These pieces are generally NOT available on eBay, in antique stores, flea markets or the other usual sources. Each example I have was either a private sale, purchased directly from the gent who made them or in a few cases from an online retailer representing the maker's commercialized offerings.
How does something become a "collectible" when it's newer than the car many folks drive including myself? I guess it happens when word of mouth demand is larger than the supply available. You see, these engines are all made by a young model steam engineer named Karsten Gintschel of Gintschel-Modellbau, in Cottbus, Germany, a part of former East Germany.
I would never have heard of Karsten's work had it not been for noticing several of his turbine designs in the Steam Gallery website. Steve, owner of the gallery was not interested in selling his finds and I can understand why.
I don't have examples of all of Karsten's pieces, in part because I simply can't find a few of them I would like, given the low numbers made. A few of his other pieces just didn't strike a chord with me but I always have an eye out for one that does.
Karsten's offerings have appeared in five distinctive styles...
I have previously had examples of all five types of Karsten turbines and engines, but have since reduced my collection to the ones I really enjoy the most...those in category 3 & 4 above.
If other Karsten collectors are reading this, I'd love to share information and see what you have.
This piece is Karsten's modern interpretation of Heron of Alexandria's Steamball concept. History books tell us that in retrospect, Heron invented the first steam engine via this concept, but at the time it was a novelty, a toy, and it's potential to move toward an engine of sorts was not realized.
you look at Karsten's modern version to the right, it strikes me as more
of a jet engine or the jet/venturi that spins a turbine. In this
model, Karsten uses his familiar "ball boiler", but instead of a fixed
configuration, the ball itself is mounted on bearings that allow it to
rotate around an axis.
"jets" exit from the top of the ball
and in the simplest of physics examples ...the "action" of the steam
spewing from the jets causes an equal and opposite "reaction" of the
ball rotating away from the direction the jets are spewing.
The Steamball is a favorite with visitors to my workshop, as it is so simple to
understand and visually it's pretty neat to see this thing going like a
whirlwind in a cloud of steam !
there was one Karsten engine or turbine that I think has hit the
highest volumes, it would be this one...though "high" is a relative
thing, possibly hundreds of them are out there, but doubtful over 1,000.
next progression for Karsten was to take the Heron's Steamball concept
and modify it in such a way that it became his first true turbine
offering. He named it Karsten's Ring and the example I have
is #040, one of less than 100 made. This one I obtained from a private collector.
While it looks much like the Heron's Steamball above, the ball on this one is stationary and the steam jet is directed to a vertically oriented turbine fan. The burner lies beneath the ball boiler and a shaped copper drip pan lies beneath the turbine.
I really like the looks of this piece and it is my favorite Karsten given it makes a nice visual display, especially under steam as it demonstrates the principals of a steam turbine.
When time permits, I run Heron's Steamball and Karsten's Ring simultaneously for visitors, taking the learning process from a toy thousands of years ago to a representative tool of today.
In Karsten's early days of making engines, he shipped each one in a custom made wooden box for protection. These have been replaced with corrogated for his later engines, but the example here shows how he built a bombproof box to hold his jewels !
circular turbine blade "logo" burned into wood at the start of this
section was photographed off the lid of this wooden box.
CLICK HERE for an instant video
Select Karsten models have previously been available from time to time via the U.S. online website: The Great Toy Steam Co. , that is where I got this one.
The Turbine Saxonia represents a noticeable increase in "finish" to a higher standard. The turbine external parts and burner base are powder coated CNC machined aluminum. A machined brass ID plate lists the name and serial number in a very professional looking way.
The size of the flame is for the first time controllable by a unique "snuffing" lever to the right, which works quite well.
On the rear of the turbine is a unique to Karsten worm gear for transferring power to a pulley that can then power light weight accessories.
Another of Karsten's new designs introduced in 2007, but this one joined the Temple in March 2008 via another purchase from Mooseman's collection.
This one bears a strong resemblance to the Heron's turbine just preceding this one, but differs in that it uses a half arch suspending the boiler over the burner, boiler is fixed in place vs. spinning and turbine itself sits on one end fed by a fine steam line.
I love how this one rapidly gets up to speed...about 70 seconds from lighting the burner the turbine starts to spin. I have heard that it reaches 20,000 rpms, though I can't confirm that. It does however go faster than any other Karsten in my collection and does the "jet turbine windup" sound beautifully.
A closeup of the turbine blade...
I'm not quite sure why Moose sold this one off, but I'm delighted with it.