- (Credit: https://tinyurl.com/y8jfa8ut)

Steampunk: What Is It Good For?

40w ago


Maybe it's all the Gin I've been drinking but we have seen in my past article that steam powered cars did and do work, even if they are slow and lumpent, they did work as a moving vehicle, but in the 21st century and with the Electric car becoming even more popular and better than its petrol powered brothers, is Steampunk just for the fanciful enthusiast of the past or can the style and mechanics work for us as consumers, not costumers...

To make the questions and answers nice and simple, without confusing everyone and especially my self, I will be splitting all the ideals up into two main umbrellas: Mechanics and Style, at times both might mix but there will be enough questions to cover all the pros and cons of steam styled power. Let's start with mechanics:

Can a modern car work without Computer components?

Technically yes, as cars of the past did work without the use of chips and computers running parts of the car for us, to help us along, but we really want too? No. Cars still might be no Kit from knight-rider, but they have little electrical and computer components that do help us day to day, from telling us how much fuel we are using down to helping us park better. The amount of driving aids is vast now, but I'm talking about the basics that pushed the evolution of cars from the dark ages, do we need a computer to help us drive safely in a world of ever growing lanes and speed restrictions. With the rise of transistors and semiconductors, the evolution carried on, but in Steampunk, its backwards. The Era is stuck in valves, tube and pressure gauges, like steam trains of old.

But IF Computers where used along side steam power, it's a possibility it could be more viable in the future.

Is it a boat or is a train..... i don't know really...... Image referral: https://tinyurl.com/y9qls3u

Does Steam power make a car more Eco-Friendly?

There might be no real answer to this yet, no fully road legal car that runs on steam has any figures, most are home made or modified vehicles as hobbies. The closest and most resent steam powered engine was the Enginion steamcell, sounds like something you cook your vegetables in. This 3 cylinder unit, which generated steam without the need of a flame, was designed to fit in a Skoda. The low emission engine boasted 1,000cc of power, ceramic cylinder linings which used steam to lubricate its self, meaning it didn't require oil. This was designed in 1996, but alas the market wasn't ready for such ideas...

But with the uprising of Electronic cars and the high prices of oil and gases, Steam power could be very useful for short journeys, but it depends if the engines need another fuel, one that could be as dirty to the environment as oil and gases, its called coal...

Anyone know where there is a mine...oh wait...

1924 Doble Model E, a very beautiful steam car... (Image from: https://tinyurl.com/ycqjfpf7)

Is brass and wood cheaper and as strong as steel and plastics?

This is a double edged sword. on the price side of things, plastic dashboards and steering wheels cost a lot less than a hand carved piece of oak for a Jaguar, then different woods cost a lot more or less depending how fancy you are and your matching smoking jacket with the seat covers. Brass on the other hand, the composition of copper and zinc, costs more than steel, current scrap metal prices in the UK say that 1kg of brass can go from £0.90 to £2.80, compare it to steel that only goes for £0.14 maximum. The beauty of Brass is that it doesn't corrode, hence why boats and trains use it for switches and nobs...

But that doesn't mean that its strong, steel is classically known as being strong, but its safer than Brass for other reasons, Brass conducts electricity very well, too well for wanting a chassis made out of it. Steel can take a lot more stress over time also, making it more viable to use. So wood is prettier but more expensive, and steel is the better heavy metal. let's keep brass for the accessories then... Or maybe for something on a small scale...

Found this on Ebay.... I might buy it...

And now for Fashion... Glamour... Style...

Steampunk styles normally limit themselves on a range of colours, mostly brown, brown and oh... brown. But others seem to like to use blacks, greys and whites even to show their punkness, its more of the styling of these colours, similar to those back in the Victorian Era, advocating the rich, darker tones for upper classes and the dirty cotton sacks for the urchins and sweeps. This trend still happens in cars today, cheaper models have fabric seats and luxury dons leathers. This is very much seen with Queen Victoria's train carriage, the royal blue is splashed around, this is the richness of colour along side the Victorian styling, which steampunk follows, remember, steampunk isn't always about crazy ways to show the past, a lot of steampunkers like the original style of the Victorian era and stick with it. Its hard to chose, it's why I have a two costumes, a dirty, grungy one and a smart refined one...

(Photo credit to the national railway museum)

Being refined is apart of the style, but everyone has their different view on it, a newer cleaner refinement can quickly turn into a dirty, oil stained grungy movement. The focus of the style being put into a car though, well, you would want to buy a car that was ripped up and covered in dust and oil now would you. smart leather, polished wood and finely machined metals is what everyone would want in a steampunk car, or any car of that matter. But theres always that one who takes it abit too far...

Wow.... just...wow... Mr. Micheal has to answer for this... (Credit: https://tinyurl.com/y7uuxb9w )

The style doesn't really matter in this case, we all want luxury when it comes to the cars we buy. There are some geniuses though who take standard cars and make them works of art.

"Does it come in black?" (All credit to Carlex Design Europe)

Carlex Design created the Ministeam project, taking a standard Mini and punking it up, the matt black shell isn't anything to scream about, but its the interior that where the magic is. the steering wheel was hand machined and finished by hand, the brass and copper coloured metal is amazing, and the leather work makes me melt inside. (The Wodna Wieza which I'm guessing its styled after is a polish restaurant which is stunning, check it out!)

(All credit for these stunning photos to Carlex Designs Europe. If you want to check them out on Facebook for more photos of this Ministeam and their other mods which are also amazing! please CLICK HERE.)

But we have to make a conclusion to all this... Would it work?

In the past, Steam powered cars have ran perfectly well for short distance, and some have been luxurious as others of their time, styling cars to look steampunk is clearly easy as well. Comparing steam and petrol cars is slightly unfair, as Steam cars haven't has the same amount of design and research as combustion engines and technology, but seeing Electric cars are coming along in leaps and bounds, I personally cant see why, in the future when Electric cars are the main run arounds, that Steam can be used to help try combat emission issues. with all vehicles of any power source, there is always ways of finding out how to improve them, if its weight, size, power, fuel consumption, safety, in a short work, practicality.

Let's wait and see what Electric cars can do in the next 30 years, But it might be a great idea to create a modern Steam train to replace diesel engines, and make them cleaner and more useful, bringing back an age of power and cargo transportation that seemed more fun, and stylish. It would create jobs and keep skills that we are losing as a nation as a whole.

Please let me know what you think. Is steam useful in a modern world, or is it just a lot of hot air?

Thanks for reading.

-Emma. Your local friendly weirdo.

(PS: I was very sick writing this, so if some parts seem odd, please let me know i can correct them. Achoo!)

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Comments (9)
  • Can a chassis be too conductive?

    9 months ago
    1 Bump
    • I'm sure it's not a good idea for them too be due to the heat and melting point of brass is lower than steel, would be abit scary.

      9 months ago
      1 Bump
    • Heat sure, and brass is way too soft.

      But I don't think a chassis can bet too electrically conductive.

      9 months ago
  • Hi congratulations - your post has been selected by DriveTribe Women-of-DriveTribe Ambassador for promotion on the DriveTribe homepage.

    9 months ago
    2 Bumps


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