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enter image description here If this was ever invented, how effective would it be? And how can it be improved upon to perhaps be the first steam train?

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closed as too broad by Cyn, Gryphon, jdunlop, Culyx, elemtilas Feb 6 at 19:32

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  • $\begingroup$ An aeolipile hardly has the power to turn itself. It would definitely not be able to power a heavy vehicle like the one in the picture. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Feb 6 at 10:06
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    $\begingroup$ How can we evaluate the effectiveness just from a rendered drawing? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Feb 6 at 10:13
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch, we can see that it's an ungeared aeolipile, the effective torque from that engine is basically 0. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Feb 6 at 10:21
  • $\begingroup$ An aeolipiles is a particularly inefficient form of steam turbine. The drawing, conventiently, does not show the mountain of coal or firewood, the water reservoir, the thick clouds of condensed steam etc. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 6 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ A side node: steering this baby would be a pest. The front weel will constantly want to get behind the vertical steering axis. @Separatrix in fact it is geared, see the much biger belt-driven wheel at the axis, compared to the small wheel at the steam ball. Still, nope. Won't work at all. $\endgroup$ – Burki Feb 6 at 12:49
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You could effectively use it to make a cup of tea. You should have enough water on the boil after all.

As a vehicle? It would struggle to move down a hill with the wind behind it.

Aeolipile's have minimal torque and struggle to spin themselves up if they contain a significant amount of water. Remember that, with the best will in the world, it generates about as much motive force as a modern electric kettle. Even with modern gearing and clutch systems such an engine wouldn't be able to move any significant mass.

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    $\begingroup$ You could, perhaps, use the aeolipile itself to motivate a small cadre of slaves to work harder. When the bastards move sluggishly, apply more steam! When they learn some good Roman values and get the lead out, remove the steam and apply the cooling fan. Should be able to move along at a good clip in such a car! $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Feb 6 at 12:14
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The main problem with this is not the amount of power it would produce but the amount of torque it would need to overcome everything between "engine" and the road.
And with Aeolipile there is no way to get more revs. Or to build up power required to get that thing moving.
Also the biggest force it produce is just at the end of "steam spout". Which we know was just enough to turn it. I assume the transmission belt would be enough to stop it from rotating.

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SZCZERZO KŁY is right about that thing. I agree with him, and this is my explanation: The "Ball" is powered by the jet of steam, much like a jet engine. If the jet is strong enough to make the ball turn and eventually turning the wheel, then a jet that pushes the vehicle directly is more efficient.

Exception: For heavy vehicles, a reduction gear ratio between the spout and the wheels is possible. Still, too inefficient. A reciprocating engine is much better.

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  • $\begingroup$ For the vehicle shown, an enormous reduction gear ratio would be needed and the resulting friction of the cogs would still stop it turning. Even if the gearing was frictionless, the road speed would be a tiny fraction of a kph. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Feb 6 at 20:59

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