How many cylinders did the first engine have?


Thomas Newcomen built a steam engine in 1712 which included one cylinder and one piston.

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Steam engines

A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.

Using boiling water to produce mechanical motion goes back about 2,000 years, but early devices were not practical. Since the late 1700s steam engines have become a major source of mechanical power. The first applications were removing water from mines. In 1781 James Watt patented a steam engine that produced continuous rotative motion. These 10 hp engines enabled a wide range of manufacturing machinery to be powered. The engines could be sited anywhere that water and coal or wood fuel could be obtained. By 1883, engines that could provide 10,000 hp had become feasible. Steam engines could also be applied to vehicles such as traction engines and the railway locomotives which are commonly just called steam engines outside America. The stationary steam engine was a key component of the Industrial Revolution, allowing factories to locate where water power was unavailable.

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Mechanical engineering

Mechanical engineering is a discipline of engineering that applies the principles of engineering, physics and materials science for analysis, design, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems. It is the branch of engineering that involves the production and usage of heat and mechanical power for the design, production, and operation of machines and tools. It is one of the oldest and broadest engineering disciplines.

The engineering field requires an understanding of core concepts including mechanics, kinematics, thermodynamics, materials science, structural analysis, and electricity. Mechanical engineers use these core principles along with tools like computer-aided engineering, and product lifecycle management to design and analyze manufacturing plants, industrial equipment and machinery, heating and cooling systems, transport systems, aircraft, watercraft, robotics, medical devices, weapons, and others.

Thomas Newcomen

Thomas Newcomen (circa 24]citation needed[ February 1664 – 5 August 1729) was an English inventor who created the first practical steam engine for pumping water, the Newcomen steam engine. He was an ironmonger by trade and a Baptist lay preacher by calling. He was born in Dartmouth, Devon, England, near a part of the country noted for its tin mines. Flooding was a major problem, limiting the depth at which the mineral could be mined.

Engine Cylinder
Newcomen steam engine

The atmospheric engine invented by Thomas Newcomen in 1712, often referred to simply as a Newcomen engine, was the first practical device to harness the power of steam to produce mechanical work. Newcomen engines were used throughout Britain and Europe, principally to pump water out of mines, starting in the early 18th century. James Watt's later Watt steam engine was an improved version of the Newcomen engine. As a result, Watt is today better known than Newcomen in relation to the origin of the steam engine.

Prior to Newcomen a number of small steam devices of various sorts had been made, but most were essentially novelties. Around 1600 a number of experimenters used steam to power small fountains working something on the principle of a coffee percolator. First a container was filled with water, then heated to make it boil; the steam generated displaced the water, forcing it up a pipe that reached down to the bottom of the water so that it spurted out of a nozzle on top of the container. These devices would have been limited in their effectiveness and could only serve to demonstrate a principle.

Beam engine

A beam engine is a type of steam engine where a pivoted overhead beam is used to apply the force from a vertical piston to a vertical connecting rod. This configuration, with the engine directly driving a pump, was first used by Thomas Newcomen around 1705 to remove water from mines in Cornwall. The efficiency of the engines was improved by engineers including James Watt who added a condenser, Jonathan Hornblower and Arthur Woolf who compounded the cylinders, and William McNaught (Glasgow) who devised a method of compounding an existing engine. Beam engines were first used to pump water out of mines or into canals, but could be used to pump water to supplement the flow for a waterwheel powering a mill.

The rotative beam engine is a later design of beam engine where the connecting rod drives a flywheel, by means of a crank (or, historically, by means of a sun and planet gear). These beam engines could be used to directly power the line-shafting in a mill. They also could be used to power steam ships.

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