On 29 September 2015 I published a paper in the journal Entropy about thermodynamic analysis of closed steady or cyclic systems. This resulted from my participation in the Joint European Thermodynamics Conference, which took place in May 2015 in Nancy, France. At the conference I delivered a presentation entitled ‘Available work rate of a reversible system bounded by constant thermal resistances linked to isothermal reservoirs’. The presentation was well received and I greatly enjoyed presenting it and responding to the questions that were asked. Over the summer of 2015 I completed the writing of the full paper and responded to points raised by the reviewers. I was able to focus intensely on it. I found the entire process very stimulating and was rewarded by a number of realizations that I had made progress. I felt that my insight into heat engines deepened considerably. I hope this paper is a small step forwards in thermodynamics and I hope it can be a unifying one. It’s not my paper, it’s ours, which Is why I wrote it in the first person plural, inclusive. I’m delighted that it is available as an open access article. I am grateful to the reviewers and the editors. Through them I felt empowered to be bold.