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New Project: Copper Pipe Alcohol Lamp

Make this small alcohol-burning lamp for your Pop-Pop Steamboat.

New Project: Copper Pipe Alcohol Lamp

The Pop-Pop Steamboat in MAKE Volume 28 calls for using small tea candles for the engine’s heat source, but I found that it didn’t work very well. So I decided to make this small alcohol-burning lamp instead, and it significantly improved its performance.

In this project I will go over how to turn down two brass end-caps on a small lathe and then solder them onto a short length of copper pipe to make an alcohol-burning lamp to fuel your Pop-Pop boat. This project is for those who have basic skills with a lathe and metalworking. I will not go over dimensions, so you can come up with your own design. Have fun!

Steps

Step #1:

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Using the lathe, turn down the brass round stock to create two end caps that fit in snugly in the copper pipe.

Step #2:

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  • One cap should have a 1/4" hole drilled through it for the copper tubing. The other cap will have a threaded hole for a brass threaded plug that you turn down. Make sure the threads match.
  • Put the O-ring on the brass plug.

Step #3:

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  • Use the torch to soften the copper.
  • Then use the pliers to bend it into the correct shape, being careful not to crush the pipe.
  • Test fit it under the pop-pop boat engine to make sure it fits.

Step #4:

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  • Make sure to apply plenty of flux to the inside of the pipe, then solder the non-threaded cap on.
  • After that, solder the bent copper tubing into the cap, making sure not to get any solder inside the tubing.

Step #5:

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  • Next, solder the threaded cap onto the copper pipe. Don't forget the flux.
  • After that, clean up any holes or rough solder with the torch.

Step #6:

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  • Cut a short length of cotton yarn and stuff it into the bent copper tubing.
  • I used a stiff metal wire to help get it all the way in. You want a little of the yarn sticking inside the copper tube; this will allow it to soak up the fuel.

Step #7:

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  • Use a wire wheel to roughly clean the burner.
  • After that, polish it up on the lathe with fine-grit sandpaper.

Step #8:

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New Project: Copper Pipe Alcohol Lamp

To run it, just fill it up with fuel, screw on the cap, and light the wick. That's it – you're done!

Dan Spangler

Dan Spangler

Dan Spangler is a freelance maker with a passion for fabricating speed, high voltage, and the things that go boom.


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