The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

Rudy Kouhoupt

Winner, Joe Martin Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award for 2003

May 19, 1931—October 15, 2004

Prolific engine designer, builder and technical writer

Rudy Kouhoupt designed many engines over the years. He also shared his designs with the model engineering community in the form of published articles, plans, books and videos.

Rudy Kouhoupt is well known to the readers of model engineering magazines. Over the years he published many articles on how to build the wide variety of engines he designed. Rudy's talent was not only in his ability to design, but in his ability to pass on his knowledge to others. His models are all expertly crafted, but his greatest contribution to modeling is the vast collection of articles, books, plans and videos he produced that allow others to build what he has designed. Though best known for his work in model engineering, Rudy's education and early work experience was actually in the field of chemistry. The Internet Craftsmanship Museum would like to honor Rudy as one who has made great contributions toward sharing what he has learned in a lifetime as a metalworking craftsman.


• To see video of several different types of Rudy's steam engines in action CLICK HERE. You can also view the video on at .

• In late 2010 we added more engines to this display and put together another short video. CLICK HERE to view it (9 MB) or see it on YouTube at .

Here are some of the 14 air powered steam engines on display in the Craftsmanship Museum in Carlsbad, CA. An air manifold with individual lines to each engine allows any or all of them to be run for viewers to the museum. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

About Rudy Kouhoupt

Steam locomotives were a fascinating and everyday reality of life in Rudy Kouhoupt's youthful pre-diesel days. Their exposed rods, valve motions, pumps and other working parts all appealed to his natural instincts and nourished his interest in understanding mechanical devices.

Rudy began making models for his toy train set at an early age. From making wooden models of buildings and car bodies, he soon progressed to making castings of wheels and truck frames for the freight and passenger cars. The need for him to have a lathe to machine the wheels and axles became obvious.

Shallow pockets dictated that his lathe would have to be improvised at home and made from available materials. Building the lathe with severely limited resources was a stimulating learning experience. The intriguing adventure of making the first lathe developed into a lifelong pastime of tool making, machining metals and tool restoration, all of which naturally complemented his model building activities.

Since Rudy's electrically powered trains lacked authenticity, it was only natural that he was overcome by a desire to build a working miniature steam locomotive. Experience gained in making the wheel and truck castings and the lathe to machine them convinced him that such an undertaking was within reason and his capabilities. his greatest obstacle at that point was a lack of plans for building the locomotive. After studying as many books as were available at the tie, he drew a set of plans for a small locomotive in 3/8" scale. Building the locomotive on the home-built lathe soon revealed the lathe's inadequacy for the project, and a small commercial lathe was purchased. The engine, a Mogul, was completed and operated successfully. Now, four decades later, the little Mogul is still running and takes its place on the track regularly.

It seemed only natural for Rudy to work with other types of steam engines. After completing the Mogul locomotive, he built all sorts of miniature steam engines ranging from stationary engines to steam tractors, a logging crane, a fire engine and several other locomotives. He also designed and built working loads for the engines such as pumps, a cement mixer and a dynamo. His interests expanded beyond steam engines to working with hot air and internal combustion engines.

All of these miniatures were built from Rudy's original designs. Many other people have built duplicates of Rudy's engines, tools and other models from his plans and magazine articles which have been published and in print since 1960. Magazines that have featured his articles and plans include Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Live Steam, The Home Shop Machinist, Railroad Model Craftsman, Mechanix Illustrated and the British Model Engineer magazine. Rudy made a series of instructional video tapes to assist others in developing their machining skills, and also wrote several books.

Rudy Kouhoupt presented with a Lifetime Achievement in Craftsmanship Award in 2003

In April, 2003, The Joe Martin Foundation presented Rudy with a Lifetime Achievement Award and a check for $500.00 to honor his contribution to model engineering through his designs, plans, books and videos. More on this award and the others who have also received it can be found on the AWARDS page.

Rudy is presented with his award by Foundation representative Craig Libuse in 2003. (Click on photo to view larger image.)

Following are some of Rudy's published works with sources where they can be purchased:

The Shop Wisdom of Rudy Kouhoupt, Volumes One, Two and ThreeLasting testaments to Rudy's skill, ingenuity and wisdom both as a metalworker and modeler, each volume contains invaluable tools and clever hobby projects. they are concisely described, beautifully photographed and impeccably drawn. Volume One, 8-1/2 x 11", 251 pages, hardbound: $39.00. Volume Two, 8-1/2 x 11", hardbound: $39.00. Volume Three is new and will be available in mid-2002. They can be ordered from Village Press Publications, (800) 447-7369.

Video Instruction SeriesRudy has also produced thirteen instructional video tape sets which are available through New Life Video Productions by calling toll free 1-888-452-6947 or (231) 276-7294. See  The titles and prices are as follows:

· Drilling Reaming, Tapping and Milling on the Drill Press, $53.95
· Six Projects for the Shaper, $53.95
· Advanced Aspects of Milling Machine Operation, $53.95
· Using Layout Tools, $53.95
· Operating a Horizontal Milling Machine, $53.95
· Advanced Aspects of Machine Lathe Operation, $53.95
· Operating a Shaper, $53.95
· Grinding Lathe Tools, $53.95
· Fundamentals of Machine Lathe Operation, $53.95
· Fundamentals of Milling Machine Operation, $53.95
· How to Cut Screw Threads, $38.95
· How to Cut Spur Gears, $38.95
· Building a Stirling Hot Air Engine, $63.95
· Building a Small Steam Engine, $63.95

It is with great sadness that we announce that Rudy Kouhoupt passed away in October 15, 2004. His contributions to the world of model engineering will be greatly missed, but he leaves behind a great legacy in his books and videos. Per his request, all of his life's work—the prototype models made for the many how-to articles he wrote—were donated by his niece for display at the Craftsmanship Museum in California. In fact, this donation was instrumental in the building of the museum and its expansion to include the many significant projects now on display there.

Here are photos of some of Rudy's projects:

(Click photo for larger image. These projects are on display at the Craftsmanship Museum in California. Where possible, a front and rear view of each engine is shown.)


Prairie type 2-6-2 steam locomotive, Scale: 3/8" = 1'

The locomotive is scratch built without the use of castings. It has two double action cylinders that are 7/16" bore with a piston stroke of 3/4". The locomotive runs on G-scale or Gauge 1 track (45 mm track gauge) and is alcohol fired. The boiler has a working pressure of 75 psi. The model pulls seven nearly identical gondolas plus a caboose.

2-8-0 steam locomotive, Scale: 3/8" = 1'

Rudy built this engine as well as five mail, Railway Express and passenger cars.

2-6-0 "Camelback" steam locomotive, Scale: 3/8" = 1'

This locomotive has a tender that has a fuel bin that can be configured to look like it either runs on oil or coal. (The boiler is actually fired by alcohol.) pulls a train of nine scratch built freight and work cars plus a "Bobber" caboose.

Scratch built railroad cars

This is just a sample of some of the many wooden railroad cars Rudy built to pull with his steam engines. Shown are a refrigerator car, a cattle car, a bobber caboose (roof removed to show interior detail), a full-size caboose, a passenger car and an observation car complete with passengers (also shown with roof removed).

Stationary steam engine with hypocycloidal gears 

The hypocyloidal gears provide a system of guiding the piston rod in a straight line as the double action piston travels through its stroke of 1-1/2" in the cylinder, which has a bore of 3/4". Rudy fabricated all the parts of the engine from stock materials, including both the internal tooth and external tooth gears which he cut on his shaper.

To see this engine in action on YouTube, CLICK HERE.

V-4 steam engine 

The four single action cylinders of this unusual engine have a bore of 7/8" and accommodate pistons making a stroke of 7/8". The admission and exhaust events are regulated by pressure balanced, inside admission piston valves which operate with very low friction. The crankcase holds one cubic inch of oil in running order.

"Copperhead" Steam Roller, built 1977

Steam provided the motive power and water in the front and rear rolling drums provided the weight needed to roll asphalt flat on early road projects.

Peerless model steam tractor, Scale: 1-1/4" = 1'

Like the Prairie locomotive, this model is alcohol fired, and its safety valve is set at 75 psi. Rudy worked from photos he took of the full-size tractor to design and build the model. It has a double action engine with a cylinder bore of 5/8" and a piston stroke of 1". The gear reduction to drive the rear wheels is 22 to 1. He made a three-note chime steam whistle which give a pleasant and realistic sound.

Steam tractor based on J.I. Case & Co., Scale 3/4" = 1'

Plans for this working model steam tractor have been re-released by Village Press in the form of a spiral bound book. Though it actually burns alcohol to make steam, it looks like a wood-burner due to the large boxes on the rear corners filled with firewood.

Steam tractor, 3/4" = 1'

Another version of a steam powered tractor, this one is modeled after a prototype that burns oil instead of coal or wood.

Water cooled Stirling hot air engine

The brass radiator provides efficient convection cooling for this hot air engine which runs on the Stirling cycle. The engine has two cylinders. In the displacer cylinder, the heating and cooling of the air takes place, while the force to run the engine is developed in the internally connected power cylinder. The heat to run the engine is supplied by a small alcohol burner.

