Hands on with the Steam Turbine clone

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When I first heard that the Doc Dave Steam Turbine was going to be cloned back in September, I was bloody excited. The Steam Turbine was a thing of beauty and I was absolutely smitten by its design from the first time I saw it on vaping groups in Facebook, and even till today.

Retailing at roughly US$210, resellers in Malaysia hawk Steam Turbines at prices of up to RM1200, which  is a 100% profit mark up from retail. Fair enough I guess since it is a relatively rare and high end atty, but at prices that high, I probably would never afford a Steam Turbine.

I actually posted this little rant about clones on September 11, but a couple of days later, I buckled to my desires when I saw a posting for a Steam Turbine clone group buy at only RM80.

The rest as they say, is history, and today I received my Steam Turbine clone after a long China Independence Day break.

Review continues after the jump.

IMG_00001085The Steam Turbine clone arrived in a rather unimpressive package. The box, a plain black box with the word Vapor written across its front, was the same kind of packaging that China cloners use to pack Sentinel / Chi Yu and almost any other cloned mods.

My supplier explained that the Steam Turbine clones actually come in much nicer packaging, but he specifically requested that the manufacturer pack them in these smaller boxes to help him save on shipping. Who was I to argue, since I probably would have thrown the prettier box away anyways.

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Inside the box were three components: the assembled Steam Turbine clone, a spare tank and o-ring / insulator, and a handy mini Philips head screw driver. I was warned by my supplier that the tanks were extremely fragile and would easily break if dropped, so I guess it is safe to assume that they are made of glass.

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The walls on the tank were very thin though, so if they are actually made of glass, it would probably still crack if you fill it with a tank killer juice. Also, as shown in the picture above, the edges of the tank is very rough. This could be because the tank walls were so thin and fragile, and were damaged when cutting them to size.

IMG_00001090From the moment I collected the Steam Turbine clone in the evening, I only had one build in mind – a dual SS rope setup – but that would soon be derailed. Laying out my tools, I made a mental checklist of what I would have to do: cut the SS rope to length, torch it, wrap it with kanthal… bla bla bla.

IMG_00001099Strike 1 came when I tried to cut the SS rope to length. I only had 2mm rope in hand, and that could barely fit into the wick holes. I was a little surprised since I use the same 2mm rope to wick all my AGA-T tanks (I had 5 of them in hand at one point, all ran SS rope), but instead of being a bitch, I soldiered on and pulled out the mesh instead.

IMG_00001100I did the usual straw build using my trusty paper clip and flamed the little bastard to a glowing red. As per SOP, I quenched it in cold water, and flamed it to red hot again. And again.

Wicks done.

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Slotting them into position, I had a second realization. If I was going to set up a dual-coil build, I would need to double the resistance on both coils to achieve my desired ohm count.

(Quick tip: Dual coil setups half your resistance per coil, so to get a final resistance of 1ohm, you need to set up two 2ohm coils.)

My limited experience with genesis tanks has taught me that anything below 0.8 ohm is too vile for my throat, and my optimal ohm has since been between 0.9 – 1.3 ohm.

This would mean that with 28awg kanthal in hand, I would probably need at least 9 – 10 wraps per coil on each coil to get my desired final resistance. Looking at the limited space I had to work with, I threw my hands up in the air in frustration (the second wick along with it) and settled for a single coil build.

IMG_00001104Five wraps and a shit ton of prodding later, I finally got my coil glowing evenly and was ready to fill up the tank with some eliquid (today I used Watermelon Ice from Sky Vapor).

I’m not sure how the original compares, but in terms of space, the Steam Turbine clone doesn’t give you much to work with. The negative pole screw is a little too close to the wick for my liking, and this gave me a little problems getting the bottom most coil to glow nicely. That aside, I like how the positive pole was close enough to the wick and came with some washers. This resulted in almost zero top coil hot leg, unlike what I have experienced with the AGA-T and G-bell.

Firing up my Puff Box (review on that coming soon!), I found that the Steam Turbine clone fired pretty sexily. Eager to get my vape on, I screwed on the cap and gave it a go.

Or rather, attempted to give it a go…

Although it may not be too apparent from the video (sorry for exhaling straight into the camera), I was having a bloody hard time getting the vapor from the tiny chamber on the Steam Turbine clone  into my mouth. The draw was so tight that I couldn’t do a lung hit even if I tried.

IMG_00001096My buddy Lim had pointed out to me earlier that the stock air holes on the Steam Turbine clone were pathetically small, and this was true. Those things were tiny, and measured 0.5mm each at the most. Due to the proximity of the wick and size of the chamber, you’ll definitely need to rebore them before you can comfortably vape.

Lim recommends anywhere between 0.8mm to 1mm for each hole, but I’d suggest at least 1mm. Mind you, this is based on a single wick setup.

This is a stark contrast to the original Steam Turbine. When I first tried it some time in August, it was set up on a dual-wick configuration, and the atty’s owner told me that the Steam Turbine’s draw is way too airy (on stock air holes) with single coil setups.

Also, do note that the inside of the air holes are very badly machined. Simply running your finger around the inside of the chamber could cut you if you aren’t careful.

IMG_00001112Attempting to take a side-by-side comparison with my G-bell brought up a couple of things to mind:

  1. I had always thought of the Steam Turbine as a big atty, but when I put it next to my G-bell, it looked pretty similar in size. Compared to my AGA-T, the G-bell is tiny. This makes me wonder if the Steam Turbine clone is really a 1:1 clone and is it built to the exact specifications of the original? The air hole tells me no….
  2. The Steam Turbine clone has a very long non-adjustable 510 connector. The center post is quite similar to the AGA-T’s center post design where it runs a metal pin from the bottom through to the top. When attached to my VGT, I had to give the connector adjustment screw a couple of extra turns, and when attached to my Puff Box, the bottom of the Steam Turbine clone sat way higher than any of my other attys.

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  3. When assembling the top cap, the air holes do not line up with the wick. Since this is a dual-coil atty, I suppose that the air holes should sit between the two wicks. This is easily adjustable by how tightly you screw on the top cap, and can be fixed visually by adjusting how tightly the sleeve is screwed on too. On my unit, when both parts are tightened down completely, the air holes line up to the right wick hole. It was just my luck that I was using the left wick hole and had to adjust my top cap 3/4 of a rotation looser.

So, after all that ranting (and running off point at some parts, I apologize), what’s my final verdict?

The glass (?) tank that comes with it is too thin for my liking, and would probably cave if filled with a harsh juice like Green Mango Shake. In terms of finishing, I don’t really have any complaints besides the sharp edges on the inside of the top cap.

Look wise, the Steam Turbine clone definitely looks awesome, however I am questioning if it is really built to a 1:1 scale as claimed.

Lastly, by virtue of the tiny air holes, I conclude that the Steam Turbine clone is not fit for vaping out of the box. No matter how nice it looks, an atty isn’t going to do you much good if you can’t vape on it and after setting it up, it is now sitting inside my vape bag instead of sitting on top of a mod.

I purchased the Steam Turbine clone from a group buy at RM80 (approximately US$25) but it retails for anywhere between RM120 to RM150 (approximately US$37 – US$47).

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