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Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans

Posted by Peter Brow 
Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans
March 31, 2019 03:03AM
With future easy reference in mind, I am starting a new thread on the topic of liquid fuel accumulating in vaporizing burners, downstream from the fuel jets. In the "Doble Boiler" thread, Rick H. said that some liquid fuel in the mixing tubes and elsewhere under the fire slots/grate(s) is an inevitable part of warming up a "pre-mix vaporizing" burner. He has designed a burner so that this liquid fuel drains back out the mixing tubes/venturis. Ron replied that this can be avoided by adequately preheating the vaporizer.

I have read about burners with liquid fuel buildup during warmup, and burners without it. There are about a gazillion different designs of vaporizing burners, so maybe[?] in some burners liquid buildup is inevitable, and in others it can be avoided by extended pre-heating of the vaporizer. My impression is that the factory burners in stock production steam cars simply required adequate pre-heat of the vaporizer, and that "fuel in the pan" is mainly a problem with experimental burners, or factory burners with major "after-market" modifications or non-recommended operating procedures.

A related issue is what I call "flooding". Many instruction books for production steam cars advise preheating the main fuel vaporizer [with the pilot burner] for a while, before opening the main fuel valve slowly and gradually when firing up the burner from cold. This is to avoid "flooding" the vaporizer and shooting un-vaporized fuel out the jet(s) and into the mixing tube(s) and burner pan.

I have also heard and read advice to the effect of "once the main vaporizer is preheated, just open up the fuel valve full blast, and let 'er rip, for a fast warmup". Personally, I wonder whether this approach explains some of the vaporizing burner videos which I have seen, with dense "fog cones" coming out of the fuel jets, and various problems popping up [pardon the expression] during the cold-burner fireup...

Maybe the best way to go is like with "Aladdin" brand and similar wick-and-mantle type kerosene burners, where the best results are had by starting the fire with the wick at a very low setting, and gradually raising the wick, a bit at a time, over a period of 5-10 minutes [for a lamp], to avoid clogging the "glow" mantle with black carbon soot.

So, how common is it for vaporizing burners to get liquid fuel in their mixing tubes and pans? What burner design features, tuning tricks, and/or operating procedures, if any, can avoid or at least minimize this problem?

Re: Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans
March 31, 2019 06:50PM

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/30/2020 05:47AM by IronChief.
Re: Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans
April 01, 2019 12:12PM
Thanks Ron, I was hoping you would post pictures of your burner. BTW...it is a nice design!

Peter, From many discussions with Jim about his EX leads me to believe that his factory burner has the flaw or has rusted to have the flaw where raw gasoline can build up under the burner grate. He has witnessed and has objective evidence (burn marks) where this situation causes a flare up. Another cool guy is Jay who has his flare up on video. Unlike Ron, he singes his eyebrows on a regular basis (seems to me at least).

Any who, the fun in a Steam Car is the firing process. When working with gasoline, my thought is to have some design element to prevent gasoline trapped in and under the burner grates or branches. Hence why I mentioned it.

Also Peter you mentioned experimenting, I was experimenting with a new, once pass vaporizing tube that had spiral wire around the fill rod. Allowing liquid fuel to drain was part of the plan. I'll show some pictures when I get home tonight from work.

Tony and I were running down the street in Tony's Delora with an On-a-way burner. His neighbor ran out of her house yelling you're on fire! You're on FIRE!
I think you can piece together what happened...failure to relight. Again, all fun the finger smiley and I'm sure some of the Stanley guys can top that story. We did stop and uncovered the top wood plate. Only the top plate was burnt and Tony designed a new blow-down right on the flame to put it out instantly. Another design feature going on my H Car.

Many blessing,
Re: Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans
April 02, 2019 04:44AM
The burner in Jim's Stanley and some vaporizing pictures...

Re: Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans
April 04, 2019 01:58AM
Thanks for the information, Ron & Rick. Neat designs, drawings, workmanship, and equipment/pictures; verrrry interesting... hmmm....

I think my current burner design, closely based on the Ottaway dimensions for mixing tube bore, jet bore, and grate opening area, will eliminate or at least minimize the liquid-in-pan and other problems found in some vaporizing burners, but it will still be a slow starter [several minutes warmup] from dead-cold, and only building and testing will tell whether it is a solution or merely another harebrained "crazy-inventor" experiment.

The "E-Z-Clean" steam cleaning system for my pilot & main vaporizers now only needs a few final detail blueprint/shop drawings before it is ready to build, mainly a few small parts in the slide-handle control box. Your comments on pan fires, Rick, lead me to think that one of its advantages is that by just operating the slide-handle, the pilot and main fuel are shut off, steam clean valve opened, and the vaporizing tubes are cleared of fuel in a short time. Then the handle can be held back a bit longer, if there is a "flare up", and steam out the jets should quickly clear the fuel vapor in mixing tubes and under grate, and even right out of the tube stack or tube nest... I like that phrase too, tube nest. The steam should also extinguish any flare-up fire.

