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Stanley and White Burner Howl

Posted by Caleb Ramsby 
Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 03, 2011 04:23PM
I believe the sound is generated by the size and length of the venturi tubes, and the volume and density and speed of the air fuel mixture passing through the tube like an opened ended organ tube. By lowering the pressure of the fuel you can eliminate the sound, as the burner heats up you can keep raising the fuel pressure with no sound. By adding a curve to the opening of the venturi tube you can increase the volume to 7.5 %

I tend to build my tubes with eight to one length to diameter, I’ve been told six to one works as well. I also cut the inside end at an angle to try and confuse the pitch of the sound. Not sure if this has helped, I’ve only built three. But they do not howl when running down the road. Only on start up.

There has been experiments using flame to Amplify sound, I don’t under stand this but hear is a link.


I think there is also some U-tube video of this type of stuff as well.
Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 03, 2011 07:26PM
Hi Peter,

Sidestepping classification/nomenclature issues, Stanley and most natural gas stove, water- and space-heater burners work as follows. Gas or vapor fuel exits a jet under pressure and flows into the open end of a mixing tube or venturi. The stream/cone of moving fuel gas or vapor creates a suction which draws air into the venturi around the jet, and the fuel and air mix in the venturi. The fuel/air mix then flows into a pan or plenum, continuing to mix, reducing in speed, and increasing in pressure. From the pan/plenum, the mix then enters the firebox through holes, slots, or similar apertures in a grate or flameholder, and burns above the grate. This is the type of burner I plan to use.

Some vaporizing steam car burners had a 2-stage air-inlet setup, where a relatively small amount of air was mixed with fuel as above, but then the rich mix exited holes in a grate/flameholder, and burned along with secondary air admitted through air inlets located near the rich mix holes/slots in the grate. These are sometimes called "atmospheric burners". If I am not mistaken, the White had this type of burner -- I seem to recall seeing secondary air inlet holes through the White burner grate in photos. I do not know whether this setup was used in all Whites, or only in earlier models. I do not plan to use this type of burner.

Good stuff, Rolly!

My mixing tube lengths are right between 6 and 8x diameter. Brief noise during burner warmup is OK; quiet running on the road is the main goal. Thinking more, I don't think that tapered mixing tubes are needed. I do plan to used curved flares at the air inlets. Thanks to this discussion, I just came up with some improvements/simplifications to the mixing tube construction.


Recently I have been watching some YouTube videos of steam cars. Some of the Stanleys on those have a good bit of thumpity clickety squeakity noise on top of the exhaust chuff. Talkative cars. A few condensing Stanleys on YouTube demonstrate the classic steam car ideal of "silent running".

Caleb Ramsby has kindly YouTubed the brief Stanley & ModelWorks video clips which I took during my 2005 trip to the UK. I don't have the direct link handy, but the videos are easily located by searching YouTube for "The Ramsberg Channel". Special guest appearances by Jeff Theobald, Mike Clark, and Shaun The Sheep. smiling smiley

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 03, 2011 08:16PM
At the present time we don't know if we are dealing with a primary frequency or a harmonic (multiple of primary frequency). Example of this is blow a mouth whistle gently (no ball), then blow hard and get a different higher frequency, poorly defined.

Variables known to affect the howling of burners, but not all inclusive.

Things are further complicated by the burner grate style.
.. Mixing tubes connect to plenum chamber on the underside of the burner grate.
.. Burner grate is part of the mixing tube.

Velocity of gas, volume of gas, quality of mixing, and velocity through the grate.
.. Fuel pressure.
.. Fuel jet orifice size.
.. Bell mouth mixing tube.

Determines resonant frequency.
.. Mixing tube length.
.. Mixing tube diameter.

Mixing tube taper.
.. (Traditional) Affects velocity of gases exiting through the slots or holes in the mixing tube so the amount of fuel delivered to the near end is equal to the amount delivered to the far end.
.. (Theoretically) Some believe it may suppress howling by changing the resonant frequency.
.. Not sure this is valid, as musical instruments have been made that include a taper.

