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.