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Water Level Control

Posted by Rick.H 
Water Level Control
November 05, 2021 06:40AM
Does anyone have a design sketch or specs on this water level controller? This is Joe's Stanley and the pictured device is a Dave Nergard type WL controller.

Re: Water Level Control
November 05, 2021 07:48AM
I think David still sales a kit.
I believe it’s a linear capacitor and indicates in a milliamp meter.
Call him.

Re: Water Level Control
November 15, 2022 11:03AM
I have an idea on how to improve the performance of a Stanley and without significant modification. I would like to receive comments as to if it is a practical idea or not. All aspects are welcome?

Most all Stanley's have an economizer coil over the fire tube boiler. This provides for improving the performance and utilizing what I would call stack temperature that is normally thrown away. This improves the temperature of the feed water and captures some of this wasted heat. A common size for this economizer is 3/8" tubing or even 1/4" depending on the size of the boiler and it's requirement for feed water. Other sizes might be utilized and I wish to classify the tubing generally as small sized tubing.

The volume of water in the tube is minimal for thermal storage and water only flows through the economizer tube when the by-pass is closed. Don't get me wrong, this is a significant improvement over the concept of just feeding water into a boiler to cool it down. The typical by-pass valve mechanism is a horizontal expansion tube that will expand with steam and contract with water within. Joe's Stanley pictured uses the Dave Nerggard sensor and electric by-pass valve actuator. All good and setting the stage for the concept I'm presenting. One more thing is that Joe's Stanley is a condensing machine and there is a hot well where the condensed steam is pumped into and out of during operation. The inherent result is that the water temperature is raised during operation and the resultant feed water starts at a higher temperature after some time of operation. I think the economizer was invented by Babcock & Wilcox as one of the major improvements to a boiler.

When the by-pass valve is open, water flows from the water tank, through check valves and pump(s) back to the water tank. This is by design and intended to keep proper suction on the line.

Another feature of the so called small sized tubing is that the heat transfer is maximized with higher flow rate through the tube. What happens is that the higher the flow rate, the higher is the Reynolds Number. The higher the Reynolds No. the higher heat transfer for this indicates the level of turbulent flow. As I have mentioned in other posts, this is one of the keys to generating steam more rapidly. Higher turbulent flow equates to higher heat transfer. One classic example is the tethered, model hydroplane boat setting the speed record. The magic size of tubing is 3/16". This seams to be the magic size to promote the best boundary layer heat transfer without any fill inside the tube.

Here is the ticket:

The concept is simple, to pump water through the economizer when the by-pass is open. This will capture more of the heat that is lost through the exhaust with more improved heat transfer. On a condensing Stanley, this would be a small change in the route of tubing. For a noncondensing Stanley, one would need to add a hot well along with the change of routing through the economizer. Also, some type of toilet float valve needs to be incorporated to let water feed into the hot well when needed.

I'm sure this is not a new idea and perhaps I'm just coming up with an epiphany from common knowledge. Perhaps this idea is not incorporated because it might devalue the car where it is not an original design feature.

Another mentionable idea and with substantiated results is the use of a flash coil before feeding to the boiler. This would be a coil in the same location as a super heater coil. The concept is proven by Tony Grzyb who incorporated the same principle of by-pass open and feeding water through this flash coil. It is intended to quickly raise the temperature of the feed water in a hot well to improve performance. Tony has a working version of this concept with excellent results. As Gerry Hackett named this same type of coil he used on his Stanley Bus, he called it the Grzyb Coil.

As most of you know, my article on Billy Barnes-Steam Motorcycle Land Speed Record appears in the current Steam Automobile Bulletin. Please have a read, it is showing some real interest. I'm going to see Billy in the near future to see his status on his next LSR machine. We'll be discussing this very idea to help him improve his acceleration toward record territory.

Love to hear your thoughts?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/15/2022 11:30AM by Rick.H.
Re: Water Level Control
November 18, 2022 11:49AM
Small size tubing is great and OK for models, but is you want to substitute it on a Stanley, forget it. To carry the same volume the pumps would have to work much harder and faster to pump the volume required. They have to pump hard enough as is to keep up.
Condensing Stanleys use a thermal expansion bypass valve to regulate the water on a condensing car for automatic water control. Float controls were used mostly on boats. I used a float control on my 25 foot boat with no electric on board. On my 35 foot boat operating at 300 PSI and on board electric controls I used a float switch at the water line of the high boiler water level to turn on and off a solenoid bypass valve to the boiler and Hotwell to maintain water level in the boiler.

