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Where Do you Get Pressure (to run one of these motors) without Making Steam?


There are several choices regarding “steam pressure without steam”.


1.      The overwhelmingly best thing to do is to buy a small compressor (and I’m assuming you don’t have one). Wal-Mart sells a very nice little Campbell-Hausfield compressor (with 2 gallon tank) for only about $99. This may seem like a big chunk of money for “hobby use” but the reality is, it can be used for lots of other things. I bought a small compressor (similar to this one) five years ago and I’ve used it for endless projects. (Northern Tool also has a 7 gallon air compressor in their print catalogue for around $107…’s not listed on their website at but a print catalogue can be ordered online). Since any purchased compressor is a commercial product, no one (at shows or displays) would question it’s safety and it has the added bonus of having a pressure regulator (to adjust engine speed). I advised others to buy a ready-made compressor (instead of building something) and they told me later that it was the best thing they could have done…….allowed more time for actual building of motors and less time messing around with haphazard pressure supplies.


2.    Use one of those small air compressors that plug into an automotive cigarette lighter (the kind used to fill a flat tire). I’ve run my motors on one of these on occasion. Mine was bought (on sale) at K-Mart for $9. I’ve seen them for $15 to $20 at Wal-Mart. They’re VERY noisy, but you could built a sound-deadening box around it. Power could be from a 12 car or motorcycle battery. You could use a variable resistor (Radio Shak) or household dimmer switch (for house lights) to regulate voltage (and thus pressure…..probably keep the noise down too).


3.     Buy a compressed air storage tank (~$20 at Wal Mart). These will work, but only for a few minutes (you could also run you engine from an automotive spare tire…..same idea).


4.    A small steam engine could be run by a small motor (such as a sewing machine-type motor) and this combination could serve as a compressor/air source . Since the air would simply cycle in and out (of the intake and exhaust ports of the steam engine), one would need a check valve. Easiest thing to use would be an automotive PCV valve (~$3) which is a simple check valve (usually must be oriented vertically and not upside down).  A check valve could be also built by doing the following:


a.     Take apiece of 3/8 steel rod 1” long.

b.    Drill a 9/64 hole ¾ deep

c.     Drill a 7/64 hole the rest of the way (you will now have a through hole that is “stepped”)

d.    Place a 1/8  ball bearing in the 9/64 hole

e.     Place a small spring (like a ball point pen spring) into the hole so that it lightly presses the ball against the step.

f.     Pinch the rod in a vice (slightly) at the 9/64 end so that the spring is trapped in the hole (or use crazy glue to secure the spring)

g.     Using rubber hose, connect the 7/64 end to the exhaust port of a small steam engine that is turned by the small electric motor. The 9/64 end would be hooked up to another steam engine intake port…..this engine would run if sufficient air was pumped through it.