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The Silver Cow
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey folks-

I live on an acre of land, on a foothill in the Rockies, among the pines. About a 1000' down the hill in the mountain valley are cattle and sheep ranches.

I have been thinking about an alternative source of electricity for my property for when the grid goes out. For the past 3 years there have been significant snows that have downed power lines and I have gone without for up to a week. Since I do not currently have a wood burning stove heat has been an issue.

I have been considering solar, but to generate a significant amount of Kw's I would need a sizable investment. So I have pondered a steam driven electric generator to utilize the fallen trees on the mountain and possibley dung from the valley.

I have been using this site as a reference to possible setups (whether I bought their product or not).

Mike Brown Steam Engines and Alternative Energy Products

I am curious what the rest of you preppers thought about this?
 

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Retired Army
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320 Posts
I bought some plans for a homemade generator. It looks like an easy and fun job. I can't post it here, but if you PM me with your mailing address I will send you a copy

EDIT:
They are not his plans mentioned above, the ones I have are ones that someone copied from a 70's magazine and is now selling them. They are a poor copy, good enough to work from but not clear enough to scan and email.
 

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I've got a 5-page pdf document from Popular Mechanics 1963 which has plans for a single piston steam engine if anybody wants it. Just let me know and I'll pass it along. It's 6.68mb so I can't just attach it on the forum.
 

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I invented the internet. :rofl:
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I've got a 5-page pdf document from Popular Mechanics 1963 which has plans for a single piston steam engine if anybody wants it. Just let me know and I'll pass it along. It's 6.68mb so I can't just attach it on the forum.
I'd love to have a copy of those plans. My email address is:

mo70lightwt at yahoo.com
 

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Please send me the engine plans also,
wyobmf at yahoo.com

As far as the generator goes, Permant magnet generators are easy to build.
Check out Hugh Piggot axial flux plans.
 

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Copy of plans

I've got a 5-page pdf document from Popular Mechanics 1963 which has plans for a single piston steam engine if anybody wants it. Just let me know and I'll pass it along. It's 6.68mb so I can't just attach it on the forum.
I would love to have a copy of the steam engine plans. Either e-mail at dadinnc at gmail.com or I can provide an address if you would rather mail them.

NCBrew
 

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OK- I'll bite. I like the idea of steam power. I would appreciate a copy of any plans that might be available.
Thanks-

mrghostwalker at yahoo.com
 

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Jack of all trades?
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8,397 Posts
The boiler is the tough part...

Hello Gents,

Getting a workable steam engine is one thing, but having boiler that is in good condition, built well and efficient (uses wood well) is really tough.

Dan on the ' otherpower ' website found one from the early 1900's for his steam engine. Small-size boilers are tough to find.

So.... build one, right? I wouldn't attempt it, unless you have a LOT of knowledge and experience with boilers. They really are a bomb waiting to go off. Do NOT try converting an old water heater tank. They are not built NEARLY heavy enough. I have seen first hand the amazing destructive powers of an old water heater exploding, and it is incredible.

...and that wasn't even a "steam boiler"!!

So, when you fellas start experimenting with steam power - - - be very, very, very, very, very, careful. Is doesn't play well with those who are not experienced, and the "learning curve" can vbe very short and very unforgiving.
 

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Hello Gents,

Getting a workable steam engine is one thing, but having boiler that is in good condition, built well and efficient (uses wood well) is really tough.

Dan on the ' otherpower ' website found one from the early 1900's for his steam engine. Small-size boilers are tough to find.

So.... build one, right? I wouldn't attempt it, unless you have a LOT of knowledge and experience with boilers. They really are a bomb waiting to go off. Do NOT try converting an old water heater tank. They are not built NEARLY heavy enough. I have seen first hand the amazing destructive powers of an old water heater exploding, and it is incredible.

...and that wasn't even a "steam boiler"!!

So, when you fellas start experimenting with steam power - - - be very, very, very, very, very, careful. Is doesn't play well with those who are not experienced, and the "learning curve" can vbe very short and very unforgiving.
Well said Link Tex. :2thumb: The reason we abandoned steam was the accumulation of mineral deposits in the boiler and transfer tubing. The Oregon Steam Donkey's they used for logging were plague with this problem.
 

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Steam Engine---not

I am abandoning the steam engine thought and am going to try making a burnable fuel from burning wood in the absence of air and putting that into a regular gas engine. I saw this done on "The Colony".

Also not as much danger as a steam boiler. It will also produce "Charcoal".

NCBrew
 

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Sr. Homesteader
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437 Posts
Well well LincTex... finally somebody that jumped in with real sense of the situation!

