This miniature steam engine is based on a design by Joseph Bernay. Birk noted that most instructions for building steam engines state that they should be placed on a heavy footing or base. Birk took that literally, and mounted this Joseph Bernay steam engine to a carved wooden foot! Made in 1878, this two-cylinder engine is unique in that the crank rocks the triangular connecting rod back and forth, allowing no dead point in the rotation.

Mr. Petersen created a vast array of projects over his lifetime, ranging from miniature engines to hand-cranked animations and more. He built functional miniatures like a 1/3 scale Gatling gun or a 1/4 scale Case steam tractor, but he also built mechanical creations for the fun and enjoyment of his family. When Birk passed away in 2015, his family graciously donated over 150 items from his collection for display at the Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum, where they are currently on display. We thank the Petersen family for sharing his extensive collection, which demonstrates the broad interests and many talents of Birk Petersen.

Exhibit added: May 7, 2016 - Last modified: January 24, 2024

Presented by The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship