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Engine Design

Posted by steamerandy 
Re: Engine Design
August 08, 2011 05:58AM
Hi Jim,

I couldn't agree more -- or say it better than you did. A good classic steam car is simply a wonderful experience on the road. Unfortunately, I think that some people have only seen or taken rides in examples with various problems. A few antique steam cars which I have seen on YouTube have loud clanking and other fixable problems. The good ones are a whole nother story.

Even the latest IC cars, the better ones, have overdrive gears for lower engine speeds in highway cruising. Lower engine speeds are a good thing -- ask IC car manufacturers. Or just look at their products.

Eliminating cylinder oil from a superheated reciprocating steam engine sure would [will?] be a good thing. I have looked into it; several _major_ development challenges, far beyond my current know-how and project. If Harry succeeds at this, with reasonable engine cost and durability, it will be a truly revolutionary development. Real "major milestone in technological history" type stuff. No exaggeration.

Personally, if I ever tried pushing the envelope with heat exchanger/working-fluid temperatures, my current inclination would be an oil/water separating centrifuge. Good ones give practically hermetically pure feedwater. And a light straight cylinder oil which won't clog condensers [but might need a somewhat bigger condenser] and will separate easily from water. Which is a good idea anyway for any condensing steam system using cylinder oil, IMO. From what I have read and have been told, compounded cylinder oils are very "troublematic" for condensing steam power systems, in several ways. Corrosion and oil/water emulsion are issues with those. Often these eminently avoidable oils -- advised against by condensing steam car manufacturers -- appear to be the sole cause of some problems alleged to be "inherent" to steam cars. Yet they are still widely used.

I have had a number of very interesting results from my experiments with Mobil One SHC634. These, plus reports of great success with this oil in steam cars, lead me to plan trying it in my project despite its considerable extra cost. Sometimes for best results you just have to "bite the bullet" on cost. Happily I have also found many places where very small amounts of advanced, top-notch/pricey materials [inexpensive overall] promise major improvements. The kind of thing which only turns up when one is very deep into the fine details of a specific steam power system. "Far down the rabbit hole" so to speak. You probably have a better idea than me of how deep the steam power "rabbit hole" is. Alls I know is it goes mighty far; no end in sight yet. smiling smiley

Hi David,

Sorry if my "newbie" comment sounded like it was aimed at you. It wasn't. There are always lots of new folks popping in. Hopefully to stay. Welcome, one and all! The more the merrier. All the experts here started out as "newbies". BTW, I consider myself a "steam student still working hard toward practical real-world steam car experience" -- NOT an "expert". If/when I get something running well on the road, I might get more high-falutin'. Maybe I'll run for Grand Master of the Ancient Order of the Lamp and Lard Bucket. smiling smiley Attentive readers of Kit Foster's Stanley Steamer book might catch that reference. OK, page 406. Wackiest Stanley Brothers photo ever.

Don't worry about "sticks". I've been "whacked" plenty of times by various parties, sometimes deserved it, and often learned something useful. Unjustified whacks, well, "stuff happens" [that's the "family friendly"/Admin-proof version]; there are special mental hand-salutes for those occasions; flippety doo-dah, skip the internet fisticuff time-waste, design/build, and see how she runs. Helps to imagine yourself in the other guy's shoes. Everybody has different experiences and [resulting] perspectives. Perspectives different from mine are always wrong, of course. LOL

Re: Engine Design
August 08, 2011 08:32AM
Peter, no offense take. I am a newbie and will be for a few more years im sure. Every once in awile i need a good wack with a stick to get me to listen. I work in the water treatment world filtering surface water for drinking. My thoughts for separating oil from water would be set up a small batching system and run it thru a membrane filter under pressure. Ill have to do some exploreing on this subject but would like to know how many gph would need to be treated, and what tempature the water will be at. I know membrane filtration can remove oil from water to a level <1ppm
just need to look into sizing for the flow rate and see if it is a possibility....
Re: Engine Design
August 08, 2011 12:22PM

I will never ever criticize anyone trying to learn about steam cars, we all went through that process and why Barney Becker and Bill Besler never thru me out only says they felt the same way. BUT; like some, make the same mistake two or three times and do not learn and for sure I have a big and well used ball bat. With these cars there is always some lesson to be learned, no matter how goofy the rest of the thing may be.