Slots, holes, opening size, and quantity for the gases exiting the mixing tube.
.. Affects velocity through the grate, which may be more or less than flame speed.

Combustion chamber volume and shape.
.. Acoustical effects

Combustion chamber pressure.
.. Affects velocity of gases through the grate.

Flame holders or lack thereof.

The combustion itself.
Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 04, 2011 02:14AM
Wow, it may take a while to catch up with this discussion!


Maybe the high pitched "howl" of the pilot light is what the dogs are barking at!

The headlights must "fan" the darkness out of the way huh?


If they used a pilot on the car, wonder if they kept it on, doesn't sound right, probably just fired it with matches like you said. With that BIG boiler even overnight she may well have had a bit of steam the next day.

I have been reading up again on the 1905 Ormond race and in the bits describing Ross's races there is no mention of any howling from the boiler. There was a steady 45 mph blast down the beach most of that time with it gusting up to 90 at times! This goes a long way in explaining why the gas boys didn't fare nearly as well the next year against Fred!

I believe that it says a LOT about the attempts at a modern steam car that the fastest road going steam car out there is a replica of a 105 year old racer with a tractor engine in it! We will see how Chuck does, that super slippery body should help out a lot. Either way I don't see the better efficiency of the Cyclones engine being able to compete with the massive reserve of a giant Stanley boiler for quick getaways or brief bursts of speed.


For a #54 drill bit, .055" dia and a spacing of one hole in three diameters, that would be just about 6 holes per linear inch totaling an area of .0143 sq in or 1/70 of an inch. For a slot .055" by 1" long that would be a slot area of .055 sq in or 3.85 times the area of the holes. However as you said the equilivent slot area involves the perimeter, so the equilivent hole diameter would be .055 * 4 = .22 / 2.11 = .1" hole. Which would have an area of .00785 sq in which is roughly half the area of all six of the holes. I have always wondered how much of that slot to circle formula was deducted from the coefficient of discharge of the slot and how much from the more Reynolds side of the issue. IF the coefficient of discharge of the circles was taken as .5, which it is probably pretty close to with that flat plate with sharp holes, then they would equal in the effective port area. Then the only difference would be the ability to cram the slots or holes in the plate!

What really astonishes me is that the head required for the Stanley boiler is so low, I usually figured that the burner grate would really slow it down a bit. The Stanley boilers seem to have too much gass pass area and would probably benefit from something to stop up their tubes a bit. From the MIT tests that I linked to a few years ago the boilers efficiency was increased by a significant amount when the boilers output was increased. At lower outputs it suffered a bit and transfered a lesser percentage of heat, not enough gass mass flow! Taken too far of course and it would drop again, bell curve city.

I just love your use of coffee for the U tube, will have to remember that trick!


Interesting theory, a few years ago I ran across an organ that used fire and liquid nitrogen to produce the air flow for the tubes.

I looked it up again, here are a few links.




Think about the sure solution to the problem being more air at higher firing rates I came up with something that someone may want to try.

If one were to use a "steam automatic" type aparatus that used the fuel pressure down line of the actual steam automatic valve to push against the diaphram and the valve that it would actuate would then throttle live steam to a blower either into the venturis or in the flue then one would have an automatic induction to allow much higher firing without howling.

I believe that it would work best if it only opened up when it would usually begin to howl.

Here is a link to my youtube channel with the videos that Peter mentioned.


Caleb Ramsby
Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 04, 2011 04:11AM
Hi Caleb,

Thanks for running the direct link to the videos, and of course for YouTubing them.

Slots in slotted burner grates are 0.025". 0.055" is standard hole diameter for drilled burners.

