Oscillating Steam Engine (December 5th, 2008)

I made a small oscillating steam engine for a final project at school recently. It's a fairly simple design to make, and I built this one with no real previous experience with metalworking. I've messed around in my dad's woodshop since I was old enough to know not to stick my fingers in saws, so I guess the concepts carry over. Another challenge was actually getting to use the mill and lathe because the course was overloaded and there were lines to everything. However, I think the engine came out decently despite a number of problems I had.

Homemade Steam Engine Parts

This isn't the latest picture of all the parts, but it's close enough. The only changes are I added two washers between the crank and flywheel, and got rid of the washer under the spring. I've got a set "plans" here, but they have no measurements. This is mainly because I didn't use any precise measurements to build the engine. Really, you only need to get five holes in the right spot, and then just build everything else to fit.

Homemade Steam Engine

I had a tough time getting it to work at first, but now that it's broken in it runs pretty good. I've yet to come up with a decent way of getting air to it though. I've just been holding an air nozzle to the copper pipes with a piece of foam acting as a gasket. There seems to be quite a bit of air leaking around the nozzle, and it won't run with less than 35 psi. Once I come up with a good way to get air to the machine I'll find the minimum air pressure it'll run on.