Jet engines are the foundation of modern air travel. Large, powerful turbines are built to precise specifications in dedicated factories using thousands of parts. But that doesn't mean you can't construct your own engine at home. The science behind a jet engine is extremely simple to understand, if somewhat difficult to implement on a homebuilt scale. It will take patience and a few visits to the junkyard, but you too can construct your very own jet engine.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Welding torch
- Pipe bender
- Stainless steel pipe
- Flat sheet steel, 1/8" in thickness
- Fuel lines
- Fan blade
- Ignition source
Lay out your design on paper before constructing it. Each jet engine will be different because each turbocharger is different, but essentially you are forcing compressed air through a tube with a fuel/air mixture that is ignited, with the resulting flame pushing out far more air than the turbocharger alone. Design your engine so that your turbocharger feeds air into the combustion chamber, ignites and is pushed out to turn the turbine.
Construct your ignition chamber. Insert a smaller pipe into a large pipe, leaving approximately ½-inch of space between the two to create an air chamber. Make a steel cap to bolt onto one end of the larger pipe, leaving a hole for the fuel line to be inserted. Drill evenly spaced holes throughout the smaller pipe and attach it to the cap with bolts for easy removal. Bolt the cap to the larger pipe. On the other end of the chamber, weld sheet steel to the smaller pipe to completely cover the larger pipe. Leave the mouth of the smaller pipe open.
Attach a length of curved pipe to your turbocharger. Place the pipe so that the maximum force of the air from the turbocharger flows into it. Generally, the best location is the lower left side, but each turbocharger will be slightly different. Wrap the pipe around the turbocharger and cut a hole that is the exact size of the pipe's mouth in the ignition chamber. Weld the two together with an airtight seam.
Build your turbine chamber. Insert your fan blade into a piece of pipe with just enough clearance to spin freely. Weld a smaller pipe at one end and taper it to serve as your jet nozzle. Cut a hole where the top of the fan will be and curve the pipe so that it wraps around and off of your turbine chamber. Measure the other end of the pipe to attach to the open end of your ignition chamber, but do not weld it yet.
Test your turbocharger and ignition chamber. Experiment with different hole spacing on the pipes, and different amounts of fuel/air mixture. You are looking to have a smooth, steady flow of air with no pops, bursts or other issues. This may require several different tests. Once you have a smooth flow of air, weld the pipe connecting the turbine chamber to the ignition chamber, and your engine will be complete.
Tips and warnings
- Study as many plans as possible; the basic physics are always the same, but there are unique variations for each engine.
- Be very careful when experimenting with fuel/air mixtures, and do not experiment near anything flammable.
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