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Trying to reconcile history vs technology.

Posted by JPDenver 
Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 01, 2023 09:58AM
To my fellow Steamers,

I pose a few questions. I am mulling these over and have decided to ask others for opinions.

As you can see in my other recent thread, I am building a kit version of an 1899 Locomobile Model 1 (replica).
The manufacturer - Steam Traction World in the UK provides for a sight glass and pressure gauge.
This is in keeping with the original era concepts.
Many of the other features of the car have been modernized.
There are disc brakes. The burner is a commercial unit. Instead of a pressurized fuel system with pilot.
The engine is similar but different. It has what is termed a "modified hackworth" reversing system.
The chassis and frame are steel with no wood except the body panels, flooring etc.
So basically a very much updated version that from across a parking lot looks "like" the older vehicle model.

My quandary is this - how much of "today's technology" do I incorporate? How much do I add?

Areas of consideration:
1. Bodywork / paint - Do I go the "hand finish" route - Sanding Sealer, hand sanded, spray can application.
or do I use epoxy resin as a penetrating sealer and have the panels done by an auto paint shop?

2. Brake lights? - add the switch and a lamp unit on the rear? Perhaps something from the Ford Model A eras?

3. Side/Headlamps - Electrify / Control? - OK, I am already doing this but I include it here for discussion.

4. Sensors - Adding water/fuel/boiler level sensors to tanks. (did this) - but how to indicate.

5. Instrumentation - Just have little discrete LED's for indicators of "You're OK, or oops - Nope You're screwed"
OR - add a dashboard with gauges, LED's, switches, perhaps a Speedo? I am considering adding an "inside" front
panel just behind the standard one. Make it somewhat removable. Adding to this panel a fabricated
dash/instrumentation system, made from brass, tethered to a hidden electronics package
with a minimum number of cables (one multi-conductor in a sleeve) basically a brass box at an angle for viewing.

SO - I would like to solicit thoughts and opinions. I know that there are many schools of thought - Many owners with deep pockets that have original models may see my vehicle as a "toy". I know that AACA and HCCA do not deem it worthy of being allowed on a "tour". This is why I have not posed these questions on their forums.

But I know that many of the SCCA members look at this from a different point of view - just looking at the topics and experimental activities represented here indicate that.

However, I am new to the "Ancient Auto" arena, and will welcome any and all viewpoints.

Thank you for reading this,

Jim Pope
Denver, CO USA

1899 Locomobile Replica - STW Lykamobile
Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 01, 2023 10:38AM
I would only add what is necessary to legally drive it on the road. Then go from there, as you may need other stuff.

Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 01, 2023 10:58AM

I applaud your efforts! And I feel somewhat as you do regarding your project. Obviously, if you wanted to have a vintage vehicle which comes with a hefty price tag as well as a few things like brakes, lights, etc that don't quite feel safe in the modern world-you would have invested in one.

Assuming you want to make your vehicle as safe and dependable as possible, I would say use as many modern safety and practical items as you need in your build. I have an old model T Ford that I converted to steam 20 years ago, and I used Ford tail lights, headlights, as well as modern guages, sensors, etc to make it as convenient and safe as possible. I kept most of the modern pieces hidden away so that it still looks somewhat like an old car.

I think your idea of adding a modern gauge panel that is somewhat hidden is a good one. There will be times when you will be glad you have it!

Good Luck with your Project! Hopefully you will bring it to one of our Meets-we'd all love to see it running!

Chuk Williams
Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 01, 2023 11:05AM
I would start out by checking local laws, they vary from place to place. For instance, in Michigan, a differential is required -- but not so everywhere.
Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 01, 2023 06:25PM
Thanks for the responses.

To address "legal" requirements:
In Colorado, "Steam" is not a recognized category for anything related to Automobiles or Transportation other than Locomotives and vehicles that run on "tracks". Boilers are not regulated in autos, the regulations specifically omit them.