Tim Abramson said (1980s TSA article) that the Baker burner in his Model 735 Stanley had .023" slots running clear across the burner grate (about 22" dia flame pattern); slots spaced about 1/8" apart. Of course cast iron burner grates "fur up" to reduce slot widths & hole diameters over time. Hot-running cast iron also hardens like crazy; I've broken taps rethreading old iron IC exhaust manifolds... but I digress...


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/2011 04:26AM by Peter Brow.
Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 04, 2011 05:05AM
Photos below show an original Stanley burner. The slots are 0.250 apart and .020 wide. I have seen some new burners with .025 slots and as close as 3/16 between them, but you have to watch the plate thickness, it has to be at least eight times the slot or the flame can drop down and ignite underneath.

On a drilled burner the largest hole I have goon with is a 56 bit and 6000 holes on a 20 HP flat grate. On my 10 HP burner I used a #57 bit 0.0430 and drill 4000 holes. See attached drill pattern.
A # 54 bit .0550 in my opinion is two large. Your choice.

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 04, 2011 07:07AM
Hi Rolly,

The Herb Ottaway burner plans from SACA Storeroom specify #54 drill, 0.055" holes. _American Machinist_, June 2nd, 1921, reports "about 4500 holes, made with a #54 drill", for stock Stanley burners of the time. Obviously for a Model 735 burner, 20 hp, approx. 3.8 gph firing rate per George's test data. "How-some-ever": practical experience trumps original design in my book, so your points are well noted. I suspect that the classic-era steam carmakers "standardized" the absolute biggest holes/slots possible without backfiring, to reduce the number of slots or holes to cut. But smaller slots or holes also work, in numbers appropriately increased to compensate for opening area and flow -- and they give increased protection against backfiring.

The ratio of slot width or hole diameter to grate depth is something which I have given much attention to. To avoid "backfires" [IE, KABOOM!!], flame fronts travelling down grate holes or slots at shutdown, or during extremely low firing rates, have to be "quenched" by [fuel/air-mix cooled] hole/slot walls before reaching the bottom of plate. Your 8:1 depth/width ratio is a good guideline -- and one often used (or exceeded) in the best practical burners.

The Baker burner reported by Tim Abramson must have had a rather thick grate, and also some vertical reinforcing ribs at intervals underneath, to have the slots run clean across its width with such close spacing.

"The Horseless Age:, Vol 12, #23, Dec. 2nd, 1903, gives Stanley burner slot spacing as "about one-quarter inch", but no info on slot width.

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 04, 2011 07:23AM
Cool photos Rolly. Fascinating. Really gets the mental gears turning here. Thanks!

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 04, 2011 07:35AM
My 1920 735 with a rebuilt 20 HP Stanley burner with the # 56 bit and 6000 holes could burn 6 gal per hour, more then the car could handle and no burner howl. The next year the boiler went and I installed the Derr and used a 6 gal per hour oil burner.
Go to a steam car tour and you will hear lots of the cars howl, it drives me nuts.

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 04, 2011 08:17AM
6 gph -- and quiet -- with a 20 horse Stanley, effing [pardon my french] _wow_! Well, from my videos (above) you can see I got an earful of burner howl during my UK Stanley rides. And those were top-tune cars, zero mechanical noise [beats many USA cars, judging by YouTube], and expert/brilliant owners/operators. Delightful rides. But I also know that quieter -- even dead-silent -- is possible. Dead-silent possible, and by all accounts achieved out the Stanley factory door 80-90 years ago, yet today all we get is theories about "why they howl". That's what bugs me. How about "why some of them DON'T howl"? Okay, enough "venting", sorry. Just trying to focus on "silent possible but how" here. I suspect that the answer is within reach of garage-level mechanics willing to "do the homework and shop work", just have to do the work...

