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Cleaning out the vaporizer

Posted by IronChief 
Cleaning out the vaporizer
September 17, 2018 01:44PM
Had a recent problem with overheating the vaporizer and possibly bad kerosene and making carbon. My vaporizer is a coil, so I cannot use a cable inside. On the Stanley website, I found a tip for doing this is to heat the vaporizer red hot with an oxy/acet torch 4-5 inches at a time, once red hot, shut off the acetelyne and shoot pure oxygen in to the vaporizer, just wanted to report it worked very good, white smoke and sparks issued out the other end. It converts the carbon to carbon dioxide.

Just a heads up, if ya look around YouTube everyone swears by "ChemDip" for dissolving and removing carbon, it did not work for me. The only thing that worked was the pure oxygen process. Odd really, as I've never had much of an issue with carbon, I think I may have gotten some very old kerosene or some with ethanol etc in it. After cleaning the vaporizer it ran much better and had no blockages, but it still didn't heat up like it normally does. One thing it's doing on start up it never did, it will be a bit foggy and warming/clearing up and the fire will just go out. Once everything warmed up completely it was running ok but not like it normally does.

-Ron
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
September 17, 2018 04:03PM
Ron,

Glad to hear you have it cleaned out. The method you describe is identical to what the Germans came up with to clean the carbonized lubricating oil out of their Doble monotube boilers. I understand in that case you could track the flame front through the tube by the glowing portion of pipe.

Regards,

Ken
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
September 17, 2018 04:12PM
Ken,

Yes, that would do it the same way. My vaporizer is a coil which only has heat on one side as it lays horizontal and the top of the coils is blocked/insulated by the mixing tube. It would only burn a short distance, which indicates there was no carbon in the upper loop of the coils.

-Ron
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
September 26, 2018 10:20AM
Just an update to this:

Apparently, I picked up some bad kerosene. Cleaned the vaporizer and it has ran 2 - 1/2 hours and the carbon is back and I was being careful to keep the car/fuel moving, that is all it can be, it's never done that before with that frequency, the carbon issues in the past were light and infrequent. I was talking to a guy last weekend and he said you may have gotten some with too much paraffin in it? Is there such a thing?

The store I first time purchased it at was in a neighborhood with not too many blue collar folks that would be using it for garage heat and cleaning parts (or steam cars). Probably been in the tank a long time.

-Ron
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
September 30, 2018 06:31AM
When it comes to fuel vaporizers, "crud happens". Apologies for my latest "where'd he go?' episode; I've been away steam designing. Latest bit just so happens to be a simplified pilot vaporizer. Like my latest design for the main burner vaporizer, this one uses stock/off-the-shelf straight carbon steel NPT pipe nipples, so if it cruds up you can either unscrew it and drill/poke out the crud, or just unscrew it, throw into garbage, and screw in a clean new one from your friendly neighborhood hardware store. Changing/tossing the pilot vaporizer [7"
long 3/8" nominal npt pipe nipple] would be about a $5 [USD] part; even the [Ottaway-based straight-tube design] main vaporizer tubes (2) wouldn't cost much more. With a bit of tuning to heating surface area [insulate part of pipe as needed], and regular pump gasoline, I think the cleanout/replacement could be not only dirt cheap and easy, but quite rare. At the risk of offending good friends, I must say [based on what I have read in various places] that I think regular pump gasoline is better overall for vaporizing burners than diesel, kerosene, or mixed fuel. Nothing weird there; that opinion dates way back to the early days of cars, and was often repeated in later decades.

The grooviest thing is that I may have worked out an electric auto-start for the pilot, using off the shelf 12VDC automotive diesel glow plugs. Push a button, and the pilot preheats its vaporizer tube and lights up automatically [~15 seconds]; then a timer waits until the pilot heats the main vaporizer before automatically opening main fuel valve. So long screwing around with a propane torch and a stopwatch and a bunch of hand valves. Not perzackly rocket science. In a better world, something like this woulda been on the road in the 1930s/40s; certainly standard by the 50s. Stanley almost got there in 1918. Imagine if there had never been any 1950s/60s "Smog Crisis" in the first place. Actual automotive history turned out a bit more dystopian of course.

Part of my mission [like the 1980s SF TV show "Quantum Leap"] is to fix where history went wrong.

$10 diesel glow plugs get up to 800F; gasoline ignition temp is 495F. No need for a "sparker" to light. Modern natural-gas kitchen ovens light with a ceramic glow element.

Peter



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 09/30/2018 07:09AM by Peter Brow.
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
September 30, 2018 02:52PM
Quote: "I must say [based on what I have read in various places] that I think regular pump gasoline is better overall for vaporizing burners than diesel, kerosene, or mixed fuel."

Straight gasoline, especially nowadays much of which contains some level of ethanol, it's bad for making carbon, ask any Stanley guy. Gasoline has a lower cracking temperature than Kerosene or Diesel, about 100 degrees lower. I'm trying to figure what was wrong with my last batch of Kerosene purchased, something was different about it. I think how it shakes out: If the car isn't going to be driven much or for long periods, straight gasoline is fine, if it's going to be driven a lot and over long periods, like all day over many days for tours etc, the gasoline will prove to be more problematic. This is just based on what I've read and observed. And of course gasoline is not as hot as Kero or Diesel. Tony runs straight gasoline, but he has to use Citgo gasoline only or his vaporizer makes carbon pretty fast.

