After spending some quality time running tests and checking on reviews of some of the model steam engines for sale, I can firmly confirm that among the steam engines available, none beats the Basic Stirling Engine with all the considerations that make a buyer go for a steam engine on the checklist.
Coming up with such a solution was an uphill task. I wish I had a more complex model to put as number one especially the Jensen toy steam engine which had much to show but the Stirling engine model offers minimal assembly time, easy to use, and the results are amazing with just a little amount of heat that I subjected to it.
Best Model Steam Engines Reviews of 2017:
|Basic Stirling Engine|
|Jensen Toy Steam Engine Model 75|
|Wilesco D5 Steam Engine Model Kit|
|Jensen Steam Engine Dry Fuel Heated 76|
|Sunnytech Low-Temperature Stirling Engine Motor Steam|
Ready to buy?
With your model engine plans available, let me walk you through our top five stationary steam engines for sale. You will get a comprehensive summary of each product and if you find the right choice, visit Amazon to check on more information and also purchase the engine toy.
1. Best Overall – Basic Stirling Engine
Ranked as the best, the Stirling engine is a simple steam engine whose heat source is from outside, and you can use any available source of tolerable heat or cold.
It provides a reliable illustration of thermal energy to mechanical working conversion. It uses a thermodynamic cycle which you can relate to the famous Carnot cycle. For a successful operation, the engine requires two pistons, a small power piston and a bigger piston for displacement that also reserves heat energy.
For it to operate, there must be some fuel to drive it, and top performance is achieved by using 95% Isopropyl Alcohol. The burning alcohol lamp is what runs the piston, and the pace is fast.
This is an excellent engine toy for fun and can also be used as a demonstration model at work or when learning. For more information and price, check on Amazon to see what else is there for the product including warranty information.
2. Best for Advanced Users – Jensen Toy Steam Engine Model 75
The second on the list, the Jensen steam engine is from the USA and its more than 80 years rich history make it one of a kind though it still uses the original tooling, dies and hand craftsmanship which is common.
The steam engine kit comes fully assembled, and it’s mid-sized. With it is a stationary cylinder that has a double acting slide valve and the engine uses dry fuel referred to as Esbit tablets that offer 1-hour running time.
Other features include a seamless brass silver soldered boiler, a flywheel for power take off, a whistle and throttle valve and a nickel plated finish engine and boiler.
It is possible to find some discoloring around the boiler after running it for some time. This should not discourage you since after the first use; you will have figured out that it was not the wrong choice to make for a quality piece that will last for long.
If you need to get it for whatever reason you have, why don’t you visit Amazon and see more specifications and safety standards required when using the model kit.
3. Best Value – Wilesco D5 Steam Engine Model Kit
Here is an option for the steam engine fanatics in a science class. To serve the purpose of using it in showing how energy is created, the Wilesco steam engine model kit is accompanied by a well and simply instructed pamphlet to help in assembling making it a homemade steam engine.
So, if you have minimal knowledge of the assembly procedure, you’ll learn it in a very short time.
There is nothing to solder since all the components are screwed together to form the engine model. The specifications are the same as those of D6 Steam engine, so you can use it to drive standards within the Wilesco range.
The manufacturers built this steam engine model as the smallest and an entry level engine which has enough power for self-running but can’t run any accessories.
Don’t expect any fuel to be available when purchasing the kit. However, you can find something to use such as heat tablets and others.
It is suited for beginners who need to know and understand what a piston, a push rod, and a flywheel are. Anyone who uses it for learning purposes will get thrilled by the mechanism and assembly altogether.
If you are looking for one to teach the younger generation or yourself and colleagues, have a look at Amazon and you will get much more information regarding the model kit and a fair price when buying.
4. Best for Beginners – Jensen Steam Engine Dry Fuel Heated 76
The dry fuel Jensen steam engine is another one of the quality Jensen products that allows one to build live steam in the boiler, ease the throttle open and see the engine as it runs.
