Pop Pop Boat Gallery

What other people around the world are doing (and add yours if you send a picture).

Gabriel and his daughter from California

Gabriel from California sent me this wonderful picture of his daughter and her science fair project about pop pop boats. Below, in the tub, you can see the simple foam boat. .

Louisa, Evie and Rachel from England

Louisa wrote from England and told me about making putt putt boats with her friends Evie and Rachel. The first engine did not putt, but they were determined to make a working boat. Putt putt boats are challenging and can be frustrating. But for those who are willing work through the problems—and build another if the first doesn’t work—success is sweet. Loisa wrote, "Just 15 minutes ago our boat successfully did 4 laps of my bath before we accidentally blew the candle out with our cheering!"

Young people who do not give up are the ones who make the world a better place. Hats off to these friends who had the grit to rebuild until it worked!

Gina Thompson’s 8th grade classes from California

Sometimes I get so wound up with technical details that I forget to have fun, but Gina Thompson’s 8th grade classes in California obviously had fun. Nearly 70 students designed the boats as well as making the engines. People sometimes have trouble sealing where the straws go through the bottom of the boat and into the water. But here her students show great ingenuity, obviating the need for a perfect seal by engineering catamaran pontoon boats. And with such creativity and class!

Melissa Draper from Utah

Melissa Draper in Utah belongs to a home-school co-op, “just a group of homeschool families who get together so their youth can have some good interaction with others and have a chance to learn something from someone besides mom.” She believes that hands-on learning is important, and acts on it with the group of kids whom she works with.

I usually discourage people from using tea candles—not enough heat—but their boat is obviously running just fine. Melissa even made the hull from some tall aluminum cans her husband emptied, epoxied together; although she allows that cartons are safer for kids. Turns out she is a fiber artist, too.

One of the most fun parts of my website hobby is hearing from people and families who make science projects!

Deanne Bishop and her Students from Nebraska

Deanne Bishop in Nebraska is another great teacher who challenges her high school students to create hands-on projects that harness science. Here her students made a double engine boat that works well. I don't know if it goes faster, but I suspect that it pulls more than a single engine boat would.

Mike Lampert's 9th grade students

Oregon teacher Mike Lampert's 9th grade students make putt putt boats as part of a way to introduce energy concepts in a hands-on way. This student noticed the soot from the candle (caused by incomplete burning when the flame is close) on the bottom of the steam engine and developed an aluminum sleeve. I like this: how some go to the extra work of providing hands-on learning experiences for their students; and students who look beyond what the assignmen requirest. I think this young person has a bright future.

There's more work, more setup, potentially more mess for teachers who expose thier students hands-on projects like this. I hope that students and administrators appreciate the teachers who rise to this challeng rather than just teach to standardized tests.

Geert-Jan and His Son from Netherlands


Geert-Jan in the Netherlands was looking for a cool project to do at his son's birthday party. Soon he was hooked, making amazing variations. "This is worse then smoking I can not stop (don't worry I don't smoke)." I think he was joking; anyhow, we agreed that it's a nice state of mind. Sometimes my thinking goes a bit rigid. I don't like "tea candles" (first picture) because they don't deliver enough heat, but Geert-Jan added another wick. Geert-Jan liked the sound of boats with up to 4 engines. You can see more boats, his rudder system, etc.(and the cool kids events he holds) here or click a picture. I think the boat with the Canadian flag is a shout out to Daryl Foster, whom we all admire.

Frederico Quintiero from Argentina

Speaking of being hooked, Frederico Quintiero of Argentina sent this picture of his experiments. I know just how it is, almost a fever that consumes! Frederico's picture reminds me of when I was in my innovation mode, engines appeared all over the house. The 5 minute epoxy adhesive used for the engines sets faster when it is warm. So I put the engines on top of the warm rice cooker, to my wife's dismay. Ah, good times!

Daniel Meltzer and His Son

Daniel Meltzer of New York City wrote, " My family and I were watching "Ponyo" two nights ago, and marvelling over their candle-powered boat. None of us had ever seen a contraption like this, but we could tell that it was based on something real, not Ponyo's magic. So I googled 'Ponyo's boat'and I found your website." Daniel built it with his 6 year old son and below is the bathtub test.

Diego Torres

Diego Torres in Mexico built this boat with his 8 years old daughter, below. He has uploaded some cool kite videos on his channel, too.

John Carr from UK

Hi, Just emailing to say thanks for the instructions, I made the engine and it worked first time (after I fixed a leak during the pressure test). Great job. Decided to go for a catamaran style as I had some foam board laying around, a bit of hot glue and an elastic band and the boat is up and running. Worked fine with a tea light as well, birthday candle probably had more power but the tealight is less hassle to keep in position.Thanks again,

John Carr
Newcastle UK

Zhiyang TEH

Here's a double engine boat by Zhiyang TEH

Huu Thang from Vietnam

Huu Thang is a 16 year old student inVietnam who started making putt putt boats for school competion. This boat is loud and powerful.

Jill G


Jill G., a home schooler, and son Leo got theirs working on the first try. They wanted to know more about how it works--simultaniously ejecting water while being replenished. I've added so many rambling odds and ends to these pages that navigation is difficult, but I do have a page that attempts to explain a bit about how the cycle works here.

