Faceted Cubic Zirconia Steam Machine




Introduction: Faceted Cubic Zirconia Steam Machine

About: Master goldsmith, gemcutter, setter.

This machine is an oscillating cylinder steam engine also known as a “wobbler”.

The first patented oscillating engine was built by Joseph Maudslay in 1827 and they were

typically used for marine applications.

This one, however, is the worlds first running oscillating steam engine made entirely out

of Cubic Zirconia and gold and silver.( at least, I think it is)

For this project I use a fully set up jewelers workshop, a small lathe, an Imahashi faceting machine with attendant diamond slabbing saw and gem cutting tools and a bucket load of patience.

Step 1:

I start with raw Cubic Zirconia.

It comes in many colors and these were the ones I had on hand at the time

The brass wobbler is one that I made to see if I could make such small steam machines run.

That one ran, so I figured a CZ one would as well.

I use HXTAL resin to laminate the pieces together.

Step 2:

CZ gets cut with a diamond saw.

The blade has diamond particles impregnated in the edge .

It spins very fast and is lubricated with a constant water through flow.

It is not sharp in the conventional sense so my delicate ballerina type hands are quite safe.

Step 3:

I laminated three pieces of CZ together just for fun.

( I mean, I could have used a solid piece but why not laminate for some unnecessary complexity)

I use a epoxy resin called HXTAL which is clear and takes five days to harden.

I used that resin throughout the project and it is so strong that the laminated pieces are stronger than the parent material.

It needs some patience though, because it takes five days to harden.

Anyway, here I drilled a hole through it using a diamond core drill under water. (for lubrication.

This picture is looking lengths ways.

Step 4:

You can see the vague outline of the cylinder in the clear part on the lamination.

The top hole is the inlet/outlet port and the bottom hole is half drilled and is where the pivot will be attached.

The cylinder was drilled with a diamond core drill on my drill press.

Step 5:

The yellow piece was first of four center posts I made.

All the others broke.

As I said, patience was strong in this one.

The center pivot is fitted loosely in the laminated cylinder and the piston has also been turned on my lathe.

The pivot and piston are made out of 14 ct gold.

Step 6:

Here the pivot and piston are being checked.

I have also made the bottom end of the piston, which is the part that will go into the crankshaft.

The red part is the drive shaft bearing but as you can see it also broke.

Many things broke and were remade.

Step 7:

Cutting the crankshaft wheel

Step 8:

Fitting the rough crankshaft wheel to see where the bottom pin

must be drilled.

Step 9:

All the CZ being roughed out.

The pink will become the flywheel.

The maroon piece is the flywheel shaft bearing.

It's colour change material, maroon under incandescent lighting and yellow under fluorescent lights.

Seriously cool material

The purple is the crankshaft wheel

Step 10:

Which promptly broke.

I made seven of these before I got one that worked well.

CZ is a very brittle material, and some colors are decidedly more brittle than others.

Step 11:

Cutting another one.

Step 12:

I had to see if the thing would actually run before I started

faceting all the individual components.

So I stuck everything to a piece of glass and made some temporary silver tubing and connected it to my compressor.

The cylinder has a upside down Iolite gemstone glued onto it temporarily just so the cylinder can keep pressure.

Classiest cylinder head in the world.

Step 13:

And run it did.

With my ever patient, faithful and loyal wife helping her husband with his next crackpot project.


Step 14:

Now that the concept was proved to me I could start faceting the pieces of CZ.

So then I proceeded with the crankshaft wheel, first drilling the holes with a diamond core drill.

Step 15:

Smoothing out the holes before polishing the insides.

One always has to work wet.

The white bowl contains water.

I have a comprehensive gem carving tutorial here

Step 16:

Ready for faceting.

Step 17:

Being dopped.

This is a transfer jig.

One first facets one side then it is transferred and the other side is is faceted.

All 'normal' gem stones are cut this way.

First the top, known as the crown, or first the bottom, known as the pavilion.

Step 18:

Finished, cut, drilled and polished.

Just love that hot pink colour.

It changes to a yellow in incandescent light.

Step 19:

The upright and crankshaft wheel nearly finished.

Just the pivot hole had to be polished in this picture.

At the top are the two inlet and outlet ports.

They were very tricky to drill.

Step 20:

Here are all the cubic components finished faceting.

There are about 260 facets all in all.

The orange is the 'cylinder head'

Step 21:

Here are all the components waiting for the base.

Step 22:

I made the base out of a colour change piece of CZ

It goes red under incandescent light.

This was a critical stage, because if anything was skew, the resin would not allow me to remove anything and the project would have to be scrapped.

So I was very careful.

Step 23:

Now was time to make the silver base stand.

So I melted some silver, cast a plate, rolled it to about 2.5 mm and sawed it to shape.

In this case I just use a hacksaw to cut it because silver is not terribly expensive in relation to gold.

Step 24:

Once I had it shaped, I cut, cast and rolled and bent some leg blanks.

Step 25:

Then I filed them to shape and stamped them with my makers mark and fineness stamp, as all precious metals have to be done by law.

Step 26:

And I soldered them to each corner.

Step 27:

I made some tubing for the inlet.

This had to be made very accurately, because when you insert it into the CZ and if it is only a little bit skew, the CZ will crack.

Step 28:

Fitting the little motor onto the stand.

The nut in the picture is replace by a gold cap.

The spring next to the nut I also made out of gold.

All in all there are 20 grams of gold in this motor.

Step 29:

Once everything was adjusted, I took it all apart and polished the silver and gold components.

Step 30:

All that was left was to make a display case for it.


Step 31:

I made this display case.

I am busy re making one a little more elegant, using 2 mm glass instead 3 mm.

I you have any question I am more than happy to anwer them.

Many of my tutorials concerning beginner and advanced jewelry manufacturing and be found on my wesite





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    4 Discussions

    What a great project and you have good tools too.

    Very nice! while I have no desire to even attempt this I read every word. It's beautiful and unique. I had no idea you could even get "chunks" of CZ. Thank you for posting such an interesting build. Just stunning. Just out of curiosity what would something like this sell for?

    1 reply

    I have not the faintest idea.

    About 130 hours build time @$50/hour?

    Your guess is as good as mine!

    Wow! Looks like a labour of love, with all the many attempts and cracked parts along the way, but the end result is seriously cool!