Surreal Stirling Engine Update

For my surreal stirling engine, the main parts that I got made are the displacer and power piston connecting rods, and the pin connectors that link the connecting rods to their respective pistons (the glass syringe plungers). Designing these connectors was difficult because the plungers need to press-fit into the units in order to avoid using harsh adhesives. Fortunately, I was able to get the printed connectors to “snap” in very nicely. It turned out better than I had hoped, which rarely happens in engineering design.


I still have quite a few parts to 3D print, but they are simpler geometries that should print fairly quickly. I plan on getting all of the critical parts printed by the end of this weekend so that I can finally test the engine.

One problem that I’ve noticed is that one of the plungers is not moving as smoothly in the syringe cylinder as the other anymore. It probably just needs to be cleaned, which might be a little tough, especially for the cylinder. The tolerances are quite tight between the plunger and the cylinder, so I need to be careful not to pull the plunger out too much.



I also have a block of foam, so now I can start planning out the shape the whale head.

Obviously, the design is inspired by the surrealist movement, which began around 1920. However, of the major design movements of the 20th century, the one that this fits the best under is probably the aesthetic movement. I say this simply because one of the mantras of the movement is “art for art’s sake”, which is basically what my project is. It’s not meant to serve a purpose or complete a task. It’s just meant to be something interesting to look at.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • David Holliman
    May 1, 2016 12:20 pm

    I’m a big fan of the surrealist movement and always look to Dali for inspiration. Your project is headed in an interesting direction as far as the engine goes. In order to amp up its surrealist quality, perhaps think of “dressing up” the engine to transform it into something more surreal. I find it hard to design for a surreal aesthetic since much of surrealism is based on subliminal meanings within the art. With some brainstorming, I believe you can break through into this novel territory!

  • Brendan Warren
    April 3, 2016 10:37 pm

    It seems like we are having similar challenges with our engines. I’m making the radial engine and tolerancing has been a pain to say the least. I like how you are utilizing the 3D printer. Definitely cuts down on the amount of time it takes to make your engine. How fast/powerful do you anticipate your engine being? Ie, do you think the plastic parts will be strong enough. Also, will you be sealing the foam to give it a finished look? If so, how? I’m excited to see the progress next week!


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