Stirling engine powered tractor

This tractor is modeled to resemble a full-size Rumely Oil Pull. It is driven by a Stirling cycle engine which is water cooled. It has a power take-off pulley for belt operation of other models such as a wood splitter of cement mixer. Of course, the rear wheels are powered for running on a smooth surface. Many other modelers have built replicas of this tractor from Rudy's construction series that ran in The Home Shop Machinist magazine in the issues from Nov/Dec 1996 through Nov/Dec 1997.

Steam powered, horse drawn fire pump
Steam powered water pump

This is a flywheel type steam pump in which the steam cylinder at the top and the water pump cylinder at the bottom are connected by a Scotch yoke mechanism. Rudy designed unusual flap valves for the water pump to give it high efficiency. He wrote a construction series on the flywheel pump that ran in Live Steam magazine in the issues from Nov/Dec 1997 through Sept/Oct 1998. 

Vertical steam engine

A large engine with an 7" flywheel. the overall height is about 17".

"New Life for Old"—Pump becomes steam engine

Never one to throw out anything potentially useful, Rudy converted his family's old well pump into a steam engine using a flywheel he found somewhere else. The cast iron body pumped water for many years and now it lives on in another useful form.


Ornate "Coke" bottle frame steam engine

Having a cylinder bore of 7/8" and a piston stroke of 1-1/4", this double action steam engine is both attractive looking and powerful. All parts are fabricated except the frame of the engine which Rudy machined from a cast brass bud vase. It took some interesting milling machine work to make the engine frame from a vase!

Two-cylinder compound expansion marine steam engine

This is a model of a fore and aft type compound steam engine. It is the kind of engine that had marine applications in powering tug boats, trawlers and similar craft. It has a fully working Stephenson link motion for reversing and controlling the point of cutoff of both cylinders. Rudy's construction series on building this fore and aft compound ran in Live Steam magazine in the issues from March through Nov 1988.

Two-cylinder marine steam engine

A little simpler and a little smaller than the example above, this engine makes a nice looking marine steam engine. To see this engine in action on YouTube, CLICK HERE.

Stationary steam engine with combined guide and support columns

The rugged design of this steam engine is unusual in combining the functions of crosshead guide and cylinder support in a single set of  columns. It is a robust engine which is really a "little workhorse". The double action cylinder has a bore of 3/4" and a piston stroke of 1". Rudy wrote a construction series on building this engine which was published in Live Steam magazine in the issues from May/Jun 2000 through Nov/Dec 2000.

Open column stationary steam engine

This engine features a trunk type crosshead guide. The double action cylinder has a bore of 1" and a piston stroke of 1-1/4". It is of all fabricated construction with no castings used in it.








Vertical steam engines








Horizontal steam engines


"Walking Beam" steam engines

Walking beam engines are fun to watch in action. Rudy built a couple of them over the years. To see this engine in action on YouTube, CLICK HERE.

CLICK HERE to see a YouTube video of a version of the second walking beam engine in action.

Radial steam engines

Though normally thought of as a configuration for airplane engines, steam engines can be built in the same manner with radial pistons driving a central crankshaft. The first one shown is a 5-cylinder, while the second one is a 3-cylinder.

To see the 5-cylinder engine in action on YouTube, CLICK HERE.

















Simple oscillating and other type steam engines

Many of Rudy's designs were great beginner projects. Here are some of the small projects he built over the years.

















Steam engines with boilers

These engines were built as complete steam plants with their own operational boilers to produce the steam. The second is modeled after a typical logging "donkey" engine with hoist on skids.

Miniature dynamo, Output: 90 watts @ 2250 RPM

This is a direct current dynamo which delivers 9 amps at 10 volts. The field coil is shunt wound so that the dynamo is self exciting. It is of all fabricated construction with no castings use. Rudy made up special mountings to wind the field and armature coils on his lathe.

Pioneer Non-Compressive Internal Combustion Engine

One of Rudy's last projects, this shows the wide variety of projects he was involved in. What is a non-compressive engine? CLICK HERE for a YouTube video where Rudy explains it to you himself. The video shows the actual engine now in our museum.

Rudy at a model engineering show, 9/29/02

Rudy explained some of his engines and helps sell plans and books at Village Press's booth at the 2002 Pacific Rim International Model Expo (PRIME) in Eugene, Oregon. Rudy wrote over 250 magazine articles since the 1960's and also shared his time and expertise with at-risk school children and other groups.

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New Submissions Welcomed

If you have additional information on a project or builder shown on this site that your would like to contribute, please e-mail We also welcome new contributions. Please see our page at for a submission form and guidelines for submitting descriptive copy and photos for a new project.

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