Showing posts with label Machines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Machines. Show all posts

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Cylinder Head

We just learned about the Cylinder in the engine block.

Another part of a car's engine block is the Cylinder Head.

The engine block cylinders are the piece that holds that pistons that move up and down.
On top of that cylinder part is the cylinder head.
This is the big metal piece that goes on top and closes in the pistons.

It also has other parts that let in fuel and take out the wasted exhaust from the piston.

(from: wikipedia - cylinder head)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Valve Types

Thursday, January 21, 2021


We just learned about the Engine Block of a car.

One part of the engine block is the Cylinder.

The engine has a piston that goes up and down to make the car move, and the cylinder is the place that holds the piston.

Sometimes a car will 4, 6 or 8 cylinders depending on how many pistons there are.

(from: wikipedia - cylinder (engine))

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Poppet Valve

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Engine Block

We just learned about the Coupling on a locomotive.

Let's learn a little more about how most cars work.

The biggest most important part of the car is the Engine Block, sometimes called the cylinder block under the hood.

This is a big solid piece of metal in the car.
The engine block does not move, but it has parts hooked into it that move to help make the car go.

Because the moving engine is so powerful, this block has to be made in a cast or mold.
That means they take hot liquid metal, pour it into something to hold it's shape and then let it cool.
After it is cooled the block is very strong and can hold onto other pieces that are moving very fast and pushing very hard.

(from: wikipedia - engine block)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Ball Valve

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Leaf Spring

We just learned about the Blastpipe.

Another part of a steam locomotive is the Leaf Spring.

When a train bounces up and down when it hits a bumpy part of a track, these leaf springs help make it less bouncy.
Just like the shocks in a car that help the car not bounce around so much, these springs make a smoother train ride.

Leaf springs are made up of a bunch of flat metal pieces with different lengths all stacked on top of each other, bent in a shape so that when the train hits a bump it will use the bent shape to help smooth out the bump.
The spring will flatten out to help absorb the bump, and then after the bump it will go back to its bent shape.

(from: wikipedia - leaf spring)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Valve Stem

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Cugnot's - Fardier à vapeur

We just learned about the North River Steamboat.

Another part of the history of steam engines is Cugnot's - Fardier à vapeur.

A lot of people made steam powered boats that many people liked.
But it took a lot longer for people to make steam powered engines on wheels that people liked.

The first known steam powered engine on wheels was made by a French man named Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, and he called it the "machine à feu pour le transport de wagons et surtout de l'artillerie" which is French for "fire engine for transporting wagons and especially artillery".

Since that's a long name, people just called it the "Fardier à vapeur" which means "Steam wagon".

He built it in 1769, but not a lot of people used it.
It went about 2 miles per hour, and could carry about 2 tons of weight.

Because it was very slow and broke down a lot, it was not very popular, and steam wagons like this were not used a lot for a long time.

(from: wikipedia - nicolas-joseph cugnot)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Forensic Podiatry

Thursday, June 4, 2020

North River Steamboat

We just learned about the Sun and Planet Gear.

Another part of early machines was the North River Steamboat, also called the Clermont.

After all the pieces were invented to make a working steam engine, people started to try and use them to move things around.

In 1807 in New York, the North River Steamboat was built to take people along the Hudson River from New York City to Albany.

The boat was 142 feet long, and went about 5 miles per hour on the river.
It went about 150 miles, and took about 30 hours to make the trip!
Today in a car that takes about 2 hours, but back then it was a big deal.

(from: wikipedia - north river steamboat)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Forensic Epidemiology

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Sun and Planet Gear

We just learned about the Rotative Beam Engine.

Another part of the early steam engines is the Sun and Planet Gear.

After the rotative beam engine came up with a way to have a beam go up and down and spin a wheel around,
it was hooked up to a type of gear called a sun and planet gear.

It was called that because one gear goes around the other, kind of like a planet going around the sun.

(from: wikipedia - sun and planet gear)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Forensic Entomology

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Rotative Beam Engine

We just learned about the Newcomen Engine.

Another part of steam engine history is Rotative Beam Engine.

