Cover image for Locomotive : building an eight-wheeler
Locomotive : building an eight-wheeler
Weitzman, David, 1936-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1999.
Physical Description:
32 unnumbered pages : illustrations ; 24 x 30 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.4 0.5 48955.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TJ603.2 .W45 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area
TJ603.2 .W45 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
TJ603.2 .W45 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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In the 1830s, Americans fell in love with railroads and locomotives. Soon we were building the biggest, most powerful locomotives in the world. The steam locomotive became a symbol of American ingenuity and skill that our national poet, Walt Whitman, called an "emblem of motion and power - pulse of the continent." One of the most useful locomotives was a wood-burning 4-4-0, an eight-wheeler made for fast passenger service. The author explains how an eight-wheeler was built and takes the reader through the construction process, from the draftsmen's first drawings to the beautifully crafted, perfectly tuned locomotive that steamed out of the shop with the sun glinting off her polished brass bell and whistle. The mechanical details are miraculously revealed in the illustrations, showing the skill and pride of the craftsmen who helped to build this great nation.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this companion volume to his Superpower: The Making of a Steam Locomotive, Weitzman turns to an earlier trainÄa wood-burning eight-wheeler made in the 1870sÄand once again presents the process of its crafting through informative text and meticulous illustrations. Weitzman takes readers behind the scenes at the drafting room, where a master mechanic creates the custom plan for the locomotive on paper; the factory machine shop, where drill presses, lathes and planers bring the bulk of the locomotive's parts to life; the forge, the boiler shop and the foundry, where the locomotive's iron pieces are made; and the erecting shop, where hundreds of men take a week to bring all of the locomotive's components together into a working machine. Black-and-white pen-and-ink and pencil illustrations are painstakingly rendered, almost to a fault; their precise lines and lack of backgrounds could come across as stiff or remote to some young readers. While Weitzman's text is often engaging, the level of detail he provides (as well as the many locomotive terms he leaves undefined) makes his book best suited to those already struck by train-love. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-"The year is 1870, just a few months after laborers complete the transcontinental railroad....New routes require more equipment, and factories are turning out a locomotive every two days." Weitzman offers finely crafted black-and-white drawings in pen and ink and pencil to illustrate the two busy days factory workers spend manufacturing a "wood-burning 4-4-0, an eight-wheeler made for rapid passenger service." The handsome picture book begins with a double-spread diagram labeling 70 different parts of the locomotive followed by an engaging commentary on trains and railroading in the 19th century. This leads into a discussion of the factory itself and how the equipment was used. Descriptions of how each unit of the train was made become a bit dry and technical, and many pages go by before readers actually see a locomotive. The striking black-and-white presentation of historical manufacturing is reminiscent of earlier books by Edwin Tunis and Leonard Everett Fisher; this volume would pair nicely with Fisher's The Railroads (Holiday, 1979; o.p.), which covers the broader context. The human work and craftsmanship involved are well conveyed. The book will be enjoyed most by readers with a strong mechanical bent. Libraries may also find uses for it as a source on the Industrial Age as well as on railroad history.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.