Introduction: Steampunk Style Fan

Picture of Steampunk Style Fan

I do love me some Steampunk :) This is a fan that I built one weekend that has a steampunk flair to it.

This is sort of a cross between an instructable and a slide show. I did take some pictures during the build of my fan, but not enough to be a complete walkthrough. Odds are, you won't have the exact pieces that I used to make my fan anyway - so hopefully this will inspire you to see what you have available to make your own steampunk creation!

Step 1: Gather Your Parts

Picture of Gather Your Parts

I'm a packrat, of sorts. I do alot of poking around at fleamarkets in the area and I'll snag stuff that find interesting even if I don't have a need for it right away.

I had an old Brass Bladed Fan in my garage with some major damage. The armature and oscillator mechanism was broken off, and there was no switch. I used the motor housing, blades, and cage from this fan.

To this, I added a brass pump insecticide sprayer (c. 1910) that had been gathering dust on a shelf in my shop for several years. I also planned to use the cast iron base to a lamp that I've always liked due to the face images molded into the pattern.

I tinker with clocks, so I had some old mantle clock feet that I bought off ebay with other parts a while back. I had an old sewing machine motor and a router speed control that I didn't use, so they went into the parts pile as well.

I ordered 3 feet of #25 nylatron roller chain and a couple of #25 cogs from Small Parts Inc..

I went to Lowes, and bought an oak board and a length of brass braided water supply hose.

Step 2: Assemble the Fan Parts

Picture of Assemble the Fan Parts

First, I removed the motor housing from the fan's original base. I removed the screws holding the housing together, and pulled out the broken armature. I'll be using a steel rod of the same diameter in its place. I would have just used the original armature shaft, but it was broken off too short.

I put the housing back together, and inserted a threaded rod (available at hardware stores) into the bottom of the housing in the hole where the pivot was.

I cut out a section of the brass sprayer that I planned to use as the neck of the fan, and cleaned up the cast iron lamp base I planned to use. I polished up the brass parts with a bench mounted buffing wheel, but you can use brasso or another polish - just takes longer.

Then, I put everything together to test fit it. The threaded rod passes through the brass tube of the sprayer and the cast iron base. I put on a washer and nut beneath the base to hold everything together nicely.

Step 3: Base and Drive Train

Picture of Base and Drive Train

I polished all the brass parts until I was happy with them. Polished enough to be shiney, but still old looking. I painted the base to match the motor housing, gloss black. I also painted the sewing machine motor black (it was originally white).

I put on of the nylon cogs on the shaft for the blades on the back of the motor housing. The other cog I put on the shaft of the sewing machine motor.

I built a base out of oak and routed a decorative edge on the pieces. I cut out a smaller base for the motor, and painted some "L" brackets brass to mount the motor to it. Trial and Error got me the correct length for the chain, as I gradually pieced parts together. I also added the braided water supply line, which is purely decorative.

I ran the power wire for the motor through the top of the wooden fan base. It plugs into the router speed control, which is mounted under the wooden base. The speed control, is then plugged into the wall.

I stained the base and applied a sealant. When done, I mounted the clock feet, which I had painted gold. Then I started test fitting parts together for final assembly.

Step 4: Final Assembly

Picture of Final Assembly

When I was certain everything fit and worked, I put it all together. I'll be adding an on/off switch to the front of the fan, using an old brass clock key. The router speed control has on/off switch, but its difficult to reach beneath the base. The knob coming out of the side of the wooden base is attached to the speed control, and turns the fan from low to medium to high.

Its surprisingly quiet, since the nylon chain doesn't rattle. It blows up a storm... and you definitely don't want to get your fingers anywhere near the blades!!! The cages on these old fans aren't like the ones today :)

I hope you get some ideas from this project, and go out and make your own creations.


alxjpow (author)2008-06-21

Really amazing job! I laugh at the idea of a 'real' steam fan though.. running a fan via a coal fire :D

Glad you like it :)

Don't scoff too soon at the idea of an actual steam powered fan. Check these beauties out:

Lol, wouldn't it kind of defeat the purpose to have a heat source power a fan to cool things down? lol

LandyVlad (author)A good name2016-06-01

Could use the fan, to blow on the coal in the furnace, to increase the heat, to make the fan go faster...... until BOOM !

wobbler (author)A good name2009-04-01

In an extended way, we actually do with a fan, it's just that the heat source is far removed in the power station usually. Unless it's wind power, in which case we use a fan to power a fan. How incestuous is that?

clazman (author)wobbler2012-09-06

But, the motor gives off heat in its own miniscule way. ; ) Just not bothersome.

Just when you've made something as spectacular as this someone has beaten you to it!

At least that is true in my case.

OH WOW! That's amazing :D That reminds me of those portable kerosene refrigerators.. maybe someone should make a steampunk version!

Thats so very awesome.

Win Guy (author)2011-08-16

This is SUPER-DUPER-AWESOME! 5/5 and faved. I'll try my hand at a version of this as my second Steam-Punk project!
Win Guy

MurphyHarris (author)2011-03-18

wow. a must have for my desk.
thanks for sharing.

randomray (author)2011-02-27

Very interesting , at first I was wondering why the chain and all that as I have a slightly older fan that still works .

Montrose (author)2011-01-20

Very Very nice. I love the chain drive. I would guess that the motor is a Singer Sewing Machine motor. Its D.C. do you use as a variable speed controller? A variation on this could be a Machine Age style with chrome and using a worm drive with a long threaded rod to turn the fan......oh man Im not going to sleep tonight. Great Project! it looks really good.

willdeh2 (author)2010-12-26

This is really incredible. Great display of your skill and ingenuity.

MissBetsy (author)2010-04-24

It's not just awesome, it's outright beautiful!
I would like to build this at part of my future steampunk den but unfortunately I have not 1 single part to use for this :(
Using the brass insectizide sprayer for this was probably a mistake though, you could have gotten millions on eBay for it ^_-

Warlrosity (author)MissBetsy2010-10-23

Millions? Seriously? No, really?

Lowney (author)2010-08-27

I love this :D

grt57 (author)2009-08-08

Nice Job Mano! I dig it deep!

binkyb (author)2009-06-01

Oh! I forgot the link to the website:

binkyb (author)2009-05-28

Hi Paladin, How cool (ha ha) is that? Bet you haven't got little ones around to get fingers caught in that chain! But it looks soooo good and works so well - BTW what is the piece of music on your video? Shazam doesn't recognise it!

reluctant_paladin (author)binkyb2009-05-30

I'm old enough to have second generation "little ones" :) Not to worry, though. The fan is placed on my desk, well out of reach of curious little fingers. The song is "Peggy", by a celtic group called Clandestine. Not sure if they are around anymore. I do know the lead singer/songwriter for this piece is no longer with the band.

binkyb (author)reluctant_paladin2009-06-01

Many thanks for that - i found them and the website and the music and ordered it hopefully the new singer is as good as she. So if they ask - you are selling their music for them! Regards

sansuifidelity (author)2009-05-24

do you think that the chain will need lube during prolonged use?

No problems so far.

i have to commend your creativity i have began planning a larger floor version of your design

cdizzle (author)2009-05-13

wow thats badass man

Silver Buttons (author)2009-05-04

This is really nice! I like old fans to begin with because I remember the ones my mom had, that made such a nice humming sound. I know a guy who has a HUGE vintage fan--it's about three feet in diameter and is on a stand that's almost six feet tall. When I turn it on, it's like airplane propellers revving up! I wish he would sell it to me so I could Steampunkify it! XD

Maureclaire (author)2009-04-26

Fabulous ! Love it ! Hey, what's that song ? Love that, too ! LOL

Thanks :) The song on the video is "Peggy", by a celtic group called Clandestine - back when the main singer/songwriter was Jen Hamel.

wobbler (author)2009-03-30

Great design, but that chain/sprocket combination looks finger snappin' good. Either fit a cover with a glass window/viewing hatch or a wire safety cover. Alternatively, go the other way and hit the maximum danger stop on the risk meter.. Replace the chain and make it belt driven, where the belt is also used to charge up a van der Graff generator on top. That way, the fan can blow your hair about as 10Megavolts stands it on end and the fan will glow nicely at night.

I love option 2!!!!

even better to make a wimhurst...

wobbler (author)corey_caffeine2009-04-16

Is that for real or just a whim?

corey_caffeine (author)wobbler2009-04-25

my head.... /ASPLODE

wobbler (author)corey_caffeine2009-04-26

That'll teach you to stand so close to the Wimshurst machine. Next time, to stop your head exploding I'd suggest you wear a rubber bathing cap (with obligatory Steampunk goggles of course). It will also stop you needing to redecorate should your head explode again (assuming you didn't like the cranial artex on the walls).

I think it's definitely got potential, I'm just not sure I've got the energy to build it, reluctant_paladin.

Sandisk1duo (author)2009-04-17

looks like something Nicola Tesla could have made!

mweston (author)2008-08-24

The nylon Chain and all is really creative

KaptinScarlet (author)2008-08-21

I love this, I'd love to make something like this. Pure quality 5/5

euphemism (author)2008-08-13

Oh wow, this is very nice! Funnily enough I bought a small fan for my room yesterday and was planning on giving it a steampunk flair. I found this today...great minds think alike eh?

MissPennyFarthing (author)2008-08-01

Wow! That is absolutely fantastic!! Have you considered a career making movie props? I can just see this fan in a Jules Verne sci-fi movie!

trampart (author)2008-06-26

It's not steam, guy. It's a gas!

tw2sheds (author)2008-06-24

Does it have a"UL" sticker? Approved by Underachievers Laboratory? Nice job anyway

A good name (author)tw2sheds2008-06-24

Did you get one from god?

medicineman45 (author)2008-06-20

It is a true work of art. I wouldn't change a thing

srilyk (author)2008-06-20

This is awesome :D I tend to enjoy me some steampunk myself. For the serious DIYer, you could probably buy brass sheeting at a hobby store and cut out your own blades. (Just make sure to use a pattern so your blades are as close to uniform as you can)

Madrigorne (author)2008-06-20

I just love this. I simply do. Can you assemble something of this ilk using the motor and chain drive to a fan on a spindle, or do you need to have the bulky top part of the original fan to keep things running smoothly? I have a fan begging to be steampunked, and dig-n-save is just down the road...

kyle.marsh (author)2008-06-19

Hah...I didn't notice the knob on the base at first -- I was hoping you'd wired the speed control to the "shutoff valve" on the could give the impression that it was truly steam powered that way, and you could slow it down by shutting off the flow. Nice work!

LeumasYrrep (author)2008-06-13

very nice and creative. I love this style but I would say it looks more Victorian then anything else, unless that is what steampunk is, I don't know. But do agree that it is dangerous, sometimes we need to live life on the wild side!

There are lots of Victorian Elements in Steampunk. One way of looking at the difference between the two is to imagine an Edison Talking Machine, with the big brass horn. That might be considered a "victorian" artifact.

Now add lots more brass, some steam gauges, some glowing Aether tubes, and generally turn it into something that would look at home on Captain Nemo's Nautilus...

That's Steampunk :)

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