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"Valve Gear on the Computer"

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Old 07-05-2007, 02:03 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: St. Paul, MN
Posts: 292
Blog Entries: 13
Default "Valve Gear on the Computer"

For those interested in the workings of steam engines and the like:

The website at has a downloadable program for Windows that emulates many different types of valve gear for external combustion engines. Included in one of the software packages is a working model of western rivers steamboat engines, a la California cutoff.

The software allows you to adjust engine speed, direction, and in the case of the steamboat engines lets you adjust cutoff. The animations seem to be extremely accurate reproductions of actual cross cutoff designs, but only demonstrate a single engine rather than two. In addition, a button near the top of the animation window toggles on and off an animation of the steam flow through a cross-section of the engine, with exhaust sounds.

Several packages containing different engines are available at the site above. If you are only interested in the steamboat model, download files 10 (the core program) and 10i (containing the steamboat module).

The only problem I've found with the software is that it takes control of your computer's audio volume, so be sure to adjust your speakers accordingly; I normally have mine turned to their max volume, and I was much surprised (read: heart skipped several beats) to find that the sound of the steam exhaust was a number of decibels louder than my ears would forgive me for.
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