Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Steam Engine

Written 6 May, 2008

Steam Engiene

I’ve been wanting to make a steam engine for a long time.

Finally, I had a reason.

The giant steampunk bobbing bird needed a source of power, something to drive the cogs and belts and flywheels that provide her—or, rather, the platform upon which she perches—with a means of locomotion.

I had great fun building the engine.

First, I made a big boiler. I used a cylinder with cut spheres at either end to make a tank and texturized it with a cast iron texture I made from a picture of a metal bucket I found on the internet and tortured with GIMP, my image manipulation program. I used metal bands to reinforce it (and hide the seams) and applied the Whimsy logo. I set the tank on two walls made of brick (Sweetie’s suggestion; I started with wood).

Below the tank I placed a metal firebox with a heavy windowed door; I tweaked a standard door script to play sounds of a heavy metal door opening and closing; I adapted the sounds from clips I found at Freesound.

Inside the firebox I stuck the logs from a fire pit I made months ago. These whoosh and burst into flame when the word LIGHT appears in chat and extinguish when BLOW is chatted. I added pipes for exhaust gasses and used Outy Banjo’s Fog Script to create a plume of thick white smoke.

At one end of the boiler I placed a pressure meter and an emergency shutoff valve. At the other end I added a translucent pipe through which bubbling liquid can be seen.

Above the boiler, I placed a smaller brass tank.

On either side of the brass tank are flywheels I based on an antique design. On top I placed a governor and a touch-activated whistle.

When I was done, it certainly LOOKED like a steam engine—a jury-rigged, homemade engine, perhaps, but a steam engine nonetheless.

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