Jet Engine Made Out of Empty Beer Cans!

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Introduction: Jet Engine Made Out of Empty Beer Cans!

About: I build stuff because it isn't available to buy, or is too expensive, or the ones you can buy don't do what I want them to. Sometimes I don't have a reason, I just want to build something. For me it's about...

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Build a functional jet engine out of empty beer cans and an old hair dryer. Minimal tools required.

I had always wanted to make a jet engine, then, one day i realised i had the parts available to do it. So, I did!

It was made out of STEEL beer cans, copper hydraulics tubing and an old hair dryer.
It produced measurable thrust which was only briefly tested on a rig that utilised model train tracks and 4 boggies.

More information is on my website at: https://letsbuildone.wordpress.com/jet-engine/


I have a video of various tests in the development process and it in action on my website and below:

Video Link

Video link
I Appologise for the poor quality pictures that were taken on my old phone. Unfortunately the engine has been ravaged for parts by my brother, so i can't take new photos.

Step 1: Gather the Materials and Tools You Will Need

I had wanted to do this for a long time then one day I noticed I had the part available to make a crude Afterburning Ducted Fan (aka Motorjet or Thermofan) engine from a coke can, an old hairdryer and some copper pipe I had lying around. This is not the instructions on how to make that but rather the instructions on how to make the refined version that I completed in college before I went to university.
Mark II is currently under construction and should be completed shortly with a full write up and videos.

Materials Required:
@ At least 4 Steel cans, specifically the taller ones and bigger ones are better.
@ Copper or steel thin tubing, hydraulics tubing from a scrap car will do.
@ Some flexible plastic fuel hosing long enough for you to be comfortably far enough from a running miniature jet engine, 1m did me, I got some from my local model shop used for nitro cars.
@ An old hair dryer or other air moving device, leaf blower could work, or a ducted fan/propeller.
@ A variable resistor or potentiometer, I used a scalectrics controller then upgraded to a dimmer switch of a Light after the scalectrics controller started smoking.
@ A length of wire as long as your rubber hosing at least, two wires needed to power electric motor for your fan.
@ Really small drill bits and a drill, 1mm or less for fuel nozzles.
@ Tape, adhesives and solder would be helpful.
@ Insulation tape

Tools Required:
@ Sand Paper
@ Soldering Iron possibly
@ Possibly a screw driver
@ Drill
@ Sharp knife
@ Scissors
@ Pliers
@ Relevant Safety equipment, gloves, goggles, fire extinguisher and COMMON SENSE.


Step 2: Disassemle Your Hairdryer/ Blower Unit

Open your air moving device, preferably old hair dryer, cheep ones available at supermarkets in the value range. Obviously make sure it is unplugged first and you have relevant safety equipment.

Take out the electronics and examine it, you do not want the heating coils of the hair dryer, coils in series with the motor act as voltage dividers, removing them may burn out the motor.

Cut the wires to the motor and lengthen them.

Take your variable resistor and put it in series at the other end of the long cable coming from the motor, if you use the dimmer switch then it can replace the existing switch. Solder where possible and cover connections with insulation tape.Put the finished electronics in a project box or other non conductive container.

If possible use a battery rather than mains power as mains power is very dangerous and make sure you get a qualified electrician to check your work, this was easy for me as my brother is a sparky.

You should now be left with a power source connector, a box with a variable resistor in and long wires that are thick enough to handle the current leading to your what effectively now is a ducted fan.

Step 3: Start Cutting Up Your Cans

Get your STEEL cans,

make sure they are steel because aluminium will melt and disintegrate in seconds if you try to use it.

Dispose of the contents and use a can opener to cut the top off.

Use a metal file or a sander or something to sand the bottom until the indentation in the middle drops out. if you have the tools then use a core cutter to cut the bottom dent out instead, it will most likely be faster. (The aim of this step is to cut the end off like you did with the top but obviously a can opener won't work on the bottom as there is no rim).

You should now be left with a can you can see straight down the length of. You can use some pliers to make the flange on the bottom neater.

On another can cut the top and bottom off on the flat not tapered bit, then slit its length so that you are left with a flat piece of thin steel. Repeat with a second can.

Then finaly on a third can cut out the bottom of the can like you did on the first one and cut the top quater to one third off and put a slit down its length about one inch deep.

Step 4: Make Your Fuel Injection Ring

Take your copper pipe or hydraulics piping and cut a length about three times the diameter of the cans you are using. They should be the standard diameter drinks can so you will need around a half a meter.

Crimp one end of the tube then bend this end into a circle just small enough to fit inside a can. Mark the last 190mm and bend it so that it fits the internal diameter of the can in a ring.

Drill a hole in the bottom of the can you just cut the top and bottom off, right on the rim at the very bottom. Crimp the end that you are bending so no gas can come out and thread the pipe into the can, if you use copper it should be easy to bend it in and out without crimping the pipe accidentaly.

