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Children, from about 6 years old on, can make this real steam propelled boat under adult supervision. Of course, for live steam you need water and fire (or heat at least).The water heated in steam is taken from the water the boat sails in.
You can decorate the boat as long as you use materials that resist to water and in some degree to heat. Just thought I would stop by and say that I made these today with a group of 7-year-olds from my daughter's class. I just made this with my cub scout group age 8-7 they loved it and all could handle the tube bending great instuctions. Keep the end of the sturdy tube at least a couple of centimeter from the point where the pipe is coiling around the tool. Send me a message if you're interested in Technology or Science Workshops in Flanders, Brussels or the Southern of the Netherlands. This Video Tutorial Shows You A Step By Step Guide For Making A Model Pop Pop Boat Out Of A Few Household Items, Easy & Fun! This Video Tutorial Shows You A Step By Step Guide For Making A Model Pop Pop Boat Out Of A Few Household Items, Easy & Fun! You can make the body of the boat with a recycled, cut-up milk or juice carton, which is easy to cut, water-proof and paintable (although mine are not painted here). Gabriel from California sent me this wonderful picture of his daughter and her science fair project about pop pop boats.
Here is an interesting article that describes pulsating heat pipes (PHP) which incorporate the same principles that make pop pop boats work.
When you picture a steam engine, you likely imagine a giant cast-iron contraption festooned with knobs, valves, gauges, linkages, and wheels.
My interest in pop-pop boats began when I saw Hayao Miyazaki’s stunning children’s movie, Ponyo.
First patented in 1891, pop-pop boats use a candle or other flame to heat water in a small boiler connected to one or more pipes. The moving water’s momentum makes the steam “piston” overshoot its equilibrium, so the steam quickly cools, contracts, and condenses back into water. You can think of a pop-pop boat as a reciprocating, steam-driven water hammer, an engine with pistons made of water, or an external combustion pulsejet (see MAKE Volume 05, page 102, and Jam Jar Jet). A later design (patented in 1916) added a “sound producer” to the boiler, a slightly convex sheet-metal diaphragm that flexes with the expanding and contracting steam. Traditionally these boilers are built with a thin brass diaphragm crimped and soldered into place.
Ponyo notwithstanding, this type of engine does not scale up to life-sized boats (nor, for that matter, are there sea wizards or magic talking fish).
ConclusionRunning on SpiritsUsing candles for any length of time will coat the bottom of your boiler with soot and leave a greasy black ring in your bathtub or sink. Cameron: There is no reason the basic motor would not work with a twin-hull design, but such a design seems needlessly complicated. These measurements should be taken as rough approximations, as I am measuring a glued-up boiler, with the occasional spot of JB Weld stuck to the outside.

Note: If you are reading this it means you have come via a direct link ( particularly Wikipedia).
There were 7 girls in total and they made and spray-painted their boats, and decorated them.
The best trick I've found is to cap one end, fill it with sand, and cap the other end before bending.
That is wat I have seen in examples with larger diameter tubes: a smaller diameter tube is inserted in each end. This steam-powered toy boat has no moving parts and needs only a flame and the surrounding water to zip around and make its distinctively happy sound. In it, Ponyo and her friend Sosuke sail a scaled-up version of Sosuke’s pop-pop boat around a flooded city. But the pop-pop boat’s underlying principle is compellingly simple and provides the home tinker with endless room for futzing and improvement.
The pipes run down and back into the water behind the boat; when the water in the boiler turns to steam, it pushes jets of water backward out of the pipes, propelling the boat forward. This draws cool water back up through the pipes and into the boiler, where the cycle starts again.
The resulting rattle makes the motor sound more mechanically complex than it actually is, and gives the pop-pop boat its name. Thin-enough brass stock can be hard to find, so I’ve come up with a design that uses castoff packaging instead: an Altoid Smalls tin boiler with an aluminum can diaphragm.
Nonetheless, there’s an undeniable pleasure in a home-built toy that scoots around on its own and has no use for batteries — except, perhaps, as ballast. Save it.Carefully flatten the stamped hinges of the bottom half by tapping them with a small hammer. Scribe around the lid onto the sheet, then cut along the lines with tinsnips to create a leaf of aluminum.Gradually trim down the edges of the leaf until you can just tuck it into the lid of the tin without it wrinkling.
I won’t be able to design a boat for you, though you may well have good reason to press on with designing one for yourself. Also, as you can see, the Altoids Smalls tin has rounded edges, so it’s not a Euclidean solid, even before you do sheet metal work on it.
In addition to the instructions below, you might want to check out the pop pop (putt putt) boat introduction page as well. One could consider something similar with foam, but that might even be more dangerous than plain foam. Just thought I'd throw in some of my years of trial and error for the younger experimenters out there. In either case the engine is the same, made from a cut-up aluminum soft drink can and drinking straws. You can see other people's projects (and add yours if you send a picture) in the GALLERY OF POP POP BOATS. Because the water sucking back into the tube is incoherent, coming in from all directions, rather than in a directed jet, this intake cycle doesn’t pull the boat backward. Since aluminum can’t easily be soldered, I’ve substituted J-B Weld epoxy, which is up to the task: its maximum operating temperature of 500°F exceeds the melting point of most soft solders, and its tensile strength is comparable. You can make a simple one by drilling a hole in the metal lid of a very small glass or metal container, threading through a lantern wick, then filling the container with denatured alcohol.I’ve also made spirit lamps out of copper pipe caps and copper tubing.

