August 1, 2020 5:37 AM   Subscribe

Build a Pop Pop Boat! By Marc Horvitz. More about Pop Pop Boats, seen by many in Ponyo!
posted by Greg Nog (14 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Lee Valley sold Putt Putt Steamboats until recently, complete with happy warnings about lead content, sharp edges and burn hazards.

Perhaps the only external-combustion pulse jet engine out there. If I were a gentleman scientist/engineer and had already solved all of the world's other problems, I'd retire to my laboratory in the stables block of my country house and spend the next decade producing the definitive model of the putt-putt boat's mechanics. Alas, my reality is somewhat different.
posted by scruss at 6:33 AM on August 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

Internal combustion pulse jets can be a lot of fun too.

The operating principle looks very similar to the pop-pop boat engine's, but instead of sucking in water and blasting out steam, the internal combustion version sucks in air and blasts out combustion products.
posted by flabdablet at 7:06 AM on August 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

When I was a STEM teacher, this was one of my most successful activities for 6th and 7th graders. Already had all the materials-- tin snips, kiddie pool for races, etc. Got the kids to bring in their own soft drink aluminum cans and olive oil, which they were happy to do. Just be careful with the tin snips and middle-school kidfingers. A few bandaids were consumed that day. Overall, a fantastic hands-on learning project that the kids loved and proved to be a springboard for quickly teaching so many science and engineering principles.
posted by seasparrow at 7:11 AM on August 1, 2020 [6 favorites]

No size limit actually.
posted by sammyo at 7:51 AM on August 1, 2020 [8 favorites]

This is great, thank you for posting it.
One part of my family is big into boats. The kids have enjoyed playing with pop pop boats in previous years, but they recently got into building their own toy boats out of different materials, and this will be a welcome next step I think.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:30 AM on August 1, 2020

Pro tip: Packing the tubing with fine sand before bending it will help prevent kinks. (Remove the sand when you're finished bending.)
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:57 PM on August 1, 2020 [5 favorites]

Is it possible to assemble with leadfree solder?
posted by coberh at 3:48 PM on August 1, 2020

Is it possible to assemble with leadfree solder?
JB-Weld WaterWeld maybe? It's like working with play-dough, and will be a bulky seam, but should remove the need for any soldering except on the motor.
posted by ElGuapo at 3:58 PM on August 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you have younger kids and can’t work with hot lead/fire/steam, try diy tabletop Alka Seltzer (with magnetic steering!) and baking powder toy boats.
posted by cenoxo at 4:31 AM on August 2, 2020

Is it possible to assemble with leadfree solder?
Should be, I have been using lead-free solder on and off for years. IME, it's a little more finicky to work with, takes higher temps and a longer dwell time, doesn't wet as easily, and is quite a bit more expensive. Flux is no joke either, so it's not like the lead is the only hazard. I try to either work in my shop where I can have a fume extractor going, or if that's not possible, I have a small fan blowing crosswise to minimize the amount of fumes I am inhaling.
posted by xedrik at 8:24 AM on August 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Coincidentally I just posted my favorite pop pop boat tutorial on the green two days ago! Enthusiastically recommend: cheap, fun and works a treat!
posted by apparently at 5:01 PM on August 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Nothing gets me going these days like a Metafilter link to a site that has never heard of CSS.
posted by Kwine at 6:20 PM on August 2, 2020 [3 favorites]

Use zinc chloride solder flux if you have trouble soldering.

I used to have a couple of the pop boiler boats I bought in Pakistan in the 70's. They actually moved around in the tub pretty well.
posted by boilermonster at 10:53 PM on August 2, 2020

The mere fact that you call it 'Pop Pop' tells me that you're not ready.
posted by Marticus at 9:33 PM on August 3, 2020

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