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possible truck project.

Posted by ReubenT 
possible truck project.
November 08, 2015 07:42PM
So I have a 1981 4x4 dodge 3/4 ton truck I've decided to retire from highway service since I have a replacement. Thinking of removing the cab and replacing it with boiler and engine of some kind. I have a partly built 40 HP ofeldt boiler, Since it'll be wood fired I think I'll add a curtain of pipes around the inside of the firebox as I finish it, making it at least 50 HP. (have to calculate to get a more accurate figure) turning it into sort of a hybrid between the ofeldt and yarrow. I just bought a small antique engine, westinghouse 2 cy single acting, but it's too small for the truck and boiler. Will make a small boiler to go with it for smaller jobs. I have most of the parts to assemble a 40 HP single cylinder engine of the old style kind, 36" flywheel, etc. but I think I'll save that for a military truck/tractor project. So I'm thinking what's the possibility of a custom head for an auto engine with steam valves in it. I have a 2" thick slab of cast iron I could cut head size pieces from. A few engines laying around that could be used. inline 4, inline 6, horizontal opposed 4, V8. the inline 4 may be the easiest. horizontal opposed 4 next, but it would take 2 heads with 2 crossover lines. I have lathe and milling machine. Although the large milling machine I bought is still at a friends shop about 8 miles away. I can use it where it is until I make a place for it.

So what are the problems associated with converting auto engines? Lubrication issues? Has anyone tried a mix of synthetic (amsoil) marine gear lube (designed to operate OK with quite a bit of water contamination) and perhaps a metal base lubricant additive? (which adds powdered bearing metal to the oil.) And what kind of valves could be machined into a 2" thick head? All I can imagine is some version of a corliss valve. Provided they can work under at least 400-500 PSI. Anything better? A balanced poppet would be nice but increase the complexity. Or perhaps I could use the original heads and original poppet valves for exhaust and custom valves for the inlet through enlarged plug holes. That might be the simplest version. Sitting here thinking about it, I just dreamed up a rotary distribution valve that would not have side wear issue like a corliss style, not pressure balanced, but could be greased or oiled externally with drip oilers. It could be cast iron on cast iron, or brass to cast iron. Though brass may be too soft for the pressure involved. A disc that rotates on a seat, driven by shaft through seal packing, holes in disc distribute steam to ports in the seat, small hole near center from portside for grease or oil insertion.

What I'm after is a practical firewood powered vehicle for work service in the woods and farm. I've tried woodgas and don't like it. wood has to be quite dry and chopped up into small pieces. (too time consuming) and the reliability is limited. I like steam a whole lot better, especially since I started out in life interested in it when I first discovered it almost 40 years ago. I have firewood to process in quantity, for heating and biochar production. (some 20 acres to get cleared) for that I'd like the option of generator on the engine for electric chain saw, a hydraulic pump on it to run an attached log splitter, external powering of sawmill, sorghum press, grain mill, grain thrashing when I get a trashing machine built, as well as steaming grow beds to kill weed seed. All kinds of jobs available for such a machine, truck and/or tractor.
Re: possible truck project.
November 09, 2015 08:11AM

You really should see Tom Kimmel's collection of engines, and steam autos. Unless something has changed in the last four years, he has about seventy engines (guess), from weedeater size to 12 bore stationary. Several are IC conversions.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/09/2015 08:12AM by Scott Finegan.
Re: possible truck project.
November 09, 2015 10:47AM
Scott is absolutely right, you want to see Tom's collection even if you are only vaguely interested in steam automobiles.

I think the most important thing to keep in mind when considering an IC engine conversion is the possibility that the designers and manufacturers of the engine knew what they were doing. I would be highly wary of changing lubricants, for example; keep in mind that these engines use hydrodynamically suspended crankshafts while steamers did so only very rarely. Another item to be very wary of is the claim that a steam engine can develop "umptysquat" foot-pounds of torque and that this is a wonderful thing. Much more powerful IC engines may well not be designed to handle that much torque as they derive their horsepower from rpm and use transmissions to mate the engine to the wheels...just because the steam engine can theoretically produce such peak torque doesn't necessarily mean that the crank, rods, bearings or block can tolerate it.. Honestly, a lot of old time steam car manufacturers didn't take this seriously enough based on the number of bent and broken cranks, rods and frames I have seen.

I have serious questions about any valve gear other than poppets or bump valves having the ability to provide the short cutoff needed to limit torque and yet also turn enough rpm to get the desired power. My suggestion for any such endeavor is to go over the manufacturers specs and then engineer the steam system backwards so as to stay within the original design parameters.
Re: possible truck project.
November 09, 2015 08:22PM
I would love to visit Tom. Maybe it could be arranged. My brother and I started a trucking company last year, just one car hauling truck so far, friend driving it. but I have another one we are fixing to use ourselves. Once it's going I could go anywhere in the country and get paid to do it, with spare time planned into the schedule if desired.

For off road service, low RPM is fine. I'd be fine with 30 mph. And I suspect MBL would solve any lube issues. That stuff is so slick it goes way beyond any oil, and it can't be wiped off. have to take sandpaper to the journals to get it off. It's one of those things that after being run in the engine, the oil can be drained and engine started and run indefinitely without problems. Friend did it with lawnmower engine and it worked. I did it short term in a slant 6 without problems. I had the MBL in it and it lost it's oil, I drove to town and back, about 30 miles, noticed some extra rocker noise, and then found the oil gone.

Now over torquing and breaking an engine, something to work on. How bout a diesel engine? I happen to have a 5.9 cummins waiting for a job to do. It's one of those engines with cracked water jacket. (faulty casting, too thin in one area) Got it cheap and was going to make a bolt on patch and put it in my chevy truck, but then decided against it. (too much modification to make it fit, and too many extra things needed to make it run.) Crack wouldn't matter for steam service. Except that on my old dodge the spot where the engine sits is where I would like to have the boiler for convenient feeding while driving.

Every time I start thinking about something mechanical, ideas come to mind. All I gotta do is look at a problem and start thinking. I'm sure something would work. Anybody try modifying a hydraulic spool valve? That could be controlled for variable cutoff. But if all easier things fail I could make a reproduction corliss valve horizontal 2 cylinder. Cast my own engine parts and machine them. Lots of work time. It's in the plans down the road, but right now I need a quicker solution. I want something running in a few weeks if possible. I've got in mind 2 or 3 vehicles, one a heavy duty tractor using a military 5 ton truck with flotation tractor tires. One using the truck I have now. and maybe one smaller with the little westinghouse engine.
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