This whole vaporizing burner issue with overheating vaporizers and carbon creation and weeding it out with fuel brands and blends needs a good non-electric solution, Fred Marriot said it was by far the most problematic part of a steam car, and that is very true. If it wasn't for that, these things would be virtually trouble free.

Quote: " Push a button, and the pilot preheats its vaporizer tube and lights up automatically [~15 seconds]; then a timer waits until the pilot heats the main vaporizer before automatically opening main fuel valve. So long screwing around with a propane torch and a stopwatch and a bunch of hand valves."

Yes that is a good idea, and for a modern steam car with ample power to pull a generator to replenish the battery power that costs, it is a good solution. My pilots use post-mix vaporization, so a propane torch isn't needed, simply light them, they heat their vaporizers themselves - in Serpolet fashion. Impractical for a modern steam car though.

-Ron
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 01, 2018 07:56AM
Peter Brow Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> When it comes to fuel vaporizers, "crud happens".
> Apologies for my latest "where'd he go?' episode;
> I've been away steam designing. Latest bit just
> so happens to be a simplified pilot vaporizer.
> Like my latest design for the main burner
> vaporizer, this one uses stock/off-the-shelf
> straight carbon steel NPT pipe nipples, so if it
> cruds up you can either unscrew it and drill/poke
> out the crud, or just unscrew it, throw into
> garbage, and screw in a clean new one from your
> friendly neighborhood hardware store.
> Changing/tossing the pilot vaporizer [7"
> long 3/8" nominal npt pipe nipple] would be about
> a $5 [USD] part; even the [Ottaway-based
> straight-tube design] main vaporizer tubes (2)
> wouldn't cost much more. With a bit of tuning to
> heating surface area [insulate part of pipe as
> needed], and regular pump gasoline, I think the
> cleanout/replacement could be not only dirt cheap
> and easy, but quite rare. At the risk of
> offending good friends, I must say [based on what
> I have read in various places] that I think
> regular pump gasoline is better overall for
> vaporizing burners than diesel, kerosene, or mixed
> fuel. Nothing weird there; that opinion dates way
> back to the early days of cars, and was often
> repeated in later decades.
>
> The grooviest thing is that I may have worked out
> an electric auto-start for the pilot, using off
> the shelf 12VDC automotive diesel glow plugs.
> Push a button, and the pilot preheats its
> vaporizer tube and lights up automatically [~15
> seconds]; then a timer waits until the pilot heats
> the main vaporizer before automatically opening
> main fuel valve. So long screwing around with a
> propane torch and a stopwatch and a bunch of hand
> valves. Not perzackly rocket science. In a
> better world, something like this woulda been on
> the road in the 1930s/40s; certainly standard by
> the 50s. Stanley almost got there in 1918.
> Imagine if there had never been any 1950s/60s
> "Smog Crisis" in the first place. Actual
> automotive history turned out a bit more dystopian
> of course.
>
> Part of my mission [like the 1980s SF TV show
> "Quantum Leap"] is to fix where history went
> wrong.
>
> $10 diesel glow plugs get up to 800F; gasoline
> ignition temp is 495F. No need for a "sparker" to
> light. Modern natural-gas kitchen ovens light
> with a ceramic glow element.
>
> Peter

I'va also pulled a dissapearing act this summer. Reached the point where I need to build a bigger boiler, but haven't got the motivation or funds for it currently, so I've been working on automating my chicken coop. I used a diesel glow plug to ignite my pellet burner.

I was also thinking about a regular fuel injector for vaporization. They only use a tiny amount of electricity to stay open, and the vaporization energy comes from pressurizing the gasoline to ~40psi. They basically never clog too. You could probably take out the guts so it always stayed on too.
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 01, 2018 10:13PM
Hi Ron & Z,

Vaporizer carbon is definitely the thorniest issue with V-burners. I plan to work on this. Lots of reports have been posted over the years, inevitably with not enough information to really nail down the causes of the problem in each particular machine. Which also means not enough information to really nail down possible or likely solutions. For gasoline, yes, definitely use the cheapest "regular" grade. The more expensive grades have more additives, which are what increase their price -- and cause more problems in vaporizing burners. High-grade gasoline is better for a gasoline engine, but worse for a vaporizing burner.

I don't know if they are still in production, but Coleman made "dual fuel" camp stoves which from all reports ran fine on either special "Coleman fuel" or motor gasoline. I do know that they were in production well into the period when ethanol was being added to motor fuel. Maybe they still are in production: I will look into it. Of course, these run at a much lower pressure and probably vaporizer temperature than a steam car main burner. About the same as a vaporizing pilot light, though. I have not been able to find it again, but I remember a report from one Stanley operator, somewhere around 2005, in the SteamGazette Forum, that he had a specially length-tuned vaporizer and ran on regular pump gasoline with no carbon trouble. Then again, how many miles/hours did he run, etc... If he was only doing a few hundred miles, that doesn't tell us much.

