Cycling for health and transportation might seem like a good idea, but it unfortunately has the nasty side effect of making you tired. To ease the suffering, many have turned to electric bicycles. But what if you want to really stand out from the crowd? Well then you should look to [Mark Drake] for inspiration, the creator of the beautifully engineered Ruscombe Gentleman’s Steam Bicycle.
[Mark] wanted to create a steam powered bicycle that’s actually usable, instead of just an awkward novelty. To achieve this he made extensive use of modern tech like spreadsheets to model the steam cycle, and CAD for the mechanical design. The engineering design that went into the project really shows in level of refinement of the end product, which is able to comfortably reach 15 mph. Watch the video after the break to see it in action and get all the details.
Petrol is used a fuel source, which is forced to the vaporising burner via air pressure. The fuel is heated by the burner itself to form a vapour before entering the combustion chamber and igniting. The steam generator is a hybrid design, using both mono tube steam generator coils and a small fire tube boiler. This produces superheated steam at over 300 °C, which [Mark] says is key to the bike’s performance. Mineral oil can’t handle the high temperature, so modern synthetic oil is used for lubrication. The steam generator is so well-built that [Mark] managed to get is certified to industrial standards. For safety, it features both a pressure release valve, and a system that automatically shuts of the fuel supply when the steam exceeds a certain pressure. 130 W of power is provided to the wheels by a single cylinder slide valve engine via modern toothed belt. This also drives the air pump to keep the fuel system pressurised, and an adjustable water pump to feed the boiler. Continue reading “The Ruscombe Gentleman’s Steam Bicycle”→
The bike is of a recumbent design, featuring a relaxed riding position well suited to the sophisticated nature of a steam-powered vehicle. Sporting a wooden frame, the build carries a strong steampunk aesthetic. The flash boiler packs 100 feet of copper pipe, and there’s an electric pump and controller to handle water delivery from the stylish brass tank. The setup is capable of producing steam within 30 seconds of startup. Motive power is courtesy of a 1.5 inch bore single-cylinder steam engine, connected to the rear wheel via a belt drive.
Tamiya’s Mini 4WD toy line primarily consists of small 1:32 scale toy cars powered by AA batteries, which have no remote control and are guided around a plastic track by horizontally oriented drive guide wheels. Tuning and racing these cars is popular in many parts of the world, but this build is a little different.
After initial experiments with a modified Tamiya chassis are unsuccessful, a fresh build using a bespoke aluminium chassis is begun. A sturdy boiler is created, feeding into a piston which is used to drive all four wheels through a series of driveshafts.
It’s interesting to watch the iterative design process solve various problems such as piston wear and gearing. Performance is underwhelming for those used to the immense speed of the electric toys, but we’d love to see a competition series using steam powered racers.
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!
[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.
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.