After the Newcomen Engine was built, people worked to make it even better.

In the old types of engines, the big rod that was moved by the steam was just pushed up and down.
For a rotative beam engine, one end of the beam uses a type of crank or gear to spin a wheel around.

This moving wheel could be used as a wheel to paddle a boat, or a wheel to move a train.

(from: wikipedia - beam engine)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Forensic Dentistry

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Newcomen Engine

We just learned about the Steam Pump.

Another part of the history of steam engines is the Newcomen Engine.

In 1712 in England, Thomas Newcomen took the idea of the Steam Pump and made his own type of steam engine.

He had a big tank full of water called a boiler that was being heated up by a coal fire underneath.
The water would boil and make steam that was let up into another smaller cylinder tank.
That steam would expand and push up on a piston that was hooked to a big long beam.
The beam was like a see-saw, and when the one side got pushed up, the other side was pushed down.

After the steam had filled the cylinder, a plug valve would be closed so no more steam would come in, and another tank of cold water would splash some cold water onto the steam.
This created a vacuum, which sucked the piston back down, pulling the beam down, and pulling the other side of the beam up.

With this steam engine, it would rock the beam back and forth like a see-saw.
The other end of the beam was hooked up to a pump to help pull water out of mines that were flooded.

At first the plugs had to be opened by a person called the "plug man" who would run around and pull the plugs at just the right time.
Later someone figured out a way to use a board with some chains on it called a "plug tree" with weights on it that would automatically open and close the valves.

(from: wikipedia - newcomen atmospheric engine)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Forensic Botany

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Steam Pump

We just learned about the Steam Cylinder.

Another invention that led up to the steam locomotive was the Steam Pump.

A man named Thomas Savery came up with an invention that could help pump water up out of a flooded mine, or help pump water to be sprayed or brought to a town that needed it.

His invention called the Savery Engine had a furnace that would heat up water to make steam in one place.
This steam had high pressure and helped pump out.
Then a valve would be opened to let some hot steam out, and the tank would get splashed with water.
This would cool down the steam and make it get smaller, which created a vacuum that sucked back in.

It wasn't an engine with moving parts like a car engine, but the pushing out and sucking in helped people understand how steam could be used to make an engine.

(from: wikipedia - thomas savery)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Forensic Anthropology

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Steam Cylinder

We just learned about the Vacuum Pump.

Another part of the history of steam engines is the Steam Cylinder.

One inventor named Denis Papin had the idea to have a tube or a cylinder with hot water in it.
He found out that when you heated up the hot water, the pressure got really high with the steam and air pushing very hard on the walls of the cylinder.

This was the opposite of the vacuum pump, where it was sucking in, this was air pushing out.
He got the idea to have a pole or a piston that could be pushed out when the steam was heated up.
This piston could be used to push something up like a big machine.

So if the steam cooled down, the piston would go down.
If the steam heated up, the piston would go up.

(from: wikipedia - denis papin)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Forensic Anthropology

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Vacuum Pump

We just learned about the Steam Turbine.

Let's learn a little about how steam engines work.
First we need to learn a few other things that people discovered before they could make a steam vacuum.

One thing people discovered was the Vacuum Pump.

A long time ago people didn't understand a long time ago was how a vacuum worked.
Not like the vacuum cleaner that sucks dirt up from the floor, but a vacuum like a ball or a tube that is so empty that it has suction holding itself closed.

You can think about this like a plastic pop bottle that you suck air out of.
As soon as you let go, it will suck the air in and fill itself up again.

Back in 1654 people didn't understand this, so a man named Otto von Guericke came up with an experiment to show them.
He took two half circles made of metal, called the magdeburg hemispheres, and put them together like a closed ball.
Then he used a pump to suck out all of the air from inside, creating what is called a vacuum.

A vacuum is a space that has no air, or very little air.
Because he used a pump to do this, it was called a vacuum pump.

After that he challenged people to try and pull the half circles apart, but not even teams of horses could do it.
This understanding of how a vacuum works was one of the things that helped people invent steam engines.

