An Illustrated Guide to USAF the Modern US Air Force by Bill Gunston

By Bill Gunston

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When the Erie Railroad was being constructed across upstate New York, it was planned to cross Native American land. The local tribe demanded $10,000 (in modern terms, around $300,000, or £185,000) for the right of way. Appalled, the railroad works manager blustered that the land was no good for anything else apart from growing corn or potatoes. The local chief responded: “It pretty good for railroad,” and got the money. Most of the early railroad development was stimulated by competition between the great cities of the eastern US, such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.

Already at the start of World War I, systems were closing and they were all but wiped out by the 1930s, when their vehicles and tracks needed renewing and there was no money for such investment. All the manias across the world left their mark. Many investors lost their shirts, but many of the lines were built and a good proportion of those survive today. As with other industries, the manias had their roots in genuine need, and many of today’s lines worldwide owe their existence to these excesses.

Earlier engines had used a single fire tube to heat the water in the boiler, but Stephenson used 25 copper fire tubes to greatly increase the heat transfer between the firebox and the boiler, meaning that steam could be created much more efficiently. Later engines used superheater elements in place of the fire tubes. Main steam pipe Steam pipe Superheater element pipes Smokestack Regulator valve Blastpipe Safety valve Water Firebox Valve Valve rod Piston rod Boiler Air flow Cylinders KEY Steam exhaust Superheated steam Saturated steam Hot gases FROM WATER TO MOTION In a typical steam engine, forward motion is achieved by burning coal to heat water, creating steam that is passed at high pressure to the cylinders in order to turn the locomotive’s running gear.

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