Same deal with my Coleman "Dual Fuel" stove. I have run it on regular pump gas with no carbon trouble, but it hasn't accumulated much run-time over the years.

Mandated ethanol content in US motor gasoline is up to 10%. Ethanol absorbs atmospheric moisture (water) into the fuel, and that might be the main problem with ethanol. Steam "enema" equipment, using boiler steam to blow out carbon at vaporizer cleaning time, have been reported to cause massive carbon trouble when the steam valve leaked steam into the vaporizer while firing. Water in vaporizer, not good.

Well, this is another topic I could write a book about. For now, I'm starting out with straight vaporizer tubes, Ottaway-like for the main vaporizer and one-pass for the pilot. These will be easier to clean out or replace as needed. Worst case, carry a couple quick-change spares for long tours. I'll try some radiant heat shields and "temperature tuning" for carbon control. Maybe a fold-away radiant shield for the main vaporizer; open for warmup/starting and moves into place for running. Plus enough mass in vaporizers for reliable cold-starts -- no "first shot of fuel cools vaporizer and spits liquid out the jet". Blazick jets for the main burner, and I blueprinted a nice filter screen setup for the pilot jet to miniimize/delay carbon clogs. All the standard tricks first, then get more experimental if/when needed.

Z, one possibility for an injector-type burner is to use off the shelf electronics to pulse the fuel flow. That could give perfect fuel/air mix over a wide range of firing rates. Though personally I'm not a big fan of electronics on a steam car, or electrics for that matter. Note that modern direct-injectors are designed to shoot right into the combustion chambers of an IC engine. Older port injectors need to spray into a plenum or mixing tube. Glow plugs are great -- I am happy to hear that you used one successfully to start a solid fuel burner, because solid fuel is something I plan to work on in the future. I need to look up the glow plug's amperage for fuse, switch, and wire sizing; not printed on the box for some reason.

Peter
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 02, 2018 04:34AM
Hey Ron,

"This whole vaporizing burner issue with overheating vaporizers and carbon creation and weeding it out with fuel brands and blends needs a good non-electric solution, Fred Marriot said it was by far the most problematic part of a steam car, and that is very true. If it wasn't for that, these things would be virtually trouble free."

I just wrote a long "literary masterpiece" reply to that comment of yours, which got lost due to digital screwiness. I can't re-do it. But right the F on, and fixing this is one of my top goals..

Also, a light fast-circulation boiler that fires up from cold in 1-2 minutes or thereabouts, is another goal of mine. Hopefully the vaporizing burner warmup can be kept about the same or less, and a pilot-overnight run cycle can keep a daily.-driver steam car good to go instantly every morning -- and all day, every day.

Sincere regards to LSR champ and all around steam genius Chuk Williams, and to Art Gardner; I don't mean to outdo or contradict them in this or any other technical department, just following my own admittedly very limited know-how in pursuit of my own admittedly very limited technical goals. To those who can do better than me, I say: go for it! And I wish them every success! Be assured that I understand, appreciate, admire, and encourage your accomplishments, perhaps more than anyone! Y'all are true heroes of steam power development! Onward and upward; "keep moving forward"!

Peter



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/02/2018 04:36AM by Peter Brow.
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 02, 2018 12:41PM
Peter, I think post-mix vaporization is the route to go down. Serpolet definitely worked in this direction. A liquid vaporizer is always going to be a finicky thing with different fuels and brands etc. The temperature would need to be maintained in a small range and under varying load. It's a complex problem with pre-mix. Post mix vaporization would allow much more flexibility; what does it matter how hot the plate or ? vaporizer gets, it's not going to be a problem making carbon as long as there is complete combustion. That is essentially what is happening in a tube vaporizer, incomplete combustion in it's worst form.

I've been thinking of another type of gun burner design, where there is a conductive honeycombed grill that is preheated by the pilot and the fuel sprayed though it then dispersed and vaporized prior to burn. Or possibly a large mixing tube with a grill style heat exchanger within, then mixed with air and disbursed ala Bunsen.

-Ron
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 03, 2018 11:58AM
The 3/16” stainless vaporizer tubing I’m using for the go kart’s gasoline burner has shown no signs of carbon buildup (so far). My theory is that the velocity of the fuel moving through the small tubing (with 80 psi air pressure behind it) is moving too fast for buildup to occur...and/or the fast moving, high pressure fuel works to scrub off any deposits. It also vaporizes quickly, with only about 5 seconds worth of preheating with a blowtorch to get it started from cold.

Jamison
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 03, 2018 10:39PM
Hi Ron,

There are a number of burner types which run great, some on a wide range of liquid fuels, with no vaporizing tube at all. For road vehicle use, the trick is getting good flame distribution relative to the tube stack, and variable firing rate with a decent turn-down ratio. I think it's possible, but probably will need a fan for forced air. If electric motors are not desired, then that could be done with a very small auxiliary steam engine; the air flow could be varied by throttling the steam feed to the blower engine. Too big an experimental project for me at this time, but I wish you good results if you go ahead with this. What would be really cool would be a post-mix vaporizing burner with a good turndown ratio and flameholder/grate to distribute the fire, and no fan. I have some ideas for that, but they are wild speculation at this point.

I looked it up, and Coleman still makes the "dual fuel" motor-gasoline vaporizing camp stoves. User reviews sound good.

