The mystery of the pop-pop boat

Many kids get acquainted with mechanics with tin pop-pop boats. If you haven’t played with one – you’re missing out! Pop boats are fun toys – but how they work is often misunderstood. To make it clear, [Steve Mould] Pop pop dives deeper into the operation theory.

Most people think that these toys work like a normal steam engine, with a small tin boiler flashing water vapor inside. It turns out that it is not. To explain physics, [Steve] The boat commissioned a glass version.

The glass boat shows that during normal operation, the “boiler” does not contain water at all. Water just in the boat’s small drainage tube. The air inside the tank is heated by a candle. The air expands and expels the water from the tube. This allows the air to cool and return to the tank. The water then returns to the tubes and the process is repeated.

The more interesting information in the video is that the glass boat does not pop. The word popping attached to the boat is actually made by the tin diaphragm above the “boiler”.

[Steve] Using the clear cutway model has been quite good at explaining complex issues. If this is your fancy tickle, check out his water computer.

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