What really concerns me is that there really are no reference books that deal with what is needed in a vehicle. The old cars, sure; but they are museum pieces and not modern substitutes for the IC car. And the Club does not make any effort to collect some great cars and have them available to pass on this experience at the National Meet, even if it had to help get the cars there. Even our deliberations are not collected and indexed after being vetted for the members to read.
Even if you know a lot of the answers and have had good hands on experiences with them, the modern steam car that is worthy of the name is one really tough engineering feat to accomplish.

Unlike some who do not have any driving experience with the vintage steam cars, some of us have been blessed with the privilege.
A good hot Doble with a light body and a draft booster ( if you can call 6500 pounds light!!) will pin your ears back, in spite of being 87 years old. At 125 mph when it just keeps going hard you no longer wonder just why they made such an impression when they were new. A couple of drives in Coburn's Vanderbilt Stanley or the ex Harrah Model K Stanley will open your eyes wide to just how fast these cars really were. Getting shoved hard into the seat at 70 mph by opening the throttle says all one needs to know about the performance capability of a good vintage steam car.
The White was no where as fast; but it just keeps chugging along all day, quietly taking care of it's needs all by itself and damn well too.
Unfortunately as Peter said, not too many really good ones appear on TV and the producers don't have a clue about what they are looking at.
Far too many that I know are infected with tinkeritus by the owners who manage to ruin any reliability that once was there.

Nothing wrong with the right turbine: but then one has to have some form of transmission and those CV types look good if they would just work with all that torque and not get reduced to rubbish. HOWEVER, with any steam turbine, you have that 1/2-V business to face and when starting from rest, the water rate can and does leap to over 100 lbs/hp/hr even if it goes down to 15 at that critical speed. Bob Barber taught me that one, as I loved the simplicity and power potential of the turbine and no oil either. As Bob said at lunch one day in Colorado: "I know where you are coming from and I too love the simplicity and potential of a turbine; but for a car, ONLY reciprocating is going to do what you want."

You bring something up that interests me a lot. Is there a membrane that would absolutely pass only clean water and not the oil? For a lot of people unable to accomplish or afford to dive into water lube designs, it might be a good answer. Last a long time and not be too big?

Re: Engine Design
August 10, 2011 08:01PM
Hi Jim,

You tell 'em!

I think that your Cyclone Cobra -- a number of them in independent hands, running well on the road and racking up some decent miles -- is the only way to overcome any doubts which people might have about whether Cyclone technology is useful in steam cars. Getting new steam cars running with good results is the only way to demonstrate an intelligent, honest, serious, and practical approach to steam cars.

Re: Engine Design
August 10, 2011 11:40PM
For a demo car I think one along the lines of the Arial Atom would be the best. The engine is out in the open for all to see. And it's a fast light weight car.

Arial Atom USA

Top Gear Arial Atom

More on the Atom

Rolling chassis option to buy a fully built chassis separately from the powertrain.

The Arial Atom is the head turner of today. It's the new age Cobra so to speak. Check it out.

Re: Engine Design
August 11, 2011 05:39AM
Hi Andy,

The Atom is cool, but so is the Cobra, and Jim has said that he prefers the Cobra. And he is the only one who has offered to put a Cyclone in a road car.

Why? Personally, one thing which I [and others] don't like about the Cyclone for road car use is its radial cylinder layout. Years ago I did a study of every known type of engine layout for passenger car use. Inline, vee, opposed-cylinder, W, radial, and others. The radial cylinder layout came out least desireable of all for packaging, center of gravity, and drivetrain complexity/efficiency. Horizontal cylinders -- inline or opposed -- and transverse crankshafts [the latter now standard, for good reasons] were best overall. At the time I was designing a radial engine. I dropped it. Reluctantly, because radial engines have the shortest, stiffest, simplest, and lightest-weight crankshafts. Despite that advantage, radial engines have been avoided by all serious and successful carmakers. Carmakers balance many factors when aking a carm. smiling smiley


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/11/2011 06:16AM by Peter Brow.
Re: Engine Design
August 11, 2011 11:28PM
I may still be living in the 80's but would love to build the the Chrysler "Turbo Interceptor" as a modern steam car, or maybe the chitty chitty bang bang car for the pure nostalgia....... Either or, id be in love with it...
Re: Engine Design
August 12, 2011 05:19AM
Hi Ken,

I can see some merit in making the Club a bit more "traditional-steam friendly", but I oppose the idea of editing all "new steam" out of the Bulletin. That is a step too far. I think that the current disclaimers in the Bulletin are adequate protection against injury & fraud liability issues, and have noted that SACA has always been both "modern" and "antique" friendly. Indeed, that alliance is at the core of the Club's purpose, and part of its traditional identity -- and many members enjoy reading about, and working on, both "old" and "new" steam, and have friends on "both sides of the line".