Hi Jamison,

Your clean vaporizer might be due to "velocity scrubbing effect", or maybe you simply got the vaporizer perfectly sized, with no overheating/"cracking" of the fuel. Either way, good going.

5 second preheating; that's great! The circa-1918 Stanley electric pilot preheater took about 10-15 seconds, and that was with a pretty heavy vaporizer and branch/jet unit.. I have read conflicting descriptions of how it worked; some say that electricity was passed through the vaporizer/jet itself, which heated up due to electrical resistance; one circa-1920 article I saw recently mentioned an electric "heating element" which was inserted near the pilot jet.

I have gotten a lot of advice in many different directions over the years, in the burner department. Jim Crank said just tune the vaporizer to keep vapor temp below 400F, and no problems. Other tips ranged all the way to "vaporizing burners run a few hours then plug up solid; constant cleaning, don't waste your time". I'm going to take Tony's approach; build/run it and get some first-hand data/experience. Instead of waiting for things to plug up, I plan to take everything apart at intervals, and pull a white cloth patch through the vaporizers & fittings to check for carbon and other deposits. "The white glove test".

Peter
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 04, 2018 08:54AM
It's having to stop with the intention of resuming driving, the vaporizer must stay hot to re-ignite the burner when needed, that is where the majority of the problem comes in. Yes, if the burner can be left on all the time, then carbon is going to be minimal, but that isn't an option with a burner/boiler that is of adequate output for a vehicle to maintain speed. If I left my burner on all the time, the relief valve would be getting a good workout smiling smiley Driving around shows at around 10 mph, I only use the burner about half the time.

I read a funny story the other day in the 1902 Motor Age, the first person to be arrested in New York city for speeding was a man named "German", he was driving a motorized trolley/bus at the unlawful speed of 12 mph!. The speed limit anywhere in the city was 8 mph on straightaways and 4 mph on corners - they had speed limits for corners.. I'm really curious how they determined his speed or anyone determined their speed. Hopefully he had a good lawyer that brought up this factoid. Cars didn't have speedometers until about 1910.

-Ron
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 04, 2018 05:51PM
Hi Ron,
Weighing in a little...good story, I enjoyed it!

Another thing Tony G. says, "It will teach you". I think your beautiful Buggy gives you an "A".

Very best,
Rick
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 04, 2018 08:38PM
Hi Ron,

There are different vaporizer setups, but in the Stanley boiler, or something functionally similar, the vaporizer is right under the steam generating tubes, and the pilot is only burning enough to keep up with the heat loss out the insulation and/or stack -- or a bit less than that, depending on the setting.

So here's what I think happens. With 500psi in the kettle, that's about 470F. If the vaporizer starts to get hotter than that during standby [main burner off], then the extra heat energy in the vaporizer tube gets radiated and convected to the cooler boiler tubes immediately above it. Everything in there stays about 470F. When you start up again, the fuel flow cools the vaporizer to 400F or less, if the vaporizer is sized right. Then while running, the heat input into the vaporizer tube [from main fire] is roughly proportional to the fuel flow, keeping the vaporizer temp in a narrow range. Hotter fire happens when more fuel is flowing through vaporizer; cooler fire when less fuel is flowing. The metal in the main vaporizer absorbs heat and releases it to fuel, and thereby helps keep fuel vapor temperature in an acceptably narrow range, compensating for rapid changes in burner firing rate.

I suspect that these effects are why Ofeldt, White, and most other successful steam car boilers with vaporizing burners, put the vaporizer between the fire and the boiler tubes. Basically to minimize the excessive-vaporizer-overheat problem which you describe.

Peter
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 05, 2018 09:05AM
Rick,

Thanks for the compliment, having a lot of fun with it.

Quote: "why Ofeldt, White, and most other successful steam car boilers with vaporizing burners, put the vaporizer between the fire and the boiler tubes."

Not exactly sure on the White burner but I believe it is the case as well, the majority of the vaporizer is heated by the pilot only. The Olfeldt burner, the vaporizer is wound around the mixing tube with pilot underneath, not over the burner/fire.

Quote: "and the [Stanley] pilot is only burning enough to keep up with the heat loss"

And unfortunately right under the vaporizer. Fire is fire, it will eventually boil the vaporizer dry in that area and in doing so, cracks the fuel and makes carbon. Can't have it both ways, make enough gas to start the burner and not overheat when unneeded. That is why I suggest a non-electric solution needs to be devised where the heat can be controlled on the vaporizer within a desired range. It's a complex problem because the vaporizer is generally collecting heat from more than one source, the heat is variable along the length of the vaporizer and its acceptable range varies with fuel type and even brand. It's essentially like trying to control the heat on a Monotube boiler. If there was no water and we had to vaporize fossil fuel for a motive gas, no one would be using a monotube, but yet we still fight the conventional vaporizer.

Refer to the Smith system where the suggestion is made to add some oil based mixture to the boiler water for engine lubrication, those who tried that found out that the oil cracked and carbonized towards the end of the generating coil, and some of the stopped up coil had to be cut off occasionally.

