Young People's Page

Joey at the throttle

Joey at the throttle. Courtesy of William E. Hall, 15700 Santini Road, Burtonsville, Maryland 20730.

William E. Hall

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Torque Power Live Steam Models Hyatts town, Box 144-D R. F. D., Ijamsville, Maryland 21 754.

Hi There Young Engineers!

At the present time, we who live in mid-Maryland are enjoying a bit of Spring-like weather. For the past three days the temperature has been in the lower seventies and this is on the first of March. It's hard to believe that just two weeks ago we had our first major show storm of this winter which brought transportation just about to a standstill. Since the first part of winter I had been eagerly awaiting the snow fall so that I could try out my new four wheel drive pick-up truck and snow plow, and my truck and plow really got a work out.

I thought it would be interesting to share with you some information which I found in some old encyclopedias about James Watt and the Steam Engine. James Watt was born 1730, died 1819 a native of Scotland. As a young man he was educated in the trade of making mathematical instruments. After working some time in London instrument shops, he returned to Glasgow, Scotland to open his own shop and later was appointed instrument maker for the University of Glasgow.

Although Watt is primarily known as the inventor of the steam engine, he had interests in other problems of his time. Watt worked on the development of a fuel-saving furnace, a letter copying press and researched the chemical composition of water. He also worked at one time as a surveyor, making studies for canal, river and port improvements. Even though Watt's steam engine is now considered a thing of the past, his name is still a household word. Pick up a light bulb and you will see that it is rated in watt, this electrical unit being named in his honor. Watt determined that a dray horse could work for a good length of time at the rate of 550 ft. lbs. per second which equals 33,000 ft. lbs. per minute. This being equal to one horsepower which is still the means of measuring power that we use today.

The idea of using steam as force is found as early as 130 BC. A manuscript in or about that year by a Greek scholar named Hero, which describes certain steam toys believed to be a combination boiler and turbine. The boiler being suspended over a fire in such a fashion that it can rotate on its own axis, on the outside of the boiler were jets set at right angles. When sufficient pressure was built up the jets of steam caused the entire unit to revolve. This is probably the first use of the action reaction principle. Hero's turbine also exhibited the first use of the expansive force of steam, and this was 1866 years before Watt was born. Oddly enough, James Watt never did discover the expansive force of steam as his engines were condensing engines. In the sixteen hundreds steam was used to improve the draft of chimneys. Also, a steam-powered device was used to turn a spit on which meat was being roasted.

By 1690, a French physicist named Denis Pepin invented the piston and cylinder concept. Probably for the purpose of pumping water. Several years later, in 1698 an English Captain Savery took out a patent for the first mechanical application of steam power, in 1699 Savery exhibited before the English Royal Society a working model of his invention. His engine was the first to be used for any industrial purpose. Thomas New com then made further improvements on the steam engine, so that by 1700 they were in common use in English coal mines for the purpose of pumping water. These engines were of beam design and were single acting. A hand-operated slide valve was used to admit steam to the cylinder thus pushing the piston to its further rest extent, then a cold jet of water cooled the cylinder thereby causing the steam to condense. The piston was pushed back by atmospheric pressure thus completing the cycle. The steam used to operate these engines was at or near atmospheric pressure. The engines had more power on the condensing cycle of the engine than on the steam pressure cycle.

These engines were much the same as the toy hot-air engines in principle. A boy by the name of Humphrey Potter in 1718 devised a way in which to attach the slide valve to the piston rod so as to save himself the trouble of moving it back and forth by hand.

Well, this is all for right now, I will continue this in the next issue.

William E. Hall 15700 Santini Rd. Burtonsville, Md. 20730.


I have discussed the enclosed article with my friend and nearby neighbor, Sheldon Jones, who writes the young engineer's page. I have on several occasions suggested that the page should be more devoted to the really young engineers, instead of technical articles. So I am sending you an article and photos of one of the best young engineers in my area. I would like to see some of the writers write about the young engineers in their areas.

