A Remote Controlled, Fully Functional, Steam Powered Tank

Steam Powered Tank for the 21st Century

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.

He’s put an amazing amount of detail into his build log, so much that you could potentially recreate this — if you were determined enough.

Believe it or not, this isn’t actually the first steam powered tank we’ve shared, but it’s probably the nicest. Though the steam powered hexapod is pretty cool too…

19 thoughts on “A Remote Controlled, Fully Functional, Steam Powered Tank

    1. The end of the 70s is not so novel today :P
      The Abrams (and the Russian T-80) are a sad reminder that turbines just are not the right thing for land vehicles, at least not for direct power…
      For having the biggest fuel storage (increased fire hazard), it has one of the shortest operational ranges of all MBTs in service (it’s real speed is that of the fuel truck :D), it also has a much stronger heat signature and is most efficient only when going flat out (which is rarely possible).
      The turbine itself poses a fire hazard (lots of very hot parts that can ignite fuel when it spills) and costs considerably more, (pretty much double that of a piston engine) both to buy and to run, it’s power/torque “curve” (it’s nearly a straight line, greatest torque is at 0 rpm, then linearly falls off) is hard on the transmission (more maintenance) and there a few more rather silly things that could have been done right the first time, not after the 2nd version…

      1. @AKA the A
        If the crunchies don’t want to get melted, the crunchies should ruck someplace else :V

        But seriously, “a sad reminder”? That seems a little melodramatic. The thing works fine, it just takes a lot of maintenance and a serious logistical system, just like everything else the US fields. All the supposed failings you cite are mentioned out of context, eg you don’t specify *how much* shorter the operational range is, nor give examples of where this limitation is actually a problem, ie how it fits into doctrine. This, combined with the fact you talk about electronic countermeasures against *guided* anti tank missiles (lol) makes me suspect you’re trying to pass off hardware nerdery as actual expertise. If you *do* have experience, you’re letting your starry-eyed alt-history fantasies cloud your judgement (not judging, it happens to everybody).

    2. Yeah. Technically they are turboshafts. Jet engines that put all their power onto an axle, or shaft.

      Ignore the other poster. The reason for the use of this type of engine is to conserve weight on an already very heavy vehicle. The US army doctrine assumes extreme funding and an unbeatable logistics chain. Fuel is of no concern. It is a combat vehicle. Fire is of no concern. It has an automatic, governed, hydraulic transmission that has minimal maintenance needs.

      It is almost as if AKA the A is talking out of his steampipe.

      1. The difference between a piston and a turbine engine is less then 1/2 a ton, and since the last upgrade (SEP) added a couple of tons, weight is clearly not an issue, even when it should be (currently the heaviest MBT in service).
        Fuel is always a concern, there is quite a difference if your vehicle can be out only a day before it has to start looking where to fill up or if can hold out longer.
        Fire is also a concern, because the automatic fire suppression system works only once, then it need a refill. Sucks if the engine catches on fire again because everything is still hot.
        Maintenance is done to the entire power pack at a time (since it’s a quick replace module), and the turbine engine has a much shorter interval then piston engines of the same power.

        And as for the cost – the saved money can go elsewhere, like an active protection system, which the US armed forces still do not have to this day, while at least 2 armies have it in active service and ready for export. Or a gun-lauched missile system. Or a decent ECM solution against ATGMs….

  1. Nice build. Though I must say perhaps a flash steam setup instead of regular steam would give it a bit more ‘go’. Just check out the flash steam hydroplane videos on Youtube to see how impressive this can be.

    1. Too bad you can’t here them while the tank is motionless and demonstrates its light show. Leaves the impression that the video shows a simple electric powered tank and no steam or punk at all.

      1. That’s the impression that I’m getting from watching the video, although the build details are very well presented.
        A video of this thing operating with the enclosure removed and the guts in action would be the bees knees!
        Super interesting! Now steam powered robots!

  2. Errm…I hope your just taking a pot-shot at steampunk and don’t actually believe that. You DO KNOW that 90% of ALL our electrical power generation is STILL dependant on steam, don’t you? How do you think coal, gas and oil fired power stations work? You don’t think nuclear power plants convert radiation directly into electricity….do you?? 0.o

    Also, what about Nuke powered subs and aircraft carriers – how do you think they work? (yes, electricity – but how do you think that is generated…)

    Surely nobody is that dumb…?

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