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Wood and Metal Beam Engine

Nigel Taylor

A more accurate title is probably "How to Build and Engine Starting at the Wrong Point".

When I say the wrong way round, it all started when I bought a blank cast iron flywheel at the 2008 Model Engineer Exhibition (for which we wrote a report).

As you can see to the left this is after I machined the flywheel. Must admit that turning cast iron and especially a flywheel is a great feeling.

The flywheel then sat on my desk for 3 months with the ocassional thoughts of what engine I could build around around it - a v-twin running on lighter fuel (inspired by the executive toys), a small steam engine?


It finally hit me last week and I started sketching out ideas - a beam engine, but one with a difference, construction in wood and metal and running on compressed air.

If I make the cylinder rock from side to side I do not need parallel motion links. I will need a bearing that has a reasonable seal as I will be running compressed air through it.


For the beam it would be nice if this sits around the outside of the ′A′ frame.

This needs to be an open structure with the outer frame made from laminated wood. One point is that the structure needs to be open enough to clear the ′A′ frame.

The ′A′ frame will be a thin structure and so to brace this my first thoughts were that I could use a threaded bar and lock this to the lower frame of the base.

This could be cross-braced for strength.


The whole structre reminds me of a wooden aircraft fuselage structure.

The central structure will include the ′A′ frame.


I bought a 1/4 inch plank of wood and stripped it down into 1/4 inch square.


The basic wooden structure is together as shown here. The flywheel is balanced on a pencil just to show where it sits within the frame.

The ′A′ frame needs some more support, still wondering whether to make up some brass wire braces or wood.


The ends need trimming and some more bracing of the basic structure, especially around the flywheel and where the piston is going.

The next job is making the beam - Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10


If you have made a similar engine and would like to share your experience we would love to hear from you - ed.