Construction Update: Stirling Motor

As the semester comes to an end, construction on the Stirling Motor is taking longer than expected and has been more difficult than anticipated, especially factoring the additional complications due to COVID-19. With that being said I have continued to try and create this project to the best of my ability utilizing the materials and tools available to me within a reasonable price range.

*Note: these beers were already empty before construction began


For the motor housing I needed a metal cylinder (needs to be able to conduct heat from open flame). I was planning on machining an aluminium housing, however due to the machine shop closure I am resorting to an aluminum can of some sort. The problem using the monster can pictured below is that the walls are very thin and quite flimsy. Its inability to take a radial load and permanently deform has caused issues. I have thought about using a  soup can or such. In either case I plan to wrap the can in construction paper or some other material in order to add an aesthetic theme to the main component of this project.

The cardboard cylinder is supposed to act as the displacement cylinder, however using stacked layers of cardboard has made the displacement cylinder too heaver. I will need to go to the store this weekend and purchase steel wool or some other, less dense material to use as the displacement cylinder.

One of the most difficult parts to the motor was creating the crank shaft and getting the lengths of each part the correct length and bending the pieces the right amount. The main concern is keeping the turning portion co-linear. The vice made a great use for holding the wire in place and bending. As seen in the photo below the middle connection is attached to the displacement cylinder and the Popsicle sticks are attacked to the power-piston.

As for the aesthetics of this Stirling Motor I was hoping to get any input from viewers on viable options. I am planning on using this thin wire to wrap the main cylinder and connecting linkages in order to add aesthetic themes to this somewhat recycling bin looking clump of materials.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Max Armstrong
    May 2, 2020 3:41 pm

    Luckily I think that the upcycled or used materials is an aesthetic of its own. Although it isn’t what you were hoping for, if you find yourself in a bind I suggest that you might want to just lean into it and go for the upcycled aesthetic. Otherwise, spray paint is always an easy option and you could use masking tape and an exacto knife to create some pretty cool patterns that might draw attention away from features that you are wanting to hide. But in reality I don’t think that your project is in a bad spot if it doesn’t work! Good luck with the rest of the project and I’m excited to see how it turns out.

  • Jackson Hootman
    April 17, 2020 9:12 pm

    Hey Nate! It’s too bad you won’t be able to manufacture the aluminum housing. I still think you can make something that looks cool though. One idea that stood out to me was a worn metal aesthetic. This look is easy to achieve with a solid coat of spray paint and then accenting the corners and edges with Rub ‘n Buff (silver).


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