Let us not forget the recent results of factionalism in the SCCGB. Let alone repeat them.

The older SACA magazines had a "letters" section, often taking up a goodly portion of each issue, especially in the early issues. I am not sure why this was discontinued, or exactly when. Perhaps this should be revived, and edited only for civility and length. The existence of a "letters" section in every issue might encourage many members -- and non-members -- to write brief and interesting bits of news, opinion, questions, etc for publication in the magazine, submitted via email or "snail mail". Writing a brief letter or email is often an easier and more attractive proposition than composing a formal article. Letters could be selected to give a cross-section of diverse opinions and ideas in each issue of the magazine, knowledgeable/well-reasoned and otherwise, including replies, disagreements, and corrections to previously-published letters.

This would have the advantage of minimizing the number of people who might feel that their point of view is not represented in the Bulletin, or is even editorially opposed.

It might also ease the burden of "finding enough material" for the Bulletin, often mentioned by various SACA publication editors over the years. If the supply of full articles runs thin, simply expand the letters section accordingly. Some posts from this Forum could also be reprinted in the Bulletin, as needed and space permitting.

The letters section could have the usual lawyerly disclaimers about "opinions and information in this section are the sole responsibility of the writers, are presented for informational purposes only, and do not represent the official views of SACA; caveat emptor, de gustibus non est disputandem", and suchlike.

Also, since the SACA publication has long since changed back from a small newsletter (early 1990s) into a full magazine, why not revive the SACA magazine's original, simpler, traditional, nostalgic title of "The Steam Automobile"? Volume numbers could restart with Volume 54 (2012 minus 1958?).

Re: Engine Design
August 12, 2011 08:01AM
Hi Peter,

Bulletin content, including the Letters to the Editor, appears to be largely controlled by one factor...SUBMISSIONS. I sincerely doubt neither Karl Petersen nor Tom Kimmel are sitting on large stacks of material that could go into the Bulletin except for their editorial preference. One reason I believe this, on occasion I've scanned the table of contents and noticed articles with my byline, that I really didn't recall writing. Turns out that Tom had e-mailed me a question posed to him by a third party, I'd responded in kind, and at a later date they were so tight for articles that my response became a sort of instant mini article in preference to publishing a block of empty white space. My only complaint was that I'd have edited those replies far more carefully (and stuck in better jokes) if I'd realized they might end up in the Bulletin; this being a trivial matter because the old adage "ya gotta do what ya gotta do" takes precedent.

So, my response here is going to be, write letters to the editor! Also submit some papers on classical steam cars! Now! Macht schnell! grinning smiley That includes all the rest of you, too!

This is kidding on the square, folks. Tom Kimmel is stepping down as president and I'm not sure how long Karl will be editing as it is a time consuming chore and I know he has other irons in the fire. A viable publication needs material, and we seem to have a lack of original work. Anyone willing to put in time writing on the Forum should consider consolidating some of their stuff, cleaning it up a bit, and sending it in for publication.


Re: Engine Design
August 12, 2011 12:15PM

If our Bulletin goes all antique or all modern, then please accept my resignation from SACA. There isn't enough of either one to sustain the publication or the Club and it would be far less interesting if only one type was featured.
I too think that we only see what people send in and if that is reduced to one type of steam car or the other, then dissolve the Club, for you do not serve the breed as you should. And in the present climate of car manufacturers grasping for anything they can to meet the loony government mandates for pollution control and fuel mileage, steamers need all the publicity they can generate. Providing it is real and honest data.

You are right about should Scott be erasing everything about water lube just because, let's say, he doesn't personally believe in it. OK, that is certainly his privilege to not believe it, yet it still should not be eliminated from our Journal: BUT; he doesn't do that.
What does get rather boring at times, is someone who has had no real experience with working steam cars, filling our web site with numerous arguments that have no engineering merit and doing this time after time trying to force his views on the rest of us. OK, enough of this.

I know the Atom electric car, we had a demonstration at the Candy Store one Saturday. Goes like stink; but as a practical type of car, it was really just a very expensive toy of little merit. Just think of trying to go down the Coast on I-5 to Burbank in that thing, or looking straight at other peoples hub caps on the freeway during rush hour. No, I want to do a real car that people think is the living end and that is the big Cobra.

The Cobra is one of the most lusted after sports cars known. Real ones now go for over a million if they have any factory racing provenance at all.
Besides, I want one and that Factory Five replica is very well built and with a Cyclone installed would be quite a talking point for the Company. That and the fun it will generate driving it is the whole idea of sponsoring the project. I need a new steam car anyhow.
We shall see, the first need in my opinion is a real vehicle engine for a high powered car, pickup truck, medium SUV-motorhome or yacht, something that really makes a strong statement along with perhaps a small one for a commuting type of car to go head to head with the increasing number of battery electrics. Although those companies rise and fall like the tides around here.

Right now, I am investigating the replacement idea for the interstate trucks, because of their Diesels being under heavy attack by Washington.
Same goes for railroad engines, multiple Cyclone generators in the power car for meeting varying load conditions. One just the other day here set fire to a lot of dry grass along the right of way thanks to spitting burning carbon chunks out the exhaust. The press had a field day with this one. All three versions are really only a matter of scale, not operating principals; but the Company now has that real generator set to make for the Army and that is one very important contract. Harry and the Company can only tangle with one thing at a time, well, maybe two, so George and I do what we can to support the Company. Then too don't forget that LSR project.

Yes the Cyclone vertical drive shaft is less than ideal for car use. BUT; the engine was designed for powering a generator in the beginning and for that use shaft orientation doesn't matter. A radial isn't so bad as long as you don't try to install it with the shaft horizontal. That crankshaft, if it has two main bearings, is as strong as possible, one good thing about the radial layout. Six cylinders is ideal.
Actually to save the drive line and to use available differentials with a really powerful Cyclone, I think one would need to see a 1-3 overdrive in the bottom of the engine, then a 3-1 reduction at the rear end, assuming a Cyclone like the MK-6 with over 2,000 lb/ft torque at startup. This exact ratio is available in the Dana 44 gear sets and also in the Cobra build list options. Then don't forget the LENCO two speed with neutral goes in too.
Now, if one thinks about a small city car to compete with the electrics, say a MINI or the new FIAT, then a small Cyclone driving the front wheels is just fine with a vertical drive shaft. The two speed transmission is easy to do.
Anyhow, this stuff keeps me out of bars at night.
Don't worry about the Club, it is going to survive quite well.

Re: Engine Design
August 12, 2011 01:34PM
Hello All,

I am one of the non-members who follows this forum almost daily. I'm not an engineer, have never built a boiler or steam engine, and probably never will. I have been challenged enough doing a complete engine rebuild on a Ford 860 tractor nearly as old as I am. I do want you all to know that I appreciate the level of commitment, knowledge, mutual instruction and encouragement, and candor (even the rants) that I see in the posts day after day. Even though I don't have an intimate knowledge of steam power and don't pretend to, at least what I read here gives me a general understanding of this field. I truly hope that the Cyclone engine becomes a commercial success, and not just because I own some of its stock.

I believe I am getting much more than an acquaintance with the technical aspects of steam cars and steam power. I am learning about the poor policies that make or break an industry and the lack of technical know-how among the men and women elected to office that results in those poor policies. I am learning some of the behind the scenes history of the last 40 years. I am getting to know some of the plans, hopes, and frustrations of all of you trying to make commercial steam vehicles a reality, as wellas glimpses of your personalties.

I wish you all success and will comtinue to read with great interest. If any of you have suggestions as to how someone like me can help breach the resistance to steam power, let me know. And, much as I enjoy my Ford 860 and look forward to going back into farming with it, if any of you can design a steam tractor, it will make me very happy.
Re: Engine Design
August 12, 2011 01:47PM
You bring up a point that our President is working on. A book that thoroughly tells what went on in the steam car world from 1930 to the present.
I think that Tom didn't realize when he started just how much was still being done. We sure encourage this book project, it is badly needed by a lot of people trying to figure out just what goes into a steam car.


Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 08/13/2011 12:02AM by Karl Petersen.
Re: Engine Design
August 12, 2011 04:09PM
It really amazes me the amount of lurkers on this site. The number of comments vs the amount of individual page views is vastly disproportional.

Welcome to the forum Jim Kenney, all you need here is an open mind and a willingness to learn and you'll do great.

To everyone else, especially Scott: Please don't begin pulling posts just because you disagree with what they're saying. One thing I can speak about with authority is internet ettiquette (due in large part to being a child of the 90s) and nothing will bring a forum down faster than the removal of opinion posts.