(from: wikipedia - magdeburg hemispheres)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Forensic Firearm Examination

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Steam Turbine

We just learned about the Turbine.

Another part of machine science is a Steam Turbine.

Remember a turbine is like a water wheel where it has blades that are pushed along.
When liquid is heated up and creates steam, the movement of the steam goes over the blades and makes them move.
These moving blades spin around a rod in the middle that helps create electricity or move a part of a machine.

(from: wikipedia - steam turbine)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Ballistic Fingerprints

Thursday, April 9, 2020


We just learned about the Pneumatic Cylinder.

Another part of the world of machines is a Turbine.

This is a type of spinning wheel that uses liquid or gas flowing and uses it to spin around.

An old type of turbine would be a water wheel or a wind mill.
These machines would take wind or water to spin them around, and then that spinning would do something useful like help to grind up grains into flour.

Now we use turbines for things like using the power of a waterfall to make energy that people use for electricity in their houses.

(from: wikipedia - turbine)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Toxicology

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Pneumatic Cylinder

We just learned about the Pneumatics.

One use for pneumatics is a Pneumatic Cylinder.

This is a type of tube that is filled with pressured air.
More air can be pushed into it to make something move like a pole because the air is pushing it out.

We've learned before about using water or liquids in machines called hydraulics.
Some people choose to use pneumatics instead of hydraulics because if there is a leak then it is just air and no water will drip on anyone.

One good example of this is the Tiki Room at Disney Land.
The people chose pneumatics to do the movement of the birds and plants, and if there is a leak it won't make a mess for when the people are watching the show.

(from: wikipedia - pneumatic cylinder)

(from: wikipedia - walt disney's enchanted tiki room)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Fingerprints

Thursday, March 26, 2020


We just learned about the Pulse Coder.

Another type of machine movement is Pneumatics, pronounced like new-mat-ix.

The word pneuma in Greek means "breath", and pneumatics means using air that is under pressure.
Some machines use pneumatics in big metal tanks with pressurized air, and some use pneumatics in tubes to push things along.

Pneumatics would even be if you had a balloon full of air, and you let the air out to have the balloon fly around the room.
That is using the air trapped in the balloon to push the balloon along.

(from: wikipedia - pneumatics)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Forensics

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Pulse Coder

We just learned about the Hydraulic Brake.

Another part of a machine is a Pulse Coder.

We learned before about a rotary encoder, a type of map that a spinning machine can use to tell how far it spins left or right.

A pulse coder is a type of encoder that can also tell a spinning machine how fast it is spinning.

(from: wikipedia - rotary encoder)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Falcon Heavy

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Hydraulic Brake

We just learned about the Hydraulic Cylinder.

Another type of a machine is a Hydraulic Brake.

In a machine like a car, the brakes that stop the car work by closing tightly and squeezing the wheel to try and slow it down.
The pieces that close are called pistons, and in a hydraulic brake system they are pushed closed by liquids.

There is a tube that is hooked up to the brake, and when a liquid called brake fluid is pushed in, it pushes on the pistons which push on the wheel and close it.
The brake fluid is pushed into the tube from another place, where a metal pole is pushed into the the liquid to push it down into the tube.

So in a hydraulic brake system in a car, when you push your foot down on the brake, it pushes the liquid into the tube which pushes the brakes closed and stops the car.

(from: wikipedia - hydraulic brake)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Falcon

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Hydraulic Cylinder

We just learned about Hydraulics, using water to move things.

Another part of hydraulics is a Hydraulic Cylinder.

This is a tube that is filled with liquid like oil, and a special motor pushes more oil into the cylinder which pushes something like a big metal rod out of the tube.

(from: wikipedia - hydraulic cylinder)

Kid Facts - Blast from the past: Space Shuttle

Thursday, February 27, 2020


We just learned about the Negative Feedback.

Another part of machine science is Hydraulics.

This means using the power of water to move machines.
The science of hydraulics goes back thousands of years, and can be as simple as just a water wheel that is using the power of a river to turn the wheel.

Any system that uses water to move something is using hydraulics.

(from: wikipedia - hydraulics)

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