Steam Powered Tank

This steam-powered tank is really something of a steam-electric hybrid. Steam provides the locomotion, but an electrical system provides the remote control and steering. A full boiler will provide 10-15 minutes of operation which you can see in the video after the break. Before you leave a nasty comment: Yes, we realize this project is from several years ago. It’s new to us and the completion date doesn’t diminish the novelty of this well-executed build. This is the quality and uniqueness we’re used to seeing from [Crabfu].


[via Gizmo Watch]

38 thoughts on “Steam Powered Tank

  1. @barry99705: I think boiler plate makes pretty good armor. I’d be mighty impressed if a musket ball could make it through an inch of steel, which is what the boiler on a full-sized version would be made out of.

    Steam trains were commonly used to move troops in the Civil War, and I doubt one was ever stopped by musket fire. Usually they just tore up the tracks.

  2. Hybrid would not be the right term, because it does not matter by what the control-systems are powered… or do you call al normal car manual-electric-gasoline-hybrid because it uses manual “power” and electric help for steering?

  3. Very Cool!

    It wasn’t clear to me where the power for the RC receiver came from (batteries?) A neat trick would be to add a little PM DC motor set up to act as a generator. The generator could run the receiver.

    Or, another approach would be to use a steam engine with a larger generator… then use the electric power to drive motors in the tracks.

    In any form, very, very cool.

  4. >>?The steam-punk age is coming back I see.

    No, fortunately, it never was before. And unfortunately for every person that focus on ‘steam’ 20 will focus on ‘punk’ and allow place like brassgoogle to become a cesspool of hobos and hippies without any understanding of the dandyism that was a main component of the victorian era. The coup de grace was the link with the burning man festival…

    >>>It wasn’t clear to me where the power for the RC receiver came from (batteries?) A neat trick would be to add a little PM DC motor set up to act as a generator. The generator could run the receiver.

    No it would not be ‘neat’ it would be downright stupid. For the same reason car batteries are necessary to power the subsystems when the engine stall. For remote -things- you usually prefer even for full electric model to have 2 different packs, one for the propulsion than can go empty. one for the control who is always supposed to be operationnal. For plane it allows to glide back to a safe landing, for cars, to be steered out of trouble while expanding the remaining inertia. For steam powered vehicles, having the option to kill the fire if the boiler run out of water might be a good idea to protect said boiler from overheating.

  5. @coligny — have you ever had one of these toy steam engines? They don’t have electric start and you can’t stop them electrically. You start them by filling with water and lighting sterno pellets under the boiler and they run until they run out of either water or sterno (hopefully sterno, but they’re built pretty rugged for the other way around since they’re made as toys for kids). Running the electronics off the steam would actually add some elegance to the hack, as there is nothing the electronics could effectively do if the steam engine isn’t already running anyway.

  6. This motor basically just burn things. Instead of going back to steam or using ineffective batteries you should work on free energy solutions. In small and in big as well.

  7. @coligny

    First off, the primary source of electrical energy in a car is the alternator, period. The battery exists to start the engine, and to provide brief support of electrical systems when the engine is not running. It also serves to provide surge current, not unlike a big-assed capacitor would. It is not, however, a primary electrical source.

    If you think it is, turn on your headlights or AC blower without the engine running and let me know how long it lasts.

    I thought it was understood that a steam-powered generator on an RC tank would have to have some electrical reserve, like a car. I guess I can’t assume that what is obvious to me would be obvious to you.

    Second, I would remind you that this article is about a tiny steam-powered tank, not a model aircraft. I am not worried about gliding back my toy tank after the fuel runs out.

    Finally, if you are really worried about a boiler being damaged by running dry, the worst idea is to make your safety mechanism reliant on the state of a radio link or the unknown condition of a battery. That’s not fail-safe. A far better approach would be to use, for example, a bimetallic coil to close a damper (and choke the flame) if the boil temperature should get too high.

    As to your comment about “stupid” ideas… The only thing “stupid” around here is your approach to interacting with other human beings. There is no reason to be insulting or abrasive.

  8. “Go pookey !”

    I hate it when folks go on about ideas being stupid.

    All I have to say to that is –
    – “HE got chocolate in ma peanut butter!”
    – “HE got peanut butter in my chocolate!”.

    The ‘steam powered’ tank rocks.


  9. @preist
    rofl free energy.

    a steam direct drive paired with a generator would be pretty inefficient but really cool to see operating. there’d have to be a small engine for the generator always draining steam, and when the main drive kicks in the generator would slow down, potentially causing problems.

    running one generator instead of batteries is a much more do-able idea though. lots of ships have diesel generators and electric propulsion; substitute diesel for steam :D

    TBH the way crabfu did it is the most fun, though. direct steam drive just has an awesomeness to it that can’t be achieved any other way. seeing the mechanics of an all-steam system is so cool

  10. Ah, I remember that tank chassis. I can’t remember the exact model but I’m sure it was from a German Leopard tank. Steam power is a good hack here – I remember the 7.2V NiCad battery packs didn’t last as long as 10/15mins!
    Nice work

  11. I seen this tank on youtube. If you liked this you would love the tank powered by a steam turbine. as for using a a dynamo or a generator powered from the steam motor, it looks good on paper but not so well in practice. I have some rc toys and know that the receiver does not like electronic noise, you will get servo chater, short radio range or worse a run away tank. May not sound like a big deal till your tank with a burning fire on board gets stuck under you girls new Mazda. Batts have cleaner power.

  12. @Orv
    I used to run a place in Alaska that was heated by a coal fired steam boiler, I know all about them. You don’t have to puncture it, just weaken it. A steam powered tank would be pretty slow, so maybe not a musket, but definitely a cannon ball would do it.

  13. I had one of those tanks a number of years ago, and the damned thing was such a pain in the ass because if you tried to get it to turn a corner too sharply the rubber things that hold the wheels on would pop off taking the tread with it. I never did figure out how to fix that.

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