In my experience the only sure way to deal with situations like this is to simply ignore it. If someone is willing to have an open and polite discussion then there is no problem; but if they become belligerent, responding to their belligerent comments only feeds their fire. This is known as "feeding the trolls"

However, double, triple, quadruple, Quintuple posting is unacceptable, and it is common practice on many forums I have frequented to ban users who cannot respect this simple bit of forum etiquette after one warning. Everything else should be free game, it's the quickest way to let the cream rise to the top.

Re: Engine Design
August 12, 2011 06:37PM

I've always wondered how that impulse and reaction stuff worked, I never quite seemed to be able to wrap my head around it. I probably need pretty pictures or something.

So why hasn't anyone used a steam turbine in a car? I imagine the gearing must be a nightmare, but could you shed some more light on that?
Engine Design
August 13, 2011 12:22AM
Jim Crank notes that Bob Barber thinks the steam turbine has no future in an automobile because of matching the performance to the driveability. This is a great point and from one who has an immense practical experience of applying turbines to everything from toilet plungers to space stations. Believe it and go on to other things.

So, what reciprocating steam engine do we need to drive a steam-hydraulic hybrid with nice big accumulators? This has much better efficiency than any batteries.

Karl Petersen
Re: Engine Design
August 13, 2011 12:48PM
One of the things that I think makes the Arial Atom a better match for the Cyclone is the engine could mount over or to the differential as it basicly sets over the rear axil. That said Jim will do what Jim wonts. He's a hard headed old fart like me.
Re: Engine Design
August 13, 2011 01:00PM

I know, turbines are so small for what they put out and that and no need for internal oil is most attractive. I spent several years working on this very hard, just because of those reasons. The things just eat steam when starting up, consider a water rate over 100lbs/hp/hr vs. down to maybe 15 at peak speed and they scream like a banshee too. A light weight monotube goes whoosh and there you are with an overheated dry steam generator. Even the Lungstrom counter rotating was investigated, because it looked really good, also the re-entry axial and radial impulse types. Bob Barber just shot them down one by one that day in detail and he is one turbine designer who really knows his facts. The guys at Sunstrand agreed with Bob and they had a toluene turbine powered bus running around their plant too. The head engineer said the same thing, reciprocating for a passenger car and stop fighting it!!
On the Barber-Nichols web site, there is a splendid set of curves for every type of turbine and steam-vapor expander known and it is deadly accurate. Take a look at the speeds one has to run his expander and the efficiencies and you will see what Bob was talking about. Then there is that 1/2-V ratio for the impulse type and the 1-1 velocity ratio for the reaction type you have to deal with to get any efficiency. Even in our race car, the leisurely acceleration from rest was more like an old clapped out Buick with DynaFlush until it got to about 40,000 rpm then all hell broke loose and it really started to go.

Then came the three Lysholms in series and one bought for study too and then the Wankel with several purchased again for study, all of which had so many problems I reluctantly had to admit defeat and go back to the piston expander.
You ask what piston engine, well personally and after some really lengthly and hard design work, a six cylinder opposed piston unaflow, poppet inlet valves, with two counter rotating crankshafts and the drive taken off the synchronizing cross shaft. Just way too many advantages to ignore. Research the Junkers JUMO and the Fairbanks-Morse opposed piston Diesels on how to make one and the advantages of using one. Too much to ignore. That was lurching along and then Harry popped up, so now my dreams are on the shelf and I only work on the Cyclone for them and gladly I might add.

The big problem with using a turbine in a car is that starting water rate as Bob Barber described to me. The best is still the impulse turbine because in one the blade velocity has to be one half the spouting velocity to get the highest efficiency. The reaction turbine it is one to one, so the wheel speed is now twice as high with the same diameter wheel and with the same spouting velocity. It's starting torque is also three times the running torque, while the reaction turbine does not give this.
The gearing while it has to be very strong and good, is not such a problem. The Lear turbines I had were two stage, helical tooth and had their own oil pump, filter and spray nozzles. With all the fussing around with the race car, not one problem ever came up, they worked just fine.
There were two versions, one to match the GM 6V-71 bus engine which gave about 1800 rpm when the turbine was whizzing along at 85,000 rpm and the Chevy Monte Carlo plant that gave around 5600 rpm at top turbine speed. So I used the bus wheel and nozzle block with 13 nozzles for higher horsepower and the Monte Carlo gearbox to come as close as I could to the speed our tires would use.

