I wanted to make a construction manual for a simple pop-pop kit I am making for some friends and colleagues. So I thought: why not make my first instructable?
This instructable is aimed at adults wanting to help children make a pop-pop boat at school, at home or wherever you like. Do take your responsibility in dealing fire and steam and in assessing if and how the children can deal with it safely.
I will not explain how pop-pop steamboats work, as you can find an extensive explanation on The Science Toymaker. Original inspiration for the coil engine came from the Pop-Pop Pages. In the following steps I will explain how to build one real easy.
I have been giving creative workshops for children since several years now, mainly at the school my daughter is attending: Leefschool Klavertje Vier. My workshops almost always involve a scientific or rather technical topic, most often something that rides, sails, flies or at least moves: rockets, mousetrap cars, solar powered vehicles, hovercrafts... If you understand Dutch you can check out my website: http://users.telenet.be/masynmachien
These workshops are open to children from 6 to 12 years old, but as the average age tends to be around seven, I learned to simplify things. My aim is to allow young children to build working things by themselves, with as little help as possible. Very often that involves a good preparation making templates and such. The pop-pop boat I present here is a culmination of that.
Step 1: Materials and tools to make yourself
- a brass or copper tube 3mm or 1/8 inch outside diameter, 2mm inside diameter, 50 cm length. For sources see (1) below;
- a narrow aluminium cake baking form (disposable). I prefer to use a size a type about 19 cm long, 6 cm wide and 5 cm high, easily giving the right shape;
- a binder clip with a base of about 2 cm;
- a small aluminium cup, as from a candle light (or you can make something similar from aluminium foil);
- about 1 square cm of double sided adhesive tape (the type without foam, because I am not sure the foam type is heat resistant enough. The foamless kind is, when one side is cooled by the water).
For the bending tool or coiling mandrel you need:
- a sturdy cylinder shape (e.g. piece of wooden dowel), about 2 cm diameter and 3 cm length;
- a piece of scrap wood minimum 4 cm x 15 cm x 1 cm;
- one screw with a length about equal to the thickness of your piece of wood and one screw 2 to 3 cm longer (for each you will need a matching screwdriver, not shown).
- a piece of sturdy tube with a loose fit over the brass or copper tube and minimum about 20 cm long;
For the optional rudder, you need about one third of an extra aluminium form. For this rudder you can print and cut out a helpfull template from the drawing added to step 6.
For the optional decorating you can use permanent markers, common aluminium foil and some more double sided tape.
(1) You can buy the brass tube at modeling shops or at OPITEC. The article number at OPITEC is 813.716. OPITEC serves Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Spain and Hungary. You can experiment with shorter lengths (e.g. 12 inch), but lesser coils gives a larger chance the pop-pop cycle stops after a while. To my experience any copper or brass tubing with this diameter is bendable with the mandrel and technique described further. I never found the need to soften the material commonly available.