Machining a horizontal Stirling engine

Satisfy your need to view some quality machining by looking through this Stirling engine worklog. We’ve seen these engines used a few other times in creating electricity from solar energy, powering a car, and even built from aluminum cans. [David Morrow] built this rendition to push the limits of his machining skills. We’d say he succeeded. The finished piece should run with the help of a heat source such as a candle. There’s no video of this engine, but we’ve embedded a clip of a similar device after the break in order to give you an idea of how this would work.

[Thanks The Ideanator]


  1. Brennan says:


  2. vonskippy says:

    Nicely done.

  3. Phil says:

    How does this work?

  4. euler357 says:

    This is great work. If you want to see more of this attend the Cabin Fever Expo in York, PA. They have 100’s of people exhibiting their model engines:

  5. alkhaarj says:

    Phil: It’s an external combustion engine. A beautifully machined one at that…

  6. Squirrel says:


    The wikipedia article does a good job of explaining it.

    This looks to be a Beta Sterling.

    Basically the air inside heats up, causing it to expand, moving the piston away. This causes the displacer to move to the hot end, forcing the air to the cool end, where it contracts, bringing the piston back in.

    Or, the black box description, apply heat at end, cold along the sides, and the wheel will spin

  7. Squirrel says:

    Actually I take that back. it’s an alpha-type

  8. lwr20 says:
  9. The Ideanator says:

    look through the rest of that dudes site, there’s some other neat stuff there.

  10. greycode says:

    Beautiful, really, this was class work. This is one of the best Stirling engines that I have ever seen.

    Coke snorkin’, tinfoil hat wearing, hemp clothed, Marty Feldman eyed, stark raving mad, lunatic fringed morons will be quoting this page forever more, as the answer for the world’s power needs.

  11. Hirudinea says:

    It looks like a Victorian sex machine.

  12. MechE says:

    Way to make Carnot proud! The Stirling Cycle is beautiful. Carnot efficiency FTW

  13. mike says:

    Does anyone have a link to plans for a similar engine? Ive been tempted to build my own for some time now, but ive yet to come across a decent set of plans that A) doesn’t cost $$ and B) isnt made from cans.

  14. Taco! says:

    Actually that is a gamma type stirling engine.

  15. Jd says:

    Get on up, move on up like a Victiorian sex machine [insert James Brown sfx]

  16. rallen71366 says:

    @Hirudinea: “Looks lke”? It IS. Show it to some steampunks and get your wet wipes ready! : )

  17. lwatcdr says:

    Makes me wonder if a Stirling motor is more or less efferent than a thermal couple? Add one that runs a generator and have run off the heat of the radiator in a Pirus and maybe one that runs off the AC heat as well. Add a small exhaust turbine hooked to another generator and see just what you can get for mileage in a cost as no option rig.

  18. Actually I take that back. it’s an alpha-type

  19. Gert says:

    Man i wish i could afford a milling machine.
    This looks like so much fun to make.
    Great work.

  20. nick says:

    Is it just me, or does it look like that axle on the flywheel might bind with the piston?

  21. japkin says:

    Beautiful work!

  22. cmholm says:

    nick, I think it’s an optical illusion caused by the almost-mirror finish. I believe the brass-colored “axle” is actually a counter-weight appendage to the brass-colored connecting rod. Unfortunately, the site hit a bandwidth limit, so I don’t have alternate POV photos.

  23. Anonymous says:

    alkhaarj: It could be, though it could also run on solar heat — combustion at a distance via radiation — or “waste” heat — including radioactive decay and chemical processes (think: bunnies).

  24. Gene says:

    Mike, Jan Ridders has many good plans on his site, which he will email to you for no cost. The instructions assume you have some knowledge about what you’re doing, and are translated into english, but the plans themselves are great. lots of video, and many, many different engines, not just stirling.

  25. Manufacturer says:

    That was very beautiful and amazing machine wish i would have that.

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