Now Karl, why on earth would you want to tack on some inefficient hydraulic drive system to a steam engine???? The Rankine cycle engine all by itself precisely matches the torque and horsepower needs of any road vehicle, so does an electric motor for that matter. Given a two speed with neutral transmission and not one you HAVE to use, but is there if you need it, and the potential total net efficiency is higher than any daisy chain of energy conversion stuff. Use the steam engine all by itself.

The battery electric car gets a lot of attention now, because you can buy the components off the shelf, always could. I have driven several, owned one and they really are nice and quite city cars. Yet one glaring problem raises it's head right away, at least around here. Most have a 25-28 kWh battery capacity, when they really need something around a 50-60 kWh storage capacity. Just too big, heavy and very expensive. That assumes a flat ground to run on. Given some hills and no transmission, you can hear the ammeter needle bang against the stop and you rapidly run out of battery power, providing the motor doesn't erupt in flames first.
Then, let's say the Obama fantasy of mass BEV production does happen to meet his lunatic 54 mpg mandate. Where is the increased generating capacity coming from and how about the huge increase in grid capacity needed?? Consider this one too, there is no road tax on the juice to recharge your electric car right now. What happens when the states and cities discover this nice tax base just got removed from their greedy clutches, you get a separate meter and the road tax gets slapped on the electricity used to recharge your car, big time.
Then, they still burn gas or coal for the most part, so the pollution is still there, only now moved from the vehicle to the power plant miles away.

No, a nice little Cyclone in a MINI or FIAT conversion would solve both the pollution hysteria and the need to get away from imported or even domestic oil consumption. Burn U.S. produced oil from plant waste or algae and the carbon footprint is neutral. THAT is what is needed.
Read that white paper I did for Cyclone, all this is spelled out in detail.

Re: Engine Design
August 13, 2011 07:32PM
Hi Jim,

What maximum inlet pressure and temperature was your opposed-piston engine designed for? How were the valves driven? Did it have changeable cutoff and reversing? If so, what was the cutoff range and how was valve timing changed?


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/13/2011 07:39PM by Peter Brow.
Re: Engine Design
August 13, 2011 09:19PM

The engine I was working on, after all my other ideas were shot down by experts a lot better than I, was a three cylinder opposed piston (six pistons) with 3-1/2" bore X 4" stroke, unaflow. Designed for 1500 psi at the inlet valve, no oil injection and 1,000°F. Designed to run at 2,000 rpm maximum. Two speed with neutral transmission on the synchronizing cross shaft, then up and back to the differential with two ground and lapped helical gears. Crankshafts were to be parallel to the car's wheelbase. Water lube ball and roller bearings on the main bearings and connecting rods. Ring lubrication by a special injection pump right on the rings at BDC, same as the Cyclone uses.
The poppet valves were driven by an exact duplicate of the twin camshaft Skinner Unaflow valve gear. Why invent something new when that one works so well and I have been to sea on the last Coast Guard buoy tender here that had two of them. MAGNIFICENT. 15-1 compression ratio and a copy of the Williams automatic compression relief valve idea.
The inlet timing range was 60% at long cutoff down to 5% at minimum cutoff. Reversing of course in the Skinner manner.
Lamont steam generator with extended surface tubing in the economizer, boiling and drying zones and smooth tubing on up. Cyclone firebox, helical Lamont coil on both sides of the firebox and fed by a programmable draft booster and carburetor, Stack exhaust air pre-heater.
About then here comes Harry and why continue when the Cyclone can do the same job?

Re: Engine Design
August 13, 2011 10:45PM
Wow! That is an amazing powerplant design. Considering the basic similarities, now I understand why you switched to the Cyclone. EG, no point duplicating the considerable experimental and R&D work for the water-lubed cylinders.

Well, I hope it all works out, and that Harry builds you a good steam car engine SOON. I want to see that badass STEAM Cobra on the road!

