Steampunk iMacs With Real Turning Gears

Macs have always been favorites of case modders, with projects ranging from turning a Mac Plus into an aquarium to retrofuturistic machines that look like they came from the set of [Terry Gilliam]’s Brazil. Some of these casemods are of the steampunk variety, an aesthetic that usually means gluing gears to wood. [Valeriy] and [Cyrill] are bucking that trend with a beautiful iMac crafted from wood, brass, and leather (Russian, Google Translate)

The machine in question is a late-model, impossibly thin iMac. Unlike the old all-in-one computers with clunky CRTs, there’s not much space to dig around inside this iMac, and doing so would probably ruin the machine, anyway. Instead of a complete disassembly a wooden frame was constructed around the display, the aluminum base was covered in veneer, and the back of the iMac was covered in leather.

This is a steampunk computer, though, and that means gears. In this case, the gears and steam elements actually do something. The front of the computer is adorned with a decent replica of the drivetrain of a locomotive that spins with the help of an electric motor. There’s a USB port attached to the front, ensconced in a cylindrical enclosure that opens when a switch is flipped.

If a complete reworking of a modern iMac isn’t enough, the build also included the steampunkification of the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. That in itself is an amazing build, but to see the entire thing in action, you’ll have to check out the video below.


13 thoughts on “Steampunk iMacs With Real Turning Gears

    1. As far as the switches go, the piston can be turned on separately (or be activated when the USB hub opens), but it looks like there are no connection between the two mechanically.

  1. Would be more impressive if compressed air was operating a model steam engine spinning an alternator power a computer that actually use electron tubes as the active components, no matter how simple the computer would be Why compare it to a locomotive when most likely stationary steam engines where adapted to locomotive applications? Sorry IMO it isn’t that great of a model of a stationary steam engine Needless to say steam punk isn’t my fashion sense and it take extra ordinary work to impress me with the genre

    1. All joking aside, this is a valid point.

      Waaaay too many Steampunkers haven’t the foggiest idea how steam or “mechanical” technology actualy works. Take a look at the Steampunk AT-AT to get an idea of how far off their fans are (hint: look for the tender).

      I like Steampunk but a lot of effort goes into making nonsensical things, even from a cosplay perspective. A bit of a turn off to the genre.

      Go to a working train museum to see a real steam engine in operation. Check around for working scale models of steam engines (not that hidden motors nonsense, real steam). If you’re in New York, there’s an entire underground steam network there.

        1. I guess it’s for a lot of reasons really… some of it technical a lot of it cultural.

          The dominate fuels for generating steam in that era are “dirty” fuels such coal or wood. Even “clean” fuels are dirty such as oil, diesel, gasoline or kerosene, either directly (particulates) or indirectly (gases) without filtering and scrubbing (the VW debacle is a great example). In addition some fuels just attract dirt, such as kerosene if they spill or are used as cleaners. In essence, it makes no sense to be ultra clean when you’re going to get dirty again as soon as you walk out the door.

          In addition, standards were different for the period most people think of as steampunk. I think European countries still practiced “powdering” rather than bathing. The Americas were still trying to deal with “modern” things like toilets, toilet paper, running water (a lot of buildings were still carried over from pre-industrial days). The “cleanliness is next to godliness” thing probably didn’t come into vogue until after the 2nd World War and the whole germaphobe mentality won’t come into vogue for at least… I dunno… 50 years after that?

          Today we have “clean” steam out of necessity due to the technology improving and environmental laws having an impact. But Steampunk doesn’t cover current steam tech so the dirt and grime stays.

          I could be wrong, that’s my theory on the subject.

  2. Very nicely done.

    But all that wood and leather insulation on a famously hot-running, undercooled machine can’t be good. Even naked, ours run disturbingly hot when doing anything non-trivial.

    Maybe the pistons are a coolant pump?

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