There are some "Road-worthy Definitions" I can find - Headlights must be a certain height, if the distance from the center of the vehicle to the edge of the body is over 24 inches you need turn signals, you need a horn, no mention of differentials or drive train configurations.

There is a category for Kit Cars - but it assumes you are staring with a vehicle of some sort that has a VIN.
There are also categories for "street rods" and also Horseless Carriages. But it is unknown how to reconcile if your Kit Car is a Horseless Carriage.

Then there are Low-Speed vehicles that go less that 15 MPH, and are not permitted on roads with speeds over 35 mph.
these are not regulated and must have the "Red/Orange Triangle" on the back.

If you do not have a VIN, and my kit will not, then you have to have the vehicle inspected by the State Police.
Appointment only, (3-4 months out), and there are only 3 locations within 25 miles of me. Once you have them inspect you, there is a way to request a "state issued" VIN, then I can get insurance, a title, and registration/plates.

So - if I am a Low-Speed Kit Car that is a Horseless Carriage - how does that work? The important thing on my
to-do list is to get a VIN and recognized as a vehicle, which will allow for insurance, Title and eventual re-sale value.

In the meantime, I will keep working on it as nothing happens until she can roll down the road.

Since it is a "pointless" ticket I may just take my chances rumbling around the neighborhood and over to the IceCream Parlor.

So - It will be interesting to see what kind of hoops I will need to jump thru.

Thanks for the opinions, I welcome more.

Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 07, 2023 09:26AM
Hi Jim,
Just a few more comments about your questions. I recently went on a Steam Car tour with 3 Stanley cars. I rode in each one. There is one thing that stands out about these car owners. Make your car reliable and durable to last a long time.

Maybe that's 2 things. As far as reliability goes, your car already has some proven designs with an oil burner and more updated engine design. I'm working with a 10 HP Stanley engine that is a challenge. Part of it is my main frame rods are 5/8-20 thread. Common thread is 5/8-18 for a standard fine thread. You have to pay a machine shop or have a machine shop to keep these cars running. Pilot lights and pressure burners are original and also very problematic. The 4th Stanley that showed up for the tour could not go because of pilot light issues.

As far as paint and preservation goes, your best bet is to go with what ever coating scheme works for the best longevity.

I've seen many Stanley's with disc brakes. All the steam cars have brake lights and converted head lights to electric similar to a modern car. The cars maintain the brass era look however.

Last is electronic sensors. One of the condensing Stanley I saw had a thermo-couple to indicate if the pilot light is lit. Same car had a Nerggard electronic water level sensor and feed water by-pass valve control.

Hope this helps. Most of the Stanley owners don't care about originality. They would love to see any functioning steam car on a tour. I big plus is to have a steam whistle and arrooo-ooga horn.spinning smiley sticking its tongue out Chuk's model T conversion would be welcome at any tour. They are really urging me on with my model T version of a Stanley H, to show up next year at the same meeting/tour. Again, I'll be out to visit early in July. Hope we can go for a ride...


Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 09, 2023 11:15AM
I assume that you aren't looking at reinterpreting history in this fashion....

(OK, I was selected for jury duty, and most of the time was spent sitting around...)

Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 09, 2023 08:57PM

35 years ago I was a buckskinner.
My daughter and I spent our summers in the mountains of Colorado,
living in tents, sleeping in furs, open fires for warmth.

When we went to a rendezvous, with 100 other "hippies with guns",
we had an "unwritten understanding" with other camps to keep modern technology
as hidden as possible. Sometimes it was a piece of canvas thrown over a cooler,
or it could be a more complex system where hidden propane tanks feed a "file pit" in the
middle of a large Teepee.

Our basic justification was to say: "They would have used it if they had had it".

So taking that idea to heart, and yet trying to stay kinda true to the era, I am going to add technology in a way that
maximizes the information available, yet hopefully not obnoxious. Adding a removable dashboard, just inside the front panel, will give me a place to mount gauges and switches. I will use a removable umbilical to an electronics package under the floorboards. I will make it so the system defaults to a low-tech operation when not plugged in, and higher-tech
when the dash system is there.