Re: Engine Design
August 14, 2011 07:29AM
The Day-Land engine drawings available in the store room, how detailed are they? Could they be used to build an engine or are they just reference drawings? Im thinking of picking up a set to study.....
Re: Engine Design
August 14, 2011 11:02AM
In a skinner valve gear mechanism, how does the one cam manage to get advanced or retracted, with respect to motion of the crank?
Re: Engine Design
August 14, 2011 12:52PM
By a very simple helical coupling, one on each cam with a fork riding in a grooved collar on each camshaft. Take a look at the Skinner Unaflow marine engine catalog on Google, so very simple really and it gives any timing you want by varying the amount of angular advance machined into that spiral coupling. You basically advance one cam's rotation against the other with that bar type of roller follower riding on both. For reverse you rotate the cams 180° and voila, reverse timing. Really elegant and actually simple; but very effective. Both cams together for long cutoff, then one rotates vs. the other to give cutoff.
Actually, identical to what Bugatti used for ignition advance and retard on the Type 35 cars with the mag in the dashboard.

The whole car project hinges on two things. First, Harry has to attend to money making business, that Army tank generator project. Then he and George and I have to have a meeting of the minds about just how a steam car engine should be made. Harry likes a small engine, running hard and fast and I don't one bit, based on driving a lot of steamers over the years. I am seriously loath to abandon any of the superb driving attributes the steamer has in spades.
I like a larger engine not being pounded so hard, with higher torque and slower speed. Torque is acceleration and that is one of the nicest things about a steam car, that brute acceleration. Horsepower is speed and if the Cobra can get to around 130 mph then that is enough for a passenger car. He wants to use the Mk-5 at high steam conditions and I am more inclined to the Mk-6 derated as far as pressure is concerned; but the superheat still stays high at 1200° or so. Harry likes 3500 rpm and I want no more than 2,000 rpm at top speed. All just a matter of what gear ratio we use in the Cyclone and in the rear end.
First the generator engine for the Army and the LSR car. Then we talk about the Cobra kit conversion and too, maybe the small city car. I am not forgetting the interstate truck engine either, that is coming up as long as Obama is in the White House. They are attacking the Diesel, while right now it offers the very best compromise.

Quite right, the Cyclone is so very similar in the way it operates, why go through all that agony when it is so very close. The power and packing density of the Cyclone engine is simply superb and even better than what I was working on. Support Cyclone and forget going through all the development work independently, actually in parallel, well sort of. That old adage that Besler drilled into my head years ago: "Never build what you can buy."

Re: Engine Design
August 14, 2011 01:01PM
Jim will any of the tech that made the cyclone possible be revealed to those who want to homebrew their own stuff?

I'm nearing the end of my radial project, all that's left is grinding the piston valves, crank, and pistons, and I'm itching to move on to something more grounded in reality.

To be honest, I really wish there was a compoundium somewhere of info needed to make reliable boilers and engines. I mean, over the course of my project I had three cnc milling machines running their little servos off for four weeks straight. It just kills me to have access to so much production technology and being unable to use it because of my lack of knowledge of just what to build.

I guess I'm looking for a final answer to look to. There was a study done (many studies actually) that showed the more info you present someone on a topic, the harder it is to come to any conclusion. I feel that way about steam right now. There's just so much of the same stuff out there that It's hard to know whats the best, what to focus on, where to look for answers or where to continue where another topic leaves off.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/2011 01:05PM by vandallas.
Re: Engine Design
August 14, 2011 01:33PM
Unfortunately there is no such book and in my opinion it is long overdue, we need it. You are certainly right on this one. The pros and cons of every single aspect we can think of when it comes to steam power in small sizes. Types of boilers and why, types of burners and why, types of engines, and types of auxiliary hardware and why. No hard and fast opinions, only wide ranging descriptions of what was done and why and where would you want to use it again today.

The technology that Harry uses is actually right there in the Cyclone web site and in his postings on this one too. It isn't the tech that is so all fired new, it is the very clever way he packaged the whole thing. Then taking the steam conditions up to the highest possible level in such a small power plant.

Telling someone how to build a steam car engine would be doing the person a major disservice, because we all work towards different ends. It all depends on what the end use is to be. A nice quiet vintage steam boat, a tractor, a generator or water pump that runs on solar energy, perhaps a bicycle or motorcycle or a fire breathing sports car. Each use sort of indicates the type of steam engine that would be most appropriate.
It all depends on what one is trying to do. Make a nice steam plant that just runs well or does one go after pushing the envelope to the limit? Some of us like it if it runs at all, others have been there and now because of the oil and pollution mess, want to se the Rankine cycle upgraded to meet the competition head on.