This steam engine toy features stationary steam plants that have a boiler made of brass coated with nickel, whistle, safety valve, water gauge, throttle, flywheel, and a pulley for power takeoff. Also included is a single action horizontal piston engine and it comes as a kit.
The driving force needs one dry fuel pellet, and 20 of them are included upon the product’s arrival.
Assembly and mounting on its estimated 7-inch square base takes about 2 hours which might be considered as long but no, every minute put into use is worth it. All you need are simple tools among them being pliers and a screwdriver. Furthermore, assembling is always fun, and you’ll learn, which is the primary purpose.
Parts are precision metal, plated or enameled. You can use it to run a small DC motor that serves as the generator and be the 19th-century wizard generating electricity.
Have it by ordering a live steam for sale from Amazon, and you will get more specifications on this model.
5. Best Price – Sunnytech Low-Temperature Stirling Engine Motor Steam
Last option on the list is Stirling engine motor steam from Sunnytech that operates best at low temperature. In fact, it works at low temperature by cyclic compression and expansion of gasses, and the fluid, at varying temperatures and the result is the conversion of heat energy to mechanical energy. This is steam engine kit that allows inflow and outflow of heat through the engine walls.
In the earlier days, you would refer to this as the external combustion engine. The Stirling engine encloses a fixed amount of gaseous fluid like air. It works under an endless cycle of compressing cold gas, expanding it when hot, and then cool it and the cycle continues.
For those of us who have operated on it, you can put the Stirling engine toy on top of hot water to make to raise the temperature and also on ice if you need to lower it.
On a warm cup of water, the steam engine motor runs for about twenty minutes but beware; it must be cold first for it to run. If something is noisy, use a little graphite dry lube for lubrication.
For more information on purchase and shipping among other extraordinary features, check Amazon, and you’ll see other compliment products that you can buy together with the motor.
What Are The Various Steam Engine Types?
When you assemble steam engine kits to get the model up and running if it didn’t come as an assembled model, the general work involved is heating water to generate steam which is under pressure, which will then achieve mechanical work and produce some motion.
So, there are many types of working model engine kits depending on whether they move or not, size, the kind of fuel they use to perform what’s required among other distinct features.
The type of model that you want depends on what you want to do with it so considering your requirements before buying is an issue that can’t be ignored. So when I look at the different types, they can be categorized depending on whether they move or not, the sizes, and the fuel types that can be used to suit each of the different types.
Stationary Model Steam Engines
These are non-movers and much accessible for the hobbyists, and most of them rank under mini steam engines. They are available for sale and mostly used by those who want to learn the workings.
Different materials are used to make them and such as coated brass, steel, and wood though brass is standard and there is a reason for it. It is much affordable compared to other materials used to make steam engine models, and they are good at lowering temperature and pressure for the small live stationary engines.
For large models, steel is more favorable. With a stationary engine type, a LED light can be used to show the steam power generation.
Others such as the Sunnytech type are operated at a low temperature which is considered as a safety measure when using or for one to work because Sunnytech goes on when cold.
Pre-Milled Model Engine Kits
To avoid some unnecessary struggles, look for a stationary engine model that is machined or pre-milled. Let me explain what this means since it is crucial. A steam engine model kit that has been pre-milled implies that it has already been drilled, milled, turned and threaded to offer easier ways of putting the parts together using a manual and some tools such as spanners and screwdrivers. Such kits can be used by learners, and they do not require experience in a workshop for you to put up the model of choice. Amazon offers a broad variety of built and pre-built steam engine model kits.Go to Top
Mini Steam Engines For Locomotion
Here is where I categorize those engines that will imitate the steam-powered trains, and they are built on scale. There are available choices in different sizes from the mini steam engines to large ones that you can ride on, though not available on Amazon for now.
Scale Options For Locomotive Steam Engine Kits
A key defining character in a locomotive steam engine models is the scale. This is due to the available space that you will be operating on which will be a contributor to the size of the engine and the track needed for it to run on.
