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2 speed transmission.

Posted by joesteamer 
2 speed transmission.
March 14, 2015 04:12PM
Have been thinking about a suitable transmission for a steam car. I've been thinking of using the gear reduction section of a new process NP 203 transfer case as its known for strength the low range is about 2:1 and parts seem to be readily available. It also has a PTO port which I thought could be used to run pumps with the car in neutral. Any thoughts? Pro con either way would like to get some opinions thoughts what have you. I know no transmission is a benefit to steam power but I think a 2 speed can be useful in certain situations, after all the whites had them. Thanks all Joe.
Re: 2 speed transmission.
March 14, 2015 04:21PM
Here are a couple of pics of it. In the one pic it is the section to the right with the shaft sticking out.

Re: 2 speed transmission.
March 14, 2015 11:44PM
David Nergaard installed a two speed Columbia (I think it is) rear axle section into his model 735 Stanley's rear axle. The axle has about a +30% change in speed ratio over stock and he also is able to get a neutral gear in it by using a manual shifting control. It is a great improvement for highway travel and it adds water mileage to his water consumption. The biggest payday on that installation is having a neutral axle gear position while power filling his boiler and also for pre-warming the Stanley engine while firing up. With his 20+ gallon water tank, he says that with all of the improvements that he has made to his car, he often gets up to about 150 miles to a tank of water. Outstanding!
Re: 2 speed transmission.
March 15, 2015 01:20PM
Wendel Mason also had a Columbia in that converted Graham sedan he built with the Stanley engine.
After driving my OO White for 14 years I wouldn't consider a new steamer without one for several reasons.
A steamer has no real engine braking in forward unless you put it into reverse and then it becomes a big compressor. Going down hills you shift into low and let engine friction help, unless you like riding your brakes all the way and burning them up. Warming up in neutral is a godsend and oh so convenient.
In heavy traffic you shift into low to keep the pumps going, especially with a monotube generator.
LENCO makes a nice selection of small two speed with neutral transmissions and they have all sorts of ratios available and can mount right on the engine.
Re: 2 speed transmission.
March 15, 2015 03:36PM
I too vote "yes" for a transmission!

My experience with my steam car in the early '70's revealed certain important deficiencies; most of these could have been avoided or minimized with a transmission. Sadly, I concentrated on a direct drive instead (when I actually had an operating tranny in hand as part of the VW chassis I converted).

The ability to create throughflow with a monotube generator at startup is something the steam enthusiast recognizes early-on; the temperature gradients in the tubing and the steam within aren't really stabilized unless a consistent flow rate is established.
Additionally, the ability to get the engine up to operating temps and to clear the engine out of water and even older cylinder oil deposits is worthwhile. Finally, getting the FW pump and the boiler controls operating as they are designed for, demands operating the system "at speed".

I eventually resorted to jacking up the rear end of the car (for startup) and running it at "no-load" as a result. It would have been much simpler to have a neutral gear selection with a gearbox instead! Also, extended low-speed running resulted in the FW pump being operated below optimum design speed and resulting in confusing operation of the boiler control system--this would have been avoided with a 2-speed tranny which would have provided higher system rpm's at lower speeds. Lesson learned, in the next life I'll have one in my steam car.

Best to all,


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/2015 03:38PM by Bill Hinote.
Re: 2 speed transmission.
March 15, 2015 05:15PM
Jim, I think the Lenco is an excellent product I'm just thinking if something were to go wrong in the middle of nowhere it'd probably be easier to find parts for the transfer case based gearbox in some junkyard or transmission shop whereas you'd probably have to have Lenco parts shipped to you. Not that I would expect either one to break but one never knows. Either way I think the 2 speed is a good idea if not a necessity.
Re: 2 speed transmission.
March 16, 2015 09:33AM
David did not add a transmission to his car he split the rear axle and install a locking device so he could run his car in neutral or without the wheels turning to warm up and pump fuel and water.
This was written up in our SACA-NE newsletter years ago when I was editor.
See attached. Scan down toward the bottom. It works great and is nice work.

