The Pop-Pop Steamboat in MAKE Volume 28 calls for using small tea candles for the engine’s heat source, but I found that it didn’t work very well. So I decided to make this small alcohol-burning lamp instead, and it significantly improved its performance.
In this project I will go over how to turn down two brass end-caps on a small lathe and then solder them onto a short length of copper pipe to make an alcohol-burning lamp to fuel your Pop-Pop boat. This project is for those who have basic skills with a lathe and metalworking. I will not go over dimensions, so you can come up with your own design. Have fun!
Step #1: Next
- Using the lathe, turn down the brass round stock to create two end caps that fit in snugly in the copper pipe.
Step #2: Next
- One cap should have a 1/4" hole drilled through it for the copper tubing. The other cap will have a threaded hole for a brass threaded plug that you turn down. Make sure the threads match.
- Put the O-ring on the brass plug.
Step #3: Next
- Use the torch to soften the copper.
- Then use the pliers to bend it into the correct shape, being careful not to crush the pipe.
- Test fit it under the pop-pop boat engine to make sure it fits.
Step #4: Next
- Make sure to apply plenty of flux to the inside of the pipe, then solder the non-threaded cap on.
- After that, solder the bent copper tubing into the cap, making sure not to get any solder inside the tubing.
Step #5: Next
- Next, solder the threaded cap onto the copper pipe. Don't forget the flux.
- After that, clean up any holes or rough solder with the torch.
Step #6: Next
- Cut a short length of cotton yarn and stuff it into the bent copper tubing.
- I used a stiff metal wire to help get it all the way in. You want a little of the yarn sticking inside the copper tube; this will allow it to soak up the fuel.
Step #7: Next
- Use a wire wheel to roughly clean the burner.
- After that, polish it up on the lathe with fine-grit sandpaper.
- To run it, just fill it up with fuel, screw on the cap, and light the wick. That's it – you're done!