Steam Train Facts



  • Steam trains get their power by burning coal in a firebox. This heats up water in a boiler, making steam. The steam drives a piston to and fro and the piston turns the wheels via connecting rods and cranks.
  • It takes about three hours for the crew to get up enough steam to get a locomotive moving.
  • Coal and water are often stored in a wagon called a tender, towed behind the locomotive.
  • A tender holds 10 tons of coal and 30,000 liters of water.
  • Loco classes are described by their wheel layout.
  • A 4-6-2 has four small leading ‘bogie’ wheels, six big driving wheels and two small trailing wheels. The small bogie wheels carry much of the weight.
  • The greatest Victorian loco designer was James Nasmyth.
  • In the American Civil War (1861-65) the loco The General was recaptured by Confederates after an epic chase in another loco.
  • The Flying Scotsman was a famous loco designed by Sir Nigel Gresley (1876-1941). It pulled trains non-stop the 630 km from London to Edinhurgli in less than six hours.
  • The first loco to hit 100 mph (160 km/h) was in the City of Truro in 1895.