You mentioned Gerry Hackett, Attached is the economizer I built for his Stanley Buss, 100 feet of ½ OD type K tubing wound from the outside in and back out again so as to keep the connecting fittings together, also wound for turbulent gas pass flow.


Re: Water Level Control
December 07, 2022 01:06PM
Just thought I'd toss this one in as a possible level control device. On the right hand side is whatever feed pump that you prefer, with a recirculation line plumbed from the discharge to the suction.

The level is regulated by a small control pump that connects to a vertical standpoint on the boiler, the connection being made right at the desired water level.

The pump passes water to the flow motor, which is just a piston in a cylinder with a parallel passage whose flow is regulated by an adjusting screw. The flow motor piston is spring loaded so that the valve on the bottom closes the recirculation line.

If there is water in the standpipe, right at the control pump suction level, it will pump that water past the adjusting screw and return the water to the standpipe (or the boiler). Being dense and viscous, the water will not easily pass the adjusting screw and the pressure will rise prior to the screw. This will cause the flow motor piston to rise, opening the recirculating line valve and therefore sending the pump discharge back to the feed water tank rather than the boiler.

If the level in the standpipe is low, then steam will run through the flow motor. Being less dense and viscous, it will not lift the flow motor and the feed pump will discharge to the boiler. The oil filled dashpot was added if there is a tendency for the unit to chatter when the level is such that a steam/water mix is entering the control pump.

Anyhow, that's one of a few designs working on similar concepts. I sort of like the strict mechanical action.



Re: Water Level Control
December 09, 2022 10:40AM
Hi Rolly, I'm curious if you have any detailed pictures, sketches or drawings on a float level control?

My initial impression is to use a suitable toilet float control valve to let water into a hot well tank, like a gravity feed. Then the feed pump would take this from the hot tank to the boiler.

Back to Gerry's Stanley Bus, did this 100 ft of copper make a bigger difference than that of the original pancake coil economizer. Or did it challenge the feed pumps more to the point of problems. Honestly, what was the end result.

Re: Water Level Control
December 09, 2022 01:31PM
It makes a difference weather you are running condensing or non-condensing. On non-condensing cars it makes a substantial difference. On condensing cars sometimes not so much depending on the condenser and how well it work. I’ve seen some condensing cars where the water tank is venting steam. Feed water would be nice and hot.

Jerry just got another car I believe it’s a 1923 and the guy that restored it used my winding jig to make an economizer for it.

No problems with the feed water pump.

Float control’s work well if there no shaking, I used one on my first 25 foot boat in the hotwell, never had a problem. I also used an electrically operated bypass solenoid valve by a float switch on the boiler on my 35-foot boat, never had a problem with it. Not in the hotwell but in the water column.

Re: Water Level Control
December 09, 2022 02:12PM
Attached is the concept of the electric control switch to operate a bypass solenoid valve, the devises need to be boiler pressured rated. A metal washer the thickness of the travel for high and low water is on top of the nonferrous rod connected to the float that operates at the water level.



Re: Water Level Control
December 10, 2022 02:51AM
Rick look at the Stanley water level automatic expansion tube bypass valve.
See Kit Foster’s book page 234. they weren’t mounted quite at that angle.
The newer ones used a ball check that the rod would seat.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/10/2022 02:57AM by Rolly.
Re: Water Level Control
December 11, 2022 10:54AM
Hear is a view out of the Stanley instruction book.


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All files from this thread

File Name File Size   Posted by Date  
PXL_20210917_225318585 reduced.jpg 932.6 KB open | download Rick.H 11/05/2021 Read message
Stanley economizer.jpg 113.5 KB open | download Rolly 11/18/2022 Read message
LEVEL CONTROL2.png 70.4 KB open | download frustrated 12/07/2022 Read message
Magnetic float switch.jpg 10.3 KB open | download Rolly 12/09/2022 Read message
Scan0004.jpg 221.6 KB open | download Rolly 12/09/2022 Read message
Water level regulator.jpg 515.7 KB open | download Rolly 12/11/2022 Read message