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Introduction, thinking about building a steam automobile

Posted by cogzoid 
Introduction, thinking about building a steam automobile
December 05, 2016 10:35AM

I'm new to steam power, and here to learn from you guys. I'm a hobbyist with a background in physics, and a little design and engineering. I enjoy metalwork and a little woodwork, but I have a lot to learn in both arenas. In the past I've converted a '64 Triumph Spitfire to be fully electric (it's still registered, but needs a little work to be road ready again). I've also built an 8 person pedal powered art piece. It's a little hard to describe but its essentially a street legal (considered a bike) dining table, complete with fine china, silver, and a chandelier overhead.

Anyway, I'm interested in one day building and driving a steam powered car of my own. I'm not sure if I take the route of converting a more traditional car to steam, or if I go the route of more fabrication and build a custom carriage. Or maybe I try and find a old car to restore. At the moment I'm doing some reading online, and doing a lot of absorbing and listening.

The tools that I have, or at least have access to: welders (oxy/acetylene, MIG, TIG), 13" Southbend Lathe, small CNC mill, and a 4 x 8 CNC router, as well as some more typical tools like drill presses, hand tools etc.

I think my first steam project might be a small reciprocating steam engine model. I'd love to build a little boiler as well. I might as well learn some of the basics hands on while things are small and cheap. In the meantime I'm going to continue lurking here and trying to absorb the jargon and lessons from you guys.
Re: Introduction, thinking about building a steam automobile
December 05, 2016 12:36PM
Cogzoid, Welcome to our family of steam enthusiasts. With your arsenal of shop tools, it sounds like you are ready to build anything that your heart desires. At a tap of your finger, our website has a vast amount of steam information available for you. Personally, I am into vintage steam, but this site is the the world's best source for all types of steam car information. So far, I have scratch built two vintage steam cars starting with just a handfull of nuts and bolts. It is as much fun building the steam cars as it is driving them. SSsssteamer
Re: Introduction, thinking about building a steam automobile
December 06, 2016 10:52PM
I'll be pouring over the online information on this great website, and the links to other sites. But, I'm also in the market for a physical book that I can thumb through. Any suggestions for a book for those beginning with steam automobiles? At the moment I'm most interested in things like design considerations from everything from the boiler to the transmission. Even though I won't be facing the design problems for a while, it'd be great to not be surprised by them when I do.

Re: Introduction, thinking about building a steam automobile
December 07, 2016 07:20AM
Hi Cogzoid,

I'm not sure how much basic knowledge you have of steam automobile technology. We have a very basic primer online. You can find it on the SACA homepage under the heading "Tutorial" amongst the left hand side buttons. Steam presents a much larger range of viable alternatives than does internal combustion and it might be helpful just to get a grasp on the terminology and alternatives.

Re: Introduction, thinking about building a steam automobile
December 11, 2016 05:26PM
It is indeed a great tutorial. I've skimmed it once, and I'll definitely go over it a few more times in depth as I get closer to building things. Thanks for the great resource!

My father in law gave me his old set of Wilesco (and other) steam toys. I finally had some time to sit down and fire up the boiler and see what worked. Some of the old parts need some attention, but mostly they needed a drop of oil. I'm such a beginner that this was actually my first time firing up a steam engine of any size. I look forward to building my own.
Re: Introduction, thinking about building a steam automobile
December 12, 2016 01:36PM
Two books I have enjoyed over the years are one by Lindsay publication lost technology series is Steam engine design.
The other is from K. N. Harris. Model stationary and marine steam.
Re: Introduction, thinking about building a steam automobile
January 29, 2017 04:17PM
I am assembling a practical steam truck now. Using my old dodge 4x4 truck and an ACME/Westinghouse engine of about 20 HP that I bought on an ebay auction awhile back, building an ofeldt boiler which is ready for it's pressure test. A greenhouse project takes precedence now but I got the cab off the truck and ready for modification. It will be a firewood powered firewood processing truck with generator and hydraulics for electric chainsaw option and attached log splitter. Will have automatic feedwater control and auto draft blower on a pressure switch for stationary operation. Then it can run a small sawmill, sorghum press, grain mill, and maybe even an electric rototiller. Been interested in steam power for nearly 40 years since I was about 13, finally getting around to making something. In the mean time I've collected enough metal working equipment to make anything I might want. And put together some small foundry equipment. I'd like to make some engines from scratch but it seems other stuff gets in the way too much.
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