Flatten your tube which is now shaped like a "p"just on the round bit, not totally but just enough so that you can drill the previously round surface.

Mark around 8-16 places around the circle in even increments and drill the smallest holes you can in so when you blow through the tubes open end it has 8-16 jets of air perpendicular to the tube effecively out of the face of the "P"

Thread the round bit with the nozzles inside the can with the nozzles facing towards the far end of the can. Now wrap the excess piping around the outside of the can concentric with the internal counterpart, which should leave you with about 100mm of tail off away from the can.

This is where you attach your rubber hosing to so take this bit with you to make sure you get the right diameter fuel hosing, it must be a very tight fit.

Step 5: Make Sure No Flames Come Out the Back

Take the can with the top third cut off and slide this over your first can from the bottom so that your copper pipe is popping out of the slit and the two open bottoms are about 25-50mm apart and the can walls are concentric.

Get the sheet metal from the flattened can and roll it into a small diameter tube, put this tube inside the two cans and let go so that it settles to the right diameter.

Use some Duct tape to secure the tube in this diameter. cut off any exes and staple in place with a strong stapler. If the stapler isnt strong enough, make the holes first and then use pliers to bend the staples or a paper clip into the right place to secure it.

Step 6: Make Your Ducted Fan Adapter

Take the other piece sheet steel you made and roll it into a tube/gentle cone around your ducted fan unit. Secure this end in place with tape.

Take the other end of your sheet steel tube and put that into the cone coming out the back of your engine. Secure this end in place with tape. Then use a stapler as previously described to secure this end, Duct tape cannot take the temperature.

***Note, most of the pictures in this instructable were from my mark II jet engine hence the hole in the cone which shouldnt be there in this version, and the combustion chamber with no copper tube input. unfortunatly these are the only photos currently available but i will replace them asap.***

Step 7: Make a Stand for It

You have the main body of your engine constructed,

I now got two small jubilee clips and threaded them over two large jubilee clips.

I then took two pieces of about 12mm copper pipe and bent each into a "U" shape.

Threaded these two pieces through the small jubilee clips.

Put the engine's combustion chamber through the two large jubilee clips.

Drilled 4 holes into a piece of MDF.

Put the ends of the copper pipe "U"'s into the four holes drilled in the MDF.

Finally tighten the jubilee clips to secure everything in place.

Step 8: Test It

It usually takes two people to operate, one on lighting and fan speed and the other on fuel injection:

@ Turn up the fan to get some gentle wind going through.

@ Second person opens valve on a lighter gas canister to feed Gas to the engine, squeeze one of the plastic adapters in the top of the can into the end of the poly fuel hose.make sure the can is the right way up otherwise liquid butane comes out and the engine will flare and blow out.

@ First person uses long ended lighter or blowtorch, safety glasses and gloves to ignite the gas and start the engine.

@ If it goes out the fan is on too high power, if it goes the wrong way and flares out the fan there is not enough fan power.

@ Then fan power is slowly increased to a point where the flame is invisible but still there, or if it is dark you may be able to see the blue cone out the back.

@ If butane is not already on full power it is turned up and balanced with fan to retain blue cone until full power is achieved, if your feeling adventurous experiment with slowly inverting the butane to trickle liquid butane into the engine, if done right you can boost the power.

@If the engine body glows brighter than an orange or something goes wrong: the butane is shut off, the fan can be restarted for cooling purposes and man on standby with co2 fire extinguisher runs in to rescue.

@ Take a video and send it me at LetsBuildOne@Live.co.uk, id love to see other peoples attempts! the good the bad and the catastrophic.

Further Details Similar Projects And Videos Of Mine In Action Are Available On My Website at:

Let's Build One


Thanks For Looking

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    124 Comments

    hey any ideas for ignitor
    & here r some pics of my next jet the "turbojet"

    snapshot.jpgsnapshot-2.jpgsnapshot-3.jpgsnapshot-6.jpgsnapshot-7.jpgsnapshot-9.jpgsnapshot-12.jpgsnapshot-13.jpgsnapshot-15.jpgsnapshot-16.jpgsnapshot-20.jpg
    10 replies

    Hey! Seriously awesome. But i had this doubt that will the turbine and compressor be efficient if u use that metal strip to hold that shaft ??? Woudnt bearings be better? And will they be able to withstand the temperature ? If yes then how to use them?

    Bearings would be better. The centre of the fan blade does very little in the way of moving air anyway, so the circular space they take up shouldn't make too big a negative impact on performance.

    You would probably have to use Ceramic bearings, and use a cold air by pass to cool them.

    If the metal strip was orientated in line with the air, then it would be much better. You could also use a very stiff prop shaft, and have bearings in the air intake only. So the hot tail end doesn't need any bearings.