In 1978 I bought a 100-year-old 5 hp steam engine, the kind you hooked up to a grain thresher with a long wide leather drive belt. I cleaned it up and mounted it on a steel frame with wheels.

A version of this steam engine:



The next problem was finding the right steam boiler for it. I finally found a 50 hp vertical fire-tube boiler in a shed next to a building that was once an old laundry, they used it for heating water and steam for the big mangels. HEAVY! It was 30" in diameter and stood 6 feet high, with a cast-iron base and firebox. After wrestling it home on a flatbed dump and getting it on a fire-brick subbase, I piped it up to the steam engine and invited several friends over on a Saturday morning for the start up.

A bit smaller than this boiler:


We loaded up the firebox with split wood and kindling and had a rip-roarin' fire goin' in it, -the flames and sparks billowing up through the funnel on top 30 feet into the sky. Slowly but surely the monstrosity came up to steam, the pressure guage slowly rose to 75 psi, and I opened the throttle valve. The piston began to move and the big flywheel on the steam engine began to turn slowly and pick up speed, spitting steam and water condensate.

I couldn't believe how much wood it took to get to that point - I could have heated the house for a week! It took one and a quarter hours to build a head of steam enough to start. I watched the sight-glass on the side of the boiler to make sure it was keeping filled just to the right level with water by the electric pump that had to pump 150 psi to overcome any pressure up to that point. Lots of beer and patience ruled that day.

At 90 psi, the 'ol gal was chugging away: see-hawhh-see-hawhh-see-hawhh... the big flywheel spinnn' about 120 rpm. Everybody was psyched, were were all buzzin!

THEN it happened! - a fire tube ruptured (inside) with a huge terrible hissssss, steam, ash, water and smoke exploded from the firebox door and up the smokestack and billowed 100 feet to highest heaven.

The 12 of us who were there watching scattered like a bunch of rats in every direction, I think half of us p*ssed our pants :2thumb: It was hilarious... -we still laugh about 'ol Basey's steam engine to this day. :D

I knew I was taking a chance with the old boiler. I inspected the shell and saw it was OK, but I knew that the firetubes were a bit old, 3 out of the 24 of them were already plugged and welded shut.

I am a mechanical engineer. I grew up in Colorado and my best friend's dad was a locomotive engineer on the D&RGW RR. Two or three times a year they would fire-up and take the one old steam locomotive left in the fleet for a spin. I was always there at 4 o'clock in the morning heatin' her up with coal for the 9 o'clock run, takes a long time. - Memorable experiences ;)

It ain't easy! :cool:

I prefer these for generating power from diesel fuel or McD's french-fry oil (got 2 of them) :eek:


========================

Hello Gents,

Getting a workable steam engine is one thing, but having boiler that is in good condition, built well and efficient (uses wood well) is really tough.

Dan on the ' otherpower ' website found one from the early 1900's for his steam engine. Small-size boilers are tough to find.

So.... build one, right? I wouldn't attempt it, unless you have a LOT of knowledge and experience with boilers. They really are a bomb waiting to go off. Do NOT try converting an old water heater tank. They are not built NEARLY heavy enough. I have seen first hand the amazing destructive powers of an old water heater exploding, and it is incredible.

...and that wasn't even a "steam boiler"!!

So, when you fellas start experimenting with steam power - - - be very, very, very, very, very, careful. Is doesn't play well with those who are not experienced, and the "learning curve" can vbe very short and very unforgiving.
 

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Sr. Homesteader
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437 Posts
While we are at it, let's look a a couple... ENJOY!

I think this is about 25 hp...


The real action starts at about 4 1/2 minutes into the video - good music by Johnny Cash to boot :

You found a lot of these "donkeys" on ships up to World War-II pulling up anchors and powering bilge pumps...

I helped drive one of these steam tractors in a parade when I was 10:



Steam powered saw mill...

This is as far as I want to go with steam anymore (too much work) :D :

I love steam...
 

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Jack of all trades?
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8,397 Posts
I prefer these for generating power from diesel fuel or McD's french-fry oil (got 2 of them) :eek:

YouTube - China_BHKW
That one looks like the S195 style engine. I have a Chang Chai ZS1110 (18HP) that I really, really like. I bought it for a song along with the little Chinese tractor is was shipped with!


I am mounting a generator head on the front so I can drive to where I want power.
 

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performing monkey
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4,230 Posts
I was pretty young when I saw it happen, but this year is the 10 year anniversary of a stean tractor explosion at the medina county fairgrounds that killed 4 people... :(

... on a weird side note, we had a fundraising brunch event for the victims' families that we couldn't at-the-time figure out why nobody was attending... the date was 9-11-2001 :eek:

there's absolutely no logic to it, but it reinforced the whole "steam=bad" philosophy in my head :surrender:
 
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