View Full Version : PM Feb 1973 "Tiny Steam Engine" Anyone?

01-29-2010, 03:06 PM
I found a box of Popular Mechanics magazines from the 50's up to the late 70's in the attic of my mother house when she bought it in 1993.

As a mechanically inclined 13 year old, I was thrilled with my find. The one issue that I found that really caught my attention was the Feb 1973 issue. This issue had an article about building a steam engine entitled, "Tiny Steam engine for the beginning machinist" by John Burroughs.

This article is what I attribute to the spark that inspired me to move down the machinist trade. In a way I feel I owe my career decision to John Burroughs for inspiring me with his article. I can remember as a 13 year old thinking that, "One day I would have my own lathe!" Now I am the owner of a tool and die shop.

Recently I printed this article out and tacked it on one of the shop walls. I still haven't made that steam engine but I want to as it was the spark that got me headed down the machinist road.

Has anyone built one of these? If so I would be very interested in seeing it.


Oh and the article for those who are interested.



brian Rupnow
01-29-2010, 05:53 PM
A number of people have built them over on "Home Model Engine Machinist" forum.



01-29-2010, 10:44 PM

Here is one I made. The pattern came from a friend. He made it when he was 14

Al Messer
01-30-2010, 11:55 AM
Caldwell Industries, Lulling, Texas---I think that they went out of business several years ago. I had done business with them in the past and they were good people to deal with. I was sorry to see them leave the model trade.

Speaking of those who have left thesuppliers list, has anyone built an engine from the castings that Anton Bohaboy, Rahway, N.J. used to sell by mail order? Reading a couple of articles about him in PS got me hooked on Steam models as a young teenager---years before I got my first lathe--an Atlas 618.

01-30-2010, 02:00 PM
Ah yes. I remember those days. A young kid, let loose in my uncle's machine shop, with a stack of "Popular Mechanix" magazines.

I manufactured dozens of these little marvels. I also built many oscillating cylinder engines, multi-cylinder engines and even an "odd" model airplane glow engine or two.

Those were the days.
Unfortunately, the events of the world closed in, and I lost my Father, we had to move, and I suddenly found myself "chief cook & bottle washer" for four screaming brats (who somehow grew up to be my younger brothers).

I always had a great love for machines, but only recently have been in a position to "go back to my roots", so to speak.

01-30-2010, 04:16 PM
Brian-- Thanks for the link. I have talked to a couple of people over there about this engine and have found some more plans.

gt2-- Nice little engine. I was going to scrounge up the supplies to put together one of these sometime next month when I have some spare time in the shop.

salt-- Good to here you have a shop again. It is nice to remember those times as a kid when you had such dreams of having your own shop and then have it come true later when you are an adult.

Thanks guys for the responses.


brian Rupnow
01-30-2010, 06:25 PM
Greebe---I seen you posting over there. I have designed and built a number of small air/steam engines and posted the engineering drawings download links to a file hosting outfit I use. One of the more interesting ones, and easy to build is the 5 cylinder radial engine. do a search on here for "Brians Radial engine."

Al Messer
01-31-2010, 07:28 PM
O.K. The bug has bitten me! Where can I buy a copy of the plans??

01-31-2010, 08:57 PM
The plans are free. Here is the link:


Al Messer
02-01-2010, 01:09 PM
Thanks for the link, however, my computer will not connect with it. What type of file is it? I seem to be able to download JPEG files only. I am open to suggestions. TIA

Bill in Ky
02-01-2010, 04:02 PM
I like the caption under Picture #4,
If you lack a boring tool, grind an old file.

brian Rupnow
02-01-2010, 04:42 PM
Thanks for the link, however, my computer will not connect with it. What type of file is it? I seem to be able to download JPEG files only. I am open to suggestions. TIA

They are .pdf files---That site is slow though---it takes quite a while to come up.

Al Messer
02-01-2010, 05:12 PM
Thanks, Brian. I'll be more patient and try it again!

Well, I waited several minutes and all I get is a blank page with a symbol of some sort in the upper left hand corner. Is this normal while waiting for the computer to download? Hey---I know less about computers than I do Steam Engines---and that's a lot!!

02-01-2010, 07:23 PM
Thanks Gents... I was looking for something to do!

Al Messer
02-03-2010, 11:18 AM
Many thanks to Cam and the others for their kind assistance, but, since I am stuck with Windows 98 for the present, I will have to wait until I can get to the Public Library to download the plans. Again, many thanks to you all.

02-03-2010, 07:40 PM
Al-- I sent you a PM. I can print them and send them to you if you like.


Al Messer
02-04-2010, 04:25 PM
Thanks, Greebe, I was able to print them out at the Library today.

02-04-2010, 05:08 PM
So, Al,

How long 'till the build thread starts?:D

Al Messer
02-04-2010, 10:27 PM
Ahhhh---now that is a good question. My Shop is in such a mess at the present that I ought to clean it out and organize everything first. NAH!! That sounds like too much work! LOL! I have already been thinking about inventorying my scrap box tomorrow---you know, just to see what I have available! Many thanks, fellows!

My last engine was of my own design: a 1.625 Bore by 3.0 stroke Oscillator. Talk about HEAVY to carry around! Looking forward to this project--can carry it in a pocket if need be.