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Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.

Posted by JPDenver 
Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
May 24, 2022 10:50AM

I am rather new to this area of interest, at least at the size most of you are presently working in.
I am a semi-retired electrical engineer that has dabbled in Model Marine Steam and RC watercraft for the past 10 years.
I am not an experienced "Car-Guy". The last time I tore down an auto engine was in 1972 on my 1966 VW Camper.
Back then I had a book called "How to keep your Volkswagon alive, A guide for the complete idiot"

I live in Denver, CO and have a reasonable workshop in my 1/2 of a 2 car garage.

When I found an advertisement from Steam Traction World (STW) in the UK, I got intrigued and looked into larger scale toys. One thing led to another, and I subscribed to the latest series of kits for the "Lykamobile" .

I had STW batch the kits during the winter, and now Kits 1-13 (out of 24) are on a plane somewhere crossing the Atlantic and hopefully will end up in my driveway soon.

As is my usual practice, I am blogging my build. In the past my marine projects were blogged on a site called -
Model Boat Mayhem, in the UK. If you happen to be interested in RC Watercraft of all types, the forum is a great place.
My blog for this project is on blogspot:


I plan on posting full details in that document, warts and all, making a fool of myself if need be.

Here, in this forum I would like to be able to pose questions to those with more experience than myself, conduct some research, and find US based resources to help me get my "lady" on the road before I run out of steam myself.

I just wanted to introduce myself, and see if there are any others who have gone before me.

Regards to all,
Jim Pope
Denver, Co USA
Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
May 24, 2022 12:33PM
Welcome Jim. Good luck with the project.
Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
May 24, 2022 02:52PM
Hello -

First question of the build -

Steam Cylinder Oil - Where to get it? When I asked STW about the recommendations,
I was told - "Morris compound cylinder 1000 steam oil" - Does someone carry this in the US?

Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
May 24, 2022 04:04PM
Mobil steam cylinder oil


I have been using Mobil SHC 634 ISO 460
Synthetic gear & bearing oil for years. Never had a problem. Separates from the water almost instantly.

Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
May 24, 2022 04:14PM

Thanks for the response.

Question - does it make any difference if the engine is non-condensing?
Just exhausts onto the street.

Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
May 24, 2022 04:46PM
No the object is to lubricate the piston and valves.
The closer to the engine the oil is injected the less the oil will heat up and vaporize.
Exhausting into the street on non condensing cars we just don’t talk about. Most of the time it’s just comes out as smoke until the car sits for a while then there may be a drip from the exhaust.
Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
May 24, 2022 05:36PM
Got it - thanks.

Does someone make a pump that attaches to the can to make it easy to handle?


--EDIT --
Never mind - Amazon. DUH

But I will definitely be back here again soon.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/24/2022 06:56PM by JPDenver.
Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
May 25, 2022 08:12AM
Hi Jim,
Nice to have you on board. Please do post your progress. Your build will be very exciting to follow.

Note that I'm building a replica Stanley H non-condensing automobile. I live in NY near Elmira-Corning airport and 20 minutes drive to Watkins Glen race track. Also, I'm a mechanical engineer. I'm on the mend from a torn rotatory-cuff injury but hope to be back building soon.

I attached some pics to inspire you. I use paint brush to reduce my pictures. Please keep high res pictures on hand in case you decide to write Bulletin Article. For example I'll rename the file with reduced added on to the current name. Hope this helps...

Last is when Rolly speaks, I listen. He has engineered and built a beautiful Stanley EX. I have the same Stanley Engine.

Kind regards,
Rick Heinig

Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
May 25, 2022 08:39AM
Hi Rick,

Thanks for the response and encouragement. As I await my shipment, I am taking the time to study the build logs
of previous steamers and try and accumulate the supplies and additional tools I might need.

This is a picture of the pallet on the factory floor in the UK.

Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
May 30, 2022 11:49AM
A Message to Rolly and all others.

As I sit here and wait for my first 13 Kits to show up from STW, I have been collecting resources for future consideration.

Some of the things I am pondering are the aspects of Boiler (and Water) Control, Operation and Preservation.
Perhaps, if any of you have a moment to share some of your knowledge and tutor an old student,
I might be able to gain some perspective.


Let me take a bit of space to layout my current place in the universe.

- I am 70, and have a fair amount of experience in building stuff. I am not actually an engineer, I am instead very
astute at adapting technology, and incorporating the designs of others into pieces I am trying to build.
So in that sense, I am a BUILDER.

- I spend a lot of time searching for the little things that might make my concepts work better. Sometime they do, some times they do not.

- So I have a lot of admiration for the TRUE ENGINEER who starts with a blank piece of paper and "works it out". I also know that I lack some of the basics in the various fields that comprise the skill sets of many designers I see here on
this forum and elsewhere.

- Lastly - and admittedly to my detriment, I am somewhat impatient. I usually look at the end of an explanation first
to see the result, rather than giving the author the courtesy of paying attention to the details. But then I go back and see
what was really meant.

If I was younger, I might expend the additional energy needed to acquire the various foundations to be a better
scratch builder, rather than what I am, which is a KIT BUILDER. I regret not having that time. I am still mentally and
physically able to pursue this type of activity.

I just know that I am down to 10 years or so before it will be hard to crawl around a vehicle, even one as lightweight as
the STW Lykamobile. So - I want to strike while the iron is still hot, or at least able to be heated.

My past exploits are visible on a youtube channel:
if anyone is interested.

My plans for this build are to be true to the design as it is presented by STW. I know that the car is a - "Near Replica".
From what I have picked up from the historical records so far - it greatly resembles the Stanley Stanhope Model 1.
I see this from the use of the center steering "tiller" and the general look. I found references to the formation of The Locomobile Corporation in an archive of The Horseless Age (Google Books) - First in Vol4-Number12- June 21, 1899.
Strangely enough the company was first incorporated as "The Automobile Company of America" - as can be seen by the
ad that came out in the following issue - (see pics) - then it reappears a month later as "The Locomobile Company of America" - and carries on from there. From what I can see, there was another company incorporated in another state
with the same name - and obviously an agreement was made to avoid confusion. These and the advertisement from Sept of 1899 that I found in the Ford Museum archives lists the address in Newton, Mass.

So that will be the basis of my "Modern Copy" -

I will try and be faithful to the STW design and build it as they direct. But at some points I may diverge from the
STW plans and add things - once I see how they intend to address concepts. One of the aspects I find slightly difficult
to contend with is the fact that STW provides instructions and drawings - a little bit at a time.

There is no "Big Picture" of the entire build. I can and have poured over blogs from other builders, but these are
from earlier releases of the Kit Series. The most recent just finished up, Grier's Blog, but that was the first release
"Mark 2" model and was undergoing final re-engineering during the release, with each kit being tested in the prototype
and then released. It is my hope that the re-engineering is complete at this point.

Therefore certain aspects of the build are in the fog of upcoming releases, and the design may still actually be in
revision. One of these areas is that of Boiler and Water controls.

So questions -
(Thanks for sticking with this if you got to this point).

Sight Glass - The current sight glass is along the side of the body below and a little behind the control levers.
This is usually viewed in a small mirror mounted on the "dash" tilted so you can see the level as you drive.

Rolly - In your response on the Thread on - Trackless Locomotive - you show LED Versions of sight glasses:
WHERE DID YOU FIND THESE? Is there a catalog I have not found yet? Please expand my knowledge in this area.

Sensing the actual level in the boiler electronically - I have worked on this problem in smaller steam plants, most of the
time it is attempted by looking at the sight glass tube optically and passing a light thru it that varies with the presence of water. I have also seen manifolds that have modifies spark plugs as sensing points.

So - what is the experience of others in this regard? What does the electronic package look like? Is any of this
"Off The Shelf" - or all custom? Can anyone point me to schematics. (Arduino - anyone)

That's about it for now. The dogs want a walk.
Appreciate in advance any input/response.

Regards to all.
Lift a pint to Absent Friends

Jim Pope
Denver, CO

open | download - Automobile Co of AmericaAd.pdf (74.1 KB)
open | download - Locomobile Ad 1.pdf (492.3 KB)
open | download - 1899 LOCOMOBILE Plate.pdf (763.8 KB)
Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
May 30, 2022 01:25PM
Rolly - In your response on the Thread on - Trackless Locomotive - you show LED Versions of sight glasses:
WHERE DID YOU FIND THESE? Is there a catalog I have not found yet? Please expand my knowledge in this area.

Good luck with your projects.
The LED water level indicator are my own design and build, I have made several versions. Some are on the internet somewhere. SACA-NE president David Nergaard has a simpler version, a capacitor probe.

I am not a graduate engineer, but I could be called a professionals builder, having bid and built many projects.
There are many electric commercially made water level indicator but not very simple or to my liking. I have worked construction most of my life building and upgrading power plants and other projects. Some are now torn down, the L street power plant in Boston lasted 108 years. I had a crew and upgraded it and computerized it 40 years ago.
Also worked as a project manager on the 25 year shut down of the Pilgrim Nuclear power plant now decommissioned. I could list a dozen more. The last one was for the Bridgewater prison, small plant, three boilers, two 600 KW steam generators and two 1000 KW diesel. Nice job made 30% profit.

I’m a bit older 83 and have been building steam projects all my life.
Now Lots of scale models.

From radio controlled tug. A 25 foot launch to 35 foot 300 PSI cabin launch .
Restoring and re powering a 1925 Stanley and full ground up rebuilding and restoring of a 1906 Stanley EX . [stanleysteamers.com]

Now mostly models, and dream projects.

Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
June 02, 2022 09:21AM
Hi Jim,
From another perspective, it is a big part of the experience to control your water level. I intend to start out with the basic manual by-pass valve control using the sight glass as the measuring device. In essence, I'll be the computer. Picture attached of such an experience.


I'm working with a Stanley owner of a large condensing model. He is seeking out a water level indicator for the Ofeldt boiler installed. I did refer him to Dave Nergaard who has a system on a lot of these models. His contact info is in the bulletin.

Best of luck in what ever your inclined to do,

Kind regards,

Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
June 02, 2022 09:58AM

You are certainly correct, one of the biggest reasons we play with steam is to fiddle with it as we go.

I intend to build the Lykamobile - as designed by STW. And see what I end up with. I certainly have a ways to go.
My pile of kits/pallet is sitting in Customs in Dallas. Arrived last night.

So now I am waiting to see what happens with import duties etc.

The pallet is supposed to ship by truck to Denver arriving tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.
Then it will be delivered to my driveway. With my luck - while I am out, and my wife will have to deal with it.
(Hope not)

SO - I have sorted all my taps and dies, separated my socket sets into SAE and Metric.
and stood in my workshop imagining where the heck I am going to store Kits 2-13 while I work on #1.

Never a dull moment.

Thanks for reading,
I will update as things get interesting.

Happy June 2

Jim Pope
Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
June 04, 2022 08:49AM
Hi Jim!

It sounds like you've picked an interesting project for yourself. It'll be interesting to follow your progress, so-Thanks for taking us along on your journey!

There's lots of steam knowledge available from the guys who frequent this Forum and quite a bit more available from the other members of our Club-the Steam Automobile Club Of America. If you haven't joined already, you should consider joining our Club and helping us spread the word to some of the younger crowd who-hopefully-will keep the steam dream going!

Well-good luck with your Project!

Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
June 11, 2022 05:08PM
And here is my pallet -

(With QC Inspector present)

Please catch my blog (listed in the first post) for detailed status updates.

I will come back here for help and advice as I get further along.

Thanks for reading -

Jim Pope
Denver, CO USA

Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
June 16, 2022 10:02AM
Let the story begin ...

I read the blog you linked in your first post. Really, you're going to have a lot of fun! smiling bouncing smiley
Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
June 28, 2022 08:38AM
The first batch of chassis parts is back from the powder coater.
I chose not to do the painting on the large stuff in order to avoid the fumes.
These old lungs are coated enough as it is.

So here are the chassis parts, the assembly will happen in the next few days.

Keep an eye on my blog, it will have all the details, warts and all.

Jim Pope
Denver, CO

Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
June 28, 2022 09:04AM
Smart move.

Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
July 11, 2022 04:16PM
I have spent a week getting started,
New posts to my blog at:


So far the chassis is rolling -

Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
July 19, 2022 10:20AM
Excellentsmiling bouncing smiley progress my friend...keep up the good work. I'm following you on your blog.
Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
July 29, 2022 07:33AM
I see you have worked on the front brakes with a little issue you rectified. Nice job. I'm interested in putting front brakes on my Stanley I'm building.
Making Progress - Chassis and Lower Frame
August 02, 2022 10:16AM
So I received the main frame parts back from the powder coater.

I used the jack stands to support the assembly of the lower frame and then placed it on the chassis.

Again - full details on the blog:


Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
August 13, 2022 08:24AM
You inspire me. I'm a follower on your blog. You are making excellent progress!

Please explain what you did with the exhaust hat? It looks like a giant gear formed out of sheet metal. You used a tin can, Garbanzo Beans?

Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
August 13, 2022 08:34AM
Hi Rick,
Thanks for reading the blog.
But read it again - before you look at the pictures.

To clear up the misconception, that is not the Exhaust Hat. It is the Filler inlet for the water tank.
The massive looking brass "gear" is a very nice CAP.

The inlet was damaged while at the powder coater, and the repair put it out of size for the cap.
The can of Garbanzo Beans (empty) formed a new liner for the inlet - and the cap now fits very nice and tight.

Keep reading - soon to post the brake system install.

Then on to the engine.

Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
August 15, 2022 07:44AM
Thanks Jim,
I read it and apologize for my haste in just looking at pictures. I'm sure you don't mind. Also I read on about the brake installation...nice job!

I know this might be inconvenient, but wanted to see if you would come to the Steam Automobile Club of America (SACA) meet in western Michigan the first weekend in October. I would love to climb over and look at all your progress?

I'm hopefully going to help out another steam car builder bring his car to the meeting. Its a rolling chassis with engine and boiler identified and located. However, all the details need hooking up and integrating. Maybe some synergy may be developed. Of course I'm partial for I'm building a car also and want to talk details.

Give it a thought...

Kind regards,
Re: Hello - From a newbe to the Steam Auto Arena.
August 15, 2022 08:32AM
Hey Rick,

I just love it that someone is actually taking the time to look at my blog.
So missing a detail here and there is perfectly OK with me!!

I am flattered that my build may be up to the quality of those I see out on the websites.
I look at the cars on the sites of some of the clubs and read the details of the judging and levels of status and
wonder if my "replicar" would be accepted.

This forum has welcomed me, but I am just a newbie with a good set of tools and a brain to figure things out.
So my work may have a scratch or two, and I may have changed out the kerosene lamp burners for LED's.
I build to keep my fingers from itching. If that pleases others, I get an extra kick from that too.

I can not quote you the coefficient of expansion of a cup of coffee, or even the proper way bleed your brakes.
However, anyone is welcome to share a cup with me, and I have enough wipes if the brake fluid goes all over the floor.

I am out here in Colorado, and appear to be one of the few (if not the only one) in the area that works on full scale
steam autos. Most of you seem to be back east. If there are others that read this and hang out near Denver, I would love to hear from them. There are a lot of small-scale steamers out here, garden railways, a few into model boats (like me),
and there are probably a few car owners, but as we all know, collectors are a private bunch, and we only really talk to those we know.

So as to a trip to Michigan, I am afraid I will have to say no. I am still semi-employed, and while I have the budget to build this baby, I do not have the means to transport her around.

I really appreciate the invitation, and look forward to a continued dialog as my journey moves forward.

Keep checking the blog, the engine build is next. I will post in multiple entries as I go.

Jim Pope
Denver,CO USA
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File Name File Size   Posted by Date  
Gent Speed Roadster H5 1908.jpg 236.5 KB open | download Rick.H 05/25/2022 Read message
Image (26) (5).jpg 233.2 KB open | download Rick.H 05/25/2022 Read message
IMG_1047 reduced.jpg 980.5 KB open | download Rick.H 05/25/2022 Read message
IMG_1171.JPG 112 KB open | download Rick.H 05/25/2022 Read message
IMG_1285.JPG 99.3 KB open | download Rick.H 05/25/2022 Read message
IMG_20151126_203604896 reduced.jpg 318.8 KB open | download Rick.H 05/25/2022 Read message
Kit0-My pile3.jpeg 426.5 KB open | download JPDenver 05/25/2022 Read message
Kit0-My Pile1.jpeg 281.5 KB open | download JPDenver 05/25/2022 Read message
Automobile Co of AmericaAd.pdf 74.1 KB open | download JPDenver 05/30/2022 Read message
Locomobile Ad 1.pdf 492.3 KB open | download JPDenver 05/30/2022 Read message
1899 Locomobile advert.jpg 246.8 KB open | download JPDenver 05/30/2022 Read message
1899 LOCOMOBILE Plate.pdf 763.8 KB open | download JPDenver 05/30/2022 Read message
100_2924.jpg 1003.1 KB open | download Rick.H 06/02/2022 Read message
FirstLykaShpment.jpeg 425.9 KB open | download JPDenver 06/11/2022 Read message
Chassis Parts - coated.jpeg 310.8 KB open | download JPDenver 06/28/2022 Read message
Chassis Parts 2 - coated.jpeg 318.5 KB open | download JPDenver 06/28/2022 Read message
416F76D9-9640-410A-A6CD-F061323A0065_1_201_a.jpeg 417.6 KB open | download JPDenver 07/11/2022 Read message
Lower Frame.JPG 623.6 KB open | download JPDenver 08/02/2022 Read message
Lower Frame on Chassis.JPG 579.5 KB open | download JPDenver 08/02/2022 Read message