How to build a Steam-powered LEGO car

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. Therefore Fathers Day seemed to me as the perfect excuse to build a steam-powered LEGO vehicle. The team consisted of my brother, my son and of course, my dad. Why? To have fun and learn at the same time!

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My beautiful Wilesco D6 steam engine and my beautiful son.

But first I had to find my old Wilesco D6 miniature Steam Engine. This little machine is a real working steam engine that looks just like they did 150 years ago. You put water in the kettle, a fuel tablet underneath, light it up and wait. The stamp will start to move after 15 or so mins. Finally the big wheel will start spinning, and soon at a very high speed. Now you can use the power from the machine to anything you like.

My idea was to show my 5-yr old son how a steam engine works in a visual way. I thought building a moving object would be ideal for that.

IMG_0306I knew that the engine would vibrate heavily when fired up, therefore the engine must be fastened to the gears, platform and wheels if I wanted it to work reliably. Also I had this idea, that the gearing should be very low, since the steam engine would spin very fast, but quickly loose momentum after 5 or 6 minutes, only to regain it some minutes later. Working with gears doesn’t have to be that complex. Just remember this simple rule when going from one gear to another: small to big = lower gearing, big to small = higher gearing.

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The LEGO Steam vehicle is ready for testing!

To my big surprise, the gearing worked great in the first testrun! Though it looks a bit low, the vehicle would not have enough power to drive more than one meter. It had to regain pressure in the kettle. I estimate the vehicle to about 1/100 horsepower :-)

No more talking, here is the video:

 

Maybe my next project should be a solar LEGO air fan/robot/something like that?

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