Friday, April 20, 2012

S is for STEAM

Thanks to an error of mine, you get two posts today! Oops. Oh well. So no new post Saturday. That's okay, as I can use a little bit of a breather. So check out my "R" post below as well!


Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that takes many Victorian/Industrial Age technologies, and then thrusts it into a futuristic world. In a steampunk world, there might be flying machines, computers, and ray guns - but built from copper, wood, brass, and using steam as a power source. It's a unique blend of the future and the present that makes steampunk unique.


Steampunk wouldn't be steampunk without STEAM! Although you might see other power sources like early forms of electricity (think Tesla), steam is the primary source of power. And steam powers everything from robots, to vehicles, and even weapons.

At the heart of any steam powered contraption, especially vehicles is the steam engine. Here are the basic components that are necessary to utilize steam power:

1) You need heat. In order to heat water to make steam, many sources of fuel are coal, wood, or in the steampunk universe, other kinds of interesting elements like a new form of coal or element. The combustion usually takes place in some sort of chamber, like a firebox.

Firebox. Can't touch this!

2) Boiler. These are the special sealed tanks that holds the water to be heated to form steam. From the combustion in the firebox, there's a transfer of heat straight to the boiler, heating up the water.

The boiler

3) Motor or engine. Just like a regular gas powered car, the engine makes use of cylinders with pistons that move from the steam power transferred from the boiler. This trapped steam inside the cylinder is compressed, pushing the piston.
Pistons (and not the ones from Detroit)

4) Exhaust. This can happen through a chimney or smoke stack. Any unused steam escapes from the cylinder and goes out the exhaust system.

Behold, the power of steam!

40 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Some small steam engines in the robots then.

DEZMOND said...

I cook my veggies on steam, but that's an off topic LOL.
It's interesting how those who write steampunk have to know a lot about technology, physics, science....

farawayeyes said...

All that extra steam helps to create that eerie foggy atmosphere i the steampunk movies.

Hope you're finally feeling better. I am. That's what SUPER antibiotics will do for you. Don't ask about the other things they also do.

Jay Noel said...

Alex: Yup. Or some otherwordly version of the steam engine and combustion source.

Dez: I had to learn a lot, but it was easy since my youngest child is fascinated with steam trains.

farwaway: Yes, so true. Especially Victorian steampunk. Still sick actually. Viral, so antibiotics will do me no good. And I woke up to a strained hamstring tendon.

Jack said...

Oooh, two posts today! I'll never forget the engine room scene from Titanic. So much heat, so much steam. And they were massive!

Jay Noel said...

Jack: Yeah, made a little scheduling goof. But it works out in the end. So no new ones until Monday. I'm still recovering from the flu, so it's all good.

Cynthia said...

I hadn't been aware of all these ways we could make steam!

Milo James Fowler said...

These photos are great. Did you happen to catch Suckerpunch last year? Awesome battle scene with steam-powered zombies -- coolest thing I've seen in a while.

M Pax said...

I love that first photo of the train.

I've been doubling up all along. Otherwise, I'd get nothing done.

Gina Gao said...

I really like these photos, especially the first one. This is a great post.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

jen@ living a full life said...

I actually have a similar looking smoke stack at my house for my wood stove!

Mark Noce said...

It's funny because a century ago they figured steam was the wave of the future...now what are we better on...solar?

Kelly Barnes said...

Sorry to hear you're sick. I used to get the flu a lot when I first started teaching. I tried to think about my hair. It's the only thing that didn't ache.

All the soot and coal dust give steampunk that sort of dystopian feel I always expect.

Arthur Brill said...

"S" is for SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET! I love me some Steampunk. Datamancer.com is one of my fav websites.

R is for Role Playing Games at Main Street Arts!
http://mainstreetarts.blogspot.com/2012/04/role-playing-games.html

Mr. Shife said...

Extremely cool. I think this is fascinating and I can't wait to share all of this cool stuff with my little dude. Good stuff, Jay. Have a good one.

Pk Hrezo said...

It's interesting how it all works. I'll have been properly schooled from your blog after this mnth's over. And yes, a break is nice. :)

Ciara said...

My Young adult became more of a biopunk as the technology used nuclear, gas, and other elements along with steam. It is post war, so certain regions possessed certain resources which determined what type of power source would be used. Great post on steam!

Jay Noel said...

Cynthia: It is human ingenuity at work.

Milo: YES. Even though the movie sucked, the visuals were amazing (plus the ladies are HOT)

Mary: It's a cool picture - like an evil steampunk train.

Gina: Thanks Gina!

jen: Do you really? You have a steampunk house? Ha!

Jay Noel said...

Mark: I know! Technology changes so quickly.

Kelly: Thanks. Hopefully I'll kick this virus.

Arthur: Thanks for visiting.

Shife: You too man!

Pk: I'm glad I could expose you to the world of steampunk.

Ciara: I've thought about branching out to diesel punk and cyber/bio punk eventually. Gets darker and darker as you get more futuristic.

Martha said...

Cool stuff here... er, I mean steamy stuff ;)

The Desert Rocks said...

Eli Whitney would be proud of you!

Jay Noel said...

VERY steamy, Martha. Too hot to handle!

Jay Noel said...

Eve: Too bad Eli Whitney got screwed out of his patents. Being a shrewd businessman is how Edison got to the top.

Rusty Webb said...

Most of our modern world runs on steam ultimately anyway. I know that's how most fission nuclear reactors generate electricity - and I've been to my local coal powered plant - its a giant steam engine.

The Golden Eagle said...

I find it interesting (and a little dismaying) that so much of our technology still runs on that basic model--fuel to motor to exhaust.


The Golden Eagle
The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

Matthew MacNish said...

Clean, mean, and on the scene, it's steam! Seriously, though, I love the Steampunk concept. It' so romantic. But it can also be set in the past, right?

Sylvia Ney said...

Great post! New follower here. I’m enjoying reading my fellow “A to Z”ers. I look forward to visiting again.

Sylvia
http://www.writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/

David P. King said...

I can't seem to get enough of this "steam" series you have going. Each visit stems a new idea. :)

Jay Noel said...

Rusty: You're exactly right!

Eagle: There's been some nice variations, but you're right...not much has changed in 100 yrs.

Matthew: Oh yeah. Many writers will create a story during the actual 1800s, but maybe set in an alternate history.

Sylvia: Thanks for coming!

David: I'm glad you're enjoying it!

Bristol heating systems said...

Just want to let you know that I enjoy reading your take on a rather complicated and technical stuffs about steam that you explained in very layman's terms. Good job mate!

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