Most people that know steam engines tend to describe them as a “living thing”. That’s because a steam engine is a very dynamic machine, and its crew has to know the engine intimately to keep her firing and running just right!
I recorded one of my “firing” tests, and thought it was a good opportunity to point out how the engine can “talk” to you… but only if you listen carefully! For instant, how can you tell if the atomizer pressure is just slightly too much? Or if the fuel in the firebox isn’t burning completely? Or if there’s too much draft?
You might miss all the signs if you don’t know what to look for. But once you know the engine, she’ll speak to you as clear as a bell!
There are many more signs, but I’ll save those to show later. For now, you can watch the short preview/demo of tending the fire below. I annotated the video to point out the engine’s signs. Here was a simple test of building a small fire (just enough to hold the pressure steady) to a larger fire to raise the boiler pressure.