I have wanted to build a small engine for a long time. Having dealt with the mess of petrol engines from my model plan flying days, I’d rather something a bit cleaner. After discovering the Stirling Engine, I figured that would be the way to go.
A Stirling Engine is really quite amazing, it has a sealed volume of air that is alternately heated and cooled, and thus expands and contracts. This pushes and pulls a piston which does the work. The air inside is heated and cooled by moving it between hot and cold areas using a displacer which alternately occupies the part of the sealed volume that is hot (thus allowing the air to cool) or cold (thus allowing the air to heat).
Stirling Engines are very simple, having no valves and only a few moving parts, namely the power piston, the displacer, the flywheel and crankshaft, and connecting rods.
So I started looking around for a possible engine to build. I found a great site by Jerry E. Howell with some great plans, but being in the USA and not accepting credit cards made it a bit more challenging. Then I found the plans for A low temperature Stirling Engine by Penn Clower which looked good, but then got stymeed trying to find the materials (it seems that half the time for any project I do is just spent finding where to buy the materials!).
Then I found the MiniTech site and their kits, so I purchased the “Hot Air Engine Vertical see thru” (HAE-VH) kit. And so it began.