History of the pop pop boat

Coil powered boat

The picture above shows a magnificent coil type pop pop boat called "BAILEY'S SKIFF", made by the German firm of Tucher & Walther (1990's).

Mr Desiree Thomas Piot was a Frenchman, who emigrated to England and settled down in Bolshover street in London. His wife was the dressmaker of Queen Victoria.

Probably using his wife's earning to pay for his inventions, in the 1890's he invented the pop pop boat (one of his last inventions).

The boat works because the water in the boiler turns to steam from the heat of the flame. The steam expands and jets down both pipes, propelling the boat forward. When the hot steam reaches the end of the pipes, It condenses, causing a vacuum, which sucks water up from both pipes back into the boiler.

This process is repeated as fast as you can hear it beating the pop pop sound. This cycle is repeated over and over keeping the boat moving forward. The boat will chug along for a least 15 minutes, using a small candle or a few spoons of coconut or olive oil.

It sounds simple enough, but the more detailed scientific explanation is even more difficult. Even after well over 100 years since their invention, much about the pop pop boats remain a mystery. Some scientists, over the last few years, have been trying to calibrate and measure the heat and water temperature and sizes of tubes etc., in order to try and build a larger size boat and engine, So far they have not succeeded.

Elements of the pop pop boats workings have contributed to the design of Germany's flying bomb and are even built into todays ink jet printers.

One Professor of Physics (Prof. Le Bout) from one of France's leading universities, has been working on the pop pop boats since the age of seven, and even published a paper, some years ago, about the workings of the amazing pop pop boats. Even now at aged 73, he admits that he still does not understand how they work!

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