Top positive review
41 people found this helpful
A superb book for those who want to understand steam engines
on 30 December 2004
This book covers every aspect of steam locomotive design and construction in a clear and logical fashion, with ample illustrations and diagrams. The authors are clearly masters of their subject, and their style is lucid and eminently readable. I found it absolutely fascinating and, by its end, I really did understand how steam locomotives work, and why so many aspects of them have evolved in the way they have.
Other reviewers have criticised it for being overly technical but I disagree: "O" level / GCSE physics (that's 15 year old schooling for non-UK readers) more than covers it, and in fact I found myself wanting more technical detail. In particular I wished the sections on valve gear, boiler performance and superheating had contained more information.
This is very much a book for those who want to know the "how" and the "why", as opposed to simply the "what", of steam locomotive design. It has increased my enjoyment of other books on steam locomotive development immeasurably since I can now understand the descriptions of valve gear, blast pipes, rocking grates, compounding, sand guns, injectors, etc.
If you are prepared to make the effort to read it through you really WILL understand - in theory at least - exactly "how steam locomotives really work". It has to be by far the best book on this subject.