Steam Happens # 19: The Swash Plate-Axial Steam Engine:


Here's the Design Challenge.  Read this stuff, visit the links, and design and build a full-scale engine of this type.

Then write an article or letter to the editor of Steamboating Magazine about your project.

Plus, if you're using this site and don't yet have a subscription to Steamboating Magazine please do so by clicking here

tell em Uncle Earl sent you

Historical pictures and resources:

Link to Steam Using: Or, Steam Engine Practice, Chas. A. Smith, 1885. Pages 99- 102

Be sure to save this book in your Google Books "Bookshelf favorites." It's a great resource.

Movies of Joe Ritter's Swash Plate Engine in Operation (click on title to download and view):

Compiled movie on Youtube at:

Caution: Large files. Download only if you have broadband!

Right click on the link below and choose "save link as" option, download file to your computer.  You may then view the file directly.

    Turning over slowly

    Starting off slowly

    Close-up of exhaust valving

Color Pictures of Joe Ritter's Swash Plate Model Engine, a good prototype for a full-scale version:

Photo 1: Pistons are clearly in contact with swash plate


Photo 2: Valve assembly on right side of photo. Steam admission pipe pointing outward into center


Photo 3: Thin bronze exhaust cam in contact with lower three valve stems. Exhaust  exits seen as angular openings in center brass body.


Photo 4a: Exhaust components


Photo 4b: Close-up of exhaust cam components used for adjusting valve clearance

Photo 4c: Shows exhaust cam components partially assembled


Different angle of exhaust components


Photo 5: Valve end of the engine with the exhaust valve components removed.


Photo 6: Cylinder head and admission valving components


Photo 7: Piston and cylinder components. One piston removed


Other photos not included in article:


Piston roller end. Note water grooves


Valve end showing cap screws


Side view


Right Click here, choose "save link as" option to download a short movie of Joe Ritter's Pogo Stick engine in operation:


Peter Renzetti's Swash plate engine:

Valve diagram of peter's engine:

Earl's first drawings of full scale swash plate engine:

Only one cylinder fitted with piston and exhaust valve for clarity.

Right Click here and choose "save link as" option to download dwg drawing for manipulation and dissection (March 1, 2010 edition)

Right Click here  and choose "save link as" option to download dxf drawing for manipulation and dissection (March 1, 2010 edition)

If you don't have CAD software for viewing either dwg or dfx files Click here to download free viewing software
that allows rotation and close examination of drawings.

Other related resources for Steam Happens #19: The Swash Plate-Axial Steam Engine

My feeling is that a swash plate automotive air conditioner compressor can be used as a basis for a decent steam engine. The photo below is from a 96 Jeep XJ

A double-acting AC diagram is shown below

Download a YouTube video of an AC teardown here

A nice animation of a Toyota double-acting swash plate air conditioner compressor can be found at:

And a nice animation of a 12 cylinder axial Vector engine:

A great website for animations and ideas can be found at the Museum of RetroTechnology: