Ok I just wanted to start a post to see how many of ya'll know to run steam engines, and how they can be used to produce steam powered equipment safely. Practical application of steam is a very useful thing. Knowing how it works, we could build an air ship that actually works. It would probably be a small one, but will be fun. I don't know how many will actually reply to this post.
Howdy. I have not personally fired up, and operated any steam engines, but I have seen everything from small "toy" engines, to steam tractors (traction engines) and steam powered road rollers, to a good sized stationary engine with a 16 foot flywheel at antique machine shows. I've made close up inspections of them all, and pestered the owners/operators with a few questions. Heh. There is also a lot of information to be found online that explains what all the parts do, and how the controls work. This includes videos, and documentaries on youtube, where I have seen fairly detailed information about what's involved with starting up a steam locomotive from the cold boiler state, and the same for a steam lorry, which is a type of steam powered conveyance that could once be seen carrying loads around the roads of Great Britain. I don't have the links for any of this handy, but it shouldn't be too hard to search out.
As for steam powered airships, they actually did exist. The first was flown by Henri Giffard in 1852. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giffard_dirigible With modern materials, I'd expect a much more practical example could be produced, but getting it approved for legal operation would probably present a greater challenge than its construction and operation.
I have looked into this particular flight of fancy once or twice.
I've operated a traction engine a time or two, and I've joined SACA. I have my share of steam engine books and I know a place or 3 to get Steam Engine and Boiler blueprints to build.
Building and operating the airship safely is the easy part. The hardest part is the bureaucracy involved in making it work.
The problem is that the Boiler has to be ASME certified, and then the FAA would have to grant it a flight status.
I'm on board to make this happen. Its just we're gonna need a couple of attorneys familiar with both ASME and FAA rules to let this get off the ground.