The Ecorun 2.0 Stirling Engine Kit is from Exergia – Ideas for Light & Energy by Thomas Shmidt. Available through www.newenergyshop.com
It took me about 2 hours to build this wonderful little engine from opening the box through to running. It is still purring away in the background as I write this article. I really enjoyed the build and it is a fantastic cheap entry into Stirling Engine model engineering. For a blow by blow photo log of the build check out the build article. The operating tolerances of the engine are forgiving and allowed me to quickly get it up and running then fiddle until it ran at approximately 500 rpm. The kit is suitable to anyone who knows the right end of a screwdriver and has an ounce of patience. Some care is required as the kit is made of light weight stamp cut cardboard with some metal components. Once it is completed it appears robust and should have a long life time with some care in handling and storage between operations.
The kit would be an excellent project for an established model engineer looking to bring a young relative or other youth into the hobby. It would also be a valuable part of a school physics curriculum. While the kit is designed for people over the age of 12, I feel that someone younger could build it with the appropriate degree of supervision, guidance and mentoring. During the build my two teenage boys dragged themselves away from video games and popped in from time to time to review my progress. Most of my projects take such a long time that they quickly lose interest. They saw this one take shape as the minutes progressed and were quite interested.
All of the components in the kit are well made and go together quite easily and work well once complete. I have a few minor gripes about the construction instructions but it is obvious that the instructions have been well thought out and are written in a simple non-technical manner that anyone could understand. They flow reasonably well and while I thought a couple of elements were out of order, that may well just be the way I do things and may be fine for other people. With a few alterations the good instructions could become truly excellent instructions. Have a look at the build log article for more commentary in this area.
The instructions include a substantial trouble shooting section that should help someone resolve any issues that prevent the engine from working properly. Happily I did not need them.
Purchasing was straight forward, I found the kit on the website, made contact with Thomas worked out the arrangements and paid via a popular internet payment method. About a week later the package turned up. The kit was very well packed and the combination of worldwide postal services had not managed to hurt it at all.
I have no hesitation recommending this kit as a great entry into the Stirling Engine concept and excellent value for money. If you’re thinking about it, read the build article to see how easy it really was.