 Amal Abdo, Faris and Basel from Saudi Arabia

Dear Mr. Sharrison,
First of all, thank you for this WONDERFUL website and the very clear presentations and instructions that you provide.
I am from Saudi Arabia and I have two boys: Faris 6 and Basel 3. My son Faris is the little scientist in our family. He loves science and really enjoys making projects himself.
We worked on the pop pop steam boat project for a school presentation that Faris had last school semester. We made two engines and two boats (we had to make one for the 3 year old Basel too!). We started by the foam boat and then made the 3D one. Our boats worked perfectly from the first try and that was VERY exciting to all of us. Most importantly, the kids enjoyed working on this project so much and we enjoyed making it with them too :).
Attached are some pictures and a video of the project.Thanks again!!

Best Regards,
Amal Abdo (Faris and Basel's Mother).

Jimmy Conner

Jimmy Conner has been experimenting with putt putt boats and converted one of his hulls to a functioning sail boat. He's also flying walkalong gliders--a bit hit at school--and modifying the talk box. Jimmy has has some interesting videos on his YouTube channel of train models that are powered by live steam and you can really ride them.

Hieu Tran Trung from Vietnam

Hieu Tran Trung from Vietnam innovated a simple milk box for the hull and a plastic lid for the candle holder.

Troy Black

Here is a well-built boat from Troy Black, who is an avid RC plane builder and sometimes tinkers with RC boats. " This was a nice diversion from the more complex models I usually build and operate and my wife even thought it was "so cute".  She never says that about the model airplanes I build."

And following is a cautionary tale from Troy about a drawback of boating on a large pond. "On the last run of the day, the boiler tubes lost their prime in the middle of the pond.  It was too far out to retrieve it quickly so I was unable to blow out the candle flame.  It continued to heat up, eventually burning the epoxy and setting the cabin on fire.  I think the Krylon paint added to the flammability and it became an inferno for about 5 minutes while slowly drifting to

Alex Haw


Here is a boat made by Alex Haws, themed after Forrest Gump's shrimp boat, with a candle holder variation.

James Hefner from Texas

James Hefner of Texas has been around "live steam" for awhile but liked the idea of making a steam engine with stuff around the home and no soldering. "My son made one for his science project at school. The candle shifted and slightly scorched the roof; but the end result came out fine. He got a 100 for his project, and his was one of three picked to go to a science fair in Dallas.  So, it was a big hit."

Alex from Texas


Here is another Alex, from Texas, who reported that the boat was so loud his mother could heard it from inside. He's been flying the gliders, and his next project is the hot air balloon.

Matt Naiva and his son William

Here's a picture and video sent by Matt Naiva and his son William. Their boat really moves fast!

Adam and his dad from England

Here is a picture that Adam and his dad, from England, made. Notice the tire that's been cut in half and filled with water. Great idea! And is that an air rocket launcher I see in the back?

 Alba and Rocío from Spain

Here is a note and picture of a boat made by some young people in Spain.

Hello. Nice to meet you.
We are two girls, Alba and Rocío, we live in Barcelona (Spain). We are 14 year old and we are studying the put-putt boats for a job in Secondary school.
We liked very much to see your Web. The first thing is to thank you your explication since to do the boat. We have made the boat and enough good works to us. We send a video and photos for you can see it and since it has left to us.

Erin Kermanikian and her son William

Erin Kermanikian and her son William worked on their boat in little bits after school and work, with William doing as much as he could safely. Now they are thinking about making the boat part out of wood.

Dan Everette and Dan Jr

Here is a letter and some pictures from Dan Everette and Dan Jr.


Dear Slater:

We did get the engine properly assembled on the first try and have had several good runs with the "putt putt". After a few good experiments in the bath tub we took it out to a local park and tried it in a pond. I have attached 2 photo's for you to enjoy.
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Mark Horovitz

Here is a beautiful coil-type pop pop by Mark Horovitz. You can find Mark's instructions here.

Miguel in Madrid

Here is a tin version of the boat by Miguel in Madrid. He also made a rudder.

M.Lemaitre Michel from Belgium

Here is a YouTube video by M.Lemaitre Michel who is a teacher in Belgium, of a pop pop in a pond. Unfortunately, he reports that boat was lost. However, he said that he has others to replace it!

Illinois kindergarten teacher Gail and her husband

Here is a boat made by Illinois kindergarten teacher Gail and her accountant husband for a 4th of July party.

Derek and son Mikey Cook

Here is a picture as well as a video from dad Derek and son Mikey Cook. The video is mostly slides, but there is some kinetic video at the testing phase.

Tony in Victoria, Australia

Here's another tin hull from Tony in Victoria, Australia. His region is deep in drought--ponds are dried up, even pools can't be filled--so he faced some challenges testing it. Tony told me his 93 year old father in England made some sort of pop pop from lead electrical sheathing. I'm hoping to get some details from him.

Ashton and his dad Grant from England

Below is a boat made in 3 evenings by 11 year old Ashton and his dad Grant, in England. Note the modified hull design, the re-formed paper clip in the back to hold the boiler to the right tilt and the "tea candle" burner.


Clifford and his son

And below is a picture of Clifford and his son's boat with an interesting foam body. Clifford says he plans to experiment with flexible tubes rather than straws.

Alan Raubenheimer of Rose Boats

Here is a picture of a fine boat crafted and sent to me by Mr. Alan Raubenheimer of Rose Boats, PO Box 217, Napier 7270, South Africa.

John Green of Capetown, South Africa

And here is some fine craftsmanship from John Green of Capetown, South Africa. He relates that he nearly bought a Rose boat (above) and now wishes that he had.