Stirling engines - Slow motion balloon power piston

I made a few adjustments to my little tin can Stirling engine. It now spins twice as fast, at a rate of around 210rpm. Not that that means much because the more flame you put under it the faster it goes. But it's around twice as fast as it was originally. Quite a success as far as bettering a terribly inefficient Stirling engine goes.

If you ask me.

The main adjustment I made was to replace the two sections of shaft that make contact with the supports. The original shafts and bearing surfaces were made of galvanised fencing wire.

I replaced them with a thinner grade of stainless wire. Actually it's welding wire, and is the same stuff I use whenever I mention stainless wire in the construction of my fishing lures or anything else on the blog.

Pictured here in this uncomfortably framed, but interestingly red image, is the new wire, the old wire, and a match.

The thin stainless wire makes a huge difference. It even runs without the 8g counter weight now.

The counter-weight is there to mirror the weight of the displacer, so without it, the power piston has to lift all that weight on it's own.

With the counter-weight and a minimum sized flame, it can now tick along as slowly as only 32 rpm.


To run as slowly as 32 rpm, I found it also needed a small drop of very light lubricant (fishing reel/sewing machine oil). But it's important to note that the shaft for the displacer - the one that goes through the small hole in the can, should not be oiled. The oil burns, and leaves a sticky residue which will stop the engine.  As seen by the improvement by the slight reduction in friction, the smallest extra friction will kill these little engines. Use graphite, or just leave it with nothing.

If you did lubricate the displacer shaft, it's also possible that oil or Vaseline could get into the displacer container, and being flammable, might eventually find it's way to igniting if everything was just right.

Everything is very rarely just right, and a Stirling engine is a very safe thing to make and use because there are no pressurised containers. The making involves some sharp bits of tin can, and should probably not be built by kids, but as a finished item, it's as safe as any small candle is, so probably qualifies as relatively child friendly.

Lets say... As child friendly as a birthday cake.

Anyway, it looks like this in slow motion (sorry for the poor picture quality)...

[edit from the future - Opps, for some reason the video wasnt dropped into place.] Here it is...

Even more stately.

It's currently clunking away on my desk, running at around 60rpm on these two little flames, and has been doing so for an hour. One flame is about the size a birthday candle, and the other is around half the size of a birthday candle.

My point is it isn't using much heat compared to the last version.

I find it's sounds...

oddly soothing.

K-chunk K-chunk

120 Things in 20 years thinks that if ever I disappear, it might be because I'm off on a Stirling engined bike trip around Australia... in slow motion.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts