Building a Stationary Steam Engine/ Generator

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by SouthernThunder, Oct 2, 2005.

  1. SouthernThunder

    SouthernThunder Well-Known Member

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    Hello folks. I am in the process of building my pumped storage/ wind powered electric system. I am in need of something to charge the system in the event that my ponds dry up and the wind stops blowing. I do not want to be dependant on diesel, gasoline, propane, or natural gas in any form whatsoever. I do have an abundance of firewood. What I would like to do is build a small stationary steam engine to fire up occasionally and burn wood to produce electricity.

    Yes, I know all the dangers of a boiler and I know it would be simpler and safer to buy a diesel generator. I have seen the aftermath of a ruptured steam boiler and realize the system has to be monitored closely.

    Having said that I was wondering if anyone had an ideas on what would make for a good boiler and engine? I have seen 2 stroke motors converted over but not sure how practicle that is. How pluasable would it be to spin some large truck turbos as turbines? I also remember seeing some working oilfield steam engines powering pumping units long ago and would love to make something similar on a smaller scale. Anyone have any ideas on this aside from the fact that it is dangerous. :)
     
  2. Explorer

    Explorer Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Steam engines have considerably different operating principles than internal combustion engines. You might want to search for small steam engines as I know they are currently manufactured. You will probably get a fairly low RPM engine therefore need a low spend generator, like one made to run from a PTO. Good luck.
     

  3. Rick

    Rick Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Please keep us posted with any information you discover on this.

    I was just discussing this with my brother in law yesterday. He was skeptical, and told me he is getting a 12KW PTO driven generator for emergencies. You could expect him to be skeptical though, he thinks we should pay 20 grand to have the Electric Co. run 5000 feet of wire to put us on the grid.

    Thanks,

    Rick
     
  4. antiquestuff

    antiquestuff Well-Known Member

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    Well, to make it safer use low pressure steam, like the real early engines did. Of course, that means bigger cylinders to make up for it...so, not as efficient but safer...
     
  5. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    If you have plenty of wood, what you might want to do is costruct a wood gas generator (google is your friend) and run an IC generator off of the output. The generator itself would be of a conventional design, and there would be a considerably reduced risk of am explosion.
     
  6. Explorer

    Explorer Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Oak is correct. ALL steam generators (boilers) can and will explode if the safety device(s) fail, The early railroads, low pressure boilers, had some spectacular explosions before all safety devices were invented. When a large power plant boiler, very high pressure of over 3000 lbs, explodes it is spectacular (Dallas Power & Light in the 70's).
     
  7. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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  8. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ...............While you are eliminating your monetary dependence upon LP gas\diesel\gasoline you are simultaneously "creating" a dependency upon an ALL electric system . Granted you have wood for heat and steam as well , but the problem with wood is that we live in the southern climes and atleast 8 months out of the year it is basically TOO warm for cooking INside a home with a wood stove .
    .............So , your choice of power generation systems would be much more compatable further north in Wy , Mt. and canada . If , it is Too hot to cook with wood , say in July then your left with cooking with electric which is going to require something around 50 amps at 240 volts AC. so (240 x 50 )=12,000 watts .
    .............The "other" big power necessity we have as southerners is airconditioning . So , the way to limit this burden is to live in a modest and very well insulated home utilizing 2 window units with an EER of 10 or greater and no larger than 12,000 btu .
    ............If I was going to design a "system" I would utilize propane for cooking and the frig. and a clothes dryer . In the winter I would use wood exclusively for heat and Cooking which will decrease your consumption of propane overall thruout the year . And , you really should have a Solar system with inputs from solar panels , wind , steam ginny and a gasoline genset for backup . The only system that makes sense too me is A MULTI faceted system with the above components all linked together which allows you the maximum flexability should one system fail . Redundency should be designed into your overall approach . fordy.... :)
     
  9. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Not sure steam is a good electrical option. First you need to check and see your states laws with operating a boiler, You may need to be certified. Second your going to need a HUGE flywheel to keep a generator spinning with a diesel engine.
     
  10. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    If you're going to spend that kind of money, why not buy solar panels? Between wind and solar plus pumped storage you should be covered. A small generator for those times when everything else fails should get you through. Diesel is preferable because the fuel oil keeps indefinately in most climates. If you live in the South just treat it with algecide.

    Boilers are not to be taken lightly. You need to be there when you're running the engine. The grist/lumber mill located on our property was eventually converted to steam because the water supply in the creek was seasonal. The boiler exploded sometime in the early 1900's. Part of the boiler is still lying next to the creek. Parts of the mill hit the church about a thousand feet down the creek. Unless someone told you where the mill was located, you wouldn't be able to find it today. The explosion pretty well scattered it.
     
  11. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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  12. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm,its OK but Im not all that impressed. :shrug:

    I LIED,Im very impressed that thing is A-OK! :rock:

    BooBoo
     
  13. Explorer

    Explorer Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It's a real beauty. At least a 9 1/2, maybe 10! :goodjob: I really like the way you strung the lights, kinda reminds be of an old power plant I was in about 1965.

    By the way, the reason for a large flywheel is that a steam engine, not turbine, does not deliver continuous power like a gas or diesel engine.
     
  14. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    40 KW DC is @330 Amps is probably a bit more than you need but these old engines are out there but they require a lot of labor for what you get out. To run this thing 24-7 on wood would require 6-8 people full time @ 40+ hours a week.

    mikell
     
  15. SouthernThunder

    SouthernThunder Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the replies. Looks like I'm gonna chicken out and take the wood gas route. It's a whole lot cheaper and easyer for a half-educated hillbilly like me to build. I have a few old chevy small blocks laying around just wanting to be tested on. I figure its within reason to be able to get 100 hp out of a wood gas powered 400 v8 and use that power to pump a massive amount of water back up to my upper pond. Expect to see me buggin yall about wood gas in the near future.