Primary scales that you can look for include:
G-scale: This scale is for the larger ones which are widely available due to ease of production. They are popular among those who want to see the real ride of a steam engine locomotive. Do you have access to an outside garden railway? If you are one of the lucky ones, then having the bigger picture of a moving steam engine locomotive.
OO scale: If you are living in Northern Europe including the UK, then you probably might have seen a steam engine under OO since there are plenty of them in these zones. The reason why they are widely used is that they offer more on durability and affordability among the fanatics who use them on a regular basis.
O-scale: Somebody might have mentioned to you about O gauge like my first encounter with one the small ones from my instructor. There is the hint; this group comprises of the smallest available live steam engines on sale. O-scale steam engine models are centered on the finer details and are a favorite to collectors and those of us who do it for fun. It is quite hard to locate one under this category and therefore not many collectors will dedicate the time to look for one especially if their emphasis is on operating on a steam engine over the appearance details.Go to Top
Types Of Fuel
Your steam engine model will run on some burning fuel that is convenient to use when heating water so as to produce steam.
There are a lot of available fuels that will work for you depending on the model that you are using. Some models also permit the use of different kinds of fuels though some will give a better result than others.
Also depending on cost, you will find yourself going for cheaper and readily available options than what is recommended in the manual. Other considered options include whether a particular fuel type will be environmental friendly or not.
Here are some of the fuels that are suitable depending on the situation:
Methylated spirit: It is readily available and a cheap fuel that was commonly used on some of the older models of locomotive steam engines. It’s one fuel that burns hotter than other fuels and highly flammable. It should be handled with great care and not suitable for the juniors below the age of 12.
Hexamine fuel tablets: Some steam toys will have this included when buying the package for the first time. They are also cheap and readily available so they can serve as a second option from methylated spirit if yours allows dry fuel. The tablets produce no smoke, don’t turn into a liquid when burned, and there no leftover ashes making them the cleanest options on top of being cheap and available. If you have a miniature engine kit model that is of the modern age, then this is a suitable fuel for you.
Butane gas: If you are familiar with organic chemistry, the butane is not a new term to you. It is a fuel type that has more likelihood of being used in steam engines. It has a clean burn and safe when using it to generate steam, but it has a complicated extraction procedure making it expensive.
Coal: This fuel is also available and in fact one of the oldest options that have been used to ride working model engine kits for quite a long time. There are small steam engine models that still use coal today so you can go for the option if you love to see the working of what my friend calls ‘moving bonfires.’
Oil: Another fuel that is popular when using large steam engine models. It burns hot but it is expensive to get it, and it’s somehow messy especially if the dark colored fluid is tampered using hands. It’s also highly flammable so don’t leave your steam engine with minors without supervision.
Electricity: It is also widely used and very common for the modern steam engine models including those types that imitating locomotion. From what I saw, power functions well on the locomotive steam engine models by feeding it to an electric track which goes to the locomotive design and boils the water using an immersion heater.
Propane: Still from the organic chemistry class, another gas that can be used is propane that is also common among those with large steam engine models.Go to Top
Importance Of Having Steam Engine Models
Having a steam engine design of your own has its advantages and they are only realized by those who need one and have it. Here are some of the benefits of having an engine model that uses steam to generate motion.
Steam engine models, whether stationary or locomotive, they can be used to demonstrate how real life situations are or were tackled when using one.
It may be a demonstration to show electricity production, generation mechanical advantage to drive a motor or run something that is dependent on such induced motion.
A science class turns lively from when you are joining the parts together for those that cone unbuilt, to when the model is running, and some result can be recorded. It is also a suitable option for those who do it as a hobby.
Steam engines are convenient. The reason why I put it this way is that a separate boiler is used to heat water so as to produce steam. The whole model can be moved to anywhere it needs to be used.
If you compare a steam engine to flowing water or the wind, the latter is not just found anywhere if such sources of energy were too heavily depended on to produce mechanical energy.