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 04, 2011 09:12AM
Hi All,,,On my Black car it takes 5,5 hours to go from 500# to ,5# to work on things,,burner/pilot off,
I timed it so I would know how much time I needed to work on things,,,like the S/automatic w cracked diaphram,,
The burner grate temperature is important too,,,as a hot grate will allow the flame to travel below,,,The amount of boiler "cement" in the valleys helps control this,,
Dont forget that "tractor " engine is still only 4x5 engine,,and most likely made by Stanley,,,,Its all too similar to not be related,,even the dimentions,,,sub contract maybee,,
Stanley certainly knew of piston valve engines in steam cars as a good friend that invented a odometer,,applied it to a 1901 Stanley,,
Later on same fellow devised the oil case for the wet engine,,and it was a piston valve engine,,This is why there is no Stanley patent for the oil case,,
The Stanley burner has much more volume under the grate than the Amsley/Baker burner,, and larger mixing tubes on the baker,, Alll this makes the Stanley burner a bit more of a problem if it gets flooded,,Cheers,,Ben
Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 05, 2011 03:21PM
Hey Rolly,

Between your 6 gph vaporizing burner and 6 gph pressure atomized burner which do you think was quiter?


The thicker the plate and narrower the slot or smaller the hole the smaller the ventura contracta will be. That is the effective slot width or hole diameter will be .65 or so for a very thin plate and down bellow .45 for a thicker plate.

This may explain why the thicker plates with smaller slots of holes howl less and don't back fire.

From all of the evidence pointed out here. There appear to be two things that will promise a quite burner.

1: Maintain a high air to fuel ratio.

2: Maintain a high velocity through a high resistance flame holder.

Caleb Ramsby
Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 05, 2011 06:37PM
Its hard to burn 6 GPH with no noise. With the oil burner you can hear the blower or motor. The car had a 5000 RPM motor. Mine was a quite, totally enclosed continuous duty motor but driving the car you could still hear it come on and off, kind of a good feeling. My 35 foot boat had a large blower as there was more room and used a 1700 rpm motor. Different noise but it was in the cabin space so you could still hear it. 5 GPH
Same with the vaporizing burner. No screaming but you can still hear it come on and off.
I like the one on my little 10 HP car it can scream on the cold start up but when running only enough to know its on and off. I use ductile iron not cast gray iron, as it can be heated and bent like steel, hopefully less likely to stress crack from the heat and cooling cycles.
Hear is a link to a video of my 10 HP Stanley, I didn’t have the hood on the day my son took the video. The camera picks up more of the engine noise then you can hear when driving the car but no noise from the burner.

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 06, 2011 07:44PM
Rolly Wrote:

> Go to a steam car tour and you will hear lots of
> the cars howl, it drives me nuts.


I'm not picking on Rolly here, I just linked his post so I could get in with a reply.

My point here is, there's been a HUGE amount of conjecture about burners howling--but I haven't seen a single effort to isolate the issue and create a solution to it.

For example:

Use a piece of tubing and see if you can ID the source of the "howl".

Try changing a single variable and see if there's any results.

The "scientific method" is well-established; use it parametrically and try to create some results!

BTW I really love the youtube posts on the Stanleys running reliably and youz guys just enjoying steam power the way you love it. I wish I had the time and money to pursue similar efforts (and hopefully I will!).

Happy steaming!

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 07, 2011 10:32PM
Hey Bill,

I think that a few poeple have done some research in that area.

Nergarrds grates holes were getting smaller from use and corrosion so he drilled them out with a larger drill size then originally used. It howled like crazy, so he stoped up some of the holes therby reducing the passage area through the grate and increasing the gas velocity passing through it. This stoped the howling.

Others have made and installed intake flares which increase the amount of air aspirated by the gaseous fuel being injected into the mixing tube. This allowed a higher firing rate without any howling.

George Nutz designed and installed a centrifugal blower in the flue of Brent Campbells ride and Mike Clark installed a live steam blower in the flue both to increase air to fuel ratio of the burner at higher firing rates and both resulted in increased firing before howling began.

These three experiments to me all say that the way to get rid of howling is to have a high enough air to fuel ratio that the flame front speed is reduced and to keep the resistance to the gas passage high enough through the grate that the flame can't burn back into the openings.

For now my curiosity has been sated in regards to how one cures the howling and as to what causes it.

Caleb Ramsby
Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 08, 2011 08:17AM
The Stanley burner tubes are like an opened ended organ tube. Not really a venturi, as according to Webster has a tapering constriction in the middle somewhat like a De laval nozzle. On the original burner tubes I have examined, the tube end on the inside is stepped or cut on an angle. I think Stanley know this would confuse the wave at the end of the tube.
In an open pipe, when a compressed wave reaches the far end, the air at that point is, for
an instant, at a pressure greater than the atmospheric pressure. Being an open end, the air there can vibrate with maximum freedom and so, it suddenly expands into the surrounding air. Thus, the pressure diminishes so quickly that it becomes lesser than the pressure of the surrounding air, which causes a sudden rarefaction at the end of the pipe. This sets up a rarefied wave which passes back along the pipe. Within the tube, the reflected pulses meet the direct ones and the result is the formation of the standing wave

When we talk about the sounds that pipes can make, what we are really concerned with is how much of the wave we can fit into the pipe.
Different amounts of a wavelength in a pipe will result in a different frequency being heard.
Because these are the frequencies of the waves that will naturally resonate in the pipes, we call them the resonant frequencies or
In music, referred to as harmonics. I hope I got this right?

Open End Pipes

· The fundamental (first harmonic) for an open end pipe needs to be an antinode at both ends, since the air can move at both ends.

That means the length of the tube and frequency formula are…
L = ½ λ

The next note we can play is the 2nd harmonic.
· open ended pipes have a 2nd harmonic… they can have any number harmonic they want, odd or even.
· Again, it kind of looks weird, but trace it out and you’ll see that there is exactly one wavelength.
· The length and frequency formulas are…
L = 2/2 λ

Now we complicate things in a Stanley tube with the pressure and fuel mixture and the temperature, varying density of the mix. Then we add a burner grate with thousands of holes that this mixture has to pass through to burn. Adding the theory of flame, sound amplification. Too much for me to calculate from scratch. [www.swtpc.com]

My conclusion to all of this is to start with a design that seams to work, keep the holes on the small size, they can always be drilled larger. Use a plate thickness that will give you at least eight times the hole diameter. Same with the burner tubes make them six to eight times the diameter closer to eight in my opinion and step the inside end or cut on an angle. Use a rounded end on the front opening. This allows more volume to pass through the tube. You also need a deflection plate at the inside ends of the tube between the tubes and the burner plate to balance the pressure of the gas coming through the holes in the plate. This can be tested by blowing air in the tube and floating a piece of paper over the holes to see if there about equal. Some of the larger burners this plate is equal to a third of the burner diameter.

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 08, 2011 08:43AM
Be careful of the flared tube at nozzle end,,///It may pass more gas,,,but to watch how it performs on shutdown,,
It is desirable to have fire and then go out without the POP,,
I do not know what experiance there has been with the flared tubes,,and I havent tried that yet ,,Cheers,,Ben
Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 08, 2011 09:43AM

I think there is something to the organ-pipe and resonance thing. I am now shooting for 6:1 length/diameter ratio of mixtubes. Baffle between tube end and grate. Maybe secondary/perforated baffle in between, to break up resonant wavefronts. And "Warriner-style" grate with off-the-shelf "corrugated wood fasteners" and spacers. Looks like good durability, low-cost/effort fabrication, and road-proven. Well over 8:1 depth/passage-diameter ratio too. Heavier, but eh.


Not sure about flared air inlets myself. Might just use plain tube ends. If more air is needed, my latest mixtube design allows easily building larger tubes, as needed. Actually probably less hassle than flared inlets. What works for original antiques is not necessarily needed in new/other designs.


