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A simple oscillating steam engine

My 1st project - designed by Steve' workshop

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Dodweld18/11/2009 17:30:26
72 forum posts
94 photos

Here' mine 1st project

Many Thanks to Steve's Workshop
Brilliant free design with great walk throughs for a first project
JohnP20/11/2009 13:52:38
5 forum posts
Hi David,
Looks excellent for a first project. I have only just joined forum (in fact this is my first post). I haven't got a lathe yet but hope to get one soon (perhaps at upcoming sandown Exhibition) - This looks like an excellent first project for a newbie like me that has no prior machining skills. The webpage/ description etc. looks very informative & it's all in Metric
I see that you have made a few minor changes which improve the looks. Out of interest could you just make the cylinder out of a single piece of brass rather than two pieces - the cylinder top with the 3 nuts on looks a bit complicated & I am guessing unless you get it right will leak air like mad....?
Anyway, if I can post a first project  that looks half as good as your engine I will be impressed..
Cheers,  John
Ian S C21/11/2009 08:04:02
7468 forum posts
230 photos
JohnP,don't worry if you don't get metric dimentions for one of these engines,as long as you can figure out the approximate size,you make up your own sizes,it doesn't have to be identicle to plan,its your engine.The only one I built to a plan was at a night class at the local high school,except that I changed the plan and I think got a better engine.Since then i'v made 4 more including a V twin,no plans,but these are not as flash as Davids effort.
JohnP21/11/2009 12:20:18
5 forum posts
Thks Ian I will give it a try. Out of interest do you have any links to the engines you have made - Cheers,  John
Dodweld22/11/2009 09:55:58
72 forum posts
94 photos

Got my lathe a few months ago and have not looked back since, wish I'd dived in along time ago (spent to much time thinking about what to buy)
I've not done any machining for about 25years since my apprenticship. Been old school I went for an Imperial machine and have had no problems with the metric dimentions - I just use a metric micrometer!
Top cover flange is no problem - paper gasket, 8BA screws / nuts
just added some relief profile to the cylinder, flywheel and pillar just to give it that "real look"
Want to have a go at a solid crank, just for the practice and wished I'd taken a few more pictures whilst making it - now I've discover this forum
Don't hesitate to ask any questions
BTW I've called my 1st little engine after my daughter "Kate"  she's chuffed to bits ! and so is the wife as I've told her my next engine will be called after her - a bit more complex just like her 
Stub Mandrel13/01/2010 21:57:45
4307 forum posts
291 photos
1 articles
Very pretty! Full marks for presentation.

Lainchy13/08/2019 08:59:40
207 forum posts
66 photos


I know this post is old... but I'm just making one of these for my first project, and it's teaching me loads, AND better to make mistakes and learn on this, rather than my S50 (yet to start)

What size spring did people use for this?

Edited By Lainchy on 13/08/2019 09:04:09

Edited By Lainchy on 13/08/2019 09:04:25

geoff walker 113/08/2019 10:31:52
368 forum posts
145 photos

Looking good lainchy post some more info when you can

The spring strength is largely a matter of feel not to strong or there will be to much friction between the oscillating parts. Would be good if you could find somewhere to try a few to get the right feel

Have a look at dodwells posts when you can. From his first simple wobble he has made some really attractive models something for you to aspire to


Lainchy13/08/2019 10:46:19
207 forum posts
66 photos

Thanks Geoff.

I've ordered a spring on the slow boat, 0.5mm x 6od x 15long. That's a real stab in the dark tbh, but if this is no good... Warwick model engineering show is in Oct. Base, flywheel and piston to go.

I did struggle with the 2mm long thread (M3 not 5BA) for the pivot axle, and ended up drilling it out more to 4.5mm depth and M4 thread. I might end up remaking the cylinder, but this is a learning curve for sure. That's the only bit I'm unhappy with at the moment. I really wanted to stick exactly to the plans... albeit metric rather than BA threads (because I have a stock of bolts from R/C helicopters)

Great fun though!


Edited By Lainchy on 13/08/2019 10:46:56

BW13/08/2019 13:03:35
249 forum posts
40 photos

You can try raiding a few springs from old biros, I got a boxful of various size springs from Aldi for $5.00 - keep an eye out for them - I used one of those.


Lainchy13/08/2019 13:09:39
207 forum posts
66 photos

Cheers Bill. Will keep my eyes open. I tried rifling a few Biro's... but sadly, they're 3mm ID. A friend said about the unpressurised spray bottles so I need to check out some of those too.

BW13/08/2019 13:30:42
249 forum posts
40 photos

...................... and if you want something that requires a similar level of skill, very interesting and completely different to your first one have a go at this one



Lainchy13/08/2019 13:39:31
207 forum posts
66 photos

Brilliant, thanks Bill

JC5413/08/2019 23:49:23
114 forum posts
6 photos

I also made this engine as my first ever attempt to use a lathe in anger. When I got it to run it took days to get the smile off my face. I had 5 attempts to get the piston right, "I'll just give it another skim,,,,,,,,,, another one for the bin" Learnt a great amount building the engine and now working on more difficult projects. As several people have said, great design and good step by step guide on Steve's website. smiley John

Lainchy15/08/2019 07:29:32
207 forum posts
66 photos

I'm enjoying the build for sure, but also learning heaps. I got the piston OK, I think... there's compression and vacuum when it's dry, but a spot of oil should see it better. It's not a tight fit in the bore... but we'll see. Managed to edge a piece of Sapele yesterday with a router bit in the mill - and that had a coat of varnish yesterday.

I did struggle with the flywheel though. No probs hacking it down to the required outer dimension, but I wanted to put some relief in the faces... I am learning still very much. I'm booked on the Axminster small engineering course next week... I have my list of questions! I managed to do it eventually, but it wasn't a pretty process by any means. I'll see if I can get a picture tonight of what I've done, but I really struggled getting past the relief angle on the tooling. Ended up using a indexable boring bar, which really doesn't take finishing cuts well and was resonating - although I did try various speeds??

Lainchy16/08/2019 21:42:37
207 forum posts
66 photos

img-20190816-wa0008.jpegGetting there. Drilled the cylinder cap and threaded the cylinder this evening. Need to drill the bearing next. Base is made too, and 3 coats of varnish. Bit overkill really, but all good fun, and teaching me loads.


Lainchy17/08/2019 19:14:27
207 forum posts
66 photos

Well...short of a bit more polishing...a gasket...and a spring instead of a bit of silicon hose.... it's done First project complete.


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