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land speed record

Posted by chris Wedgwood 
land speed record
June 14, 2015 05:33PM
hello all,
I have just been reading vol 28 number 6 of the steam automobile bulletin, and in particular the article about Chuck Williams efforts on the salt,
here are some of my thoughts for what they are worth, and I would be interested to see what others think.
as I read it the Stanley Brothers/Fred Marriot, recorded 127.659mph in 1906, Jim Crank did 145.607mph, which is not an official record as it was not monitored by the FIA, this does not mean that he did not do that speed, just that it was not verified correctly to be called a "world land speed record" I do not doubt that he did it, and I am happy to accept it, however for me there is another issue, which for me counts out the British record too, which is that it was not a reciprocating engine, if you look at all the records, a two stroke record is separated from a four stroke record, super charger, turbo charger, ....... they are all different, you could argue that it is still steam....... well yes, but then you could argue that other engines are still petrol.... my take on it is that there should be two different classes here, if you wanted to argue the its steam position, I would bet that a jet of hydrogen peroxide would beat them all.......................... so Chuck Williams is the next reciprocating engine..... but again not FIA monitored.
So to my mind, Chuck has been the fastest on a reciprocating steam powered vehicle, however it was not verified, so to me, I think the Stanley record still stands, one has to remember that the Stanley was allegedly, doing between 150 and 180mph just before it took off, and they were not credited with that speed.

What do you think?

Re: land speed record
June 15, 2015 07:41AM
What has the FIA got to do with it?

Why is the Stanley effor recognized, and not Jim Crank?

My point is there is always something to pick apart, if someone wishes to do so.

The speed is the speed that there are witnesses to.
Re: land speed record
June 15, 2015 07:58AM

I agree with you-things are a bit ambigious regarding the Land Speed Record. If you're are running an internal combustion engine at a Bonneville Speed Event, there will be separate engine classes for different size engines. At Bonneville, turbine-powered steam vehicles are in the same class as reciprocating engine powered steam vehicles. I'm not quite sure, but I think the same ruling applies with the FIA-they make no differentiation between engine types for STEAM powered vehicles.

So-if you consider the LS Record for Steam-powered vehicles to be only for reciprocating engine powered vehicles, then I suppose the Stanley vehicle of 1906 still holds the record. But the SCTA and the FIA-the governing bodies that substantiate records-don't see it that way.

My thoughts on the subject go along with the current state-of-affairs and that is that any method of propulsion-other than thrust-power-would be in the same class of steam-powered vehicles.

The Barber-Nichols/Crank vehicle did a two-way run in 1985 that had an average speed of 145+mph-that's a steam powered/wheel-driven record in my book! My run was only a one-way run and did not meet the two-way average requirement-therefore it can't be considered as anything other than a glimpse into the future possibilities!


Chuk Williams

Re: land speed record
June 15, 2015 11:53AM
I think that when the stanley record was set there were no separate classes for cars. It was simply the fastest car in 1906.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/20/2015 04:04PM by steamerandy.
Re: land speed record
June 15, 2015 02:16PM
Since I had something to do with it, allow me to chime in.
!) A steam car record has no distinction between turbine or reciprocating expander. Both the British car and my car were turbines. Steam is steam and that is sufficient as far as anybody is concerned. Just as long as it powers the wheels and not just squirted out the back. It would have been a converted 3-53 GM Diesel until the remaining Lear steam hardware was offered and instantly purchased.

2) Stanley did 127.656 mph in 1906. My car did 147.607 in 1985 and was timed at 156 during the El Mirage test session, for which I caught hell for exceeding the 125 mph limit during test sessions.
There seems to be a continuing argument about who has the mile record. Some say my car actually holds that record and the British car holds the kilometer record but not the mile record. Somebody care to straighten this out?
If he hadn't crashed, Chuk would definitely have smashed the record by a nice amount. I just hope someone picks up the pieces and goes for it. Cyclone is never going to do it with that pathetic so called engine they keep flogging.
Personally I don't care, it beat the worlds oldest standing automobile speed record (1906-1985) and the oldest and fastest one for any steam powered car and I am satisfied with that.
Once and for all, my car was timed for the required two way run within the one hour period and I have the video. The Brits claim it was not for a two way run just to fluff up their record attempt. Typical of their narcissistic spin control puff attempts to cover a badly designed car. If you repeat the same lie enough times, people start to believe it. The Delusions-R-Us bunch in Florida, living legends in their own minds.

3) Correct Andy, it was the fastest car period.

4) Scott, the FIA is an old self perpetuating bunch of meddling bureaucrats who try to control all automobile racing world wide. Based, I believe in Paris, which may account for their self centered arrogance.
We could have asked for their accreditation only I have less than zero respect for the FIA. Having an FIA sanctioned record doesn't put one buck into your pocket, it means nothing.
We also had no intention of forking over the then $20,000.00 fee they demanded to authenticate your record. Setting a Bonneville record counts for a lot more than any FIA sanction.
Who, if you follow racing, have almost totally destroyed Formula One by some of the worst and most incompetent micromanaging and insane regulations ever seen. Just call up the FIA Constructors Regulations and their Sporting Regulations for Formula One on your computer. Why the teams and their sponsors don't tell the FIA to shove it it is a constant question by many.

Just why our car didn't get some better publicity is a question. Only the SACA Bulletin had the full story.

Re: land speed record
June 15, 2015 04:40PM
I know Jim will want to contribute to the effort below....

Re: land speed record
June 15, 2015 05:48PM
I see all the arguments, and the answers are all interesting and have all passed mind, just interested to see what you all think, I am not a turbine fan, and therefore biased! I take on board the fact that the distinction is that the power is transmitted through the wheels, I do however find the British attempt, ludicrous, embarrassing and a complete waste of money, without actually achieving anything other than demonstrating what not to do. as some of you will know I am planning a trip to Bonneville with a steam powered (reciprocating) motorbike, next year, not capable of such high speeds, but heyho lets see what we can do

Re: land speed record
June 15, 2015 08:40PM

Let's take a rough look at what the Rocket might be if more modernized. Looking at the open cockpit and such, we know that it could be more streamlined. A canoe shape isn't bad though.

OK, 127.6 mph and possibly more if pushed harder. Whatever the horsepower was it was from a system good for 1906, a hundred and nine years ago. What would happen it the horsepower was doubled?

Without a great analysis we can just use the cube law. The cube root of two is 1.26, so if we doubled the horsepower then the car could do 127.6 X 1.26 = 160.7 mph. If the horsepower is doubled again to four times what the Rocket had then 160.7 X 1.26 = 202.5 mph.

That's in an upside down canoe with outboard wheels.


Bill G.
Re: land speed record
June 16, 2015 03:58PM
Jim requested that I delete his post rather than censor it.

Re: land speed record
June 16, 2015 09:17PM
Bill Gatlin Wrote:

> That's in an upside down canoe with outboard
> wheels.

It's widely accepted that the "upside down canoe" is what contributed to its demise! Turns out it was a lifting airfoil when upright, instead of being steady on the ground it was ready to "lift-off" when conditions allowed--and so it did!

Today, we have so much more aero information--and so many more alternatives to creating a successful "airframe" (sic) for the attempt with controlled ground downforce without totally destroying low drag at-speed.

Interesting to note the recent mods to the Indy entrants with their latest aero packages--turns out they had to "turn-down" the aero, after there were a handful of flying racers. Also, it seems that even the Indylights (Jr series) isn't immune to this, here's a great link to an actual event of one of the racers being converted to an aircraft (!!!): [www.foxsports.com].



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 06/17/2015 08:33AM by Bill Hinote.
Re: land speed record
June 16, 2015 10:26PM
Actually, if we want to get picky, the British car record for the mile was only 139.843, so they never beat Jim's record. Their car was in the "Over 6,614 lb to 7,716 lb" FIA steam car category. (Go big, or go home, I guess winking smiley )
Re: land speed record
June 17, 2015 08:23AM
Re: the Stanley airfoil - I found an article in Jay Leno's library, in a 1907 automobile publication, which I annoyingly failed to take notes on and cannot locate elsewhere. An eyewitness account of the crash said that the top of the body shell was loosened by the bumps, rose up from the rest of the body, and caught the air, raising the car. The article even included a big diagram showing the car's progress and motion, picturing the car with its top shell coming loose. Maybe the overall shape would have been good enough if it had stayed intact.

I fail to understand why no one has simply built another Rocket with tougher Stanley parts and improved aerodynamics. That scorned and obsolete technology already proved it can push a light car 150mph plus - just do it again, with mild improvements and no crash. It would have to be way cheaper than clean-sheet design and high-tech components.

Re: land speed record
June 17, 2015 09:25AM
Hear is an article in the Scientific American 1907 PDF File
Describing the accident.
It says the front of the car lifted up with only the rear wheels on the ground.

open | download - Stanley scientificamericanFeb 9 1907.pdf (326.7 KB)
Re: land speed record
June 17, 2015 04:38PM
Looking over the stuff in have on the Stanley 1906-07 racer.

It was reported in Racing on the Rim that in the Automobile Quarterly in 1968
In an interview with Raymond Stanley that FE measured the distance the wheels were off the ground as 103 feet.
Also he stopped his stopwatch at six seconds from the time the car left the start line till the crash. The distance was one quarter of a mile.

Re: land speed record
June 17, 2015 07:16PM
I also read that Bulletin edition about Chuk's endeavor, what stuck with me is that the racer tumbled and rolled like a pencil....

I disagree with those saying the body went airborne....

I remember asking Chuk "hay, what have done in the way of wheel alignment..." I never heard back from him. if you are traveling at ANY speed you need a good 4 wheel alignment.....

I think the parachute did not open, the salt was mushy and that was most apparent on the edges of the track. There was a report he was out of his lane as far as a 1/4 of a mile. Again this would be consistent to having a bad wheel alignment.



Any vehicle that travels a high speed, needs a good steering axis of inclination. So positive caster is needed)
. If the car is "negative caster" it will cause the car to wander at speed. 3 to 6 degrees of positive caster would do it. King Pin Inclination.

Another one is "thrust angle" this should be 0 degrees, and should assure a straight ordination of the rear axle square to the front end....

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 06/17/2015 08:12PM by Jeremy Holmes.
Re: land speed record
June 17, 2015 11:31PM
Hi Kelly,

The reason no one has run Stanley style technology at Bonneville is simple, they aren't allowed to.

Saturated water in a boiler has the potential to release far more energy violently than does steam, steam is a gas and can only expand so much when you drop the pressure. As water flashes into steam it expands with potentially explosive velocity; see the traction engine in Ohio.

It's good to talk about ASME codes and wire wrapping but a boiler impacting a stationary object at a few hundred miles per hour may be a bit beyond what ASME was thinking of; with the safety of spectators and contestants in mind, this sort of boiler was prohibited.

The whole idea of the FIA recognizing a speed to make it official strikes me as a bit funny. Realistically, the only people the FIA can speak for are .... the FIA. They can choose to recognize those speeds they measure and no other, but the other 6 billion folks on earth are free to ignore FIA records in lieu of achievements they deem factually reported. A fact is a fact is a fact, the earth is round no matter what body claimed otherwise. The earth circles the sun rather than vice versa regardless what any religious leader stated. If people with calibrated timers measure the speed in a consistent, methodical and open manner....then that is the speed no matter who refuses to put it in their book. My rule of thumb is that if the Guiness people will accept it, then it has to be good. After all, who wants to put bad information in front of argumentative drinkers on their 6th beer?

How long a run up did the Stanley Rocket have before hitting the start line?


Re: land speed record
June 18, 2015 06:49AM
How long a run up did the Stanley Rocket have before hitting the start line?
Thirteen miles. From what I’ve read.
In a story written by Tom Marshall 1996, Marriott recalled 8 to 10 miles down the beach.

The Stanley had at least 10 to 18 degreese caster you can see this in the photo in
Kit Fosters book page 216

Racing on the Rim
In the short racing career of the red, record setting Stanley racer driven by Fred Marriott,
it was originally called the "Teakettle." In I90Z some writers began to call it the "Bug." Apparently rhese
names were too prosaic for later writers. Some tirme after World War II, over four decades later, someone
invented the name "Rocket" for the Marriott car and all writers have used that name ever since.
All except one, thar is. When Robert B. Jackson wrote his children's book, The Steam Cars of the
Stanley Twins, published in 1969, he apparently thought that even the name "Rocket" was too dull.
By applying artistic license, the "Rocket" became the "Wogglebug" even though it wasn’t the 1905
Ross racer and didn't "woggle" at all.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/18/2015 07:12AM by Rolly.
Re: land speed record
June 19, 2015 06:33AM

I don't know where you get your information-your "ideas" about what happened during my accident contradict the facts determined by the accident investigator and others who were present.