-Ron
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 05, 2018 05:45PM
Hi Ron,

I have seen burners fitted to Ofeldt boilers with vaporizers entirely between the grate and boiler tubes. After reading your comments, I now think I was wrong to think of these as standard Ofeldt vaporizers; these may have been modifications made by later owners, possibly by folks who didn't know how the original Ofeldt vaporizers were made, or maybe by people trying to improve on the original design.

In the later Stanley burners, the part of the main fuel vaporizer tube which is directly over the pilot fire is of larger outer diameter and has a thicker wall. This is generally referred to as the "hot dog". I have read that this was added to get some extra metal mass to store heat for initial starting of the burner. I suspect that this also gives the top of the vaporizer more surface area to radiate excess pilot heat to the boiler above and reduce overheat while the main burner is off. The thicker wall should conduct heat from the bottom to the top and sides of the hot dog; also some will be conducted to the smaller-diameter tubing connected to the hot dog.

Right, the main vaporizer goes dry when the main burner turns off. Can the vaporizer be designed to keep the pilot-heated section from overheating to carbon-forming temperature when this happens? Or at least to reduce the overheat and deposit formation to an acceptable level, perhaps capable of running well for a few thousand miles between vaporizer cleanouts? Considering all the conflicting reports which I have read over the years, ranging from "horrific maintenance nightmare" to "no problem", and everything in between, I plan to find out first hand. Same with variations in fuel. Best results seem likely to come from using only regular-grade gasoline; no mid-grade or premium grade, or other fuels. It is the cheapest and easiest to find/refill liquid fuel anyway. Also, I plan to start with a clean new modern plastic fuel tank. Who knows what residues might be left over in "pre-owned" fuel tanks, especially really old steel tanks.

A few things I like about the Ottaway main vaporizer [which is designed for gasoline] are that the "hot dog" [big-bore lower tube] goes all the way across the middle of the burner, and it and the smaller return tube above it are straight for easier fabrication and cleaning. Their combined heated surface area is about the same as a Stanley main vaporizer. Also, if the surrounding equipment is arranged accordingly, then the main vaporizer can be pulled right out the side of the burner/boiler for cleaning, without dropping the burner. If I add removable cleanout plugs at each end of these straight runs, then maybe the vaporizer could be quickly and easily cleaned without even removing it from the car. The Ottaway plans do not specify a cable inside the vaporizer, but there is a spiral wire of mysterious purpose around the inner bore of the larger lower tube; the plans say to make it from 1/8" welding rod, several lengths welded together and then wound up to make one big coil spring. Perhaps an off the shelf coil spring could be used; McMaster and other suppliers offer a wide range of springs.

Needless to say, at this point I am not expecting this burner to have a carbon-free or deposit-free vaporizer. 1500-3000 miles between vaporizer cleanings would be good; equivalent to maintenance/tuneup intervals in older gas cars, like air-cooled VWs.

Lots of folks don't mind the higher maintenance of older gas cars; many even enjoy the extra DIY tinkering, or prefer it to a modern 100,000-mile drive-it/scrap-it "Bic disposable" transpo-module. Especially if the tinker-mobile is a secondary or "just for fun" vehicle. But if the vaporizer needs cleaning much more often than 1500-3000 miles, then it's "experiment time" for me. Any and all ideas or suggestions on how to reduce carbon/deposit buildup in a premix vaporizing burner, or on how to make the vaporizer tube easier to clean, especially with an Ottaway-like vaporizer, are welcome.

Peter



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/05/2018 06:14PM by Peter Brow.
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 05, 2018 06:42PM
Peter,

It is my understanding that the Ofeldt blue flame, sold as such had the vaporizer wound on the mixing tube. That burner came out around 1908, strangely long after the patents for the Ofledt boiler. They weren't the only ones to offer a burner like that, there are a few others like the Jaxon steam steam car that used a similar burner, although instead of straight burner branches, they used J or candy cane shaped branches that filled the voids in the outer circumference region. They may have had burners of earlier design with a different vaporizer.

Quote: "Can the vaporizer be designed to keep the pilot-heated section from overheating to carbon-forming temperature when this happens? "

I think it would require a "bulb" sensing element right inside the vaporizer, that actuates a baffle with small holes that swings around over the pilot flame. Crazy idea, I know smiling smiley An electric version could use a thermocouple.

Quote: "Ottaway main vaporizer [which is designed for gasoline] are that the "hot dog" [big-bore lower tube] goes all the way across the middle of the burner, and it and the smaller return tube above it are straight"

I know the Saca Herb Ottaway plans show the vaporizer like that. The Ottoway burner that came from Don Bourdon only has one large tube going across. Had i not known where the burner came from I would have been skeptical of it, but it works great. Was fast to fire up, puts out lots of heat and it howled a bit starting up, but quietened down pretty quick. It has a cable in the single straight tube going across. It begs the question; does the Stanley burner really need all that vaporizer?
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 05, 2018 08:50PM
The idea I had to control vaporizer temperature is basically a vapor tension thermostat. These are sealed tubes partially filled with water; heating the tube causes a Bourdon tube or a diaphragm to open or close a valve regulating fuel flow to the burner heating the tube. My idea was to make the vapor tension thermostat tube oversized (perhaps with external fins to increase surface area); a second coiled tube passes inside the thermostat tube, this tube carries the fuel. I figure this has a couple of advantages. The vapor tension device controls the temperature inside the tube. The water inside the thermostat is a good heat exchange fluid, it should readily transfer heat to the fuel passing through the inner tube. The biggest advantage is that the water mass inside the vapor tension thermostat dampens temperature swings, meaning it is very hard to overheat the fuel. Given the way water pressure rises with temperature, the thermostat operation is also vigorous regarding excess temperature rise.
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 05, 2018 11:37PM
Hi Ron & Ken,

Or, for fuel-vaporizer temperature sensing, how about a metal tube with one or more Pyrex [borosilicate glass] rods inside, basically a poor man's/dummy's version of Abner Doble's quartz-rod monotube-boiler-control thermostat. Easier to design/build than a vapor temperature or electronic temp sensor. And no need to raid your local New Age metaphysical shop for pieces of pricey quartz crystal. Just point and click to buy borosilicate glass rod at mcmaster.com . Don't count out pivoting or folding radiant-heat and hot-gas shields as temperature control elements; I think that is very achievable. Hey, Jay Carter used moving shutters in his boiler for superheat control; quite successfully according to reports. Tiny bits of hi-temp alloy, painted with ITC ceramic refractory paint to give it a 98% infrared radiation reflectivity; "heat mirrors". Some types of thin furnace board might be rugged enough for the job, easier to cut, and less pricey than stuff like Hastelloy-X and Inconel. Inconel wire, btw, is very reasonably priced; I have a roll of it in my shop. I wouldn't want to buy Inconel tubing, or Inconel sheet, though. Total Fred Sanford "It's The Big One! I'm coming to join you, Elizabeth!" myocardial infarction pricing.

This forum is most fun when the brainstorming goes wild, well, at least from a nutty inventor's perspective, so here's an idea I worked on until somewhere around 2002-5 when Jim Crank convinced me that the only change needed to get perfect results with a vaporizing burner, was to tune the vaporizer tube's surface area to keep maximum fuel vapor temp below ~400 degrees F.

This idea is sort of a Rube Goldberg "scorched-earth" radical solution to an allegedly killer "worst case" problem. The stated problem [you decide if it's a real problem or not; I'm assuming for the purpose of this rap that it is]: any liquid fuel breaks down into carbon, sludge, goo, varnish, etc, when heated to a boil.

Solution. Heh heh. Fit all vaporizing tubes, branches, jets, and other fuel-vapor passages with mechanically-operated scrapers, pokers, wire brushes, air-puff bellows, etc which clean out every bit of contamination in those passages on a frequent basis. The removed crud could be dumped on the road, Irwin Mainway style ["hey, the ground is already dirty; who cares!"], or collected in hoppers for clean disposal.

I worked on several versions of this over the years. One idea had the mechanical cleaner actuated by the parking brake. Set the brake, and the cleaner gets to work. In typical driving, everything would be cleaned out about every 15 miles, which is an average/statistical automobile trip length. Good luck finding fuel bad enough to plug vaporizer or jet on a 15-mile run. During long road trips, running on really rotten fuel, a vaporizer or jet might plug up. You'd pull over, set the parking brake, say a few magic cuss words, and a few seconds later you release the parking brake and go on your merry way, with the whole fuel vapor system cleaned out as well as a Stanley burner that Fred Mariott had spent a half-hour working on.

The idea was that with the frequent complete cleaning, you could then run the vaporizing burner on the absolute worst light fuels available. Bad kerosene, algae-infested light diesel, lethal leaded gas, any grade of rancid gasoline, crummy wet ethanol or methanol, putrid E85, you name it. Jay Leno had an episode featuring the Chrysler turbine cars, where he mentioned that the car was run on tequila in Mexico, and Chanel #5 perfume in France, as publicity stunts. Sure, just pour those in the tank of the self-cleaning-vaporizer steam car too. The burner will burn whatever it can, and the self-cleaner mechanism very frequently scrapes/brushes/pokes/blows-out anything in the "fuel" which won't vaporize.

The pilot burner could be fitted with the same kind of self-cleaning equipment.

All automatic and mechanical, nothing electric, electronic, cybernetic, or diggety-doggetal [digital]. The Stanley Brothers wouldn't like the additional moving-parts count, but I think the mechanical complexity could be kept within reason, and the mechanism could be built rugged enough to last the life of the car without costing an arm and a leg. Sorry FE & FO. But I don't work for them anyway.

Noted mechanical genius Mr. Rube Goldberg would heartily approve, however. smiling smiley

Ron, it is cool that Don Bourdon improved/simplified a vaporizer for the Ottaway burner, considering that Herb Ottaway was a professional engineer employed by the Coleman Company, and that Ottaway and Coleman were pretty much the top of the field of commercially-successful vaporizing burners. Also considering that the Ottaway plans explicitly repeat "do not make any changes to the design". Then again, only Don Bourdon improved on the Ottaway plans. So that's a little discouraging. Still, I think that dumber guys, like yours truly, can come up with improvements too. It just takes us lots more time, experimentation, and hard work. So I've got that going for me. Which is nice. LOL

Peter

[www.youtube.com]



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 10/07/2018 06:14AM by Peter Brow.
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 06, 2018 04:26AM
Hi Ron,

"does the Stanley burner really need all that vaporizer?"

Maybe not. Early "gasoline only" Stanley vaporizers were a pair of small-diameter tubes running from one side of burner to the other, down the middle. Later they had 2 loops, one per tube/jet, then one much longer spiral going to a "hot dog" and branches to jets.

What happened is that by 1914 the proliferation of Otto-engined automobiles had vastly increased the demand for gasoline. This demand increase outstripped the supply increase, and made gasoline much more expensive than kerosene, the demand for which had barely changed. So the Stanley Brothers -- 2-3 years later than they should have, at least, according to some critics -- finally enlarged their vaporizer and made other changes to make their burners capable of burning the now much cheaper kerosene. The idea being, to make the car cheaper to run per mile. I suspect that they did some tests and math on it, and figured that most people would use the now far cheaper kerosene fuel, and the few who still used gasoline, out of habit or for convenience purposes, would only have to clean out their vaporizers slightly more often, due to the vaporizers now being a bit too big for gasoline.

Their cars would now run on either gasoline or kerosene, or any mix of the two, and they advertised that fact, but without mentioning in their ads or sales literature that with gasoline their longer vaporizer tubes would now need cleaning more frequently.

A number of modern steam car burner builders are designing burners for gasoline instead of kerosene or gas/kerosene mixes, in recognition of the fact that gasoline is now much cheaper, and vastly easier and more convenient to find, especially on extended steam car tours, than kerosene. Kerosene prices rose, relative to gasoline prices, in the 1960s & later due to its very widespread use as jet airliner fuel. Regular gasoline, today, you pull into a gas station anywhere, stick the nozzle in the fill neck, and squeeze a hand lever. Kerosene, you buy big barrels and pumps, store them at home -- "good luck with that" if you live in an apartment -- and can only refill at home -- at a far higher price per unit of thermal energy than the cheap-everywhere gasoline. You can skip the home fuel pump if you don't mind hoisting 5-gallon drums, or filling/draining numerous smaller containers, at refill time.

Vaporizing burners were originally only run on gasoline, and many were run only on gasoline even during the "cheap kerosene" era [~1912-1960]. So retuning a kerosene-era burner for best results with modern pump gasoline is not much of a departure from originality for "kerosene-era" steam cars. For road-driving-oriented new steam cars with vaporizing burners, designing/tuning for cheaper and more convenient service-station gasoline is a no-brainer.

As a sideline, the "cheap kerosene era" is when the phrase "gas car" came about, to distinguish cars with Otto engines from steam cars, which were then usually run with cheaper kerosene fuel. Before then, both steam and IC cars ran on gasoline. Increasingly today, steam cars also run on gasoline.

However, I still refer to Otto-engined cars (including hybrids) as "gas cars", because they have "gas engines" -- which run on gaseous fuels [propane, CNG, hydrogen, gasogene gas, etc] or gasified gasoline mixed with atmospheric gases. A steam car, even if its boiler is fired with gasoline, is not a "gas car" because it has a steam engine. It is not inherently limited to gaseous or gasoline fuel; with changes to the burner and/or boiler it can run on any liquid, gaseous, or solid fuels, or even alternative heat sources such as nuclear reactors or solar-heat-batteries. Brayton-cycle, Diesel, Stirling, electric, and other cars merit their own categories, though maybe Brayton & Stirling engines could technically be classified as "gas engines" [expanding gases in their cylinders], despite the former being internal combustion like Otto & Diesel engines, and the latter being external combustion like steam engines. But that's just a bunch of taxonomical nitpickery.

Generally I like to think that cars fall into 2 categories: steam cars, and unsuitable cars. smiling smiley

Peter
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 07, 2018 07:00AM
Hi Ron,

It sounds like Don Bourdon did some testing and tuning, and found that the smaller-diameter upper return tube in the original Ottaway design was not really needed. Possibly he simply increased the OD of Ottaway's "super-hotdog" tube, maybe only slightly, to get the same heated surface area as the early Stanley gasoline vaporizer tubes, with only one big tube? Or just followed Jim Crank's advice to fine-tune the vaporizer tube surface area, a bit at at time, over many experiments, to give max fuel vapor temp below the 400F cracking limit.

I am very encouraged to hear that he got a fast-warmup, high-output Ottaway-like burner that ran quiet after warmup. Maybe I can work out something like that too. I have read many reports of very good results with vaporizing burners over the years, so I don't buy the theory that they are all inherently horrible, nightmarish, worthless, noisy, etc, no matter what you do.

Peter
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 07, 2018 11:01AM
Peter,

The Ottoway style burner was purchased from him, but I'm not sure who made the changes from the Ottoway drawings. I will say, that it works very well with no excessive objectionable noise, if I were in the market for a burner, I would have no hesitations putting one under my own car.


Quote: " I have read many reports of very good results with vaporizing burners over the years, so I don't buy the theory that they are all inherently horrible, nightmarish, worthless, noisy, etc, no matter what you do."

