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

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

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

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

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.



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    86 Discussions


    10 years ago on Introduction

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

    7 replies
    LandyVladA good name

    Reply 2 years ago

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

    wobblerA good name

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    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?


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    Win Guy

    7 years ago on Introduction

    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


    8 years ago on Introduction

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


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    8 years ago on Step 4

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


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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 ^_-

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Step 4

    Nice Job Mano! I dig it deep!


    9 years ago on Step 4

    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!