Still, on convenience aspect, steam engines can be used anytime you need to generate steam for the intended purpose. If we depend on moving the wind or flowing water, it might not be available anytime when needed.
Steam engines have been widely used to move heavy bodies such as trains and vehicles. Hence, a steam engine is a reliable source of power when looking at the movement of such things.
With such an option to offer, they are more powerful compared to other sources of energy.
When virtually looking at a steam engine, they can use any fuel at their disposal that is combustible and can be used to produce significant amounts of energy.
Materials ranging from coal, firewood (though not used in small models), oil and anything else that can be lighted in the firebox. This offers a lot of flexibility which can be exercised by relying on the most appropriate option for your toy engine.
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Steam Engine Model Kit Buying Guide
There is a wide variety of options to consider if you just want any steam engine design. What separates you from just picking any type is what you want one to do after buying.
So there is a list of expectations that require being fulfilled for you to have a successful engine model that will demonstrate what you need and will be easy to put together and use.
Safety is also an option that can’t be ignored, and I will be discussing it in details later on.
What I will be looking at here is what a steam engine entails and why it is important, a little bit of history, where can a steam engine be used since by now you know it can be employed anywhere, but not much has been covered on specifics.
Also, there will be differences in power produced and much more that will be fit for you as a buying guide to what you want.
What A Model Steam Engine Entails
There is much to read from the previous content such that you now have a vivid picture of a steam engine model.
Well, in the modern times, we want to mimic how a live steam engine works to give energy and achieve something, like electricity and movement.
Students are my primary focus here since they need to learn about steam engine operations without having to go to a station where the large ones are – that’s more than tedious.
Model steam engines are popular engine toys that work by heating water in a boiler to generate steam with a lot of pressure on it. The steam is used to realize motion, and that is what comprises any assembled steam engine kit.
Different engine models are used to achieve different purposes of action, and the categories fall under stationary and locomotives.
Like I earlier stated, there is a difference between model engine kits and ready-made steam engines.
For the model engine kits, they have to be assembled using a manual to get it right so; you can call them homemade steam engines. Ready to run engines come assembled, and all you need is to perform some tests on it and see how it works.
Many different kits are available so, I can say after knowing what you need, you will be spoilt for choice when shopping for one.Go to Top
Steam Engines History
If you just type the words ‘steam engines’ on your browser and click the search button, you will get a lot of information about how all of it started to the present day use.
There is a reason why students need to learn and knowing some history facts, so I will do some summary on how steam engines were born and the undergone evolution to the present day models that you own.
One great man known as Hero of Alexandria started it out in the 1st century and made something called aeolipile which comprised of a spinning sphere that was powered by steam.
The evolution started where experiments and proposals were made until the 16th century. During this period, an Italian architect by the name Giovanni Branca used a steam jet to rotate blades on a small wheel, which motivated Sir Charles Parsons to develop a steam turbine in 1884.
Before Charles, still in the 16th century, Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch physicist made the first piston engine, and his assistant realized a better way to drive the piston engine by using steam.
History goes a long way to revealing some of the milestones that have been achieved from the development of steam-powered water pumps in the late 1690’s to the robust architectures that were made in the 18th century which comprised of steamboats, trains, and power plants among other innovations.
Today, we have models in our houses and laboratories that can all imitate the workings of the earlier engines that made life easier. Jensen and Wilesco steam engine models are among what you can now consider as a toy engine models that can be used to demonstrate what was happening back in the day.
Applications Of Steam Engine Models
The giant steam engines are now extinct, but people still need to see them and enjoy the heritage that they brought as a result of use.
Mini steam engine models can be used to demonstrate how the following works:
- Steam-powered water pumps
- Steam turbines
- Steam vehicles and boats
- Power generating plants
Depending on what you want to do, there are toy models that are suited for every functionality, and they all have the procedure of experimentation. Some models especially the stationary ones can be used to show more than one purpose.Go to Top
Energy Difference Between The Models
When using a model, the difference in power is dictated by how long can the toy engine run and how the fuel is being used to generate steam.