Thanks. Again. As usual...


Glad you liked the videos. Steam cars are fun. My pleasure supplying a bit more scientific evidence for same LOL... Saw the Hoke website the other day, with the credo "Life is too short"... my thinking exactly...

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 08, 2011 10:08AM
I have installed flared velocity stacks to a couple of my Stanleys' mixing tube ends and they boost my fire giving me better evaporation performance by about 10%, especially at highway road speeds. I haven't noticed any difference to how the fire cycles on or off. When the fire cycles on, it still comes on with a thump. As far as the burner howl, I really haven't noticed any change because of the flares. The burners still howl. There are many variables to the making a burner howl, the most variable two being the humidity and air temperature. Without being able to control this last two variables, it is difficult to judge whether the flares make any difference to my burners' howling. The biggest advantage to using a flare on the end of the mixing tubes is there are no more mixing tube fires for me. The flares add about an inch or so to the front pick up point of the mixing tubes. Just enough further out so that any stray vapors from the main jets have further to travel to find an ignition source. If a person doesn't like the howling of the Stanley burner, then install smaller jets that won't howl. The smaller jets plug up easier, and they also reduce the steam evaporization rate.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/09/2011 12:58AM by SSsssteamer.
Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 08, 2011 11:59AM
I have used flared ends on both my cars and as Pat have had the same results.
Good thing to do.

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 08, 2011 03:34PM
Hey Guys,

Hummm, looks like I was wrong about the flares ceasing the howling as much as I had thought that I had read! Open mouth, insert foot! I may be approaching hoof and mouth disease! HA!

Something that I do know about is organ pipes.

There is a lot more to what frequency an organ pipe will produce then just its length.

Organs use an air reed to produce the vibration of air. These air reeds can be tuned to produce a given frequency. The pipe itself will also have a way to tune it. Generally this is with a sliding bit on the open end or a stopper for a closed pipe that will adjust the natural frequency of the pipe.

The goal is to match the frequency of the air reed and the pipe so that the wanted frequency is produced.

Just because a pipe has a given natural frequency that doesn't mean that it will produce said frequency.

As a child I had a short wooden flute with four matched chimes, it wasn't more then 5" long, BUT it was designed to produce the very low tone of a locomotives whistle so it had a very large "cut up" (this is the gap between where the air comes from the breath and the sharp striking object that induces the vibration) so I had to really blow on it for it to whistle. The result was that the frequency of sound produced was MUCH lower then the natural frequency of the pipes!

Here is a pretty good web page about such things. [www.santafevisions.com]

With these burners the vibration is almost certainly coming from the flame dancing into and out of the grate. If it were being produced by the fuel nozzle shooting air into the open end of the mixing tube then when the fuel spray was visible one would see it leaping in and out of the tube when howling. I have never heard anyone say they saw this.

For the fuel spray to be producing the vibration there would have to be something that would split the stream and deflect the air/fuel into and out of the tube, there isn't I simply don't see how that could be what is going on.

So if the flame is what is producing the vibration then it would have two resonating cavities to "sound off of". One being the combustion chamber the other being the mixing chamber beneath the burner and possible the added volume of the mixing tube.

The White mixing tube appears to be just as long as the Stanleys and much greater in diameter too boot, yet it produces a MUCH higher frequency when it howls! From my estimations the Whites distribution chamber is much smaller in volume then the Stanleys and they burn about the same amount of fuel so they should have simular grate areas, so then the major difference would be the distribution chamber volume.

As I said before this indicates to me that it is the mixing/distribution chamber that is acting as a Helmholtz resonator and effecting the frequency of the howl.

From this analysis the mixing tubes could only be doing one of two things. Either they are adding to the distribution chamber volume and giving a deeper frequency or they are simply acting as a "speaking tube" such as on a ship and just passing the sound on.

