It’s sometimes hard to believe how stuff was made over a hundred years ago when electricity wasn’t widely available. One of the most common ways of powering tools was via belt drive — powered by a water mill, or a steam engine, or even horses. [David Richards] has spent a good chunk of time making his own period accurate steam powered machine shop — and it’s fantastic.
It represents approximately what a 1920’s machine shop would look like in America. Not a single tool is newer than 1925. The whole shop is powered by a line shaft using steam power. A massive boiler provides steam for a Pennsylvania built 5 by 5 steam engine, dating back to approximately 1895. Using belts and clutches, it powers a few lathes, drill presses, a mill, and even a shaper — an identical machine to one in the Edison Museum!
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Steam power anything these days is pretty cool, but rarely have we ever seen such a complex build as this steam powered, remote controlled 1/16th scale tank.
[Ian] is an electronics design engineer whose hobbies include messing around with steam power. The Steam Turret Tank is based on a 1/16th scale Tamiya King Tiger die-cast model tank. It features a 3.5″ diameter marine boiler from MaccSteam, which is a fully equipped miniature version of a real boiler, complete with pressure gauges, safety valves, and a ceramic burner. It can produce pressures of up to 70PSI (max 120PSI), but for this project, [Ian] is limiting it to around 30PSI.
A small 2″ diameter fuel tank contains a propane mixture to fuel the boiler. Two Regner 40451 Piccolo steam engines make up the drive train, with mechanical linkages controlled by servos to engage the various features. The tank can go forward, backward, spin in place, and the turret can both rotate and adjust trajectory. It also has controllable headlights, and can even “fire” the turret.
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This is a steam-powered record player; awesome. But wait, that’s not all. Watch the video after the break for about two and a half minutes and you’ll realize that it’s also a Rickroll. No, you’re not getting baited into clicking through to Rick Astley’s music video, the LP that’s playing on the turntable is a copy of “Never Gonna Give You Up”; all kinds of awesome.
This all started with a steam engine machined from a stainless steel bolt and a brass cylinder. It was tested using compressed air before building the boiler. But what’s a steam engine without a purpose? The problem with using a steam engine as a turntable motor is speed control. This is where we move to modern technology, using an Arduino to measure the RPM and adjust the steam engine using a servo motor.
The builder makes a comment that this sounds terrible, but considering it’s steam-powered we think it sounds just fine.
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