Fire, Water, Steam, Motion. A fun build of a r/c live steam powered tank with turret & gun.

I've always enjoyed live steam powered machines, but Crabfu's steamtoys inspired my imagination.

This is my spin, with dual engines for independent track control, a working turret, and simulated cannon fire action. The tank uses 100% live steam power for propulsion. Batteries only power the radio/controllers, lights and effects. It's based on an old Tamiya 1/16th scale King Tiger off eBay.


Yes, this uses flammable gas (camping fuel), fire and water to produce pressurized hot steam. The boiler gets hot, the pipes get hot, the engines get hot, the exhaust pipes get hot. You'll need to use a torch to solder brass & copper pipes. Burns & blisters happen easily if you're not careful. Whatever you do never modify or block the boiler safety valve. Always wear safety goggles & keep a fire extinguisher handy.

There is a lot to do. Let's get started!

Step 1: Supplies, Basic Materials, Tools...


Safety goggles & fire extinguisher always.


Screw drivers, Hex Nut Drivers, Allen keys, Pliers, Scissors, Metal Nibbler, Sheet Metal Hand Seamer, Hacksaw, Files, Square, Center Punch, Drill & Drill bits, Pipe Bender, and oh yes... a vise.


Soldering/Plumbers or Micro Torch, Flux, Silver Solder, Sandpaper.


Aluminum Sheets - 0.032" (1/32") and 0.064" (1/16") thicknesses

Copper Tube - 1/8", 5/32", and 3mm sizes

Brass Square (5/8") & Round rod (5/16" & 1-1/4" sizes)

Brass 1-1/4" Round tube

Brass 1/8" U-Channel

Mahogany Strips (1/8" x 1/4")

Union cones, Union nuts, Pipe nipples

Meccano Gears (15, 19, 25, 38 & 57 tooth), Ring Gear, Axles, Collars, Strips

Zinc-Core Candle Wick

Various & sundry screws/bolts/washers/nuts/etc...

Loctite Thread Locker, Cyanoacrylate glue, JB-Weld

Engine enamel paint (to handle exposure to heat, water & oil).