So the howl frequency would then be a combination of the frequency of the "flame reed" and the mixing/distribution chambers volume. Helmholtz resonators (such as coachs whistles) are a matter of mainly the chamber volume and the frequency that the reed "wants" to vibrate at.

This continues to be an enlightening discussion!

Caleb Ramsby
Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 08, 2011 11:19PM

Not sure if this is related, but I have a turkey fryer burner that gets really noisy when cranked up. What it does is the flame cones get pushed away from their orifices and start dramatically dancing around in turbulent fashion making a lot of noise. I would need to add more orifices if I wanted to quiet it down at the higher btu output to allow the flames to settle back down.

I also have a really noisy mapp (evil) gas torch that is really noisy too. Haven't studied it much though.

Any chance there is a simularity of "burner howl" and the phenomenon I mention?

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 09, 2011 06:09AM
Peter H,

Some Stanley burners run silently under all conditions, and with no backfire at shutdown. How?


David Warriner's burner grate, with corrugated elements between spacers, required no hole-drilling or slot-cutting. I am looking into a similar grate construction. Modification of aperture size/number for tuning is relatively easy with that type of grate.

Peter B
Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 09, 2011 06:23AM

To eliminate howling, install smaller jets for a given mixing tube size... or use bigger mixing tubes for a given jet size & firing rate. The former is best for original antique steam cars; the latter for new designs. If flares increase airflow by 7.5-10%, then an unflared tube of 7.5-10% larger cross-sectional area -- negligible increase in tube diameter -- should give the same results.


Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/09/2011 06:33AM by Peter Brow.
Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 10, 2011 04:31AM
How thick are Stanley burner plates, at the drilled holes? IE, how deep/long are the holes?

The Ottaway burner plans show a 5/32" thick stainless steel grate -- with 1/8" thick optional for smaller burner sizes.

I have an idea for simple empirical air-flow tests on different types of burner grates, to zero in on likely grate openings to start with.

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 10, 2011 08:14AM
Stanley burners are all cast and it makes a difference how there rammed up in the sand.
The original ones that I have verified have averaged between 1/8 to 3/16 both drilled or slotted.
And one end of one I remember was close to ¼
I‘ve only had the opportunity to check about five so they may vary more then what I stated.
The ones I cast I make my patterns 5/32 and hope the foundry does not ram them two deep. One side may be 1/8 and the other end closer to 3/16. by the time I clean them up. The drilled ones I clean up the drilled side with a body grinder before drilling. That depends on how well the cast finish is
On an old rusted burner it’s hard to determine what the original hole was, David Nergaard, Pat or others may have documentation on that. But some may have been as small as a number 60 bit 0.0400 but no larger then a 56 bit at 0.0465 from what I have determined from the old grates I have checked.

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 10, 2011 01:56PM
Great photos again Rolly! Also I forgot to respond to your post about your video. The chuff of the engine makes way more noise then your burner does that is for sure, even coming back with the throttle light or shut there is only a slight humm heard, which could just as well be the tires on the road.

It looks like on the original grate they drilled it "free hand", just sliding the grate around on the drill press table or moved the table and just punched them in. I have a feeling that your reproduction burner is made to a much higher quality standard then the originals were! I wonder if the Stanley brothers would hire you for your expertise or fire your for you perfectionism? I kid!

Speaking of which, how many bits did you go through when drilling all of those holes? Looks like a practice in OCSCD (Obsessive Compulsive Schizophrenic Countdown Disorder) !

Maybe we can turn this into a bon-a-fied vaporizing burner design discussion!

One thing that has always interested me was the use of heavier fuels. White made some experimental cars which burned kerosine, what, around 1907-09 or so for a Glidden tour if I remember correctly. There were two of them and they were said to run very well.

Ahh, found it page 758 of this link [books.google.com]

It was the 1909 Glidden AAA Tour. Only one White car entered and it was a kerosine burning one.

