How it works - the hardback books
The four hardback books contain loads of information on how trains work. Not just the locomotive itself, but track, wagons, points, bearings and much more....
The unique thing about the books is that they contain both stories and simple-but-accurate (Chris is a professional engineer!) technical pages at the ends of chapters. For samples of the how-it-works pages, just scroll down: They are the pages which explain how the boiler makes the steam and how the pistons use the steam to turn the wheels to pull the train.
The Author's original hobby was making miniature steam trains.
This is Chris driving Bongo at full speed!
Bongo is the model for Fiery Fox in the books.
The double pages which explain how the engine makes steam.
(From Peter's Railway - book 1.)
A short video clip with Chris explaining some of the moving parts of a steam engine
The ideas and things explained in the hardback books are:
Peter's Railway, (Book 1 hardback series)
Why railways dont have steep hills; How a spirit level works; How track is constructed, including how the joints allow the rails to expand on hot days; How the wheels keep the train on the tracks; Couplings and buffers; How the boiler makes the steam; How the steam is used to drive pistons and turn the wheels to pull a train. At the end of the book is a glossary of special words which have been used in the book. Find out more about Peter's Railway Book 1
Peter's Railway and the Moonlight Express, (Book 2 hardback series)
The boiler with its safety valves and water gauge; Wheel arrangements for locomotives; Points; Turntables and ball bearings; Turning loop to turn the trains: More on pistons, cylinders and valves. Special Words – glossary. Find out more about Peter’s Railway and the Moonlight Express (Book 2)
Peter's Railway and the Forgotten Engine, (Book 3 hardback series)
Brakes; Fail Safe principle; Gears and gear ratios; Pressure gauge; Traction engine; Drive belts; Governor; Saving steam and coal. Special Words – glossary. Find out more about Peter’s Railway and the Forgotten Engine (Book 3)
Peter's Railway to the Rescue, (Book 4 hardback series)
Snow plough; Ice and why it floats and bursts boilers; Electricity, lamps and switches; Watermill; Energy and power; Electric motor and generator; Driving a locomotive; Boiler and cylinders. Special Words – glossary. Find out more about Peter's Railway to the Rescue (Book 4)
The paperback books
The paperbacks concentrate on one aspect, either a railway story or a technical story.
Of course the level of detail is less in the small books but they still have a little engineering!
A Bit of Energy. A technical story book.
One day when they are having a steam up on the farm railway, one of the visiting children asks where all the energy comes from to make the engine work. This seems quite a simple question, but in the answer a lot of science is explored: Heat, coal, mechanical energy, but where does the coal get its energy from........ Paperback with 32 pages.
Find out more about A Bit of Energy
When Peter is given an old electric scooter, the motor and battery are used to make a new electric locomotive. This is handy because it can run instantly, whereas Fiery Fox takes at least an hour to get up steam. Quite a wide range of engineering topics are covered, including making castings by melting scrap iron, making the mould from sand and machining the rough castings in the lathe to finish them. Paperback with 32 pages.
Find out more about Molten Metal