

Heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.

A model of a beam engine featuring James Watt's parallel linkage for double action.
A mill engine from Stott Park Bobbin Mill, Cumbria, England
A steam locomotive from East Germany. This class of engine was built in 1942–1950 and operated until 1988.
A steam ploughing engine by Kemna
Jacob Leupold's steam engine, 1720
Early Watt pumping engine
Steam powered road-locomotive from England
A triple-expansion marine steam engine on the 1907 oceangoing tug Hercules
Union Pacific 844 a "FEF-3" 4-8-4 "Northern" type steam locomotive
An industrial boiler used for a stationary steam engine
An injector uses a jet of steam to force water into the boiler. Injectors are inefficient but simple enough to be suitable for use on locomotives.
Richard's indicator instrument of 1875. See: Indicator diagram (below)
Centrifugal governor in the Boulton & Watt engine 1788 Lap Engine.
An animation of a simplified triple-expansion engine. High-pressure steam (red) enters from the boiler and passes through the engine, exhausting as low-pressure steam (blue), usually to a condenser.
Double acting stationary engine. This was the common mill engine of the mid 19th century. Note the slide valve with concave, almost "D" shaped, underside.
Schematic Indicator diagram showing the four events in a double piston stroke. See: Monitoring and control (above)
Animation of a uniflow steam engine.
The poppet valves are controlled by the rotating camshaft at the top. High-pressure steam enters, red, and exhausts, yellow.
A rotor of a modern steam turbine, used in a power plant
Turbinia – the first steam turbine-powered ship
Operation of a simple oscillating cylinder steam engine
An aeolipile rotates due to the steam escaping from the arms. No practical use was made of this effect.
Flow diagram of the four main devices used in the Rankine cycle. 1) Feedwater pump 2) Boiler or steam generator 3) Turbine or engine 4) Condenser; where Q=heat and W=work. Most of the heat is rejected as waste.
A steam locomotive – a GNR N2 Class No.1744 at Weybourne nr. Sheringham, Norfolk
A steam-powered bicycle by John van de Riet, in Dortmund
British horse-drawn fire engine with steam-powered water pump

In general usage, the term steam engine can refer to either complete steam plants (including boilers etc.), such as railway steam locomotives and portable engines, or may refer to the piston or turbine machinery alone, as in the beam engine and stationary steam engine.

Stockton and Darlington Railway

Railway company that operated in north-east England from 1825 to 1863.

The seal of the Stockton & Darlington Railway
Stephenson's iron bridge across the Gaunless
The opening procession of the Stockton and Darlington Railway crosses the Skerne bridge
The route of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 1827, shown in black, with today's railway lines shown in red
The Union coach as shown in an advertisement
The suspension bridge over the Tees
S&DR offices in Darlington
The north entrance to Shildon Tunnel, which opened in 1842
The steam locomotive Middlesbrough introduced in 1839
The N&DJR crossed the Sherburn with a timber viaduct
The Wear Valley Railway in 1847
Preferential share certificate of the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company, issued 24. September 1858
The railways in Cleveland in 1863, the Cleveland Railway shown in red
The SD&LUR viaduct over the Tees Valley in 1858
Christmas Day timetable for 1856
The seal of the North Eastern Railway
The former S&DR, shown in red, as part of the larger NER network of 1904
A diesel locomotive stands at Thornaby station in 1961
The Exhibition of the Locomotives as shown in the Illustrated London News in 1875
Locomotion No 1 at Shildon, 1975
Northern Rail diesel multiple unit on the Tees Valley Line at Redcar East
Skerne Bridge

The world's first public railway to use steam locomotives, its first line connected collieries near Shildon with Darlington and Stockton-on-Tees in County Durham, and was officially opened on 27 September 1825.

Robert Stephenson and Company

Locomotive manufacturing company founded in 1823 in Forth Street, Newcastle upon Tyne in England.

Works offices in South Street, Newcastle

It was the first company in the world created specifically to build railway engines.

George Stephenson

English civil engineer and mechanical engineer.

Engineer and Mechanic
Dial Cottage, West Moor, Killingworth
Stephenson's safety lamp shown with Davy's lamp on the left
Early Stephenson locomotive in Samuel Smiles' Lives of the Engineers (1862). Called an 1816 Killingworth Colliery locomotive (often claimed to be Blücher), it looks more like the slightly later Hetton colliery railway locomotives whose 1852 replica Lyons was still operating in Smiles' time.
Fishbelly rail with half-lap joint, patented by Stephenson 1816
The No. 1 engine, called Locomotion, for the Stockton & Darlington Railway
Experiment, the first railway carriage
Statue of George Stephenson at the National Railway Museum, York
First passenger railway, L&MR
Stephenson's bridge
A close-up of the technique
Stephenson's House at Alton Grange
Stephenson's statue in Chesterfield

Built by George and his son Robert's company Robert Stephenson and Company, the Locomotion No. 1 was the first steam locomotive to carry passengers on a public rail line, the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825.

Liverpool and Manchester Railway

The first inter-city railway in the world.

