Hero's Engines at OMG

Steam Power Demonstration at UP Railroad Museum

Omaha Maker Group was invited to set up a booth at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum’s “First Friday Family Night” earlier this month. Because the theme this month was “STEAM UP”, we decided to create a demonstration of the Hero Engine which is a two thousand-year-old steam engine design. We also tried to replicate a steam turbine with a stable boiler and pinwheel, which you can catch sight of on the worktable during our experimental phase, but it didn’t work outside in the wind. We handed out a step-by-step instruction sheet at the event, which is provided as a link to this blog, but here are the basics:

Seal a can with a small amount of water in it. We tried two methods: (1) poke two holes in a carbonated water can and squeeze out most of the water through one of the holes, or (2) empty the contents of a PVC primer can and pour a little water into it. Both methods worked. In the soda can, make sure the metal around the holes is bent ninety degrees to the wall of the can. In the primer can, solder brass tubes into the walls and point them in similarly opposite directions. Suspend the boiler over a flame for a few minutes. Soon, steam will jet out and spin the can.

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