Steam Engine 2 Essay, Research Paper
The steam engine was invented by Thomas Newcomen in 17121. It was a very
important invention and helped give way to the Industrial Revolution. It was very useful
invention of his time. Many people like James Watt and Richard Trevithick used the
atmospheric steam engine to produce more sophisticated inventions.
Thomas Newcomen was a very important inventor. He was born in 1663 in
Britain. He worked as a blacksmith until he worked with Thomas Savery, who had
already tried to make a steam engine but couldn t do it.
Thomas Newcomen invented the first working steam engine in 1712 with the help
of Savery. At first the steam engine wasn’t very popular, later the steam engine was
considered the century s most important invention when used in mines.
Thomas Newcomen also made tools for coal miners and often visited mines, this
is how he knew the needs of miners2. The first steam engine was used to work at a South
Stafforshire colliery3. Most of the early engines produced the steam by using coal. This is
why steam engines were installed in coal mines where coal was free.
Even though Thomas Newcomen actual invented the first steam engine, James
Watt is usually known for making it4. Watt s engine was much more efficient than
Newcomen s because it prevented the loss of steam. Watt started out repairing
Newcomen s engines, and then began making major improvements to it.
James Watt s engines were much larger than Newcomen s with a larger cylinder
which pumped more water out of mines5. His engines were designed with a rotating shaft
and a flywheel which was more sufficient. Later he further improved his engines by
adding another condenser and cylinders. He also added throttle controls on his engine to
control the rate that the engine pumped water.
Without Watt’s study in the field of mechanics, the steam engine might not have
been made, and the industrial revolution would have been delayed6.
The steam engines that James Watt and Thomas Newcomen produced worked by
using steam to make a vacume which moved the piston7. The piston was connected to a
larger lever that transferred the force to the pump shaft which went into the mine to
pump water out8.
The steam for an engine comes from a boiler. The inflicts heat on the water to
create steam. Most of Newcomen s and Watt s engines had a fire tube boiler which
were also common in most locomotives. These engines have a large water tank with
pipes running through it. The hot gases from coal burning run through the pipes and heat
the water up to create steam. These engines are very dangerous because the whole tank is
under pressure so if the tank bursts, it would explode.
Water tube boilers are completely different from fire tube boiler. These types
of boilers have pipes that run through tubes filled with hot gases from the fire. These
newer types of boilers are much safer because the whole boiler is not under pressure, just
the water pipes.
The steam engine was one of the most important inventions of Newcomen s time.
At the time he may have not realized it, but it plowed the way to better advances in
transportation. Other inventors used the same ideas as the steam engine to make internal
combustion engines which was a huge step in transportation advances. This is why the
steam engine was one of the most important inventions of the industrial revolution.
Richard Trevithick from England was the first person to use a steam engine on
railroads9. This was the first major invention that used a larger steam engine to power
itself and move. It was a great advance in transportation, people no longer had to use
horses to travel great distances. These locomotives were much to heavy for the iron rail
tracks used at the time and not practical. But it led to other variations of the train.
John Blenkinsop invented the first practical and successful railway locomotive10.
Blenkinsop’s engine had two-cylinders, and used gears for more efficiency. The train was
used with cast-iron rails. His train also hauled coal to heat the massive engine.
Now that the locomotive was pratical enough to use, it became commercially
used. The massive locomotives could haul up to 200 other cars full of passengers. But
since it was a new invention, it was a luxury time and was expensive.
At the time the steam engine was used in factories to spin wool. The Industrial
Revolution was the period of history for making goods in factories. The growth of the
steam engine was so important to the Industrial Revolution. It was easier for factories
because the steam engine made work easier, faster, less expensive, and they needed less
labor workers to work.
Another invention that was a direct result of the steam engine was the steamboat.
The steamboat was invented by Robert Fulton in 1807. Fulton in an American inventor,
engineer, and artist who made steam boating commercial. Steamboats were mainly used
in America, on the Mississippi River. The first steamboat ride went from New York City
to Albany in 32 hours about a 1,500 mile trip.
Even the first tractors were made with steam engines. These tractors were
introduced in 1868, they weighed 5 tons and were operated by one man and mostly used
in moving timber. The invention of the steam tractor led to the gas tractor and made
farming and agriculture work easier. Henry Ford starting to produce the first gas tractor
The steam engine also made way for one of the most important things in many
peoples lives today, the automobile. The automobile today, is one of the transportation
device that is greatly used. More people use automobiles than any other means of
transportation. In 1896, Henry Ford also made the first self-propelled automobile and by
1913 was mass producing them.
The automobiles that Henry Ford produced had different engines than Thomas
Newcomen made but both have the same basic structure . Henry Ford s engines were
very small and much lighter than a large steam engine, but it could be driven to many
different places unlike locomotives which ran on tracks.
These new cars had many advantages, you could go anywhere, take
anyone, and you didn t have to buy a train ticket where ever you went. All of the parts on
Ford s cars were interchangeable, which means if a part broke, it could be replaced
without making custom parts. By 1920, 1/3 of the U.S. population had automobiles.
At the time that automobiles were being made in the U.S. many of Newcomen s
engines were still hard at work in the mines. They were so larger and powerful they
lasted more than 130 years after Newcomen s death in 172911. When Newcomen died,
he had hundreds of his own engines running in mines in Britain, France, Belgium,
Holland, Sweden, and Hungary12.
Life would be really different if it wasn t for the invention of the steam engine.
The Wright brothers would not have the invented an engine that could fly an airplane,
and the idea of using steam engines in boats wouldn t exist.