One issue I wonder about is some of the gasoline vapor from fuel jets condensing on cold metal surfaces of mixing tubes, pan, and grate at the beginning of a cold fire-up. Once the fire gets going, any condensate should evaporate due to the little beams of infrared radiation travelling thru the grate slots heating up all those sub/pre-firebox surfaces, at least in this "Ottawayoid" [Ottawoid? -- perhaps I "otta woid" that differently] design. Heating those bits could be speeded up, perhaps, by mixing a dribble of firebox gas into the incoming combustion air, but I have not found a good way to do that without risking a flash-back of fire into mixing tubes. Ignition of gasoline vapor occurs at just under 500F, if I recall correctly. Maybe small-bore hot-gas tubes between firebox and mixing tubes, which only open up briefly during cold warmup. The "recirculated" heating gases would join the air stream heading into mixtubes at a temperature below the ignition temp, but still hot enough to pre-heat the mix and pre-grate surfaces to prevent gasoline condensation, and the heating-recirculation tubes would stay cool enough inside [briefly, during initial start] to quench any flash-back? Tricky.

I also have an adjustable jet mount design, easy-build and fully blueprinted/ready to build, to keep pilot and main fuel jets precisely centered in, and coaxial with, their mixing tubes. That should help.

Well, it all needs building and testing, just like the rest of the powerplant. One possible problem is that if all goes well, then it might end up as reliable and boring as a household water heater. What, no wild vaporizing burner fun?!?! Aw, rats. LOL. Then again, there's a whole testing/tuning process coming up, which may very well provide enough excitement and hair-raising stories to last for years... not looking forward to the probably inevitable backfires/kabooms... no pain, no gain... during the early burner tests I'll be wearing ear/eye protection, standing well away, and keeping a pair of capacious CO2 fire extinguishers handy at all times...


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/2019 02:02AM by Peter Brow.
Re: Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans
April 04, 2019 08:32AM

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/30/2020 05:46AM by IronChief.
Re: Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans
April 04, 2019 05:53PM
Hi Ron,

I like your pilot-heated mixing tube/vaporizer setup. Kind of a combination "pre-mix" and "post-mix" vaporizing burner. It looks like it could give a faster fire-up from cold, and it is on my list of possible future designs.. Have you measured the peak firing rate? I am aiming for about 4 gallons per hour of gasoline. The "23 inch" Ottaway will do that easily; I have seen "guesstimates" that it can be pushed as high as 6gph, though it reportedly howls when pushed.
In the early days of cars, many people were of the opinion that kerosene was an unsuitable fuel for vaporizing burners, but there were some early examples of commercially produced kerosene vaporizing burners for steam cars, especially after about 1905 when gasoline became more expensive than kerosene. In the very early days of cars, gasoline was a cheap "waste" by-product of kerosene production, with few practical uses and few automobiles around to burn it; refineries would often burn it off in "flares" just to get rid of the dangerous stuff. Early car makers, both gas and steam, were in paradise; here is an easily burned fuel, ideal for Otto engines in particular, which was also dirt-cheap. After about 1914, when the Stanley Bros. introduced their kerosene burners, the criticism that "vaporizing burners are only good for gasoline" seems to disappear from the steam car literature. My impression is that kerosene works in vaporizing burners, but that it is more difficult to develop and tune a good vaporizing burner for kerosene than for gasoline, mainly for the reasons you mention. Then again, the extra challenge and pride of accomplishment with kerosene are actually advantages for most steam hobbyists!

Today of course gasoline is much less expensive than 1-K, and vastly easier to find on the road, though some additives in "pump gas", mainly [10-15%] ethanol in the USA, may be a problem in vaporizing burners. Gasoline is easier to vaporize and ignite, but also easier to "backfire", and to fill enclosed spaces with dangerous vapor. A high-pressure [typically about 140psig] gasoline fuel system for a vaporizing-burner steam car needs careful design, location, fabrication, and maintenance for safety. I once had a gasoline leak in my old VW, where the [negligible pressure] steel fuel line wore through at a contact point on the frame; I will be watching all the tube mount bushings in the steam car. I just asked my smartphone for the ignition temperature of gasoline, and it said "about 495F".


Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/05/2019 01:40AM by Peter Brow.
Re: Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans
April 05, 2019 08:26AM

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/30/2020 05:45AM by IronChief.
Re: Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans
April 05, 2019 10:31AM
Hi Ron,

Disappearing gasoline supplies has been a constant subject of worry for well over a century...one reason Staley developed as steam car for Coats was the worry about gasoline production. The Spindletop discovery in Texas, circa 1901, pumped a lot of oil onto the arket and bought prices way down locally. The really big oil fields weren't located until maybe 20 years later and there was concern that rising demand would cause shortages … there was also worry as to how long the current fields would continue producing. As it was, the whole situation was challenging. I have an SAE minutes from 1916 wherein they discuss the constant decrease in gasoline quantity since the beginning of the century. Anyhow, there have been periodic pronouncements about the impeding oil disaster for every decade since 1900 … if psychics actually did exist they could have been billionaires simply trading on oil futures.
Re: Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans
April 06, 2019 01:33AM
Then again Ken, who's to say that various billionaires today are not psychics, or descended from/heirs of psychics... or perhaps secret masters of supernatural magical arts?

Not that I necessarily buy that, just an entertaining mind-bender...

Back in the old days, the SACA Storeroom sold a reprint of a circa-1918 Stanley Company reprint of an interesting article by Waldemar Kaempffert, about the car of the future. Among other predictions, Kaempffert said that future cars would run on alcohol due to the impending depletion of petroleum reserves. The commentary by the Stanley Company, however, focused on how many of Kaempffert's predictions seemed to describe the features and characteristics of their own "futuristic, but available now" steam cars, so different from 1918 gas cars. Some of the old literature painted steam cars as outdated jokes; other writers portrayed steam cars as "cars of the future", even "ahead of their time". Today "the steam car of the future" is almost always dismissed as a passing delusion of the 1920s, or perhaps of the circa 1965-1975 era. But personally, I suspect that the early steam cars may indeed have been ahead of their time in some ways, and may yet represent the seeds of future cars.

Before 1918, and ever since, yes, there have been "regularly-scheduled" periodic predictions of petroleum running out, with various briefly-convincing but later irrelevant/ignored conclusions/policies being drawn from it. But somehow petroleum production keeps increasing. This inconvenient truth does not make any sense whatsoever from the perspective of a Malthusian "limited resources" political analysis, but to roughly paraphrase Shakespeare, "there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy". Now it's "OK, maybe petroleum production can increase forever, but it shouldn't", and I will leave it there.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/07/2019 12:20AM by Peter Brow.
Re: Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans
April 08, 2019 05:51AM
Hey Peter,

If they were psychics, I would assume Elon Musk would have known better than to unnecessarily make statements that could bring him into a Federal courtroom!


Re: Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans
April 14, 2019 07:00AM
Whimsical supernatural nonsense aside, Elon Musk has accomplished several orders of magnitude more than everyone on this forum combined, and more than all of us combined plus all the bosses of those among us who have bosses. What does the top guy at the company you work for, earn? Musk earns way more. Snickers about how Musk ran afoul of some arbitrary government regulatory false gods is, IMO, mere petty schadenfreude [German for "shameful joy"], unbecoming of anyone capable of critical thinking.

He is mistaken in pursuing EV development IMO, but at least he got off his duff and is doing something, unlike a handful of SACA "snowflakes" whose fall-back "case closed" argument is that "production is difficult". Yeah, that's the way to progress; just quit, because accomplishing anything is "hard".

Re: Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans
April 14, 2019 03:45PM
The problem with Musk is that he has gone from using ALL private money, to using captive customers (Solar City) plus more subsidies, and taxpayers (EV subsidies), and a few public loans, to keep his ventures afloat.

None of it is illegal, but the rest of us pay for it (higher taxes), generating resentment of one kind or another (some don't like subsidized false success, others don't like high profile people to succeed for any reason).

Buyers want EV if they will perform as well as IC at the same investment, most don't want IC but for practical reasons will continue to purchase them. Steam isn't on the radar at all, tho I am sure Musk could produce them with a 4.9 billion subsidy.
Re: Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans
April 15, 2019 11:22AM
Hey guys...a little off topic. Also please keep nice tones.
Re: Liquid Fuel In Vaporizing Burner Venturis & Pans
April 16, 2019 06:06AM
I agree. Automotive subsidies suck; Musk [and GM, Ford, Chrysler, etc] takes them. Musk is accomplished, but no saint.

EV's would [/will] disappear without the $7500+ [differs between states in USA] per car government subsidy. If it were viable tech, it wouldn't need the handout. Working poor paying extra taxes to subsidize expensive EV's/hybrids which only the smugly/preachy "environmentally-correct" affluent can afford to drive, is a ticking political time bomb. EV's & IC/electric hybrids have many other political/economic/environmental ticking time bombs embedded in them. Not long term viable tech IMO.

Maintain low tones!


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/16/2019 06:38AM by Peter Brow.
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