<p>i think i would make a cool looking steam powered Mark V tank</p>
<br>I agree, it'd be a great project! I've previously looked but could only ever find 1/35th scale models -- not big enough. Are you aware of anything larger?<br><br>Robust tracks are the real headache. I could probably scratch build most of the rest.<br><br>Cheers!<br>-- Ian<br>
<p>look up ww1 tank here on instructables</p>
<p>Yup, I'm aware of 8bitwood's excellent build. Problem is everything is lightweight plastic. A steam powered tank needs a boiler which is heavy &amp; gets hot. Those 3D printed tracks he made just wouldn't survive. I suppose I could use metal tracks intended for ww2 tank model, but it wouldn't look right.</p>
<p>Can U build little willy?</p>
<p>Very nice design.</p>
<p>You should have no need for paper now, you are a finalist!!!!</p>
<p>I'm astonished! Regardless if I win or not, I feel honored to be a finalist. I entered late &amp; thought there was no chance. There is so much awesome competition! Cheers!</p>
<p>Buddy, I have always wanted to win a contest here so to see your enjoyment, I am happy for you.</p>
<p>Runner up!</p><p>Not bad!</p><p>Good job and I hope you win the little bits contest...</p>
<p>Got a teeshirt! :-) I'll keep my fingers crossed for the Little Bits contest, but there is simply too much great stuff being submitted. I was surprised by the keypad win. Thought half a dozen other things would take it. Loved that transformer toolbox. Got me thinking about paint booth upgrades. So many ideas, so little time...</p>
<p>Heres a challenge 4 u! can you build a panzer mk. 5 wwii tank?</p>
<p>I suppose its possible. Of course it'd have to be steam powered. :-) A steam powered Panzer V (or Panther?) tank probably wouldn't differ much visually from a Tiger though. The steam boiler/engines/fuel-tank placement drive everything, and the tanks are roughly the same size. I'm a function before form type. Maintaining the original appearance is hard, since a steam boiler/engine small enough to fit wouldn't produce much power. Did you have something specific in mind?</p>
<p>No Little bits contest but you are a finalist in the tech contest!!!!</p>
<p>Yup, I'm keeping my fingers crossed! Exciting! :-)</p>
<p>Hey Hey!</p><p>Runner up - not bad!</p>
<p>The little steam tank that could! :-)</p>
<p>You need to name it Thomas!</p>
<p>Absolutely awesome and enjoyed going through your 'ible. Great build..</p>
<p>Just curious, for those of us (smart/stupid) enough to re attempt this ourselves, ;D<br>Think you could make up a parts/cost list? </p>
<p>I know you have a parts list, wasnt sure if it included all the bits and pieces.</p>
<p>I believe so. As for cost... it's a lot. :-) You need to love live steam before embarking on this build. </p><p>There is nothing significant missing I can think of other than the specific screws/fasteners/standoffs used in places. Those are described throughout the article. The boiler/engines/fuel-tank/shipping pushes $1400 new. The 56004 Tamiya King Tigers (with the single motor gearbox) appear on eBay infrequently, and range from $100 to $400. You only need the chassis, gearbox &amp; tracks though The other materials are probably $200-$300. Sorry I can't be more precise. Cheers!</p>
<p>2500 dollar rc car.. Id really have to commit to it xD<br>Thanks though! great ible</p>
<p>This is some amazing work. Way outside my wheelhouse, but I love it. I've never seen such a complex controller either. Spectacular!</p>
The teeshirts are great aren't they? <br>I managed to find one and I love it, what color is yours? mine is purple. <br>So many ideas, I have a billion running through my head and I wish I was in a position to go to the workshop, I'm sure they would have some of the things I would need... <br>Congrats again on your win, I didn't realize it was only your 2nd Instructable! <br>In perspective, I have 33 and still haven't won anything. <br>Keep it up! <br>P.S. I am posting another Ible soon so keep an eye out!
<p>Just arrived today. Purple! :-)</p>
<p>Cool, aren't they comfortable?!? I am wearing mine right now, it is so cool!</p><p>Glad you got yours, hope you get lots of enjoyment out of it!</p>
<p>A very impressive build! I think even Tamiya would be interested in seeing your finished project. Maybe they'll send you a free tank. :)</p><p>I have a question about a design choice you made. Why did you stick with the AA battery holder to supply power to the electronics? I'd think that you'd go with a much higher density power and rechargeable source such as 2 cell LiPo or at the minimum a 5 cell NiMh pack. Using such would give more options for mounting, placement, help reduce the issues with the drain from the solenoid circuit, and free up some precious space under the bodywork.</p>
<p>Thanks!! I used a AA pack because I already had one (big junk box), and it fit. I may upgrade to something rechargeable eventually, but AA's are simple and normally last a long time. Cheers!</p>
Great work and creativity! You have my votes Sir.
<p>Thanks very much! :-)</p>
<p>The next mod is to figure out how to make the turret fire an actual projectile. Even an airsoft BB or reasonable facsimile; I wonder how much steam pressure that would rob from the boiler. Looks awesome and thanks for sharing.</p>
<p>Thanks! As for upgrading... a steam tank is already a huge kid &amp; neighbor magnet. Weapons aren't required. :-)</p>
<p>Amazing ible but I have to agree with <a href="https://www.instructables.com/member/diy_bloke/" rel="nofollow">diy_bloke it's like 15000 for the tank.<br></a></p>
<p>Not quite. Certainly not pocket change though. :-) Maybe $1400 for parts (new) &amp; materials, excluding the Tamiya tank. You can find them used for quite a lot less though. I paid $100 for my old KT, but there is a wide variation in pricing there.</p>
<p>at <strong> &pound;368.00 for the boiler that is an expensive project :-)<br></strong></p>
<p>Nothing about live steam is cheap. Small production volumes. However, if you look for the pricing on something like a &quot;Krick Victor 2&quot; (a boiler+engine steam plant), or one of the Stuart boilers, you'll see its not bad comparatively. Cheers!</p>
<p>So, curious as to how long this runs before refueling and/or rewatering?</p>
<p>It runs around 15 to 20 minutes before getting low on water. It's the downside to having two engines -- it uses a lot of steam. Cheers!</p>
<p>This...is...AMAZING! I can't help but just stare at it! It's a total piece of art. The fact that it's functional and steam-powered just blows the cool factor through the roof! What a beautiful creation. Bravo!</p>
<p>Update: I've added another video at the end. Shows climbing &amp; the whistle. Enjoy!</p>
<p>Really nice work! How about adding steampowered generator to tank to power up the electronics... And maybe steam powered radio contol ;)</p>
<p>Thanks! For steam powered r/c... you'll really going need a bigger boiler! At one point I thought of lining the boiler with Peltier thermoelectric generators (TEG's). No where near enough power though. Oh well. Cheers! :-) </p>
Very very nice. I will definitely try this.
This is freeking incredable, probably never be able to replicate it but its beautiful to behold
<p>Thanks! Never say never though! I used lots of paper &amp; cardboard prototyping, designing, etc... I spent hours doing that for the bodywork. Once ready use the patterns for cutting metal. Drill a hole in the wrong place? Fill it with JB-Weld &amp; try again, or try a new approach (like with my fuel tank mount). Cheers! :-)</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm an electronics design engineer, with a passion for blinky lights, shiny brass parts and live steam power. More of all three the better.
More by steamhobby:Steam Turret Tank R/C PIC Servo Controller R/C Steam Turret Tank 
Add instructable to: