View Full Version : would like to start on a first time miniature engine

08-30-2005, 12:38 AM
I need to know what miniature engine kit would be the best to start with for a first timer and the price and address.

08-30-2005, 03:11 AM
I just started work on a Stuart Vertical steam engine it cost about 220 aud,the model is 10v I don't know where you would buy it over there but have a look on their website at www.stuartmodels.com (http://www.stuartmodels.com)
The kit is excellent, everything is in the box including the nuts and bolts and the castings are very good, no blowholes or sand smooth surface finish and not too much to be machined off.All the drawings are on one sheet and are very easy to follow.

Mark Hockett
08-30-2005, 03:15 AM
I think we would need to know a little more detail about what you are looking for. Do you want a steam, internal combustion or hot air engine? In those categories there are many different configurations available. What size engine are you looking for? And we would also need to know what your capabilities are equipment wise. Do you have a lathe, mill, foundry or other types of equipment. There are many different plans and kits available for many different types of engines.

Tin Falcon
08-30-2005, 05:46 AM
This is a very open ended question. There are many types of kits. There are ones that require no machining just assembly.And ones have have plans and materials.These are a set of drawins that may vary in quality and is a colletion of metal pieces and hardware. Also there are casting kits. These are more expensive the castings help reduce machining time. Also miniature is a relative term. I have seen running steam enginge the size of a tie tack. and others over a foot tall.
If you are new to machining and have never made any kind of engine I sugest you start with a sipmlple steam engine with about a 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch bore. Get a set of plans rather than a kit. You will make the same part more than onceand off the shelf stock is cheaper to replace than castings.

08-30-2005, 09:00 AM
I tend to agree with Tin Falcon. Keep it simple. If you make a decent job of it, even the most simple steam engine will be difficult enough to be plenty challenging. I wouldn't try an internal combustion engine first time out. That's a whole lot more difficult to get running.

A "barstock" engine, as noted, has the singular advantage that's a lot cheaper to whack off another piece of barstock and make a piece for the 3rd time than it is to buy another casting for the 3rd time.

I might opt for a slightly larger size than Tin Falcon suggests, maybe a 1" bore, so the parts aren't as finicky to handle.

There have been assorted barstock steam engine plans published in "Live Steam" over the years. Maybe a note to Neil would elicit some suggestions of books available from Village Press.

08-30-2005, 09:34 AM
Have a look at Jerry Howell's site http://www.jerry-howell.com/

I have made the micro drill (first project)as well as the Vicky Victoria engine (definitely not a starter project). The parts are made from bar stock and the instructions on setups and machining are very good. Highly recommended in my opinion.

Good luck.


08-30-2005, 11:27 AM
I have to echo the advice already given. If you've never built an engine
before, build a simple engine from bar stock as your first outing. You're
going to mess up some of the parts (not criticizing your abilities - simply
going on my own experience) and castings are difficult (and often expensive) to
replace. With bar stock you'll be motivated to go back and do it properly
rather than 'bodging' a screwed-up casting.

Furthermore, castings are often difficult to hold for machining and setting up
reference surfaces requires a skill level best acquired with some simpler bar
stock work.

Elmer Verburg's designs are excellent for the beginner - I've built a number of
them. Clear, easy to read plans and almost all designs are made from bar

Jerry Howell's designs, while excellent (I've built two of his engines), are a
bit more exacting. Save them for the time when you feel more confident about
your abilities.

When you do graduate to castings, consider the kits available from PMR.
I've built their machine tool models and several of our club members have built
their engine kits. We've all been very satisfied with the quality of the
castings and the finished project.

Regards, Marv

Home Shop Freeware - Tools for People Who Build Things

Weston Bye
08-30-2005, 11:27 AM
Check the bookstore on this website. The Steam & Sterling books have many projects suitable for a first steam or sterling engine. Check the projects books also. HSM is current running a series on an IC model airplane engine. Back issues are probably still available.


08-30-2005, 11:28 AM

Will suggested one of the Stuart models and they are very nice. However, if you are a beginner with machine tools, I'm going to suffer through the gag reflex http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif and suggest a bar stock engine as a first engine project. Why? as a beginner you will scrap parts! it is costly and inconvenient to scrap castings! Don’t fret too much over what to make, just pick a simple looking one and get started – then you start coming up the learning curve


has a bunch of free plans.

consider subscribing to Live Steam or Model Engineer - it will familiarize you with businesses supplying our hobby

08-30-2005, 12:58 PM
I'd just like to thank hjm for asking the question - I've been interested in the same thing, and once again, the answers flood forth. Now I'm off to find some bar stock...

[This message has been edited by Wirecutter (edited 08-30-2005).]

Tin Falcon
08-30-2005, 05:43 PM
Here is a link to a site with several sets of plans they are free downloads and can be copied as long as they are not modified and due cedit is given. http://npmccabe.tripod.com/steam.htm
The guy runs the enineering tech program at the Comunity college of Morris (NJ) these are student projects. Simple steam engines, shop tools etc.

08-30-2005, 07:01 PM
My very first engine project was a creters popcorn wagon engine offered by Cole's Power models. The drewings were easy to read, and the castings were forgiving. Also, at the time, cole's had replacements if you really screwed one up. When I started I didn't even know how to read a dial caliper, much less set up a lathe. A machinist friend of mine got me started and the rest is history. Good luck, and Have Fun!!!

08-30-2005, 07:17 PM
The sponsors of this forum have several excellent books with plans and projects. The shop Wisdom of Philip Duclos has several IC engines, and The Shop Wisdom of Rudy Kouhoupt has several steam engines. The other Rudy books have more.

They also have many other projects and are well worth having.

I do agree on larger, barstock models for the first project. Also, build in a sequence such that you are fitting a simpler item to a more complex item. That is, make the cylinder first, and fit the piston to it. That way, if rework is necessary, the easier part will be the one to remake.

08-30-2005, 10:41 PM
Here is the first IC engine I built:


Highly recommended. I built it entirely on Sherline lathe and mill.