There was no "bad wheel alignment". I wasn't "out of my lane" until I lost control of the vehicle and crashed.

It's as simple as that.....

Re: land speed record
June 19, 2015 03:14PM

Do you think it was the salt that was just too soft?

Best Regards,

Bill G.
Re: land speed record
June 19, 2015 07:18PM
Chuk, I would like to see the printed out copy of the alignment specs- if you don't have this you were flying blind.
Re: land speed record
June 19, 2015 07:53PM
To benefit the reader, I offered Chuk a way to get the LSR aligned on a Hunter G111 (I think it was) at the time I was in Miami and got permission to align the LSR and a print out of specs. This would be done for free. There's no way to know what the Caster and thrust angle actually were without putting the LSR on a alignment machine.

Sure you could set toe with a string but I wouldn't go over 100mph using that method. and its not the only spec that needed checking.

If the alignment was good, Chuk could have looked back to see if the parachute deployed because the car would have tracked straight.
Re: land speed record
June 19, 2015 08:28PM
Speaking from a logistics perspective its obvious that the LSR car would not fit on a standard alignment rack. The car would be placed on blocks 2in high, with a turntable on each wheel.
Re: land speed record
June 20, 2015 03:03AM
Not sure it is healthy to pick over the bones of the crash in this way, Chuk has assured the alignment was right and given his own account of the events. Lessons can be learned but I think we should be applauding Chuk's efforts and willingness to put his life on the line rather than judging him on wether he used one alignment method over another.

Ps a racing friend of mine has an American mobile laser alignment kit that can be used on his car, Mercedes truck or any piece of kit no matter the size all he needs is a reasonable concrete surface.
Re: land speed record
June 20, 2015 04:30AM
Back to the subject, here is another UK attempt at building steam LSR motorcycle seen at the Harogate Model Engineering show. This time with a Locomobile style engine and boiler, I would put my money behind Chris's bike with monotube and I assume still the V2 engine.

Re: land speed record
July 01, 2015 09:11PM
I have stashed a couple of Chuks pictures. I mentioned that I did not believe the streamliner lifted off. You can actually see the body design has down force.

Steam Speed America Bonneville 2012

Re: land speed record
July 02, 2015 03:22PM
Based on the video, I would say that the car would appear to have:

1. started to go sideways a bit
2. rolled on it's longitudinal axis
3. dug in its nose, pole vaulted into the air and tumbled end over end.

Lift doesn't seem to have played any factor.


Re: land speed record
July 02, 2015 08:40PM
Ken, I think that speaks volumes to the safety and the care that Chuk put into the stream liner. The fact that he has another day to race again. The roll cage and safety features were obviously thought out well.
Re: land speed record
July 05, 2015 09:04PM
I would think the car could be pushed out of shape by rear wheel spin on throttle, or by encountering some soft salt on the front end, which would make it washout. It would only take a nudge to start the motion.

More than once in our electric streamliner, Lighting Rod, I found myself caught in another streamliner's tracks.

I remember SCTA being concerned about the parachute deploying behind our skinny shape. they made us install a long leader to the chute.
But when the chute came out at 200, it felt as though the rear of the car lifted slightly and set down.

Eric L
Re: land speed record
July 06, 2015 09:06AM
I agree that the inverted canoe shape should work just fine as long as the car were mounted as low to the ground as possible and the air is kept out from under the car using a dam across the front.

The shape of the Lightning Rod Electric in the photo, a model tested at Caltech, made 50 pounds down force at 200mph and only required 65hp to maintain that 200, which proved to be true. the car weight was 2650 lbs.

This car also has 'strakes' or skirts around the wheels and an exit for the air between the axles. [www.evalbum.com]

What was the highest clocked speed for Chuk's car?

Eric L

Re: land speed record
July 06, 2015 07:08PM

The track conditions were a factor, but-as usual-it was a coming together of a few other factors as well that contributed to the loss of control.

Our exit speed at the five mile was 147.3mph, and I had quite a bit of throttle left.....

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