YouTubers Craft Modern Replica of First Ever Steam Engine

The Hero's engine, or aeolipile, is the first recorded attempt at a steam engine in history.
Chris Young

The first recorded example of 'Hero's engine', also known as the aeolipile, was described by Hero of Alexandriaa Greek Mathematician and Engineer, in the 1st century AD in Roman Egypt.

The machine is widely regarded as the first steam engine known by historians and is a precursor to the more complex steam engines that ushered in the Industrial Revolution.

Now, a group of YouTubers, known as "Make it Extreme", decided to build an impressive working modern replica of the device.


A modern replica of 'Hero's engine'

As "Make it Extreme" explain in their blog post detailing the construction, the first step was to make the boiler of the machine by taking a 13 in (35 cm) stainless steel basin and welding it to a stainless steel iron plate.

"Then, taking two small bowls, we welded them together and we shaped a sphere on which we placed two bearings and two nozzles," the Make it Extreme team explains.

YouTubers Craft Modern Replica of First Ever Steam Engine
Source: Make it Extreme/YouTube

The device is supported by two pipes penetrating the lid of the boiler. The team at Make it Extreme made sure to make the engine as safe as possible by adding relief valves and a pressure gauge, giving the whole thing a modern touch.

The first steam engine known to man

The aeolipile is essentially a simple bladeless radial steam turbine whose oppositely curved nozzles inside a steel sphere make it spin after the boiler is heated releasing steam.

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YouTubers Craft Modern Replica of First Ever Steam Engine
Source: Make it Extreme/YouTube

As the Make it Extreme team says, though their machine is "extremely low performance and functionally useless, it is still a remarkable example in the field of engineering as well as an amazing piece of history and decoration."

For another amazing replica of a historic machine, take a look at this Cambridge University student's replica of a Polish cyclometer, a precursor to Alan Turing's Enigma code-breaking machine.

To see the Make it Extreme team's construction of 'Hero's engine' in more detail, watch the video below.

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