Some engines will run for longer periods than others, and this is an important aspect when buying one.
It also depends on why you need one.
If you just need to generate steam and nothing much, then you need one that runs for about ten minutes and doesn’t take long to assemble and run.
For those who need to see the train or generate electricity, then you need a strong model that can withstand heat, perform its duties as expected and serve whatever time it takes to accomplish the experiment.
Different types of fuel can be used during a demonstration.
Some models are designed to use more than one type of fuel, and so the fuel at work depends on availability.
One thing, though, some fuels will have a better performance than others. If you are a frequent user of dry fuel, you will note the difference in time and speed of generation when you go for the liquids and gasses.
Always choose the suitable one for you with all the constraints considered.
Important Features Of Steam Engines
There can be added features to a steam engine with the aim of perfectly suiting a situation. All steam engines, however, come with some features that are standard to all and they need to be good enough if you are to buy a durable model that will withstand the time and random experiments from time to time.
Firebox: This is where fuel is loaded. The material is made of metal, and it’s where the fire roars to heat up the boiler.
Boiler: It is a small kettle-like metallic cylinder that holds water that is heated to produce steam. Tubes running through it carry the smoke out and take the steam to the wheel. The tubes are placed in such a way to pick the gasses as fast as possible which is a good utilization specification.
Cylinder: Here is where steam is taken once it’s produced. There is a plunger that is tight fitting which is known as the piston which is pushed back and forth. In the cylinder, there is a small gate that functions it as a valve which lets the steam into the piston area. The piston is connected to the flywheel which is driven by steam once it comes to the wheel.
Chimney: This is where the smoke from the burning fuel escapes. Some fuels have been designed to be smokeless and in such a case, the chimney is suitable for allowing hot air to get out.Go to Top
Many of the steam engine models and kits are considered to be safe but only when the right measures are considered. There are safety features that are included in every product, and they are important lest you risk your life every day when running and engine model.
First, safety should be observed when joining parts together for the kits’ case. You must ensure that the steam engine is assembled following the right guidelines and the completed structure should be ready to work with the parts and screws tightened.
When it comes to the operation, if it’s your first time to use the toy engine, it’s advisable always to have an instructor to guide the procedure on your behalf.
You don’t want a situation where something bursts due to over-use or any other mechanical damage that is life risking.
Some fuels that are used may produce smoke which gives me another thing to mention, make sure that whatever you are using as the source of heat is environmentally friendly and if not, make sure there is ample flow of air in the area where you are conducting the experiments.Go to Top
FAQs About Steam Engines
Does the engine come as a whole or in parts?
The answer to this question is that this depends on the manufacturer and you. Some of the designs are sold as kits where you need to use some simple tools to join the parts together and have it running. Others will come as a whole, and all you need to do is get it and make the tests show how it functions.
Where is the product made?
Many countries that have builders of the models. Most of the products are either from the USA or the UK where you will find many users and recommendations. Depending on what you want, you are capable of fetching the favored model from any country that produces steam engine toy models.
How much power does it produce?
This is an important question. Some models like Jensen steam engines will provide enough power to run sawmill models among other instruments. Some will require smaller things to drive and will not work on larger pieces. Others will just produce steam and nothing more. It depends on where you want to deploy the mechanical work which forms an important consideration to the type of model that you want.
Does the kit come with fuel cubes?
Most of the kits will have some dry fuel such as Esbit tablets or cubes made from other flammable materials. This especially goes for those models that need dry fuel to run. If yours doesn’t come with some fuel, don’t panic. Just go out and collect some to jumpstart and you will be good to go. Most models can also have more than one choice of fuel, and such are an added advantage since you don’t have to struggle much when looking for a suitable option.
Does the steam engine produce any noise when running?
After using it for the first time, you should note any sound that comes out of it and see whether it’s normal especially if yours has a whistle like the dry fuel Jensen steam engine. If any of the parts are grinding too much, consider lubrication options that are favorable to your model.Go to Top