A abandoned project and the Corona pandemic were the starting point for this model. In the first months of 2020 I realized that an ongoing free style live steam project had flopped. When in the beginnings of the pandemic the shop was a very safe place I decided to build a model of a pile driver using a plan.

Researching steam driven pile drivers in the german or english literature turned out to be not really helpful. In the Netherlands the foundation of buildings had a long tradition so using steam driven pile drivers was the way to go. A model engineer from the Netherlands told me, that he had seen such machines as a boy. This happened in the 1950s. A virtual museum, the Netherlands Maschinemuseum, has here quite a few good pictures and drawings. The plan I used for my model is from the Netherlands too (Stoomgroep Plan 84.001, with a small german addendum see VTH Verlag Bauplan Dampframme). I think the role model was this. There is even a foto.

The drawing’s frontpage shows the components rather clearly. The engine is a vertical two cylinder engine without reversing gear. It ist mounted together with the boiler and the windings drum to a platform, to which wheels are fixed. The ram is lifted by a pulley mounted to a tripod and guided by two additional piles.

I am still working on the boiler, all other components are finished. Using compressed air I successfully drove my model pile. The model is quite large, the baseplate is 500x750 mm, aloft about 1400 mm and for pile driving downwards there should be 850 mm. My model pile is from wood. The earth’s resistance is simulated by mechanical clamping.

Running the model the winding drum with its clutch is most important. According to the plan I made one side of the clutch from wood. I am curious how the clutch will work if there is some wear. I added fixed stops to the clutch lever, which can be adjusted. If everything is properly tuned, I can drive the pile observing the ram continously. Then it’s just fun to play with the model.

In real life not much fun could be expected. Presumably it was cold, windy and rainy, the construction site frequently outside towns or villages. This work was physical strain, monotonous but dangerous. Heavy weights had to be handled, bulky ropes, tackles. One leg of the tripod had steps fastened to it. They were used during assembly and dismantling as well as clearing the rams rope if it was jammed. I really would not be surprised to learn that engineer and boilerman had a bottle of hard liquor with them. Operating errors could easily happen even in normal operation, all the more during repositioning the tripod.

Sometimes I find things on the internet without having searched them in the first place. Such by-catch regarding pile drivers will be collected here:

www.heimachines.info is a website with quite a few historical fotos, unfortunately with a lot of permanent construction subpages.

At »Dordt in Stoom« I saw 2022 the »Stoomheibok No. 4«. I made a short video: Stoomheibok No. 4

At least one pile driver with a vertical engine seems to have survived and there is a video. This has the title Figee Stoomheistelling, sadly without location information / date. Figee seems to have been a company in Haarlem.

Last change 24.05.2022