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How to build a steam engine

Category: DIY mechanics

How to build a steam engine

DIY steam engine

difficultyDifficulty: ★★★★☆

timeTime: One day

ScrapFrom scrap: ████████░░ 80%


This topic describes how to build simple steam engine with one piston and slide valve.


  • The telescopic antenna (can be found on older televisions and radios), the diameter of the large tube must be at least 8 mm.
  • Spokes for bicycle wheels (bought on the market).
  • Several screws, bolts and nuts (bought on the market).
  • A small tube (bought at a hardware store).
  • Copper wires with a diameter of about 1.5 mm (can be found in the transformer or Radio Shack).
  • Lead (you can buy at the fishing shop or find an old car battery). It needs to cast in a pattern to form a flywheel. I found a ready flywheel, but you can make your own.
  • Wooden bars.
  • Stand (I did it from a sheet of PCB with thickness of 5 mm, but can be made out of plywood).

  • Grindstone
  • Drill
  • Soldering iron
  • Super glue, epoxy resin, cold welding

    How to make a steam engine

  • Scheme

    Page from book, which shows a diagram of homemade steam engine
    How to build a steam engine

  • The cylinder and the slide valve tube.

  • Step 1

    At first I made a cylinder with a slide valve. It is made from three pieces of the telescopic antenna.
    The first piece of 38 mm long, 8 mm in diameter (the cylinder itself).
    The second has length 30 mm and diameter of 4 mm.
    The third has length of 6 mm, 4 mm in diameter (2 and 3 tubes for the valve).

  • Step 2

    Cut these pieces of antenna, take a piece of №2 and drill a hole in it with a diameter of 4 mm in the middle. Take a piece №3 and attach it perpendicular to №2 with super glue, after drying superglue, cover them all by cold welding (eg POXIPOL).

  • Step 3

    Then attach piece №3 to circular iron plate with a hole in the middle (with superglue). The diameter of the plate - a little larger than the diameter pieces №1. After that, stick the plate to cylinder and cover them by cold welding.
    Also I covered all joints with epoxy. After the glue dries everything is ready

  • The piston and connecting rod

  • Step 1

    Take the screw (1) with a diameter about 6.5-7 mm and clamp it in a vise. Gradually wind a copper wire (2) onto it. After each round, drip a bit of super glue to more strendth. Make about 6 turns. After winding cut the extra edge of the screw

  • Step 2

    Cover it with epoxy. After it dried, customize piston with sandpaper that piston does not leak air while is in cylinder.

  • Step 3

    Then cut a thin strip of aluminum sheet 4 mm wide and 19 mm long. Bend it to form U-shaped (3).

  • Step 4

    Drill holes at both ends (4) of 2 mm diameter. Sizes of the U-shaped part must be 7x5x7 mm. Stick it to the piston by the side that 5 mm with epoxy. Piston is ready.

  • Step 5

    The connecting rod (5) is made of spoke. Stick with super glue both ends of the spokes with two small pieces of tubes (6) from the antenna piece with diameter and length of 3 mm. From the center to center of rod should be 50 mm. Then one end of the rod insert into the U-shaped piece and insert a spoke through holes.
    Glue the both ends of spoke to tubes.

    How to build a steam engine

  • Triangle's rod

  • Step 1

    Triangle's rod is the same as the piston rod, but on the one side will be tube, and the other will be a piece of spoke. The length of the rod should be 75 mm.
    How to build a steam engine

  • Triangle and slide valve

    Triangle cut from a sheet of aluminum. Drill 3 holes in it. About slide valve i can say a little. Slide valve's piston should be about 3.5mm. It has to move free in the tube valve. The length of the valve rod depends of the thickness of the flywheel that you make or find.
    How to build a steam engine

  • Stands

    Make stands of wood, all sizes is optional

  • Cranks

    Crank piston rod must be 8 mm, and a crank of slide valve - 4 mm.

  • Boiler

    Steam boiler I did from a jar of olives. I soldered the top cover, made a hole with soldered nut, so I can germetically close the hole by screw. Also soldered tube to the top.
    How to build a steam engine

  • Assembled

    Assemble your diy steam engine on wooden platform, each element ot its own wooden stand

    How to build a steam engine

    How to build a steam engine

    How to build a steam engine

  • First video

  • Version 2.0

    Cosmetic revision of my diy steam engine. Bolier has its own wooden platform and a saucer for dry fuel tablets. All parts are painted in different colors.
    How to build a steam engine

    How to build a steam engine

    How to build a steam engine

    How to build a steam engine

    Author: ZippO


How diy steam engine works

ResultsResults and tips

  • That project shows that homemade steam engine could be made without high precision instruments
  • You can pull all parts together to make steam engine more compact
  • You can use diy alcohol primus to heat boiler of your homemade steam engine

Tags: engine

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  1. <
    Cameron Lanigan

    1 February 2016 15:26

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    Very Cool. Great and Simple design too, but how does the piston come in, is it momentum please write back, thank you.
    Dislike +5 Like
  2. <

    4 June 2016 06:52

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    Yes. The piston comes back because of momentum
    Dislike +1 Like