The technology and principles behind steam engines are quite straightforward. Boiling water is typically used to produce steam. This steam is what acts as the working fluid for the mechanical gear to function.
1. Purchase a boiler.
A boiler is a vessel commonly made of steel, and it is used to heat water or any other fluid for purposes of using the steam produced as a source of energy or power. For this project, you will need to acquire a boiler that is a round cylinder and has a circular hole for a rubber stopper on top and a pressure relief valve beside it. There are numerous dealers of boilers but not all are legitimate, especially true for those who sell online. So be sure to transact only with a licensed distributor to ensure that the boiler you're buying passed safety and quality audits.
2. Have a sturdy tripod.
Whether you buy the tripod or build one from scratch, you have to make sure that its size is adequate to accommodate your boiler. Make sure that the tripod's legs are set up properly for maximum stability so as to avoid accidents.
3. Prepare safety gears.
Have safety goggles, gloves and face shields.
4. Set it up.
Mount the boiler securely onto the tripod. Do this by applying any reliable brand of heat resistant adhesive onto the bottom part of the boiler and set it onto the tripod. Bear in mind that you will need to allow the adhesive to dry completely. After this is done, you will need to create two holes on the rubber stopper. The first hole has to be able to fit in one rubber tubing, which you will be connecting to a mechanical apparatus you want to operate. The second hole will be for the thermometer. You can use a small burner like a Bunsen burner to heat the water. Position this directly beneath the boiler and make sure your tripod is wide enough to accommodate it. Do not allow the boiler to run out of water or the stopper will pop out, causing hot water to explode. Running it dry may also result in a cracked boiler. The temperature has to be constantly monitored as well, to make sure that it does not exceed 300 degrees Celsius.
Building a steam engine from scratch can be done with the use of materials readily found at home. However, it would not be a good project to venture into, especially for a beginner.