Talk:Timeline of steam power

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John Smeaton published information about designing steam engines in 1774. This is not quite true. He did indeed experiment then, but never published it. The information was summarised by John Farey jr in the article Steam Engines in Rees's Cyclopaedia,(pub 1816) and he used it in his Treatise on the Steam Engine of 1827. Whilst some of Smeaton's papers survived the fire in Farey's office in 1844 these have not so far been traced. See my paper 'John Farey and the Smeaton Manuscripts', in History of Technology vol 10. I have amended the Smeaton reference accordingly Apwoolrich 07:02, 15 Sep 2004 (UTC)

No mention of Stirling engines?

When did superheating become practical? Paulc206 09:50, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

See my comment under "Steam after 1923"

Steam is still used in many (as far as I know, all) nuclear-powered ships, where the reactor is used to heat water which then powers the ship and its eletrical systems using steam-driven turbines. Most people associated steam with the distant past but as late as the 1980s (and, as far as I know, still today) Navy midshipment still study "elements of steam propulsion." Paulc206 09:50, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

Savery influence on Newcomen?[edit]

I have a bit of a problem with the description of Newcomen's engine as an "unmodified Savery-like engine to pump a piston instead of water"(?!). I just do not see the link and think it more likely that Newcomen would have heard of Papin's experiment described in Acta Eruditorum published in Leipzig in 1690 in which he describes the action of condensed steam creating a vacuum in a cylinder causing atmospheric pressure to push down a piston. Moreover Savery's engine alternately used vacuum then pressure, whereas Newcomen only used the vacuum for the power stroke - or rather, atmospheric pressure, which is why his engines were called "atmospheric". The priciples involved had been well known since Heron of Alexandria, or so it seems to me. The confusion probably comes from the common name of "fire engine" for which Savery obtained a royal patent and which meant that Newcomen had to do a deal with him. --John of Paris 19:04, 8 March 2007 (UTC)


I just reverted the article to remove some vandalism near the begining of the article. (talk · contribs) (OCT 25, 2007)

Thank you. Well-spotted. EdJogg 08:31, 26 October 2007 (UTC)


How about a few references now?--John of Paris (talk) 17:25, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Steam engine before Savery[edit]

I don't want to edit the article myself, but I suggest someone who knows the details may want to add the fact that de Herrera, a Spanish inventor and architect, devised a steam engine much like Newcomen's almost a century before Savery's engine. It was used successfully to drain water from the Crown's silver mines in the Guadalcanal region of Spain. I've never seen an English language history of the steam engine mention his name, but I believe several Spanish language histories do cover the topic.Cd195 (talk) 04:19, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

If you or any fluent Spanish speaker can trace the exact source, then obviously it will be of interest. The thing about Newcomen's engine of course is that it did not appear out of the blue but was the case of a practical man pulling together the results of a number of previous studies, notably Papin's. Personally speaking, I tend to trust this sort of story rather than look for an "inventor" because you can see the "working" - but let's see...--John of Paris (talk) 15:50, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Steam after 1923?[edit]

I assume the history after 1923 would be all in materials science, turbine blade design, and the ability to do hydrodynamic calculations. .... ? linas (talk) 15:48, 23 October 2011 (UTC)

Those improvements were important but may not have been as great as the increase in boiler pressures to supercritical (ca. 1955?). In the 1970s I saw a boiler engineering book that traced the developments to this point, but do not remember the name. I believe the book was by Babcock and Wilcox or Combustion Engineering. McNeil (1990) said the metallurgy for turbine blades had been the limiting factor for 50 years.Phmoreno (talk) 19:20, 23 October 2011 (UTC)

James Pickard[edit]

James Pickard built the world's first rotative engine in 1780, possibly the second most important invention of the 18th century after Newcomen's piston engine. Shouldn't he get a mention here? James Watt when trying to solve the same problem for his and Matthew Boulton's factory just three years earlier built Old Bess, a conventional beam engine pumping water to drive a waterwheel, clearly demonstrating both the need for such an engine and Watt's failure to invent it himself. Watt dismissed Pickard's invention as merely patenting the crank - a device known since ancient times - conveniently ignoring both the 'revolutionary' concept and the (presumably counterbalanced) flywheel. He spurned Pickard's approach to go into partnership in cross-licencing Pickard's rotative design and Watt's condenser, then himself invented the sun and planet motion and patented this and four other linear to rotative mechanisms to prevent anyone else from building rotative engines till Pickard's patent expired. I've encountered all this information from a variety of sources over the years but I don't have references. Perhaps someone else does. Zipperdeedoodah (talk) 18:55, 5 January 2017 (UTC)

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