Understanding the History of Horsepower

January 21st, 2018 by

What exactly is horsepower? It is a term that we hear thrown around quite often but did you actually know where it came from? The roots of horsepower start back in the 18th century. Horses were the main tool used to perform work and were used in comparable ways to modern day tractors. Around this time an engineer by the name of James Watt needed to find out a way to sell his steam engine.

Mining was a large industry back at that time, primarily coal. Watt devised a test using a mine pony to measure the amount of work that could be performed. Watt found that the mine pony could perform around 22,000 pound-feet of work in a minute. After some calculation, he decided a full-size horse would perform around 33,000 pound-feet of work, birthing the term horsepower.

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