Kerosine requires only 68% the heat to vaporize it but over three times as much to get it up to temperature. Roughly this equals out to 1 : 1.19 gasoline to kerosine total heat to warm up and vaporize the fuel.

Also from Kents, page 2-59 of the Power book, gasoline gas density roughly 3.5 cf lb at 60 deg F kerosing 3 cf lb, btu per lb damn near identical.

So, the kerosine will need to aspirate roughly 1.17 times as much air per cf of gas as gasoline, interestingly about the same as the ratio of heat required per lb to vaporize the fuels!

ALSO note that the ignition temperature of kerosine gas is about 100 degrees lower then that of gasoline gas and ignites in a smaller mixture ration of gas and air.

So what we have here is a perfect mixture for a howling burner!

ONE, the vaporizer needs to be larger and a stronger pilot is required or the kerosine will not vaporize completely.

TWO, The nozzle/aspirating device needs to be more efficient.

THREE, the velocity through the grate needs to be higher to account for the higher flame front speed or the mixture must less rich.

Maybe the Stanleys switch from the slotted to drilled grate was to give more grate area so there would be less back pressure on the mixing tubes and more air would be aspirated by the nozzles, thusly a leaner air/fuel mixture.

Rolly has already posted some good grate figures, if we could get some others to post what the max firing rate of their burner is, if it howls and the nozzle diameter, mixing tube diameter and number of and size of drilled or slotted openings in the burner grate then we could easily figure out a good rule of thumb for a quite or a loud burner!

That way the people who have howling burners could just modify theirs until it was in the "thumb range" of the quite burners and those who wish to make their own burners would know what proportions work and which ones don't!

That is what this forum is supposed to be all about right, helping others who have ISPOD (Irreversible Steam Power Obsession Disorder) .

Caleb Ramsby
Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 10, 2011 05:56PM
About fifteen years ago I drilled my first burner grate. My CNC Bridgeport is two slow for these small bits. Bit speed should be 20,000 + RPM. The only tool I had that would go that fast was a Dermel tool. I made up a magnetic base drill press for it. I use a template to spot the holes first then use the small drill press. Works great, I can get about 400 holes from a good cobalt bit some times more.

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 10, 2011 08:07PM
An excerpt from The Stanley Steam Car Power Plant", by Fred H. Colvin, Editor, _American Machinist_ magazine, June 2nd, 1921:

"The burner is a cast-iron plate of special section as shown in Fig. 8 and contains about 4,500 holes, made with a No. 54 [?--PB] drill. This job is a serious problem in production as the drill breakage is fairly high, being from eighteen to twenty-four drills per plate. While the plate shown is being drilled with a single spindle, a gang drilling machine is used where it is advisable to do so.

"The indexing of the burner is accomplished by the two slides A and B, which give motion in both directions. Cross motion is secured by the indexing crank C, the index plate being in the form of a five pointed star.

"Longitudinal motion from one hole to the next is accomplished by the treadle D. The combination gives the operator complete control of the burner so far as locating the holes is concerned."


Unfortunately, I have a photocopy of the article, not the original, and the picture quality in the copy is too poor to show the details of the Stanley factory burner-drilling rig. Maybe somebody has the original issue and can scan/post the picture here.

Re: Stanley and White Burner Howl
April 10, 2011 08:25PM
Thanks Rolly, fascinating and useful information! Now I can get started on the air flow test setup, for some empirical numbers on different holes and slots.

I am considering a slotted-ridge gasoline burner, similar to the early Stanley burners. American Machinist, June 10th, 1909, page 962, shows the gang slitter Stanley used to cut all the slots in one pass. Yet again, photocopy quality too poor to show the details. Basically a horizontal rotating shaft with a bunch of circular slitting saw blades fitted to it with spacers. The grate feeds along under the blades to cut slots. Fewer blades and more passes are also possible.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/10/2011 08:30PM by Peter Brow.
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