So. Question. In summary, were the early objections against
over-the-road locomotion versus over-rails locomotion sound?
Could a slight difference in advocasy by both governmental groups,
industrial groups and theoreticians in England in the early 1800s,
have made road traffic using smaller steam engines, the primary method
of transit in the later 1800s instead of rail transit?
Were the early objections against over-the-road versus rails, sound or
It would seem to me that over-the-road would be less efficient in
terms of some energy factors, as well as total weights that could be
hauled with one locomotive, but you might need to build less in terms
of making transit lines and you might get greater versatility in terms
of initial and final locations in potential routes as well as
Were the railroads of the later 1800s all a big mistake?
I think I will crosspost this to a few sci groups.
The advantage of using rail was the lower rolling resistance, compared with
an largely unmade road, or cobbled streets. However, the impracticability of
laying rails to every destination meant that powered road vehicles were
needed, usually in the form of traction engines, which could also be used
for agricultural purposes. These would include ploughing, driving threshing
machines, and general haulage.
Many street tramways were initially steam hauled, with small locomotives.
When powered buses came in, most were petrol-driven, but there were quite a
lot of steam buses, Clarkson being an example. The early steam carriages
never seemed to catch on. Possibly due to unreliability and frightening the
Steam lorries continued in use until the 1950s or even later. Sentinel and
Foden in England both produced them.
Tram systems need a minimum traffic flow to make them economical. Heavy rail
lines need an even higher flow. Buses can be economical at relatively low
It seems to me that we all went Steam Mad around that era and not
only used it for transportation but for many stationary power units too.
The main objective, economically, was to sell as much Coal as
possible (although this only my own biased opinion).
You could consider broadening your historical horizons.
There was water transport, and canals from point to point.
The canals from point to point permitted low energy transportation for
the invonvenience of having to make a special connection - the canal.
The rails from point to point permitted low energy transportation for
the inconveninence of having to make a special connection - the railroad.
So, there was a lot of similarity between the two - canals and railroads.
Without a specially prepared connection between two points, the energy
required to transport goods was high and the transportation was slow.
Especially in prolonged wet muddy conditions. And snow.
Without highways, there was less benefit of a "POwered Buggy" wehther
the buggy is powered by gasoline or steam.
Frankly, you likely need to study the relationship between the road and
the gasoline powered vehicle. To understand the whole mess of point to
point transportation from a real example. Not some assumed history
If you haven't got that subject down well, you are trying to reinvent
history that you don't understand.
Trade routes and transportation means form a very important part of the
history of Europe.
I disagree. Good, efficient electric motors did not exist until
about the 1870's. Until then, refrigeration plants, escalators,
even dentist's drills had to be powered by steam.
Uh huh. Those damned coal companies.
The version I heard was that steam vehicles came along before the horse
drawn coach got seriously established. The aristocratic land owners
owned most of the soon to be developed roads, and were otherwise being
usurped by the industrial revolution. So they built massive stables,
developed the coach, and prevented anyone else from using their roads.
I doubt this was the whole story, though I suspect it was a part of it.
Rail locomotion may have been something of a political way around this,
indirectly giving some control to the landowners.
If dim memory serves, I think the first car crash occurred back in the
1600s, it was a steam vehicle traveling at little more than walking
So is the general consensus that, (A): lack of early power
capabilities among the different types of early steam engines, and
lack of good shock absorbers and power trains, meant that the
requirements for the building of the types of roads that early road
vehicles could actually use, in terms of friction and slope gradients,
made them unfeasible in comparison with the optimisation of scale and
the frictional properties, that would come with use of steel rails for
contact with the ground?
Or is the consensus generally that, (B): it was all false, and that
railroads were ultimately the result of mistaken conceptions about the
ultimate feasibility of ground locomotion without rails, considering
the fabrication technology that existed at the time. And that the
failure of early road based steam power, mostly came from regulation
and from partial quasi-monopolistic competition with horse coaches,
which kept them from being developed to their complete potential early
on, or at least mistaken ideas about the practical feasibility of
mechanised road transit, allowing rail transport to be given the more
critical levels of development, that would give them the ability to
obtain the higher and more continuous reliable speeds that would be
needed, to give them more tangible advantages over horses?
