(Please Don’t) Build A Jet Engine From A Toilet Paper Holder

Turbo charger Jet Engines have long been considered one of the holy grails of backyard engineering. This is with good reason – they’re hard to build, and even harder to run. Many a turbo has met an untimely end from a hot start or oil starvation. [Colin Furze] however, makes it look easy. [Colin] is a proponent of crazy hacks – we’ve featured him before for his land speed record holding baby carriage, and his pulse jet powered tea kettle.

In his latest video set, [Colin] takes a toilet brush holder, a toilet paper roll holder, a few plumbing fittings, and of course a small turbocharger from the scrap yard. Somehow he converts all of this into a working jet engine. The notable thing here is that there is no welding. Some of the joints are held together with nothing more than duct tape.

Calling this a working jet engine is not really an overstatement. As every backyard jet jockey knows, the first goal of DIY jets (aside from not hurting yourself) is self-sustaining. Turbines are spun up with air hoses, vacuums, or leaf blowers. The trick is to turn the fuel on, remove the air source, and have the turbine continue spinning under its own power. Once this happens, your engine is performing the same “Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow” combustion process an F-18 or a 747 uses.

All this doesn’t mean the engine can do anything useful beyond keep itself running. This is where the second goal of backyard jet engines come in – thrust. You need a usable amount of thrust before you can strap that engine to a go-cart and go cruising around the neighborhood.

[Colin’s] jet is built and tested over a two video set. the first outlines how to build it, and the second shows the jet running. As a safety note, [Colin] has hinted in the YouTube comments that there will be a third video in the series showing how he had an incident with a gas leak, and it led to him being put “out of action for a week”. Needless to say – don’t try this particular engine build at home.

[Thanks James!]

49 thoughts on “(Please Don’t) Build A Jet Engine From A Toilet Paper Holder

    1. Diesel Engines also do SSBB, the only difference is diesel fuel igniting by itself due to the temperature and pressure, while Otto engines need spark plugs. Two-stroke engines also do SSBB. And, obviously, jet engines also do SSBB. The different stages are just actually happening in different parts of the engine, while Diesels, Ottos and two-strokes do all four in the same part, the cylinder.

      There is no other way to make something move continuously by combustion without SSBB.

        1. In a rocket engine, you suck up those fuels and oxidisers, from their location, pressure them in their tanks a little, then mory by turbine pump. Then you burn them and they expand with making thrust. Same principle. Only examples that do it differently are stirlings and steam engines. You burn on the other side of the wall that separates it fom the compression and expansion.

      1. However Diesel, petrol (Otto) and jet (Brayton-Joule) cycles have subtle differences which thermodynamic set them apart. Namely, the diesel ant the Joule cycle have constant pressure heat addition where as the otto cycle is isochoric, which is one of the main reasons otto is less efficient but produces more power than the diesel. The Diesel and the otto both do constant volume heat rejection whereas the Joule does isobaric which is why gas turbines are more efficient than both Diesel and Otto as they leave significant energy in the exhaust stream. That is why both the power and efficiency of a Otto/Diesel engine can be improved by fitting a turbo. Finally the Rankine (steam) cycle beats the lot in terms of getting close to the maximum Carnot efficiency with its constant temperature heat addition and rejection, hence power stations.

      1. Ah yes I see now. The doggystyle slap-slap dance is indeed the traditional way to record successful turbine operation.

        I think the vast majority of hack-video producers out there could take some notes from the production style here. Don’t linger on details, keep a good pace and get to the good stuff. Generally I wouldn’t watch an 11 minute video without skipping at least some of it, but this held me.

        Could anyone explain what the benefit of this type of combustion chamber is over, say, a fuel rail riddled with smaller holes?

  1. Oh the drama…I kept waiting for the thing to go pop in his face…entertaining, yes. A skill I don’t have, yes. Still, a dumb ass mo fo, hell yeah! Dude, it’s not a matter of if, only a matter of when…

      1. It really wasn’t very dangerous was it? All the scary bits were in the turbine itself, which was salvaged. As cool and significant as this build is, a decent metaphor for it would be salvaging a car engine, then attaching scrap-made fuel, oil, combustion, and exhaust systems to it.

        If the turbine itself was fine, then the rest of this was not significantly more dangerous than a propane grill. Kinda funny to think about that.

        1. I have to agree. All the moving parts are in the salvaged turbo, leaving the tricky parts pretty much to the combustion chamber. Also pretty much all the risks are contained by the turbo.

          Also the use of gaseous fuel lessens the risk of burning fuel squirting around if anything goes wrong. I have memories from when me and my brothers tested out melting aluminium in a home made furnace and turned on the fuel flow in a kerosene blowtorch a bit too early into the pre-heating. Good thing we had (to some degree) anticipated the risk and turned it on away from anything flammable as it acted more like a small flame thrower before it got hot enough to properly evaporate and burn the kerosene.

  2. I loathe this man. His youtube channel is full of NOTHING but people doing moronically dangerous things with absolutely zero safety precautions. It’s a question of chance he hasn’t gotten someone killed yet, and it’s a matter of time.

    Does he obviously have interesting skills that I lack? sure. Does he seriously lack the basic common sense you should expect of a pre-pubecent child? Also yes.

    1. Get this: some people accept a greater level or risk than others. Tell me, who (aside from himself, and his adult friends who choose to attend his “moronically dangerous” stunts) is going to suffer when something goes wrong?

    2. “Dangerous”, “Moron”, “Zero Safety Precautions” – Why we watch YouTube in the first place, to regain the faith in there being a better world. Because here “In Real Life” we have “Elf & Safety” keeping the Morons in the gene pool long enough for them to be promoted into Management …

  3. We used to relax after a chess match by playing Risk. This is a geeks’ rendition of a class clown… a court jester. A fair portion of society wants/needs this societal class of folk for heady relaxation and a wee bit of excitement. I will hang out a window on a rope with a gun, when necessary, no prob, but I hate roller coasters. At our safe distance in our eletronic blockhouse, we have no worries. It is said that folks came to watch Evil Knevil… crash and burn. *I* was shocked to have this aspect of society dissected and explained. This fellow has no death wish. Some call me wild bill while others know me as boring but “we” precalculate. We have seen wax-on and wax-off. Now show me… thrust. Carry on.

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