A Modified Stanley Rear Axle

The basic Idea
One feature of the later Whites that Stanleys never had was a neutral or free engine condition. This is useful for warming up the engine and running the pumps while not on the road. I have long thought it possible to fit a dog clutch in the right half shaft to give a condensing Stanley this feature. In fact, the basic concept was done nearly a decade ago. However, I hesitated to try it lest I screw up the only axle I had. Then, Frank Cooke sold me a spare axle.
October a year ago, the opportunity to do something about the idea was forcibly presented, a half shaft broke while on the way to a parade! Since the axle had to come apart anyway, I decided to try my clutch idea. The scheme is basically to divide the right half shaft in two, with long splines on the differential one and short splines on the wheel part. Then the pump drive gear is made double width and internally splined to couple the two shaft sections when desired. Sliding the gear toward the differential uncouples the shafts but remains engaged with the pump drive.

Some Details
As it was my intention to do this in the existing Stanley axle housing, the design involved some features which might otherwise have seemed unnecessary. For example, the original axle is supported by bearings at the differential and the outside end. There is no convenient way to fit additional bearings in the middle of the axle, so the split axle had to keep itself in alignment using only bearings in the previous locations. This is done by making the drive, or differential, shaft hollow and supporting the inner end of the wheel shaft with needle bearings in both ends of the drive shaft.
By shifting the pump drive housing as far inward as possible without the gear rubbing on the axle housing and accepting less than full face engagement of the gear when unclutched, it was possible to allow a half inch of axial motion of the clutch-drive gear. This is sufficient to give adequate engagement of splines cut in the wheel shaft for the full torque of a Stanley engine even if ordinary low carbon steel is used. As 4135 steel, heat treated after machining, was used, the strength is not an issue.
In the original design, the axle shafts are held in place axially by the differential bearings, the wheel bearings being free to move slightly in their housings. With the split shaft, the outer bearing had to take up the dual tasks of locating the wheel and handling cornering forces. Therefore, the original 2211 self-aligning ball bearing was replaced with a 22211 self-aligning roller bearing which was fixed in the housing with a shim ring behind it. The much higher load rating of the roller bearing enables it to carry the cornering loads easily. To my surprise, it only cost a few Dollars more than the ball type.
At the same time, new wheel bearing cover plates were designed, to allow fitting modern shaft seals.
The splines were selected by finding a suitable standard SAE spline whose outside dimension was the same as the original Stanley shaft diameter and whose inside dimension left adequate thickness in the hollow drive shaft to carry the expected torque. A twenty tooth, flat root, side fit spline of 12/24 pitch was chosen. The internally splined pump drive gear was made two inches wide with a half inch wide flat bottomed groove near one end for the roller bearing cam follower used to shift it. In my car, the gear is 12 pitch with 31 teeth, which I know is not the same as some other Stanleys. Choosing a standard SAE spline meant that having a gear cutting house make the parts was not too expensive.
For the shifter, a new back part was made for the pump drive box, housing the shift lever. An oval hole about an inch long by a half high was cut in the back of the axle tube for the shifter. A hole in this location has the least effect on the vertical bending strength of the axle. The shifter lever is sited so the cam follower is at the centerline of the axle at the ends of its travel. This minimizes sliding motion on the face of the cam follower in normal running whether the clutch is engaged or not. The lever is long enough that the four inch stroke of the Bowden cable used as a control gives the required half inch clutch travel. The Bowden cable has a nice large knob on the end and cost me a Dollar at a flea market. It comes through the pump box with the knob under the right end of the seat. Pulling the knob out uncouples the clutch, allowing pumping without jacking.

The Results
The axle has been in use for a season (1000 miles), long enough to prove whether it works. It does, but! First, the Stanley engine is far from smooth without a flywheel. Just the jacked up wheel is

Re: 2 speed transmission.
March 16, 2015 11:06AM
Considering the car is a custom one off to begin with, i wouldn't worry about the LENCO breaking. They routinely take 600 hp and what with all the available ratios and the small size, might be the best choice.
Re: 2 speed transmission.
March 16, 2015 11:13AM
David did a nice designing his disconnect for his axle shaft to give him a neutral. A job well done. Then it was Wendell Mason that installed into his Graham the Columbia two speed rear axle that I remembered. David has done wonders to stretch his water mileage on his Stanley, but a two speed rear axle not being one of them. Thank you Rolly for the excellent report above.
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