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Bad Deal

Posted by frustrated 
Bad Deal
June 27, 2017 11:22AM
I recently learned that the Discovery Channel has a TV show entitled "Yukon Men". Apparently, on March 26, they ran an episode entitled "Art of the Eel" which had a side story about this gentleman building a small steam engine to recharge a battery for lighting. The steam engine was a chainsaw engine converted to steam turning a shop blowgun into an admission valve by routing it through the sparkplug hole. The steam lines were all flexible plastic tubing, household plumbing valves and hose clamps were employed ... and this was the relatively unobjectionable stuff.

The boiler was a galvanized tank pulled off a junk pile into which water was poured before putting it on a 55 gallon drum in which a fire burned. There was no pressure test, no pressure gauge, no relief valve, no water level indication nor way of providing makeup feed. Who knows what alloys the tank was made from, how thick the walls were and whether or not there was internal corrosion. Obviously there were no heat exchange surfaces -- so that the "drum" itself was directly heated. I honestly am not sure what was the worst safety issue as there were so many running concurrently. The only acknowledgement was a statement that if things went wrong "It could go off like a bomb." This didn't stop filming and afterwards, when no one was hurt, it was made out to be a great achievement.

I really don't think this is the sort of thing we want to see being encouraged on TV, especially in a favorable light that will cause viewers to look favorably upon experimenting in similar fashion.

I hope some of you can write, or e-mail, and let the company know what you think. If you want to watch the episode first, I believe you can see it at:


Their mailing address is:

Discovery Communications 
One Discovery Place 
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Or you can go online and leave a message at:


Ideally they should either pull the episode or remove the segments describing the engine. At a bare minimum there should be a very strong warning that this kind of behavior can easily lead to injury or death. It wouldn't hurt to mention that there are companies, and clubs, which can provide hardware and/or expertise needed to run a safe steam plant ... an idea that makes sense in a remote place like the Yukon.

If you know anyone else who cares about steam, please pass the word.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/27/2017 11:25AM by frustrated.
Re: Bad Deal
June 28, 2017 08:39AM
Saw the show, Ken, and I agree they at least need to have a "don't try this at home" type disclaimer....or better yet...."don't try this...ever ". Just goes to show the level of ignorance about steam and the potential dangers out there. The scene where the plastic (yikes) tubing popped loose from its "fitting" and sprayied steam everywhere was most alarming...not to mention the ho hum, "oops" reaction of the guy who was working on it. It's a shame that an example of small steam finally makes it on television, yet so poorly represents it. For me, it reinforces the need for educating people about how to safely do home made steam projects, and to warn about the potential for serious injuries/death that can occur when not done properly. Let's hope nobody gets hurt or killed trying to copy what they saw on that show.

Re: Bad Deal
July 16, 2017 04:22PM
Just think of the plastic tubing as a safety device. Hee. Hee.
Re: Bad Deal
July 18, 2017 09:32AM
Hi Andy,

I wondered where you went. Tried contacting a few times without much luck. Glad you're still alive and kicking!

Re: Bad Deal
August 22, 2017 10:35AM
To forget past mistakes and consequences is to repeat them, with similar results. With the internet so easily accessible, research in old technology and how to do things right is so easy there's no excuse for blundering in dangerous experiments except pure laziness. And then to broadcast such laziness to the general public is pure stupidity. Reveals that the broadcasters don't care what they put out. They are as ignorant as the maker of the boiler attempt I suppose. I have heard that interest in technology in the USA has dwindled so much that tech schools are being largely filled by foreign students. And with reduced interest comes ignorance of even basic principals.
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