How to build a miniature steam engine

Written by jeanene s. valentine
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Email

A steam engine is basically a heat-powered engine that is altered to use steam as its form of liquid fuel instead of gasoline. There are other fuel alternatives, such as solar power, hemp oil, and of course, electric power. Here you will learn how to make the most basic miniature steam engine so you get the concept and then can move on and make bigger and more powerful versions. All of the materials mentioned can be in the article may be purchased at your local hardware store such as Ace or Home Depot.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Boiler
  • Main cylinder
  • Piston rod
  • Water
  • Fuel such as wood or gas

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    First, you'll want to build the actual engine part. Take the large cylinder and place the piston inside. Make sure there is clearance for the piston to easily slide in and out. Place the fitted lid on the cylinder, making sure that the arm for the piston is secure but not too tight for the lid. The moving piston is where you can connect the engine to whatever it is you want powered.

  2. 2

    Vent the cylinder. Drill two identical holes on one side of the cylinder. They should be one towards the top of the cylinder, the other near the bottom. You'll need a plug for one of the holes that is easily removed and something that won't get too hot because you'll need to touch it.

  3. 3

    Build the fuel part. For this you will need a boiler. The best kind are found in simple science kits and look like a tank of water perforated with pipes, almost like a radiator for a car. One end will have the side where you can burn fuel such as gas or wood. The other end will have a pipe opening. This is where condensed steam will exit.

  4. 4

    Put everything together. Connect the boiler to the main cylinder (via rubber tube) through one of the identical holes. Find your fuel source, add your water, and light it up! It will take some time for the water to boil enough to start producing thick enough steam. Once the steam begins to build, it will enter the cylinder. Make sure to use your plug to keep the open hole closed. When the steam starts to build, the piston will move, and you can remove the plug which will free the piston into moving, create a puff of steam and actually hear a "choo" such as when a train passed by.

Tips and warnings

  • Condensed steam can be extremely hot!!

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.