Perfecting the American Steam Locomotive

Perfecting the American Steam Locomotive

J. Parker Lamb
Distribution: World
Publication date: 07/08/2003
Format: Hardback 185 b&w photos, 24 figures
ISBN: 978-0-253-34219-5
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Perfecting the American Steam Locomotive documents the role played by mechanical engineers in the development of locomotive design. The steam engine and the mechanical engineering profession both grew directly out of the Industrial Revolution’s need for sources of power beyond that of men and animals. Invented in England when coal mining was being developed, the practical steam engine eventually found numerous applications in transportation, especially in railroad technology. J. Parker Lamb traces the evolution of the steam engine from the early 1700s through the early 1800s, when the first locomotives were sent to the United States from England. Lamb then shifts the scene to the development of the American steam locomotive, first by numerous small builders, and later, by the early 20th century, by only three major enterprises and a handful of railroad company shops. Lamb reviews the steady progress of steam locomotive technology through its pinnacle during the 1930s, then discusses the reasons for its subsequent decline.

Author Bio

J. Parker Lamb has been photographing America's railroads since 1949 and writing about them since 1960. An early interest was the transition, during the1950s, from steam to diesel power in the South, where he grew up. Since then his work has allowed him to travel extensively, recording the evolution of rail technology throughout the U.S. and Canada for a half century. Lamb's photography has appeared in numerous magazines and scores of books. This is his fourth book. The previous three are Classic Diesels of the South; Katy Diesels to the Gulf; and Steel Wheels Rolling: A Personal Journal of Railroad Photography. After a 42-year career as a mechanical engineer, he is now retired in Austin, Texas.


“A great book for anyone interested in steam.”
 — Railfan and Railroad

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Components of a Locomotive
1. The Steam Epoch Begins
2. American Designs Evolve
3. The Physics of Steam Power
4. The Second Generation
5. Motive Power Mavericks
6. Dawn of a New Era
7. Super Power Reigns
8. The Pinnacle of Design
9. Steam Technology's Final Thrusts
10. American Steam in Perspective
Appendix A: Description of Steam Locomotive Components
Appendix B: Service and Repair Facilities