in collaboration with

Cheddar Plover

Tamiya junked tank


This project begin when I saw Joe’s amazing leg mechanics at After talking shop and developing a friendship with Joe, he was kind enough to help me visualize this project – an 8 legged, full function R/C steam powered Robot.

It was a toss up between a twin engine design, or one powerful engine with clutch drive. I went with the single engine design, and searched high and low for the core parts.

The engine is a Cheddar Plover. Double acting duel cylinders, propane/butane mix gas tank and ceramic burner.  This engine / boiler is capable of much more power and pressure than other engines that I’ve work with before.

Next up was the need for a clutch drive system that could be adapted to this spider. I was lucky enough to track down a junked 1/16 Tamiya tank with clutch drive. These tanks are hard to come by, as they are no longer being produced with a single motor & clutch system.

After ripping out the clutch, I went on brainstorming and designing the spider with Joe. My part was making sure that the engine, boiler, clutch, R/C all work well together as a unit. Joe went on designing a crank driven legs system that will work well with this setup.

Sketch of the original Steam Spider design:

Original Sketch of the Steam Spider I

Tamiya Tank gearbox/clutch mounted to the steam engine. Servos installed & tested

Laser cut plastic chassis

In preparation for Robogames, The 3 layered plastic crank broke
during a test run, just a few days before the event! I ended up
hacking the core into a Steam Trilobite Tank at the last minute,
and won the Gold medal for Best of Show!

broken crank