Meet the Makers – Steve Hay

Wheel Lock Rifle

Tell us about yourself.
I am an old guy who can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making things.

What are you presenting at Maker Faire Milwaukee?
I will be presenting a talk on designing and building the 1903 Wright Brothers engine My father, Steve Hay Sr., my brother Jim Hay and I built a 1903 Wright Brothers Engine in 1978 that we ran for years at the EAA AirVenture. That is what led to my brother and I building the engines for the Centennial Celebration in 2003 at Kitty Hawk. I believe that engine is a perfect example for Maker Faire, because of its simplicity of design. It utilized old technology and new innovations in materials in a design which could be built with the machinery the Wright Brothers had in their bicycle shop.

The Wright Brothers Engine

Why is making important to you?
The manipulation of materials and properties of materials have always been a prime interest of mine and making things has always been a most enjoyable way of learning both. The Ornithopter, which I am presenting at Maker Faire, is one of my more successful projects, although it is still evolving. It started out as a car over 30 years ago and morphed into an aircraft. I honestly never thought it would survive this long. I have been taking it to the EAA AirVenture for 30 years.

What was the first thing you remember making?
I do remember, when I was quite young, asking my mother if I could bake a cake from scratch. She said “OK”, and I made a mess of the kitchen and the cake didn’t look like much but it tasted good. Then, as now, I am usually more interested in the process than in the finished product, so I have made a lot of things that have not quite come out.

What have you made that you are most proud of?
I have built many other things and the one I am the most proud of right now, is a very ornate 15 century wheel lock rifle.

Given an unlimited budget, what would you make?
I would take an old steam locomotive and modify it with modern materials and technology and go after the steam locomotive land speed record. That would be fun.