If competitive efficiency is the goal, then there are indications of how to proceed. Unaflow, single acting, high pressure and very high superheat, relatively high speeds, poppet valve, ultimate recuperation of otherwise wasted heat, reducing heat losses everywhere with a passion, high compression and perhaps the Williams compression relief idea.
If it tends to be more in the line of a nice vintage steam launch, then an open frame triple, coal fire and lazy speeds in splendid silence is more appropriate.

I once proposed to Tom Kimmel that one meet be held that takes three or four days and we have a round table set up with people of proven experience able and ready to describe the reasons for the direction they are working. Go into everything possible.

Re: Engine Design
August 14, 2011 01:53PM
Hi Jim.

If done right I don't think a high RPM engine would be any different on the
road. It would be a difference of gearing. I mean if you have an engine that
does 3600 RPM and starts from 0 RPM and is geared to reach your 130 MPH goal.
Compered to a low RPM engine to reach the same speed. And you get the same
torque at the axil. They would have similar road qualities. But that does depend
on the torque curve and Harry hasn't posted one as promised. You probably know
more about what that torque curve looks like then I.

But from what I have seen of self starting steam engine torque curves to RPM. If you
got one to turn that fast it should have plenty of low end torque. They all produced max
torque off the line. And the major torque drop off started above 900 RPM and the basic
varations was the steapness of that drop off at high RPM.

So Jim are you telling us something about the Cyclone performancs?


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/2011 02:21PM by steamerandy.
Re: Engine Design
August 14, 2011 04:20PM

What about water as lubrication?

I've gleaned small snippets from past posts and from what I can tell, water is injected at BDC of the stroke when pressure and temperature are at absolute lowest. What of the materials though? It must have taken ages to find a coating that would stand up to that kind of punishment. Was a special coating developed? Or found already existing?

I remember Jay Leno talking about how they coated the burner in his doble with some NASA stuff that took the quick temperature like a champ.
Re: Engine Design
August 15, 2011 10:59AM
i know it's a matter of gearing.
With a steam car, I will always trade high torque and lower rpm for any high rpm engine. It is a matter of high wear rates and noise. Not like a Doble or Stanley, not that low; but definitely no 4,000 rpm. I don't want one that sounds like a gas car at normal speeds.
I want the silence when just cruising along. At top speed it doesn't matter.

You will have to ask Harry at the Meet, he is coming. The piston rings are special and work. I am sure the exact data is company confidential.
It did take time and money to get the right material. It's not a coating, it is all in the piston ring design and material.
Jay can afford it, the rest of us can't. Anyhow, why insulate the fire can when the idea is to take that radiated heat and return it to the cycle by using an inside and outside helical coil?

Re: Engine Design
August 15, 2011 02:05PM
Jim, From what I have found I don't think you can go much over 2000 RPM anyway. The S.E.S. pushed the HP peak up close to 1400 to 1500 RPM with the tuned port. But that engine still showed a definate drop off of torque above 900 RPM just like the Stanley and White info I have. I would really like to see what Harry's engines looks like. And if he really has pushed the peak HP up much higher. I havn't seen anything done with tuned exhaust and that combined with the tuned intake ports the S.E.S. forked on might go a bit higher. We have talked about an expansion chamber like that used on a two stroke IC engine.

Jerry, I am ataching thoes scans here sense we can't put atachments on PMs. And for the rest it a couple of pages from one of my books on partial expansion Rankine cycle.

Re: Engine Design
August 15, 2011 04:05PM
Hi Andy,

Correct me if I'm wrong, but are you referring to pressure waves in the inlet steam "bouncing back" off of inlet valves when they close, and causing resonance in the inlet pipes to valves, which limits steam flow into cylinders, and thereby torque, at higher rpms? If so, would higher steam pressure and density in the inlet pipes help, or would it make the problem worse? Or would there be negligible or no effect?

Instead of relatively narrow tuned inlet pipes, I wonder if good-sized steam chests surrounding the inlet valves would allow higher torque at higher rpm.. Possibly with baffles to break up pressure waves and eliminate (or at least minimize) inlet resonance issues. Yet another idea that needs building and testing.

Then again, I agree with Jim on this; why jump through all those hoops for extremely high rpm [by steam engine standards], when the result will be extra noise and vibration.

The SES project is well worth looking into, for steam newbies. I am intrigued by the SES system parameters and test results. I highly recommend ERDA 77-54, from the SACA Storeroom, to anyone who does not yet have a copy. That publication covers the SES system and also a number of other modern steam car power systems, and is loaded with fascinating ideas, data, and equipment.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/15/2011 04:25PM by Peter Brow.
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