Illustration of the railway in 1830
A replica LMR coach and Rocket at the Rocket 150 event
Stephenson's viaduct crosses the Sankey Brook, and the remains of the Sankey Canal. The viaduct is in use to this day.
View of the Railway across Chat Moss, 1831
The railway passes the Bridgewater Foundry at Patricroft, pictured in 1839
A replica of the Planet
The Huskisson Memorial in 1913
Stephenson's bridge over the Warrington – Wigan Turnpike Road (now A49) at Newton-le-Willows
1831 view
1831 Billboard giving train details and conditions of carriage
Liverpool Road Station in Manchester

Trains were hauled by company steam locomotives between the two towns, though private wagons and carriages were allowed.

Stephenson's Rocket

A contemporary drawing of Rocket
Replica of the Rocket in its original condition in the Transport Museum in Nuremberg during the exhibition "Adler, Rocket and Co."
Side elevation of Rocket
A cutaway view of the cylinder and steam valve of the replica Rocket
A replica coach and Rocket at the Rocket 150 event
Rocket as preserved in the Science Museum, London.
A closer view
Buster Keaton made whimsical use of his replica Rocket in Our Hospitality.
Rocket steam replica, Albert Hall and a BEA Routemaster bus in 1979

Stephenson's Rocket is an early steam locomotive of 0-2-2 wheel arrangement.

Fuel oil

Fraction obtained from the distillation of petroleum (crude oil).

An oil tanker taking on fuel, or "bunkering"
A fuel station in Zigui County on the Yangtze River
HAZMAT class 3 fuel oil
Fuel oil truck making a delivery in North Carolina, 1945
A sample of residual fuel oil

It powered boilers, railroad steam locomotives, and steamships.


Water in the gas phase.

Fireless steam locomotive Despite the resemblance to a boiler, note the lack of a chimney and also how the cylinders are at the cab end, not the chimney end.

Fireless steam locomotives were steam locomotives that operated from a supply of steam stored on board in a large tank resembling a conventional locomotive's boiler.

Diesel locomotive

Type of railway locomotive in which the prime mover is a diesel engine.

The ČKD ČME3 is one of the longest-running and most-manufactured diesel–electric locomotives ever made.
The InterCity 125, the current confirmed record holder as the fastest diesel-powered train at 148 mi/h; is made up of two power cars, one at each end of a fixed formation of carriages; capable of 125 mi/h in regular service.
These Pacific National-operated locos show three styles of diesel locomotive body: box cab (rear), hood unit (center) and cab unit (front).
Diagram of Priestman oil engine from The Steam engine and gas and oil engines (1900) by John Perry
Petrol–electric Weitzer railmotor, first 1903, series 1906
Swiss & German co-production: world's first functional diesel–electric railcar 1914
World's first useful diesel locomotive for long distances SŽD Eel2
Shunter of Nederlandse Spoorwegen from 1934, in modern livery
Renault VH, France, 1933/34
British Rail Class D16/1, since 1948
A Mckeen railcar in Wodonga, Australia, 1911
Schematic illustration of a diesel mechanical locomotive
A British Rail Class 03 diesel–mechanical shunter with a jackshaft under the cab.
Schematic diagram of a diesel–electric locomotive
The EMD F40PH (left) and MPI MPXpress-series MP36PH-3S (right) locomotives coupled together by Metra use diesel–electric transmission.
Soviet 2TE10M locomotive
Czech Class 742 and 743 locomotive
Engineer's controls in a diesel–electric locomotive cab. The lever near bottom-centre is the throttle and the lever visible at bottom left is the automatic brake valve control.
MLW model S-3 produced in 1957 for the CPR adhering to designs by ALCO.
Cab of the Russian locomotive 2TE116U. "11" indicates the throttle.
Typical main generator constant power curve at "notch 8"
Left corridor of power compartment of Russian locomotive 2TE116U, 3 – alternator, 4 – rectifier, 6 – diesel
Russian diesel locomotive TEP80
An EMD 12-567B 12-cylinder 2-stroke diesel engine (foreground; square "hand holes"), stored pending rebuild, and missing some components, with a 16-567C or D 16-cylinder engine (background; round "hand holes").
Metro-North's GE Genesis P32AC-DM electro-diesel locomotive can also operate off of third-rail electrification.
JNR DD51 1 diesel-hydraulic
DB class V 200 diesel–hydraulic
A Henschel (Germany) diesel–hydraulic locomotive in Medan, North Sumatra
British Rail diesel–hydraulic locomotives: Class 52 "Western", Class 42 "Warship" and Class 35 "Hymek"
A VR Class Dv12 diesel–hydraulic locomotive
A GMD GMDH-1 diesel–hydraulic locomotive
Soviet Locomotive TP1
Diesel–electric locomotive built by EMD for service in the UK and continental Europe.
A Canadian National Railway train showing the placement of the headlight and ditch lights on the locomotive.

They offered greater flexibility and performance than steam locomotives, as well as substantially lower operating and maintenance costs.

Steam locomotive components

The main components of a typical steam locomotive (click to enlarge).

This article is a glossary of the main components found on a typical steam locomotive.