If one could have halted all railroad development, is it reasonable to
say that the later 19th century would have been one notable for the
heavy use of steam vehicles on roads, or were the design barriers
real, when it came to 19th century fabrication technology?
I think you are foolish to "Draw a consensus" and doubly foolish to
present only two options "Pick A or Pick B" and try to require a
consensus be picked from those two.
Bad research methods show.
Laying down rails, first made of wood then later strapped with iron and
finally made of steel was much cheaper than grading and paving roads in the
early years, the first half of the 19th century. The lack of pavement and
the extreme weight of steam equipment severely limited its use on roads. By
1830, a 150HP steam engine could haul a 200 ton train at 15mph on rails, a
feat totally impossibe on roads, paved or not. So, the reasonable cost of
rails plus the low rolling friction and the ability to handle heavy loads at
for then high speeds was unparalleled. Road transportation did not become
feasable until widespread paving of roads occured, rubber balloon tires were
invented and lightweight gasoline and diesel engins were available. Even
today, rail transportaion is more efficient uses less fuel and less labor
per ton-mile hauled than road traffic.
So, I guess it would be safe to say in summary (?):
1. Steam engines were first put to use as stationary units in
factories in the 1600s or 1700s or slightly earlier. They were first
used in places where water wheels or windmills might have had more
difficulties. More industrial methods became gradually more
2. With many towns and cities that then had more coal using factories,
and more homes with buildings that heated with coal, there was
generated a greater need to bring coal into the major cities, since
greater and greater uses of wood and the large scale transport of
burning materials, by horse and cart over the standard roads, became
less and less feasible. To fill this need, railroads were produced
with only slight grades of incline for the purpose of hauling heavy
loads over long distances. There was also a need to haul ores or
other materials for industrial purposes.
3. About this time, steam engines stopped being used only in the
factories, and started being used also for the purpose of hauling some
of the heavy loads over the rails, as well as in steamboats. These
steam engines were relatively large, and tended to be more easily
adaptable to hauling heavy loads, over the at least partially
predictable surfaces, that existed on the rails. This happened also,
however, at almost exactly the same time that many of the rails
themselves, were still being built. When it came to over the road
traction, however, it was another matter. Smaller steam engines were
also produced, but they did not have the power needed to reliably
drive over the more unpredictable surfaces, that were many of the
roads of the 1800s. No shock absorbers. Poor or nonexistant tires.
Low speeds. They could not compare with trains or horses. Regulation
or competition may or may not have had some effects, but over-the-road
traction still needed more development before the automobile would be
4. Later in the 19th century, the internal combustion engine possibly
allowed somewhat higher cylinder temperatures than high temperature
steam. This tended to allow greater energy output in a smaller amount
of weight. It was adapted from earlier steam engine designs, and
furthermore, did not require relatively energyless water as a
feedstock for the steam, to be carried along with the power source.
The oil might have contaminated more quickly with explosion
by-products, but the internal combustion engine might have corroded
less from the steam condensate, and the engine could be made from
different materials. Better tires and shock absorbers meant that it
could work under poor road conditions. Then and only then could it
produce comparable or better results than horses. Much of the general
phenomenon involving design, however, existed much earlier. It was a
matter of producing incremental changes to a great enough extent, to
have significant results. Then by the 20th century it was mass
Look up James Watt and Newcomen for the first steam engines. Principal uses
for pumping water out of mines.
You've missed out canals and horse-drawn tram roads.
Steam traction engines could pull loads far in excess of those which a team
of horses could tackle, and they didn't get tired. Look at funfair uses.
Most of this is nonsense. Go back to your text books.
You are entitled to your own opinion.
I do not expect all persons who post here to be totally ignorant of
all phenomenon. Perhaps that is not a valid assumption. Perhaps some
posts are better than others.
Many phenomenon can be a continuum.
Well, not everything is perfect. I would imagine that your research
methods are, however. I will not challange you on this matter.
They took time to be developed to a stage where they could be used widely.
The pneumatic tyre was a major factor in this, coupled with the improvement
of road surfaces. The only regulation was speed limits and weight limits on