We know that the young can carry on but the old must pass on, so let us appreciate the young who are interested and give them the credit due them. If any one has any comment on this article it would be appreciated if you would contact me at 15700 Santini Rd., Burtonsville, Md. 20730 or Mr. Sheldon Jones, Hyattstown, Box 144-D, R. F. D. Ijamsville, Md. 21754 or the IRON-MEN ALBUM. Any mail forwarded to me by the IRON-MEN ALBUM will be paid for at my expense.

I am a member of several of the local clubs and a member of the Board of Directors of the Shenandoah Valley Ass 'n at Berryville, Va. I have worked with steam since a child and at the age of 39, the same as Jack Benny's, I know what it is to learn young.

A story about a young engineer, Joey Newton:

This is a story about a truly good young engineer, who if born 70 years ago would probably own his own rig by the time he reached his present age. He is age 12, having celebrated his birthday March 13, and is the son of Mr. & Mrs. Newton who live at 3504 Bayer Ave., Randallstown, Md. 21133. He is the youngest of four children and has to compete with his two older brothers Bob and Dwight and a sister, Betsy, and her husband, Eddie Adams in order to run an engine. Eddie and Bob are in the U. S. Navy, so this partly eliminates some of the competition. Eddie is well known at several of the local shows and has helped to encourage Joey in his efforts. Joey and Betsy have to choose between her husband's 60 hp Geiser and my 20 hp Aultman-Taylor engine, either of which is a load for anyone 12 years old, but he can handle either one very well.

Joey is a fifth grade student, and despite the cylinder oil on his books, he still gets in time to read the NEW CATECHISM OF THE STEAM ENGINE, or THE LOCOMOTIVE TO DATE. On many occasions when Joey leaves my place after a pleasant evening, or half a night relaxing near a red, hot fire box, his mother orders him to soak in a bathtub for two hours so she can be sure it is really him. He has been accused of cleaning the boiler tubes by crawling through them, but I think it is the smoke stack that he crawls up. Joey has become quite proficient in the handling of Frick, Geiser, and Aultman-Taylor engines and expects to add more makes to his credit this year. He is handicapped by his inability to get to many shows as the State Police frown on a 12 year old driving a car. However with the help of his brothers, sister, parents, and myself, it is hoped that he will be seen at several more shows this year.

He made a good impression on lots of people at the Maryland steam show this past year with his performance operating the Frick and Aultman-Taylor engines belonging to Mr. Tom Ackerman of Wareton, N. J. Tom, another of our group of excellent young engineers is the owner of three engines and a couple are stored near the Md. show grounds. Joey, who is polite, well behaved, and courteous can be identified by his greasy leather gloves, and his engineer's cap which is pushed back on his head at a jaunty angle. If anybody answering this description ever says to you 'Excuse me Sir, may I run your engine for a minute?' it is probably Joey. His first action is to check the water level, fire, grease cups, oil pump, ashes and several other important items. I have seen engineers with 50 years experience who would not bother to do this, much less wipe off the excess grease besides. One of his pet gripes is the engineer who attempts to pacify him by saying 'O. K. sonny you can steer and I'll help you with the wheel'. At this point Joey gets sick and has been known to express himself! We all know that Joey has a lot to learn and Joey knows it also, but when a 12 year old can handle a 12-ton monster with 125 No. of steam pulling at full throttle in the belt or in traction, he has at least completed the first lesson. Joey's brother-in-law, Eddie Adams will be at sea with Uncles Navy this summer, and his older brother will probably be in naval schooling this summer, so Joey may wind up with a little more throttle, time.

Many of our older engineers condemn the fact that young boys of Joey's age are allowed to operate an engine, but with proper supervision and training, we will have the engineers of the future. If we do not, what will happen when the time comes that our experienced engineers have passed on to the great 'Round House' in the sky. Our engines which we have worked so hard to save and keep running will be parked back in the fence rows where we found them. So if a young boy comes up and asks you, show him the throttle, reverse bar, water glass, and help him learn.