    Modern turbo fan engines have a large proportion of blow by design.

    Wikipedia has a good cross section:
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/77/Turbofan_operation_lbp.svg/1280px-Turbofan_operation_lbp.svg.png

    Hey! Sorry to disturb again but i have some seruous doubts and i want to make one dearlt. So :
    #1. Does a turbojet have a motor? I see u have used one but i generally see or atleast have concluded that the fan is usually connexted to the shaft? But i can use the motor. But which type? Wont it get turned yo liquid cuz of the heat?
    #2. I really dont understand how prop shadts work. I googled it but still no idea. Could u plzz explain? Or do i use to bearings?
    #3. About the compressors and turbines. Are the compressors inside the focused inlet [combustion chamber ] or fuxed before it?? I read that smaller the compressor the faster it rotates. So i could keep the compressor inside but where do i put the turbine?? Inside or outside?
    Thanks for ur time.

    #1. My design does have a motor. It's technically an after burning ducted fan. Rather than the stereotypical turbojet. Mine is from a hair dryer. An Electronic Ducted Fan (EDF) designed for use in model aeroplanes would be ideal. They're Brushless DC motors, which require an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) to run. HobbyKing is a good website for these. The motor won't melt because it is in front of the air intake. It has cold air drawn over it constantly. It's the exhaust of the engine that could melt.

    #2. It's just a spindle that runs down the centre of the can. You could use two bearings at the intake to stabilise it, and none in the rear. This is what attaches the turbine blades in the exhaust to the compressor blades in the intake.

    #3. Both are inside the can. They will be spinning at the same speed because they are both attached to the same spindle/prop shaft.

    I seriously dont want to use bearing at the hot tail..so plzz tell me bout the prop shaft and where do i find it...

    And Can u plzzzzz send me ur detailed plans for this engine at quanta8714@yahoo.com

    nice pictures. you just gave me an idea of how to secure the central shaft.
    here's my improved design

    new engine.bmp

    looool same i didnt know how to do that....

    you can use a spark generator from one of those lighters where you have to push a button. just dismantle it without puncturing the gas store and extend the wire between the spark gap and the generator (if there is one). it would be like a spark plug.

    spark system.bmplighters.bmp

    Looks interesting, what are you using for bearings?

    As for the ignition, the standard solution is a spark plug that screws into a boss welded onto the side of your combustion chamber, you would need a coil pack and a decent 12V source like a lead acid to run it though. Another option is to use the spark of a disposable lighter, extend the wire into the can and set the wall gap right. You could also use two bolts that are screwed in from opposite sides of the combustion camber with a small gap between them and discharge a camera flash circuit through them to give a nice beastly spark.

    WHAT IS THE TEMPERATURE OF THE CAN AFTER STARTUP???????

    I finished it! i made a video of it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPvhfkExAlU&list=UU6q74pDLeZFgsPFzckC0MOQ&index=1&feature=plcp

    1 reply

    Nicely done! I managed to wedge bits of mine together and use jubilee clips to avoid the smoking tape issue.

    It looks like you either aren't putting enough fuel in or the fuel ring isn't spraying evenly, to solve this you can try drilling more holes in the fuel ring or add turbulators to the part of the engine the air and fuel mixes to help them mix better.

    Keep me updated!

    LBO

    most amazing thing i have ever seen done with peoples old crap. I am going to make this for a school project about re-cycling and re-use, any advice about the type of hair dryer and where i can get one?

    5 replies

    Any hair drier will do. The more powerful the better. Power is probably relative to physical size and any power rating though I doubt there is much between them. you could try your local re-cycling centre.

    To be honest an Electric ducted fan is probably cheaper and more effective than a hair drier if your going to buy one. They can be picked up for around £15-20 new. You could try ebay, markets, car boots and similar to find a cheap one. I recently bought a Nitro boat with all radio gear and all accessories for £40 from a market. A similar EDF plane should be much cheaper.

    ya ty for that i got myself a hair dryer from argos. my next problem, however is finding the pipe used for the fuel injection ring. I went to B&Q at the weekend but the only 5-8mm copper pipe they had was £22.60 a roll! what a rip we dont have any at home and the DT department at school has none either. Where can i get a foot length of 5-8mm copper/steel/brass tube before wednesday?

    A scrap yard will have some, it's what they use for brake pipe on cars. They usually let you clip off a few feet for free. Though this may be steel and harder to bend. If you go to a garage then they usually have a roll that they may give/sell you a foot of.

    ya does it have to be 5mm cuz i found some 8mm cheap and bought it.

    That can work... You may have trouble bending it tight enough so you might want to bend it so it;s central in the can, seal the end and drill your holes around the circumference. similar to my M2 engine but without the aluminium part.