Not sure about the rest of the world, but in Alaska, we use hot water baseboard heat to heat our homes now. What do you think of the possibility of converting a hot water boiler to steam. I say this because if it is possible, they are numerous and should be able to gotten readily before or after the pole shift. All we would need is a set of plans for folks to follow. Most boilers work about the same. The fire box in these things may work well. The rest would be coils or whatever. However, most water heaters are electric and do not have a fire box of cast iron that could be converted to a fire box for a steam boiler.
Offered by Clip.
The big question with a hot water boiler is whether or not it could withstand the greatly increased pressure required to drive the steam engine.
Offered by Ron.
I am an engineer of many disciplines. Without exception any domestic electrical water heater would not be suitable for pressurized steam production. They are not designed to work under any pressure other than a small head of water. Steam is very highly explosive. Please do not in any way proceed to experiment with your idea. (I build high pressure steam boilers for a living and you would not believe the amount of internal support structure that is required in a boiler just to produce a mere 100psi). A still is a more than feasible idea for a water heater, a car radiator would make a good idea for a condenser, maybe joining the two. Alcohol could be produced to power internal combustion engines, with out the need for high pressure steam. Steam pressure vessels need to be robust and durable yet not too heavy and cumbersome. Sort of describes a 2 1/2 foot tall empty propane cylinder doesn't it? Sort of lying on a pile of bricks on its side 3/4 full of water with a fire under it (a little more to it than that but I guess you will get the gist of it). The exhaust of the steam engine you are powering could be piped back through a water heater tank that is the water reservoir for the steam boiler, heating it and there by reducing the heat input needed for raising steam.
Offered by Ian.