I take testimonials with a little skepticism unless I know the teller of such, personally, and all of the details regarding the claim. People that say they have no vaporizer problems, probably aren't driving very often or over extended periods of time. One can point to the Coleman vaporizing type appliances, but it's not a valid comparison for a few reasons: They burn White gas which is free from additives and the simplest and cleanest of all readily available fuels to use in a vaporizing system, not practical at $14/gallon for the main burner of steam car. They aren't vaporizing very much fuel which in order of scale lessens the effect - 20k BTU vs 300k BTU. The fuel flow is constant in relation to burn, we can't do that with a properly sized mobile steam plant for stop and go street driving. And lastly and most importantly, the Coleman devices have a means to clean the "generator" without disassembly. Anyone that has used these devices knows that part of the starting procedure is to rotate the cleaning lever, which shoves a small wire through the orifice and pushes out any carbon particles. They really aren't trouble-free, they just have a good means of dealing with the trouble.

The Dual-Fuel devices they came out with worked, but it was still easier to burn white gas.

-Ron
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 07, 2018 09:19PM
I was thinking about this tonight. Imagine a fuel vaporizer inside the boiler in the water region, it would never be over 500 degrees and would not make carbon as it is below cracking temperature. It would require two vaporizers, one over a pilot flame to start the boiler and bring it up to temperature and then switch over to the internal vaporizer. Or start the boiler from an onboard Propane tank (direct in to the mixing tube) which could be used for the pilot flame as well. Or maybe a white gas pilot with electronic ignition- glow coil and piezo.

It would be safer too, a ruptured vaporizer would not result in a fire. Higher pressure boiler water would enter the vaporizer and put the fire out. That would be the indicator that a rupture had occurred.

-Ron



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/07/2018 09:22PM by IronChief.
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 08, 2018 12:24AM
Hi Ron,

I'm like you, I take all testimonials in favor of a particular technology with skepticism. Also all testimonials against a given tech. Right, there's always "X factors" -- unknown things which affected the reported results, even when honestly reported by brilliant & experienced guys. The only real cure for it is first-hand experimentation. Keeping in mind that "missing something" is always possible, even with extensive experiments. There is also the "prejudice factor" to watch out for -- pre-conceived notions which can skew test methods toward some subconsciously-desired result. Fighting all those things at once is complicated and difficult.

At this point, I have a three stage test plan. First, plain single-big-bore-tube main vaporizer, length/surface-area tuned for best results and designed for easy cleaning/replacement. Second, same vaporizer with fuel vapor temperature sensor & variable-opening gas/radiant-heat shield [easy with a single tube]. Third, boiler-water-heated vaporizer, which Ken has suggested a number of times, both publicly and privately. I suspect that Stage One will give acceptable results after careful.tuning, but we will see.

Thanks for your mention of the Bourdon[?] single-large-tube main burner vaporizer. I now plan to build and test it. This is much simpler than the original small/large-2-tube/return-tube Ottaway vaporizer design, and I do not see any reason why it should not work at least as well, probably better. I have already decided to build/test a single-tube vaporizer for the pilot burner, instead of the U-loop or V-shaped "vaporizer head" used in later Stanley pilot lights. The single-tube vaporizer is similar to the Maxwell pilot, which I know little about except that it is often reported to run very well. Heated surface area is the same as later Stanley U-tube and V-tube vaporizer-heat pilot vaporizers, also reported to run well.

Peter
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 08, 2018 08:54AM
The early pioneers like Whitney used a fuel vaporizer going through the boiler tubes. I never read of anyone suggesting a vaporizer inside the boiler. If they did, I missed it. It's highly likely it's been suggested or used before.

-Ron


Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 09, 2018 01:47AM
Probably has been. Wouldn't be hard to do with a water-tube boiler, just fuel inlet and outlet fittings in the head [or wall] of the boiler drum, with a fuel vaporizing tube coil inside the drum. Same principle as gas car automatic transmission coolers which are built into the lower head of the radiator.
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 09, 2018 08:04AM
Quote: "fuel inlet and outlet fittings in the head [or wall] of the boiler drum, with a fuel vaporizing tube coil inside the drum."

Would be a difficult vaporizer repair if needed. I was thinking a 2" steel NPT pipe plug with a U-tube vaporizer silver soldered in, the vaporizer could be copper. Would be very similar to a heating element for an electric water heater.

-Ron


Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 09, 2018 02:46PM
I must be missing something...
What to do when the water is cold?
Re: Cleaning out the vaporizer
October 09, 2018 04:38PM
It would require two vaporizers or use propane in the mixing tube to get started and then switch over to the inner boiler liquid fuel vaporizer. The start up conventional over the flame vaporizer could be used with white gas and it would not make much carbon. By only processing a small amount of fuel through it to get started, there simply isn't enough fuel to make a considerable amount of carbon over time. After the burner is going, it doesn't matter how hot the start up vaporizer gets once normal operation commences, there would be no fuel in it once it boiled out. The startup vaporizer would be stainless steel and the inner boiler vaporizer or IBV as I'm already calling it smiling smiley could just be copper.

Either the White gas or Propane could be used as a standing pilot as well. Would just be a small tank needed for start up and pilot fuel. A vaporizer for white fuel adequate to run the burner could be very short, 1/4" pipe one pass across.

I think that would work.

-Ron



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/09/2018 04:48PM by IronChief.


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