2013-12-15 01.39.03

A Steam Engine

The steam engine requires a heat source and water in order to operate. The heat source has to be below it and can be fire, lava, etc. Water can be piped into the back of the engine. The engine will overheat at 150C.

Rotarycraft Handbook DescriptionEdit

"The steam engine operates continuously if given a source of heat below it and water piped in. Slightly stronger than the previous engines (Wind turbine, DC Electric Engine), they can provide 32 Nm at 512 rad/s, or 16.384 kW."



32 Nm


512 rad/s


16.384 kW

Power Source Water and Heat
Requires Consumables Water
Risks Overheats at 150C

Temperature Edit

Steam engines are very sensitive to the temperature that surrounds them as well as any fire or lava directly below them. Fire or lava is the primary means of heating the engine, any other alternatives would be wasteful.

A fair warning before you proceed, keep in mind that a steam engine that reaches 151 degrees will go boom. Likewise, filling an empty steam engine that has been 100 degrees or hotter for 900 ticks (45 seconds) will make it go boom too!

Getting and maintaining the temperature just right (between 100 and 150 degrees) can be considered an artform.
Starting with the basics, it's useful to know what the ambient temperature is in your location. Consider that the ambient temperature may fluctuate if the engine is in direct sunlight, i.e visible to the sky.
When placed, the steam engine will have the same temperature as the environment at that time.

IF the ambient temperature is below zero and the machine is over a fire block or a hot GeoStrata vent (2 blocks), the ambient temperature experienced by it will be raised by 30 degrees. This does not apply to lava or lava vents.

Every 20 ticks (one second if game runs smoothly), the engine changes its temperature according to the following two condition subsets. Heating is applied before cooling.

Heating Edit

Fire/Lava is mutually exclusive. You can't heat a steam engine with both at the same time. Lava can be either a lava source block or flowing lava. (Not actually confirmed)

In the absence of Fire/Lava, there is a third option from Reika's GeoStrata mod. Lava/Fire/Steam vents will act like heat sources but as of currently this hasn't been tested by the community. Theoretically, a lava vent would act like a lava stream and other hot vents would act like fire. Unlike regular Fire/Lava blocks, these can appear up to 2 blocks below the machine.

There is an edge case condition here where a fire or lava vent that are stacked on top of each other would add BOTH fire and lava heating effects at the same time. This also applies (especially concerning) to a Fire/Hot vent under a block of lava. This can of course be abused when the ambient temperature is really low.

Every second, the following heating events occur. (fire = block over fire or hot vent, lava = block over lava or lava vent)

  • If fire then increase temperature by one. (+1)
  • If fire AND nether/hell biome then increase temperature by one. (+1)
  • If lava then increase temperature by two. (+2)

After these increases have been done, the machine is heated (if the machine is colder than it) by the ambient temperature. The rate of heating is non linear.

HeatIncrease = max((AmbientTemperature-MachineTemperature)/40, 1)

In essence, this (still assuming the machine is colder than the ambient temperature) will heat it by at least one degree. Two degrees if the difference in temperatures is > 40 and three when > 80.. etc.
Though there is currently no way to cool a steam engine to such low temperatures.

In total, and assuming the machine is hotter than the environment, it can receive a total of 4 degrees. Though normally, the engine will heat itself by one degree per second.

Cooling Edit

Cooling only happens if the machine temperature exceeds the ambient temperature. (note the effects on ambient temperature when heated by fire)

  • If not fire and not lava then decrease temperature by one. (-1)
  • Always decrease the temperature by one degree for every ninetysix degrees over the ambient temperature. (-0 to a theoretical max of -3 in a sky biome at the max height level when the steam engine is 150 degrees.)

Finally Edit

After both Heating and cooling effects have been applied. The engine checks if it's temperature is greater than it's max temperature. If it is then FIZZ+BOOM+IRON SCRAPS!

Tips & TricksEdit

  • Placing Netherrack 2 blocks below and lighting it (fire is directly below steam engine) will cause it to run at 135C. (This will depend heavily on the ambient temperature though)
  • Using lava to heat a steam engine will cause it to overheat. This can be prevented with a Cooling Fin and used as an alternative to Netherrack.
  • Other than presence of water/heat, there is no on/off switch for a steam engine. One can be improvised by automating heat with dispenser + flint and steel next to the netherrack block. Turning it off can be automated via sticky piston + cobble or dispenser + water bucket.
  • Another possibility is to place a lava bucket in the dispenser. A redstone clock is needed to repeatedly place and remove the lava so the engine won't overheat.
  • Using 4 of these with Shaft Junctions will add the torque together for 128Nm at 512 rad/s, which is useful to get a grinder running without a gearbox.
  • Take advantage of the ambient temperature when using steam engines. The colder the climate, the colder the engine will run.
  • Steam engines placed in the nether/hell biome will not require any external heating, only a source of water. It's temperature will be 101 degrees constantly, barring some fiery event directly below it. However, you cannot (currently) place a steam engine in nether/hell because the initial (placed) temperature of the engine exceeds it's max temperature so it blows up on placement.
  • If you want to conserve fuel (you are using burnable blocks, not netherstone or lava) then you should manually/automatically control the heating and build your steam engine far below ground near bedrock.