Recently, I took the weekend “off” from Aurelia to attend a steam-themed of a different kind: Steam School. This three-day event brought together steam traction engine enthusiasts, engineers, owners and operators, all dedicated to learning the mysteries of the antique steam engine.
In addition to the fun of maintaining and learning to drive the machines, I gained a new appreciation for the true filth, expense, labor, and ingenuity necessary to keep those engines running. The sheer amount of water and fuel alone that’s necessary to run the machines makes maintaining even a single boiler a herculean task.
If you doubt, here’s a video of “firing under load,” or heating the firebox of a large traction engine so it can run the belt of an antique sawmill. Just 30 sec after I ended the video, the belt broke!