How and out of what could flexible, thin air-tight tubes be made of at around 1780? These tubes need to be around a centimeter wide, with a 7.5 mm tube going through it. It must also be heat resistant (steam temperature) and be air-tight.

also, it would be helpful if someone could give me some lightweight but heat resistant metals, although I can do this research by myself.

  • $\begingroup$ forgot the dot point $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 0:22
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    $\begingroup$ Is there a particular temperature you need them to resist? A few hundred degrees... a few thousand? $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 0:28
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    $\begingroup$ Steam can be much hotter than 100C, especially if it is under pressure and being used to do work. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 0:37
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    $\begingroup$ I doubt that they had access to lightweight and heat resistant metals at the same time in the 17th century. Those are usually opposing properties in traditional materials (thickness helps to insulate). Given you need flexible as well, why not just use the historical metal, Lead? $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 0:57
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    $\begingroup$ Do you mean the 17th century (1601 through 1700) or the 1780s? It makes a difference. The extreme leading edge of steam power was patented in 1698. The much more sophisticated Watt steam engine, was commercially available in 1780. If you mean 1780's, you should be able to study what was actually used to manage steam. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 1:27

4 Answers 4



leather fire hose

Image source: http://tarasauvage.com/wordpress1/a-fireman-fire-hose-the-inspirational-story-of-ignition-supply-co/

Leather fire hoses were invented in the 1600s.


These were as strong as their seams, and were even stronger once rivets were used instead of sewn seams. You could wrap a leather hose with cordage to increase its pressure tolerance.

As regards metals, they are all heat resistant. Brass and bronze are lighter than iron and are good for making metal parts.

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    $\begingroup$ Often on this site history gets there before you. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 7:39

I'm pretty sure the intestines of an animal would meet the requirements as described in the question, if properly treated. But I don't think they'd last for very long with steam being pumped through them, and I wouldn't want to be in the same room.

Also, in the comments it sounds like you're trying to power some kind of steam engine, for which purpose the elasticity of intestines would be a problem.

You could try impregnating a length of intestine with rubber, vulcanizing it (though that's anachronistic), and then braiding an outer sheath from metal wire. You'll want to test this in your kitchen to know if it actually works.

  • $\begingroup$ To get the raw materials for this experiment, look for "natural sausage casings". $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 2:53

Rubber was discovered in 1770 and has a melting point of 180 C. Its true that the working of rubber into useful shapes didn't come until ~100 years later, but it was there.


A composite material - Think of belted tyres. They are made of rubber with steel reinforcement.

Your pipe is made-up of a fabric, made entirely out of steel fibers. The inner lining is rubber, as said earlier.

Rubber - Makes it airtight/watertight

Steel wires - Reinforces the pipe. Steel wires mesh is flexible to some extent. Think of a shower hose made of a metallic helix and the rubber pipe inside it.

belted tyre

(C) http://www.visualdictionaryonline.com


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