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Thread: Lee Valley Steamboat kit in action (video)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    London, Ontario

    Lee Valley Steamboat kit in action (video)

    I won't say this is the the 'finest' bit of woodworking out there. Quite the opposite. But this made me laugh and run for the camera, and I thought I'd share this video.

    Not that long ago I bought my son the Lee Valley Steamboat kit. A little while later, the two of us got together to put it together. I was not at all certain just how well it would work, so I did not want to build anything fancy at all. We just started with a plane pine board. I set up my son with a hand saw and a crosscut jig and we cut it down to size (about 5"x2") and then with the scrollsaw we each cut off a corner to give it a sort of "prow". I used a jack plane to thin out the back end a bit. And finally, I drilled through a couple holes to hold the pipes from the steamboat kit.

    The kit isn't much, just two bent pipes attached to a sealed metal chamber. You fill it with water, and put it in the water, and then stick a small candle under the steam chamber. The candle heats up the water, and it ejects out the pipes. Then it sucks in more water to fill the vacuum, which in turn heats up and ejects.

    Voila, thrust.

    And it really does make a major "putt putt" sound.


    Like I said, hardly fine woodworking, but my son enjoyed making it, and the kids had a real blast watching it go. And my wife and I laughed. Good memories.

    ps: To anyone to tries this out for themselves. The tiny candles that come with this kit are very poorly made. The first three we tried didn't work at all. The wick just burned and fell off the candle. The problem is that the "wick" is just a string embedded in the wax. It isn't a true wick at all. You can make it work, though. Find a real candle, and light it. Then drip some wax onto the end of the wick in one of these tiny candles, so that it becomes saturated with wax. Now try and light the tiny candle and it will work.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    That is very cool!

    Tell your son he did a good job!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Tokiwadai, Japan

    Wow, this brings back lots of memories... I had one like this a looooong time ago. I think I ordered it with a coupon in a cereal box!,43313&ap=1

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Very cool, Art. Now you guys need to make the sport model with a faster hull. Then go find a swimming pool. (OK, the swimming pool might not be too easy to find this time of year in your neighborhood.)
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    southwestern Pennsylvania

    Nice job with the boat

    In relationship with the steam engine boat, have a look at:
    They are a small company in Jeannette, PA that manufactures these various engines and accessories.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Orem, Utah
    Here's a [LINK] to a home-made version from the [Science Toys] site. The hardest part is sourcing the 1/8" copper tubing. I finally found some in a blister pack at the local Checker auto parts store....

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