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Lamont boiler

Posted by dullfig 
Re: Lamont boiler
November 28, 2011 11:40PM
Jim I believe you have hysteresis confused with lag. A good example of hysteresis is the automotive O2 sensor. It's state is a binary true or false. It changes state when the O2 level indicates a lean mixture and when it indicates a rich mixture. There is a space between the rich and lean mixture.

I guess some non-experts consider lag to be hysteresis. But I am not one of them. True hysteresis is not time dependent. Having an elctronic engineering background I have known hysteresis most of my live to be as described for a Schmitt_trigger.

That aside the reasion I am trying to do this is simple. What everyone else seams to be proposing is a simple throttled engine soloution. However that has proven to have problems in getting high efficiencies. Jarry has posted that high expansion does not get high efficiency. I believe that it the case of an automotive piston engine that is throttled. It is very obvious when you look at the speed range requirements of a modern automobile. You simply need such a huge power range that at reasionable boiler pressure a high expansion ratio can not be used. Throttling would be in an over expansion most of the time. You can go to a higher pressure. Harry is doing that and using a 27:1 expansion ratio, obtaining a 30+ efficiency. But at the pressure he is running I think he has around a 2:1 speed range at that efficiency. And for a modern automobile a 4:1 or better is needed. That would require something like 12000 PSIA boiler pressure.

The most efficient steam engine is the turbine that operates a full expansion cycle. Anything less then a full expansion cycle is less efficient. That is what I am trying to achieve with a piston engine. I have already explained this many times. But over expansion is an efficiency loss. I do not expact to achieve a full expansion but as close as can be achieved. With a piston engine some pressure drop at exhaust is needed to expel the steam. I am further trying to be operatoring from boiler pressure. So I need a very stable steam state to do this. And yes this is a complicated thing to do.

Actually, thinking about it, there is hysteresis in the old steam cars. But that is exactly what I am trying to avoid. I do not wont the boiler pressure shooting up when you deaccelerate or droping durring accelerating. A microprocessor can analyze the operator control inputs and predict future steam needs I can get acceleratorometer chips as well.

"You seem to be ignoring the thermal hysteresis that smoothes things out between the fire and water rates."

I do not understand way you are saying that. From everything that everybody has said. that does not seam to be the case. Having to hand feed a boiler in order to maintain speed up a hill is your "hysteresis" working against what is needed. Or you discription of the pressure increase of the White when stoping. That may give a great off the line start. But what happens when someone doesn't expect it and runs into the car in front ahead of him. It would be consider a car defect today and you know who would be liable.

Re: Lamont boiler
November 28, 2011 11:46PM
Hey Bill,

Read George Nutzs report on the test he conducted on the lamont boiler that he designed.


They had the output of the lamont coil enter the drum tangentially and the input to the lamont coil tangential so the pump had a head on its entrance and the output from the coil spun the water inside the drum.

A quick and easy stove top experiment with a high walled pan having water boiling like made in the bottom of it will show how siginificant this is. If you take a big spoon and spin the water in the pan then it will stop bubbling and a mass of steam will almost magically rise off of it.

In their tests of the LaMont boiler they slammed the throttle open and shut with absolutly no derangement of the water level or circulation pump. Note also that they used the temperature of the water coming out of the LaMont coil more then the water level gauges as an indicator of when to switch on and off the feed pump.

I am also curious to know just how close to "zero" clearance your engine design is.


I don't know what exact inputs they use now for injectors and fuel air mixtures. I didn't make that statement because I am knowledgeable about the sparky controled fuel injectors on cars, but because I know that one can't calculate the amount of air flow without knowing something about the air flow, generally using its pressure as an input.

Frankly I don't understand why you don't just use a simple carb, with your donut boiler the outer wall should vaporize any large bits of fuel, then just simply jet the carb to give enough excess air for a clean burn. A White type flow motor that controled the sparky power going to the centrifugal fan, then use an expansion type temp system to throttle the air sucked in by the fan, pressure controls bypass of water pumps, away you go. Well, there would be a bit more involved then that, but you get the idea.

I think I just came up with a better one then KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)

DOPE (Don't Over Pollute Engineering)

Caleb Ramsby
Re: Lamont boiler
November 29, 2011 04:22AM
It the thermal lag that is the problem. I am looking at the accelerator input, break etc to figure out what is being asked of the engine. That way the fire can start ramping up ahead of the need for more steam or shut down when deaccelerating etc. Three axis solid state accelaration sensors are available now and cheap. They are used in moton sensing game controlers. A PWM palse width modulation control is generating an on/off signal. at some frequiency. The control is by varing the on to off time. The period is fixed and the values specifies the on time from 0 to 100%. What they are calling a fuel injector on auto cycle cars is not really a fuel injectro. It's simply a valve. You have a high pressure fuel pump and the valve open duration is controled by a palse width, The processor I have choesen can use palse width values of 8, 12, or 16 bits. I think part of the lower range wont be used so the actual usable range is less the the bit range. There is a min fuel rate to have combustion. At lower then combistion the fire would be modulated on/off which is a duty cycle control also. That is what they were talking about in the internal vidios of thoes fire tube boilers.

If you wount to have an excessive large boiler you do not need the type of controle I am looking at. But in trying to reduce the space requirements it not all that simple. You do not have much reserve to keep pressure stable. And I know Jim will say the LaMont is the cure all. But that stand pipe space could be better used if a control system can be built that doesn't need it.

Anyway Jim answered my question. A proportional control can hold very close tollerances under normal driving conditions.
Re: Lamont boiler
November 29, 2011 12:05PM

Let me try to explain this a bit clearer, if I can.
Thermal hysteresis IS a time lag in a steam system. The amount of time for something to happen after the control system sees what the steam conditions are and decides to do something about it and the result of this is seen in the changed output conditions. I too worked with this for years. A Stanley boiler as a much greater thermal hysteresis than a White or Doble, or one of our modern steam cars.
It is not time dependent per se; but also depends on the mass and metal type of the coil, the water content and the firing rate. A copper coil has less hysteresis than the same length of steel tubing. The thermal hysteresis varies and it can also be changed depending on just what the coil has in it's construction and the amount water it contains. A very small coil with little water or a bunch of hypodermic tubes in parallel like Harry uses has much less thermal lag and a whopping big control problem. A big Doble coil with lots of water in it and with about 110 sq/ft of heating surface and around 650 feet of thick tubing has a big thermal lag or hysteresis.
A gentle firing rate has a much slower hysteresis effect than a really fierce high draft fire with the same coil.

Think of it as a rubber band. A small one stretches very little until the other end moves, while a really long one takes some time for the initial pulling action at one end to reach the other end. So one of the profs at school said, made thermal hysteresis clear then.
In one of the engineering notebooks Abner in England writes to Warren in Germany: "We have made no progress in temperature control since 1926." He was right and it bedeviled him all throughout his professional engineering career. Seems the problem has not yet been solved with a forced circulation monotubes in some minds.

A proportional control of the water and firing rate can indeed be done and is a good idea if the heating surface is on the small side and the firing rate is quite high. It works as both White and Doble proved long ago. White was constantly variable and Doble was in two steps; but the end result is the same,because hysteresis did the job in the Doble. White did not have as much thermal lag as the Doble did and I am sure Roland White knew this when he specified his design, avoiding possible safety issues with superheat excess. Doble also depended on it and used it, particularly when the draft boosters could have caused some nasty overheat problems, what with their doubling the firing rate.
The problem is that fully proportional systems get rather fussy and overly complicated today when too much electronics are used. Some thermal hysteresis helps a lot here.

Considering what the real thermal advantage is and why, the bulk, weight, size reduction, evaporation rate and control advantages that are inherent in the Lamont, there is no reason to look elsewhere. I have a gut feeling that this is not yet full understood and the drum is under the radar. It just does not matter, neither does the circulating pump today.

A control system can indeed be made to work with a monotube, so many have been done successfully long ago, and SIMPLY too. Either proportioning or staged or binary.
It depends on knowing the thermal hysteresis in the coil stack, the amount of excess water the pump can deliver and what the firing rate is if it is variable.
The combustion, now taking this CO2 business in hand and trying to minimize it, means doing your best to maintain a constant air/fuel ratio. A simple carburetor does this automatically. No need at all for this electronic Band-Aid junk being added. Electronic hate heat remember.
One thing that has to be well considered is WHERE the thermocouples and normalizer are located. This is one critical item if good stability is demanded and both locations very greatly influence the result.

Twenty five years ago at least, this used to be the lunchtime arguments at the Besler College of Engineering. "If you think you know what to do, then design a fully anticipating system with the smallest possible steam generator that would give the highest output the engine could possibly use." Extended surface tubing and variable draft were acceptable in the dream design. The winner gets a free lunch. OK, the challenge was made and accepted.
A tiny monotube with three stage water feed, variable draft that was programmable by throttle pedal movement, carburetor burner, cyclone firebox, with all the auxiliary loads run as conditions demanded and not run constantly. Today I would definitely substitute the Lamont for the Doble style coil arrangement and hookup. The steak was delicious.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/30/2011 11:51AM by Jim Crank.
Re: Lamont boiler
November 29, 2011 10:35PM
Jim, I do not recall the White needing a normalizer. Seamed you said it was vary stable, more so then the Doble. Did I get that wrong?

I do not have a finished design in any way. At first would be vary simple keeping things slow and gethering data. And as you say it's the lag that is important. I have an idea of a metered steam usage for testing. A small pressure vesel that can be alternately filed and released. With a pressure and temperature senser to know the steam state the steam mass is known. So by filling it and releasing the pressure a known mass of steam is released. The advantage of the digital world. The hardware is all there. It only takes a software change to do something different.

Pictures are worth a 1000 words. With the data collected plots can be generated of all kinds of relations. This is more a research project then development at this point. At the end I will know exactly what the test steam generator can do. And will have numeric test date to back it up.

When I first started out to build a steam car. I wonted a blow your socks off Hot Rod. Fuel millage be damed. But over the years my goals have changed. With age comes the reality of the cost of fuel. When I got my first car I could buy gas for 10 cents a gal. And some times 8 cents. $2.00 filed my tank. I still wont a HotRod. I think a stean engine can perform and still have good gas millage if done right. 50 MPG and 0 to 60 in under 5 seconds.
Re: Lamont boiler
November 30, 2011 10:33AM
Another thought on that centrifugal pump cavitation is that centrifugal forces would tend to compress the fluid near the od and tend to force any bubble formation towards the center of the flow where they may have the least effect on the rotor blade edges. Perhaps maybe if...just thinkin.
Re: Lamont boiler
November 30, 2011 12:13PM

No, you got it right.
The White does not NEED a normalizer; but for the same reason Dobles added one to the system, it is the final control device to stop wild overheat under some certain conditions. It is possible to add a strictly mechanical normalizer to a White, a proportioning one too.

The first Model D Dobles did not have a normalizer, they thought that the compensator was enough. WRONG, as Rubin Hills and his chauffeur Packy Nolan found out driving the first test chassis. Nolan is the real hero in this, after having a bad run in one of the first Model D steamers. As Warren told the story, laughing his head off, Nolan said "Can't you do something about all these wild temperature swings when we are driving in the hills? Couldn't you just piss (The exact word he used) a tiny bit of water into the beginning of the superheater to calm this down?" The Dobles patented this with the speed of light, Nolan's name is not on the patent application.
If you look at the first and second compensator drawings in the Bancroft files, the later one has a third outlet, says "Normalizer", the earlier drawing does not have this.
Waiting for the water flow to come up from the bottom and reach the superheater and cool things down works, sort of, if the pump is really a big one and if the hysteresis is on the low side, the White theory, I think. With a really big coil like a Doble, burned out superheaters are the norm, enlarged water pumps or not. It just takes too long.

I could not agree more, I too want a super hot rod steamer, real tire shredding performance. I think Harry has the right way to go to get what we want, now if they only got into some form of production with a modified Mk-6. That 426 Cobra kit car with the Cyclone in it. Stuff that dreams are made of.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/30/2011 12:29PM by Jim Crank.
Re: Lamont boiler
December 01, 2011 08:04PM

Re: Lamont boiler
December 02, 2011 07:30AM
Outstanding diagram! Makes things very clear.
Re: Lamont boiler
December 02, 2011 09:51AM
One thing.
Common practice with the Lamont is to bury the superheater about two or three coils down in the main coil stack and not expose it to the fierce heat input of being right in the firebox. This minimized the superheat control problems found in the Doble style steam generators.
Very nice drawing too.

Re: Lamont boiler
December 02, 2011 10:51AM

I meant to take the picture down, but got busy and forgot about it.

I tried sketching in a buried superheater, but it just wasn't something that illustrated well when trying to present the concept to people who may not know much about boilers.

I think the Doble drawing was a bit more accurate...



Re: Lamont boiler
December 02, 2011 01:33PM

Yup thats it. Now add a helical coil from the main coil stack up to the top, a hat coil on top, a fire can with a tangential opening and you have Warren's "White Flame" burner and the one used in them new Series F and in the Series E cars when they came in for an overhaul.

The problem seen with this earlier one is that the flame from the two throat carburetor went straight across to divide in a splitter at the other side of the firebox, resulting in two counter rotating flame patterns.
That whole firebox was thick cast Nichrome and thickly insulated and before long, the heating and cooling caused cracks and failure.
The White Flame was a sheet metal can hanging down, a tangential opening for the one throat carburetor and with a throat again where the flame came out to go to the coils.

Nice artwork for sure.

Re: Lamont boiler
December 02, 2011 04:51PM
Very good drawing, easy to look at and understand. I do have one question about the Lamont drawing. Is a feedwater preheat coil not being shown or is it intentionally being left out? I'm just curious as there seem to be so many different variations on the lamont style.

Re: Lamont boiler
December 02, 2011 07:06PM
Hi Steve,

There isn't much of the way in forced recirc boilers out there, so this is just an artists sketch. After spending quite some time studying what is out there I've concluded that economizers seem to be hit or miss on small forced recirc units; apparently air preheaters are about as popular an option. In an automotive unit, all of that stuff will involve tradeoffs, theoretically you'd like a ton of surface area to maximize efficiency. On the other hand, engine compartment space is more difficult to find all the time. The whole system is going to be a series of balancing acts, for example, you could choose to skip the economizer, pump up the steam temperature and pressure then dedicate the remaining volume to a larger engine which can develop power at lower MEP and likewise boost efficiency. That's the beauty of a steam automobile powerplant, once you accomodate yourself to the reality that you need pack ridiculously high power into a small space, you find there are an almost infinite variety of tradeoffs for everyone else to ridicule :-)
Re: Lamont boiler
December 03, 2011 04:37AM
If I may comment Ken - great drawings both of them and I appreciate that you are just showing the idea.

Re feedwater heater/economiser for Lamont. If you look at George Nutz' paper he has an economiser as part of the generator pancakes. In your setup that would translate to using some of the outer coils of your coil bank as an economiser and using the inner coils as the Lamont circuit.

It would probably better to do this rather than putting the unheated water straight into the drum which is supposed to be full of water/steam at saturation temperature. Of course the feed water would be heated by an exhaust steam heat exchanger so it would be at 200F or so. Having the water already at raised temperature makes it significantly less viscous and easier to pump through small pipes.

From my sums it is best to get a fair amount of heat into the water in the economiser section where you have a forced pumped supply (by piston pump)and can use a small bore pipe to get turbulent flow and good heat uptake without causing too much back pressure and load on the pump.

In the Lamont circuit where you are trying to pump at least 5 x the water consumption rate the pipe size needs to be larger so as not to have too much back pressure on the circulating pump but still have turbulent flow to get the high heat transfer of the Lamont system. You also need to allow for the possibility that, at least in the last part of the Lamont circuit there will be steam ( especially when the throttle is opened) which hugely raises back pressure due to its volume. The setup needs to be such that the Lamont pump (which is going to be a centrifugal type) can keep the flow going and the pipe cooled so as not to do a "Doble" and cook!

My guess is that the Lamont circuit should be producing water at saturation temperature which goes to the drum and is steamed off when the throttle is opened rather than allowing any superheat in the circuit and producing much steam in the pipe while the throttle is closed.

Just my guess. Perhaps George will have another view!

Re: Lamont boiler
December 03, 2011 10:56AM
Hi Mike,

According to my old Navy Machnists' Mate training, a LaMont coil can't do much other than produce at saturation temperature because of the latent heat of vaporization; below saturation temperature you can't raise steam and to get above saturation temperature you need to vaporize all the water first, just can't generate superheated steam in contact with the water it was raised from. This is actually nice from a control standpoint, the latent heat is a fair number of BTU and you can shovel heat in over a decent range without significantly altering temperature or pressure, just the water to steam ratio.

I dunno about making the recirculating coil larger, there is always the alternate route of parallel flow. Honest-to-Gosh-Built-By-Walter-Douglas-LaMont-Himself boilers had massive parallel flow...as did comparable naturally circulated boilers; it's inevitable at those outputs. The idea is still nice at smaller sizes, the area to volume ratio always goes up proportionate to the diameter and tubing wall thickness fo contain a given pressure drops as does the diameter; so a more compact, lighter and cheaper boiler. The biggest problem is guaranteeing that the steam generation rate is about the same in each parallel circuit, if one circuit has noticably less flow it may start to develop steam films on the tube wall which will increase resistance and reduce flow further, causing a feed-back loop which leads to burnout. By keeping each path as similar as possible both in length and exposure to heat, the tendency for premature boiling in one path is minimized (which is what the drawing shows with 4 parallel paths and a radial outflow gas travel). Additionally, but not shown, is recombining the parallel flows in a mixing header while passing through the furnace and then reseparating them to bring the fluid temperature in each path back to uniformity. A forced recirculation boiler has the advantage that you can afford a bit more resistance in the flow paths in the knowlege the pump will keep things moving; the resistance I talked about above causes the fluid to flow in other paths, naturally, avoiding the path of greatest resistance. By adding more resistance than premature steam generation is likely to create, no path will be greatly more resistive and parallel flow will be maintained.

Vapor Corp has developed some nice looking smaller forced recirc boilers, and patented quite a bit of the basic design work including means to simplify coil construction. The basic generator design seems to have been developed by Alick Clarkson with upgrades over the years.


Re: Lamont boiler
December 03, 2011 02:38PM
Ken, A thought. If you had a small restricter plug at the end of each tube. Mounted in the header so as not to make contact with the tube. So the plug would be maintained at saturation temperature by the flow. Then when/if the tube gets hot and expands it would alow increased flow around the plug.
Re: Lamont boiler
December 03, 2011 02:38PM
Ken, Mike
For a small boiler a single circuit is preferred and as it is in the highest heat zones(both radiant and convective) can do almost
50% of all the boiler heat transfer with a rather small length of tubing. As the temperature coming out of the Lamont circuit is at saturation
but with a 5:1 circulation ratio 20% by weight is steam and over 93% is steam by volume, thus what is coming out of it into the recirculating
drum is at a rather good velocity;its tangential entrance acts as a seperator plus at 4-5 revolutions per second(8" drum) it adds head pressure to the lower tangential outlet to the circulating pump. This avoids cavitation problems as a pump trying to suck in saturated water can cause pump cavitation. As Ken pointed out that with the inside tubing temperature being held rather closely to saturation temperature no fancy or expensive tubing is required and this is with massive heat transfer density. The disadvantage of parallel flow Lamont circuits is that pressure restricting valves are put in the circuit to balance out the flow for different flow paths, this adds additional head pressure on the circulating pump and for a small boiler of lets say 1000#/hr is not required if the single Lamont coil is properly designed. It does involve a hellofalot calculations to satisfy this requirement. I did design atwo tube parralel flow small Lamont for a boat I had in mind and in that case the two circuits received different amounts of heat input so chosing proper tube diameters for the different lengths and heat inputs without restrictors involved a most wonderful engering
exercise--what else is an old has-been engineer to do with his spare time ;o)!!!
Hope this helps, Georgen
Re: Lamont boiler
December 03, 2011 04:04PM
Ken, thanks - lots of interesting info on the Vapor Power website. [www.vaporpower.com]

They do put the feed water straight into the drum but close to the circulation pump inlet so that the coldest water goes to the pump. From the pump the connection is to the combustion chamber where there is a load of heat but, unlike the Doble, these coils are in the forced circuit so won't be cooked. I see the three outlet headers each have a temperature sensor and presumably a flow control valve so as to actively level up the flow through the parallel coils.

For a modern steam car this horizontal coil and burner is the way to go but my project is basically a conversion of a 1923 car and I am trying to keep to relatively appropriate period technology. George's vertical Lamont generator and drum is a bit closer to this.

George I'm only after 250-300lbs steam/hour for my antique steam car project so it's a single coil path for me too. I'm not a great mathematician so I'll need to build a test rig after a modest amount of number crunching on pipe size and flow and of course stress. The heat uptake maths seems to involve so many variables that an educated guess and experiment seems to be the way.

Re: Lamont boiler
December 04, 2011 11:09AM
Hi Mike, Andy, George,

Here's a few links to some Vapor Corp patents that lend quite a bit of insight to assembling an inflow boiler:


The restrictor plug on a parallel flow tube would certainly work for boilers with straight tube segments, Andy. Will have to think about how to apply it to wound coils. Truthfully, I'm a much bigger fan of mixing headers because they need supply only minuscule flow resistance.

From my study, good parallel flow is going to be most readily achieved by very identical flow paths and active temperature redistribution. Achieving identical heat flow in pancake coils looks problematic; the issue is easier with nested helical coils, as in a Bosolver, they merely make each tube the same length and wrap more or less tightly to achieve the same length, which works but wastes space. The outflow boiler can be built out of identical stacked elements (see above patents) which simplifies construction, improves evenness of heat distribution and optimizes space utilization. Remixing and redistributing makes the parallel paths shorter and prevents severe temperature divergence thereby countering the tendency to develop a path of greater resistance.

Even if a single recirculation tube is used, parallel flow is still advantageous in any preheating circuit for all the previously mentioned reasons. A parallel flow preheater that approaches or even reaches saturation temperature reduces the BTU of latent heat the recirc coil needs to absorb, making that device to be more productive and smaller.

Lest I seem fanatical about smaller and lighter, I work with current and future powertrains daily an have a fair idea of the packaging requirements. The SES and Carter boilers are very light, compact marvels...and finding room to squeeze them plus an expander, condenser and so on into a modern car is a daunting challenge. The challenge gets worse when you start to look at power output of new engines: the base, tame, economy 6 cylinder engines in pony cars are running well over 300 horses with the V-8s running well over 4 and 5 hundred. At one time you could make the argument that an American sports car only need to be able to run a good quarter mile time and that could be handled by boiler stored energy, but that argument won't work in the current marketing environment. A production intent 2012 ZL-1 Camaro (NOT the ZR-1 Corvette) just pulled a Nurgburgring time of 7:41.27, which means the engine was running hard the whole way and is indicative of what is needed to compete in the performance market [www.torquenews.com]. I'm making this point not to disparage the forced recirc boiler but to point out that to even get in the ballgame means taking the concept all the way out to its limits...which is where everyone else is starting to hang out these days.


Re: Lamont boiler
December 04, 2011 12:04PM
I feel as if I must add that from my perspective the main and most significant issue with fitting a powerfull steam power plant into a modern type of car isn't the power plant, but the design of the car.

Each and every car is designed to contain the power plant or power plants that are designed in unison with it. They are NOT designed to hold a steam power plant!

From my perspective trying to cram a steam power plant into a car not designed for it is setting ones self up for failure.

Having the engine out back being geared to the axle directly, such as the Stanley or Doble was and having the boiler and condensor up front really makes the most sense to me. Either that or having a BIG LONG hood.

Ken, honestly would your employer take a car designed to hold and be powered by an electric motor and try to cram an IC engine in there?

This is in great part why I shifted from designing a steam powered car to a steam powered motorcycle. There is just so much less to deal with when designing a motorcycle from a blank sheet.

Look, I know that making a car from scratch is NOT cheep, but many here are talking about making a "competitive" steam car and frankly I don't think that any conversion vehicle or system will be competitive on the open market.

Just imagine if the Stanley twins decided to drop their production of Stanley vehicles and just started converting Model Ts to steam instead, they sure wouldn't be Stanleys now would they? They would have been a second rate company living off the scraps of Fords production.

Caleb Ramsby
Re: Lamont boiler
December 04, 2011 12:59PM

Even building from scratch doesn't forgive the problems if you assume required adherence to the same DOT, NHTSA, EPA and CAFE standards plus the need to compete in the same market. If your power train is necessarily bigger, then the vehicle is bigger, the weight is more, handling suffers, fuel economy falls off, emissions go up and so on...if you then claim that this is acceptable because it is steam power the automatic response from the rest of the planet is that you've proved that steam is non-competitive and a dead end. Electric vehicles take bad publicity hits all the time about weight compromising handling plus the volume of the battery packs, the same issues are going to apply if the boiler size causes vehicle design or dynamics to be compromised...the market is vastly less forgiving than when the Stanleys were around. I don't see the solution being to offer a technically safe but bulky powertrain solution but to instead build whatever it takes to house it, then expect to be treated differently because steam is somehow special and different. That's how the Brits got an LSR streamliner that probably couldn't keep up with half the spectator vehicles in the parking area. I think it's going to mean twisting the technology as tight as it will go until something halfway competitive emerges.


Re: Lamont boiler
December 04, 2011 07:21PM
Hey Ken,

I just re-read my post and see how it was incomplete.

I didn't intend to state that the steam power plant didn't need to have an increase in output for a given size and weight. I intended to state that a more logical distribution would make it easier to give access to the power plant and more freedom in power plant layout under the hood.

A properly designed engine shouldn't require any maintance for an extensive period of time, thusly tucking it back by the rear axle makes a lot of sense.

Frankly, neither should the boiler, condensor, pumps or control system. However one significant restriction in a condensors/radiators ability to eject heat is the blockage of air flow from stuff in the engine compartment. The less in the engine, errr, boiler compartment the more free the air flow is, thusly better condensing from a given condensor area.

The top three best selling cars of last year were 1: Ford F-150, 2: Chevy Silverado and 3: Toyota Camry. The base four cylinder Camry gives 178 hp and the V6 gives 268 hp, at the wheels that would probably equate to 140 hp and 230 hp as an average over the cars life. For real world use one should at least double the hp that a steamer can produce to equate it to an IC so 70 hp for base and 115 hp for the performance model. I am sure that many will disagree with that statement! HA!

I am sure that there are many government standards that would be tricky with a steamer, but that is what lawyers are for!

You are right though, especially the boiler and condensor need to be reduced in size and weight, boilers can be pushed a LOT harder then most of the prior art has done. Reducing the steam consumption of the engine is one way to reduce the required size of the boiler and condensor, but I truly believe that there are some very significant real world limits to how much they can be reduced. Time and again the steam rates produced on the dyno simply havn't been translated to the road, many just want to ignore this fact, but on the road I think that 12 to 10 lbs per hp hour is about the lower limit.

Caleb Ramsby
Re: Lamont boiler
December 04, 2011 09:44PM
Hello Caleb,

The try is, of course, for zero clearance. Reality will probably be around 1-2% due to the mechanics of piston clearance and such. The engine uses poppet valves ,kind of, which are above the piston and are horizontal. This requires a port configuration above the piston which is filled by a projection on top of the piston. Design needs to consider enough clearance around the projection to allow for entry steam to pass. This increases clearance slightly. Valves open inward into the inlet port. Also I am incorporating an idea from Jerry Peoples, which uses a small clearance volume with a restricted opening to it. This provides some compression relief at slow RPMs, but virtually disappears at higher speeds.

What I am wondering is this; For the HP output of the engine, is 260 ci displacement too much? I haven't run all the numbers yet. The cut-off varies from about 15 deg to 66 deg crank and this should provide some good flexibility to the engine. Also beginning inlet conditions are about 900 F & 900 psia which will allow the use of throttle control. I think I could chart various throttle vs cut-off positions to see what the running characteristics would be. At first glance it didn't seem that throttling in this area had as great a negative effect on efficiency as I thought it might.

There is talk here of equivalent HP vs performance of a steam vs IC engine in a modern car. Is 168 HP going to be competitive at all???? I think a 168 HP electric motor would be equivalent, as the torque characteristics are similar, aren't they?

Best Regards, Bill G.
Re: Lamont boiler
December 04, 2011 11:55PM
Hey Bill,

Is your new engine design a single acting simple, with semi-uniflow? How many cylinders and of what size? That would help in figuring out the power to displacement. Good job on the small clearance, not easy to do!

168 hp, well the Doble F "only" made 75 hp, that was nominal I believe and without the draft turbine. Those Dobles were heavier than most modern trucks, what steamers really can give is the low end grunt, controlable grunt. The big difference should be 10 to 20 years into the vehicles life, where the steamer should still be making close to factory power and the IC engine and gearing will be down a lot, both depending on the abuse they have taken and the maintance regime.

My motorcycle engine design is about as settled as it is going to get, time to complete the drawings of it, the boiler and the pumping system, it is all looking like it will actually fit and work! The engine is 3" bore by 4" stroke, double acting simple horizontal with chain drive to the rear wheel. I have landed on Corliss type valves, with proper designing they have handled superheats as great as piston valves used, with improper design they warped with saturated steam at 200 psi. So their ability to use superheat is all in the details, the main one being symmetry along their length with no ribs, not an issue with the relativly tiny valves for this engine. The clearance is down to 3 3/5%, with the exhaust valves open for over 95% of the exhaust stroke, that is fixed, so that should keep any harm from condensate from being a concern. Later on after testing I could use longer pistons to reduce the clearance volume to 2 4/5%, I could also test having a variable exhaust timing dependent on the engine speed and inlet pressure, but there is no reason to to go those lengths with the prototype, first I want to make something that I KNOW will work!

The inlet cutoff is a different story, my calculations show that there is little advantage to going bellow 12 1/2% or 1/8 cutoff, so the range of cutoff for mine will be between 65% for smooth crawling around, 33%, 20% and 12 1/2% maybe with an 8% added in there as a fifth cutoff if it seems like it would be warented after road testing. The cutoff will be shifted via a left foot lever just like the gears on a regular(at least for this day and age) motorcycle and a single component swap out will allow one to change the points of cutoff very easily.

Steam conditions of 900 psi at max setting, 450 psi for normal operation and with the boiler adjustable from 700 F to 900 F for testing, so as to see what difference there is between those temps when operating on the road.

Lake Woe-Be-Gone, to bad about Tem Keith, I will misssssss his sounds.

Caleb Ramsby
Re: Lamont boiler
December 06, 2011 10:16PM
Hello Caleb,

Design is a three cylinder, in-line, double acting, Unaflow. Each cylinder is independently mounted to the cross slide/ crank block. 4 1/2" stroke 3 1/2" bore. Exhaust ports are 5/8" dia. X 13 ea. squared up. Poppet valves are 1.5" dia and pressure balanced, so the ports are 1 3/8" dia. The pressure balancing lets me get away with the big size. Otherwise the back port side of the valve could see almost 1,600 lbs force to open against the steam pressure.

The inlet steam is designed for 900 psia and 900 deg. I hope testing will allow for up to 1050 deg. but will see, I hope. The engine uses oil for lubrication injected to the rings somewhere around the exhaust port area. So no oil in the steam directly. The cylinders are cooled as with the Doble Ultramax to keep wall temperatures where I want them. The feed-water heater is to be built into the exhaust manifold. I am thinking of using cast iron for the cylinder liners. As long as they don't soak in wet steam and are oiled with the Mobil transmission oil they should not rust at all.

The valve timing is adjustable for both advance and cut-off. Valve closing is quick using only 15 deg crank to close. Valve opening is not as critical in this engine.

The idea for this engine is to be able to make it economically compared to my compound design. It should also prove out a few concepts. It seems that steam has been waiting for about a hundred years for a good variable cam design.

Best of fortune with your project.

Regards, Bill G.
Re: Lamont boiler
December 09, 2011 12:27AM
Hey Bill,

It doesn't sound to big at all, not for a high expansion engine at least. That is one of the issues with the high expansion engines, they simply have a much lower mep, so the initial pressure, displacement or rpm must increase, well preaching to the choir here.

Your engine is almost the exact same displacement as the 4" by 5" Stanley engine, in long(1/3) cutoff yours should be able to make more torque then the Stanley with your higher pressure. It shouldn't be limited by the exhaust port area, that's for sure! Looks like you will have close to a 5 to 1 exhaust port area to inlet port area ratio, that should really let the funk out!

That is a really short cutoff, 1/50 of the stroke, the 1/3 is probably mainly for starting I assume? The 1/50 cutoff would be, what .09" of the pistons stroke? Now I see why you would have had to cut away some of the bump on the piston top to let the steam through!

To get back to the boiler deal a bit here, I really am thinking of keeping the steam temp between 700 to 800 deg F. Even with unaflow poppet valved engines it has been shown that the theoretical advantages of that extra superheat just doesn't appear on the road and thusly I really don't want to spend the time and money trying to make the boiler, throttle and engine super-duper-heat proof. To be VERY frank for a moment, look at Cyclone, according to financial reports they have spent $11,800,000 over the last five years and are now over $2,300,000 in dept. If the design criteria had been to keep the temp down to sane oilable levels and the pressure under 1,000 psi and they had decided to make the BEST engine with those steam inputs, then I doubt they would have incured as much development expense. The fact is that most "high tech" companies don't make it and the ones that do generally have a series of government contracts, for which they get paid, but also for which the product or that particular research is droped and then on to another contract, for which they get paid, but nothing is ever really put into practical use or the market. Like it or not that is just reality, "high tech" is high risk and sometimes high reward. While low tech lives on and on and on for the simple fact that it is accessible and it just plain works. Now I will go hide in the bunker! HA!

Caleb Ramsby
Re: Lamont boiler
December 09, 2011 04:35AM
Has anyone used, or considered, an axial-flow pump for a force-circulated/Lamont boiler? I sketched one up some time back; something like a miniature boat propellor inside of a steel pipe. Its plain-pipe housing looked easier to build than the volute housing of a centrifugal pump, and a magnetic coupling to external pump drive looked easier to build too; nice for zero seal friction and zero leakage. I wonder about its efficiency, size, and cavitation potential, relative to a centrifugal pump.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/09/2011 02:39PM by Peter Brow.
Re: Lamont boiler
December 09, 2011 04:26PM
Been there and tried that Peter. The problem is to get the flow you need diameter and rpm but in this application the feed is into a pipe which is much smaller in diameter than the pump needs to be so the physics just don't match up. To get performance out of an axial flow pump needs more than a simple propellor in a pipe and it is much less tolerant of imperfect design than a centrifugal volute pump. It is not too difficult to machine an approximation to a volute for a sandwich construction pump on a milling machine and the diameter can be whatever you need, although for a high pressure application more diameter adds to pressure stress on the end faces. Compromise, compromise!!

Re: Lamont boiler
December 10, 2011 05:34AM
Hi Mike,

Thanks for the feedback. I am glad to hear that you looked into it, though not so glad about your conclusions. It was "just a thought".

Compromises, compromises, indeed. A few years ago I went over lots of different Lamont pump, drum, and control ideas, including blueprinting a "sandwich construction" centrifugal pump. Lamonts can do the job very well, but personally I didn't like the design/fabrication difficulty, weight, packaging, etc, of any of the combinations of compromises I looked at. That eventually drove me to work out a lightweight, drumless, pumpless, rapid-natural-circulation boiler design which [after many calculation re-checks over the years] I think will do the job better than prior-art boilers. Emphasis on "I think". It needs building and testing.

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