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Lamont boiler

Posted by dullfig 
Re: Lamont boiler
June 03, 2015 08:35AM
I have not heard of anyone trying to build a forced cycle generator with or without a injector. Lots of talk, I still believe a three-cylinder pump would be best.

Re: Lamont boiler
June 03, 2015 10:37AM
Well, the ejector circulation HAS to work, it will absolutely circulate water throughout the coil if it is built properly. If the feedwater tube has a nozzle, the restriction will increase backpressure and accelerate the water through the orifice, the higher velocity produces kinetic energy. As the fast moving water impinges on water residing in the ejector body, it will transfer kinetic energy to the water that it impacts, causing that water to move in the same direction but at a lower speed than the original water emitted from the nozzle ... it would be a neat trick if it could slide by without doing so. The typical educator has a circulation ratio of about 2, for every gallon injected a second gallon is pumped. This isn't a high boiler circulation ratio but it is exactly twice as good as a monotube. If you go over the French/International Harvester patent closely you will see that they have made measurements of the operation and that the system was run over a period of time.

The IH steam tractor was cancelled, along with a lot of other projects, around '22 or '23. The Fordson tractor was wiping up the competition and IH decided to focus all its effort on a model designed to meet the challenge, I recall it was the 10-22. Since IH recovered market share and beat out Fordson sales, it was a good business move. That isn't to say IH dropped the steam system. They set up the "Locomotor" subsidiary which was eventually sold to Ryan railcar. You can find railcar patents for both IH and Ryan, some of which show the power plant. The boiler is obviously larger but the same design was used. Eventually two railcars were built and used for a few years on the Milwaukee road. That's reasonable proof, I think. There was simply no way to compete with Diesel engines, especially given that Diesels were manufactured in large numbers and benefitted from more thorough development but also economies of scale; Besler, Sentinel, Stanley and Bugatti found this out.

It's true that a higher circulation ratio will provide even more benefits but this is still a significant advance over a once through Doble boiler.

The Coats and Stanley drawings are the work of the IH designer Charles French, apparently in concert with Professor Alan Conkling Staley. Staley was hired by Standard Engineering to work as an engineer on the Doble-Detroit project, he seems to have stayed there a year and left to work for Stanley and then came back to Standard to work as an engineer on the Scott Newcomb auto. We can infer some problems with the time at Doble, there are no patents or reference to his work there although he does appear in the Scott Newcomb literature. Doble tended to minimize anyone without the name Doble. Staley went to Purdue where he taught Mechanical and Gas Engineering and it was there he developed two steamers to demonstrate the economic viability of steam cars using cheaper fuels. Then he appears to have signed onto the Coats project as an advisor while French became Chief Engineer; at some point Coats sold out and the project became the Endurance steam car.

Staley eventually left the university to work for Hercules at a time when they were owned by Chrysler. Chrysler moved him to their engineering HQ in Michigan and he helped set up their first in-house engineering school. He was also greatly responsible for the development of automotive air conditioning in the 1930s, worked with supercharging during WW2 and was an early pioneer in turbine technology ... some of the sources for the Chrysler turbine cars cite his influence. He was an advisor to NACA regarding turbo-compressors when jet propulsion was still new.

French had an entirely different career. While Staley had engineering degrees and taught at a both Yale and Purdue, French appears to have had a high school education from a small town in Michigan. He had a varied career as a timberman, railroad constructor, laborer, mechanical engineer and independent inventor....at least he appears to have made a living designing hardware to spec.

The important thing about the Coats and Endurance drawings shown in the previous post is that they have a rather different circulation system. At the risk of over-simplifying it could be said that the feed water pump has a very unusual discharge check valve; this valve is spring loaded (naturally) and the top end forms a piston riding in a different cylinder. The discharge port is up high in the valve so that the valve must lift quite high to allow the fluid to discharge, at the same time this displaces the attached piston in the cylinder above. That cylinder also has a pair of check valves so that it can function as a circulation pump. By varying the ratio of the valve and circulation piston diameters it is possible to alter the circulation ratio. There is also an ejector installed in the circulation loop to further accelerate the flow. Since the feed water pumps the circulation via the intermediate piston, there is no reason that the circulation need be affected by the feed rate assuming the water level is controlled by recirculating the feed back to the day tank. The nice thing about this system is that there are really no seals, cranks or other elements. It's dead simple and any leakage is past the piston and into the boiler, there will always be steam flow since the engine has to be turning for the pump to be working so this minor leakage can't flood out the boiler.

If you really want to see something interesting it is also worth looking at the Endurance burner. French made a living for a number of years designing burners. This unit works basically on the same principles as the SES burner. While it is fan driven, like a Doble, it is a vaporizing rather than an atomizing mechanism. That means the flame is a nice, clean blue such as you will see in a Stanley or White rather than the less complete yellow-white flame you see in the Doble and later atomizing burners. As a nice touch, it even had an electric vaporizing cartridge to ensure that the burner had vaporized fuel when starting from cold iron.


Re: Lamont boiler
June 03, 2015 12:30PM
Thank you Ken, that filled a few gaps in my historical records.

The following may be slightly off subject but I do think it is relevant as IH did build working examples just a pity performance records are not available.
A while back I found a tantalising thread here [www.smokstak.com] about the Ingersoll steam tractor which may have been part of the P&O Plow Company sold to International Harvester and possibly the prototype for the IH steam project. To quote; "One of the engineers who obtained a patent on the Ingersoll engine, later obtained a related patent on International Harvester's steam engine." This is Earl C. Walker who was also involved with the railcar.

Re: Lamont boiler
June 03, 2015 12:57PM
If any one wants to try one, Penberthy makes all kinds for many applications.
I use a similar one on my boat as a bilge pump. I also use a version on my car to fill my water tank from a pond.


Re: Lamont boiler
June 03, 2015 03:11PM
Ken thanks for that - you have a lot of information there, both technical and historical. I'll now have to study the two drawings to get my head around it. A very interesting idea.
Re: Lamont boiler
June 03, 2015 04:29PM
Hi Mike

If you want a good read I can send you the other patent numbers, each contains a little bit more information as the system is improved. E.g. The Ryan steam car patent explains that there was a problem with dry coils at start up caused by vacuum in the tank, also the ejector doesn't work till significant pressure is generated, all explained in the patent.
How is your Lamont project progressing?
Re: Lamont boiler
June 03, 2015 04:48PM
First of all, please keep the nomenclature correct
An injector takes COLD water and pumps it up to a higher pressure to feed it back into the boiler, via kinetic energy as Ken said and thousands were and are used to feed boilers of all sizes.
An ejector is a venturi device that sucks some fluid into the venturi and mixes it with the main stream. The Lamont circulation enhancer is an ejector NOT an injector.

Question. So when using this ejector to enhance the circulating pump flow into the Lamont coil, just what happens when the pressure control shuts off the fire and the feed pump flow? Consider violent boiling and burping in the Lamont coil. Thanks, I'll stick with just the motor driven circulating pump.

Quite so, Abner took other peoples ideas and claimed them as his own invention.
Brother John's blower fed carburetor burner and spark ignition for the Doble-Detroit cars.. Resulting in John and their father suing Abner and General Engineering for patent infringement.
Patenting the normalizer that was Hills chauffeur Packy Nolan's, idea, not the Dobles and Nolan not being given any credit on the patent.
In my archive I have two original 1917 photos of a steam generator coil with the quartz rod thermostat on
top, the later and very familiar Doble steam generator. Now, our thinking is this was the work of Prof. Staley and not the Dobles, who had been defeated by the bad water tube boiler in the Doble-Detroit.
Re: Lamont boiler
June 04, 2015 08:01AM
Thanks everyone. Those were the answers I was looking for. It seems that the jet pump does need constant input from the feed pump. Even so, the amount of circulation possible would be limited.

Lohring Miller
Re: Lamont boiler
June 04, 2015 08:36AM
How about a steam driven piston pump for circulation? It would run on saturated steam from the separator. If it was designed like the Waterman pump, it would slow down as the steam quality got worse. At a constant firing rate that should result in slowing the circulation so more of the circulating water would turn into steam, speeding up the pump. Since it would be totally inclosed, sealing problems would be solved.

Lohring Miller
Re: Lamont boiler
June 04, 2015 12:21PM
Stop and think for a moment about what you are asking.
Just for drill say the generator can evaporate 1500 pounds per hour or approximately 180 gph or 3 gpm not unreasonable for a car. Now, choosing a good circulation rate of 8 times the maximum evaporation rate, you wind up with a circulating pump having to deal with 12,000 pounds per hour or1445 gph or 24 gpm.
Do you actually propose a one cylinder pump banging away big enough to have that flow rate and steam driven? Simply impractical for a vehicle.
A centrifical pump is infinitely better. Exactly the range of an IC car water pump, high mass flow; but not needing any more than 30 psi at the most.
Look at designs for deep well hot brine pumps with canned AC motors, the same situation only bigger.

Still doesn't answer my question about this piston circulating pump. What goes on in the Lamont coil when the pressure control shuts off the fire and the feed pump and the piston circulating pump is also stopped?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/04/2015 01:00PM by Jim Crank.
Re: Lamont boiler
June 04, 2015 02:56PM
Hi Jim

Surely the scenario you pose is the same for any 'normal' monotube generator? Fire and water off and no circulation within the coils.

I'm not necessarily supporting this design but intrigued that it was successful enough to power a 20hp tractor and two 300hp railcars.
After reading the patents I don't interpret this as a poor man's Lamont. Only my opinion but I see it more as a monotube with a separator like Clayton and Besler used for their spillover cycles. The difference is in French's system there is no spillover but the separator liquid is re-circulated through the generator to maintain temperature within the vessel. The fluid is also available to flood the coils for startup to prevent tube damage but according to later patents this wasn't successful.

Re: Lamont boiler
June 04, 2015 03:12PM
The thing to remember is that these systems don't simply shut down and simmer; there is an auxiliary steam engine driving the blower, pumps, generator and so on. This aux. engine ensures that there will be steam flow at all times. The burner is infinitely variable and the water level control looks pretty sensitive, it isn't unreasonable to assume that water and fire will roughly follow demand. At low firing rates, the circulation doesn't matter, the conditions will be less unfavorable than a monotube at peak delivery, anyway. At high firing rates the circulation ratio will be higher than a monotubes simple 1:1 and thus the boiler sees added protection. Add in the fact that the drum keeps the generator coils wet and the superheater dry, simplifying control and greatly reducing the risk of overheating.

The Coats and Endurance systems are essentially Lamont boilers, their circulation ratio can be tailored as desired by changing the proportionate sizes of the "feed discharge valve / circulation pump". Since they also have auxiliary engines there will always be some steam demand and constant pumping (especially if the level control scheme acts by dumping feed pump discharge back to the day tank rather than by interrupting the pumping itself). I see no reason that combined discharge valve / circ water pump couldn't be built integral to the feed pump.

Worth noting is that the International Harvester team specified an auxiliary steam engine and that Prof. Staley did likewise with the two dissimilar test vehicles he independently built at Purdue; obviously both teams found positive reasons for the aux engine.


Re: Lamont boiler
June 04, 2015 03:23PM
It doesn't effect them the same way, the top coils are filled with steam, not straight water.
Anyhow, Ken just reminded me that the auxiliary engine is running all the time, making my concern about explosive percolation moot. One more good reason to have a constantly running auxiliary.
Have to adjust my thinking again, not the first or last time either.
OK, a three cylinder feed pump with each cylinder feeding its own circulating pump. Less water hammering.

Both French and Staley used an independent auxiliary engine and both were better designers than Abner was. He constantly tripped on his ego.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/04/2015 03:38PM by Jim Crank.
Re: Lamont boiler
June 04, 2015 03:59PM
Jim and Ken

Am I correct in saying there is advantage in French's free piston pump for circulation because it can be mounted close to the coils and drum but be remote from the feedwater pump mounted on the auxiliary engine?

Re: Lamont boiler
June 04, 2015 04:23PM
Hi Brian,

It's a pretty flexible concept. You could easily mount it right on the boiler casing and send the feed water to it in order to provide power. You could also easily make it part of the feed pump. It's one of those ideas that looks like it HAS to work, the feedwater moves the piston up against a spring until the discharge port is finally opened, sending the feed water onwards. The upper piston moves in a separate cylinder and pumps the circulation water.

The concept is similar to something I sketched up before I saw this (here I go, giving away ideas). My idea used a water motor (either roller vane or turbine) to drive a second larger pumping element (either a roller vane pump or a centrifugal rotor). Bolt the two into the same housing and mount the bearings in between the two units so that there is no external shaft of seals (one thing I also like about the Endurance design). Probably need ceramic bearings, I think they should hold up because the rotary elements don't have much thrust on them. This could likewise be mounted directly on the boiler casing (or anywhere else for that matter).


Re: Lamont boiler
June 05, 2015 06:28AM
Two Waterman system’s or steam pumps would work just fine, one for forced circulation the feed taken high on the drum would keep the circulation going all the time. The second for feed water the steam taken at the water line as the Waterman system to maintain the drum water level.

Re: Lamont boiler
June 05, 2015 09:20AM
I was thinking about a lot smaller steam plant than an automobile one. The jet pump is the ultimate in simplicity if it would work. In tiny sizes, centrifugal pumps need to run at very high speed for efficiency. Clearances need to be tight as well. A piston pump is lots bigger and heavier, but when you are talking in ounces, the difference is slight.

There's no question that a centrifugal pump is better in larger sizes. I was thinking about an outrunner brushless motor drive for a circulating pump at my scale. They are commonly available as hobby and computer disk drive motors, see the picture. I've run a little larger larger version developing over 7 hp. The outer case containing the magnets would drive the pump while the inner case with the windings would be enclosed in a thin aluminum can. The main problem is the temperature the magnets need to tolerate as well as the thickness needed by the aluminum can. Seals would need to be made for an external motor drive. All these things are commercially available in automotive sizes. When you need to design and build all the components simplicity gets very important. I try to buy as much proven equipment as possible.

Lohring Miller

Re: Lamont boiler
June 05, 2015 10:27AM
There’s no advantage building forced circulation generators in small low-pressure sizes.
They come into their own as high-pressure high output generators for large power uses.

Even sizing them for a car is pushing the limit as the support equipment starts to be as much as the generator.

If you want to play in the scale sizes lots of men at the model engineering shows have made small high pressure duplex pumps for the model railroad live steam uses.

Two years ago I built the one (see attached) much larger then the railroad sizes. Some of them you can hold in the palm of your hand and they work up to 300 psi.

If your heart is set on a centripetal pump have at it, there are many problems to solve.
Keep in mind the output of the generator needs to also power all support equipment as well as what the intended use is.

Re: Lamont boiler
June 05, 2015 12:09PM
Very nice scale pump. I agree that in small sizes there's a lot to be said for steam driven piston pumps. I would get a lot cruder and simpler with the steam cylinder pictured below connected to a simple plunger pump, maybe on both ends.

Lohring Miller
open | download - LSTM-002.PDF (120.6 KB)
Re: Lamont boiler
June 05, 2015 12:47PM
Looks like you need to spend more time in the shop making your ideas into reality.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/05/2015 01:03PM by Rolly.
Re: Lamont boiler
June 05, 2015 01:06PM
Since the connection between the feed pump and the circulating pump is a solid column of water, there is no reason you couldn't separate them and combine the pump and the Lamont drum as one package.
To avoid water hammer I still think you would want three feed pump cylinders with each one connected to its own circulating pump piston. Considering the plumbing and such now, I want to dig into this a lot further before I abandon the separate electric circulating pump. The KISS factor keeps comeing up again.

More and more I keep coming back to a duplex Waterman feed pump combined with the Lamont. The simplicity, reliability and lack of electronics is very appealing. Especially with a high circulation ratio of 8 or10 to 1 and considering the size of the circulating pumps needed. OR, an engine driven CAT feed pump with a Stanley type water bypass is also appealing and would certainly be equally acceptable. After fighting those Dobles, avoiding anything electric, especially computers, is a major benefit. Am I biased, damn right.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/05/2015 01:42PM by Jim Crank.
Re: Lamont boiler
June 05, 2015 01:06PM
The French system still looks very interesting. I found a list of patents in Ken's post. The important points (with my editing of the Google OCR copy) from patent 1731458 as pointed out above are:

"A free piston or plunger 42 in this pump is moved in one direction or on its discharge stroke by shock from the feed pump with the delivery side of which it is in direct communication. The plunger is moved in the opposite direction or on its intake stroke by a spring 43 during the interval that the pump 22 is making its intake stroke. It will be understood that the pump 41 and ejector 35 mutually cooperate to produce the same result and that either may be used without the other in many instances. "

"The water coming from the preheater through the ejector induces a quantity of water from the storage drum which, together with the water from the impulse pump (if used) is about three times the amount of water evaporated. The pipe 37 therefore discharges a mixture into the drum of up to 30 per cent steam and 75 per cent water. A supply of water is always assured in the drum, and the circulation through the coils is at a very high velocity because of the amount of water demanded; the boiler is most efficient at its maximum load. "

That's not quite as good as the pure Lamont system, but it has many of the same advantages. A float in the condenser hot well runs a lever that lifts the intake ball on the feed pump for water level control. Pressure controls the burner. Pretty much all mechanical controls. What could be simpler?

Lohring Miller

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/05/2015 01:20PM by lohring.
Re: Lamont boiler
June 05, 2015 01:36PM
Rolly Wrote:
> Lohring
> Looks like you need to spend more time in the shop
> making your ideas into reality.
> Rolly
> [www.locoparts.biz]

I'm headed there now.

Lohring Miller
Re: Lamont boiler
June 05, 2015 01:47PM

You can easily get Lamont type circulation ratios if you wish. Simply make the pumping end (41 and 42) a larger diameter. If we make that twice the diameter of the bottom end we get a 4:1 ratio....if the jet pump approximately doubles that you are in the 8:1 range.


Re: Lamont boiler
June 05, 2015 04:11PM
Correct as long as you have the increased pressure to push it Pressure operated pumps usually go in the opposite direction, the power piston is larger than the pumping piston. At least the ones I have used.
Re: Lamont boiler
June 06, 2015 07:40AM

I would like to counter the statement you made regarding the Herreshoff coiled boiler.

They were indeed forced circulation boilers.

This is documented in a book written in 1887 By C. P. Kunhardt. Steam Yachts and Launches.
The Herreshoff System page 164 Bureau of steam Engineering US Navy Department in 1881. Chief Engineer B.F. Irherwood.

The engines had three pumps two water pumps and one vacuum pump for the condenser. One water pump was for the continued forced circulation, the other was for the feed water, this was controlled manually.
The circulation water was taken from the bottom of the vertical drum and continually feed back onto the coil along with any make up water from the feed pump as needed.

I do not have but have studied the piping drawing of some of the boats in the Hart library at MIT.
In the attached photo some did have superheaters. It’s a shame there are not piping drawing published.

Excerpt from page 173, 1881. Chief Engineer B.F. Irherwood.

From the "separator " the circulating pump continuously draws
water and forces it into the top of the boiler coil, where it enters
along with the feed water from the feed pump, thus maintaining a
forced circulation through the coil of what
may be termed super-fluous feed."


Re: Lamont boiler
June 06, 2015 12:48PM
So what's the point?
I have the same books and a couple others dealing with Herreshoff steam generators. What I think I did say was that they were not Lamont. I don't recall saying they were anything other than forced circulation monotubes. I do know the difference.
What I do recall mentioning is that in one biography by his brother he said the tube was tapered and I asked if they were gas welded, forge welded or just how did he make tapered tubing. A neat idea even today.
One other book mentioned that Herreshoff wanted constant velocity from end to end in his coil stacks.
Re: Lamont boiler
June 06, 2015 01:39PM
Jim’s post.
In the Herreshoff, water was pumped by the feed pump into the two concentric beehive coils connected in series. The wet steam then went to a separator drum on the outside of the boiler, then to the superheating coil on top, then out to the engine. The water in the drum, which had a water glass, was discharged overboard, into the condenser, or back to the inlet of the main feed pump by a small separate pump. All manually controlled then. It did NOT operate like the Lamont at all.

The point is I got the impression from your post above that it did not operate like the Lamont.
It does, it’s a forced circulation boiler, with one pump continually circulating the water from the drum through the coil. The only difference I can see the feed water from it's own pump go into the same line as the circulation coil instead of the drum.
Water level is controlled by the site glass on the drum manually.

Of course it’s not a Lamont it’s sixty years earlier.

I am not sure the pipe was tapered in its length, it’s been thirty years since I went through all the drawing at MIT. He made the pipe in five foot leangths over a tapered steel mandrill, I think each sliped into the next to be welded. welding each five foot section to the next. I believe the coils changed in diameter at several stages. The first coiled boiler is listed in Hull 14, a 48-foot open boat with a single 3-1/2 X 7 engine 1874

Re: Lamont boiler
June 06, 2015 02:12PM
Same reply. It is not the Lamont by any means. Close, but no cigar.
It has neither the much higher pumped flow rate nor the same application used in the Lamont. That of completely surrounding the fire with a coil filled with only fast moving solid water as in the Lamont.

Dobles also used a hat coil in the first "white flame" steam generators used in the Series F cars. It was connected to and part of the helical coil circuit. They found the added weight and plumbing complication was not justified by the small added evaporation rate. (Abner's engineering note books.)
What might be an interesting speculation is if Lamont could have based his design on this early Herrschoff.
As a navel engineer, he most likely was aware of express boiler designs used in the past

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/07/2015 07:21AM by Jim Crank.
Re: Lamont boiler
June 07, 2015 09:52AM
Yes I agree the circulation rate was not there. The best I could calculate from the information given was at best 10% above the water rate of the engine. The pumps were only single acting.
That means the feed water had to be own most of the time.
If they were double acting pumps it could have got 2-1/2 times the circulation rate with the feed pump on and bypassing half the time.
To have the evaporation rate it had the inner coil would have had to be pretty full of water and the outer coil semi saturated or it would never had produced the HP it did. .
The boat in the book did have the superheater. There was no mention of the amount of superheat at the engine. I only calculated it at 150F above saturated for a water rate.
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