My advice is that you stick with a simple design for your first few boats, then get creative.
If you are freestyling your own boiler, I would recommend you check around online for some of the available plans out there.
If the heat accidently converts the foam to gasses under the foil, suddenly erupting and possibly igniting. It's also possible by hand (SLOWLY!) and you can always break out the torch and heat it up.
Cut a 1?" pipe cap short enough to fit under the boiler with room for the flame, then sweat-solder it onto a sheet metal bottom. If you’re into multiple-hull boats, you might consider a trimaran with the motor in the middle and two smaller hulls outboard.
I wanted to make a construction manual for a simple pop-pop kit I am making for some friends and colleagues.
Quickly, before oxides can re-form, mix the J-B Weld together with a stick and apply it to the inside of the lid. That way, the boat won’t run in circles, and there will be someplace dry to put your heat source. So I thought: why not make my first instructable?This instructable is aimed at adults wanting to help children make a pop-pop boat at school, at home or wherever you like. As tidily as you can, fold the tabs along the remaining line so that they all point inward toward the center of the tin. Lay the aluminum sheet inside the lid.Smear the J-B Weld over the flat flanges you folded into the tin bottom, paying special attention to the gaps in the corners. Do take your responsibility in dealing fire and steam and in assessing if and how the children can deal with it safely.I will not explain how pop-pop steamboats work, as you can find an extensive explanation on The Science Toymaker. Apply J-B Weld all the way around the gap between the lid and bottom, and smear some into the hinge holes in the side of the lid.If the aluminum leaf looks sunken or gapped around the edges, blow into the copper tubes to push it up — if you have to do this, you’ll push out some of the wet J-B Weld, so look for fresh air gaps.
Sand the tips of the curved ends.Apply flux to the sanded area around the holes in the tin bottom and to the sanded tube ends.
Poke the fluxed end of each tube into the tin bottom, just far enough to rest easily in its hole, then solder the tubes in place.Try to keep the tubes parallel.
It’s easy to “sweat” these into position with a propane torch, but if you aren’t confident in your torch skills, you can epoxy the tubes in later rather than soldering (before you cement the lid down!).
You can also fit a rudder to the stern.Measure the outside distance between the 2 tubes where they bend, subtract 1", and drill 2 holes to this measurement in the bottom of the boat, equidistant from the center. Your punch will help get these holes started.Depending on the shape of your boat, fitting the motor in may take a little re-bending of the tubes.
You don’t need to fill the boiler completely: just make sure you can hear water sloshing around inside.
Hold a finger over the ends of the tubes and lower the boat into the water without letting any water pour out.Light candles or a spirit (alcohol) lamp, and place them under the boiler. In about a minute, you’ll hear the water boiling into steam.First, a few bubbles will come out, then the boat will start puttering along in the water, and as the reaction becomes more vigorous, the diaphragm will start its obnoxious song.

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