As an electrical engineer specializing in low-voltage control systems, I should be able to figure this out.

SO more to come, but I will move back to the "building thread" and of course my blog.

Thanks for the input.

Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 09, 2023 09:00PM
So Rick -

What is a: Nerggard electronic water level sensor and feed water by-pass valve control?

I am collecting methods of sensing levels in the boiler.

Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 10, 2023 04:58AM
Nergaard's water level sensor is a capacitance gauge.
Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 11, 2023 09:27AM
How can I find out more about the sensor, is it available as a product?
Does someone have a picture of how it looks installed?

Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 11, 2023 10:50AM
Nerggard electronic water level sensor

David’s water level sensor is a variable lineal capacitor.

Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 11, 2023 11:21AM
I have an article that Dave wrote on the topic. Unfortunately, it is a text file so maybe a bit harder to read. It is at the bottom of the page but does not have a schematic.

These gauges work by measuring the capacitance between two charged, insulated surfaces -- the water level varying between these surfaces. Typically they would either be plates or tube in tube.

The way this is done is to use a resistor/capacitance circuit to build an oscillator, the frequency will vary with the capacitance between the charged plates, which will vary with water depth. The frequency can then be converted to a voltage to read on a gauge or to a digital signal for a display or processor. The oscillator could be built up out of a 555 timer analog integrated circuit and there are any number of ways to convert the frequency to an output voltage. Preferably, you would use an operation amplifier so as to be able to turn the lowest frequency into zero volts and the highest frequency into whatever is the top of your voltage meter.

There are integrated circuits for this sort of thing like the CAV 444


At one time, you could find loads of appropriate circuits online ... but today everyone wants to stick a microprocessor into the circuit.

I've included Dave's description, as follows, but he said that he didn't have a schematic.



An Electronic Boiler Water Level Gauge
Every operator of a steam car with a boiler having a distinct water level needs to know what that level is at all times. This is important in a Stanley boiler but is critical with many other boilers such as the Baker and Derr. Many cars were fitted with thermostatic water level sensors, of which the Stanley three tube indicator was, perhaps, the most common. These were often reliable in use, but gave no indication what ever when the boiler was cold. Hence, some independent means of verifying the water level before lighting the fire is needed. It is also desirable to have a sensor with a remote indicator. Thus, the sensor can be mounted to give a correct indication of water level regardless of the slope of the hill being climbed while the indicator is still easily seen from the driver's seat.
Some years ago, I considered various types of electronic level sensors, many of which I had used as tide or wave height sensors in my years as an electronics engineer in oceanography. Most of these required rather sophisticated electronics mounted directly at the top of the sensor. To work as a boiler water lever sensor, they would have needed more than a order of magnitude increase in sensitivity and the ability to work at the temperature of the steam in the boiler, nearly 500 degrees in the case of a Stanley. I came to the conclusion that something different was needed.
Eventually I conceived a type of water level sensor which should be equally accurate whether cold or under steam and which could use a remotely sited electronics circuit. The sensor is a coaxial capacitor in which the central conductor is an insulated rod of comparatively small diameter. The outer, and grounded, conductor is the outer housing of the gauge when empty and the surface of the water touching the insulated rod surface when full. The formula for the capacity per unit length of a coaxial capacitor is a constant times the dielectric constant of the insulating material divided by the logarithm to the base ten of the ratio of the outer radius to the inner radius of the conductors. For measurements in inches, the constant is 0.614 picofarads per inch.
I assumed the dielectric constants of air and steam differ only slightly from that of a vacuum. If so, the capacity of the empty gauge should be about that of a bare center rod in the pipe chosen as the gauge housing. For a one quarter inch diameter rod in a piece of nominal one inch pipe, this calculates to about one picofarad per inch.
For the wet part of the sensor, the inner radius is that of the rod, the outer radius is that of the rod plus the thickness of the insulating layer and the dielectric constant is that of the insulation used. Assuming a thickness of 0.01 inch and a dielectric constant of 3 yields about 40 picofarads per inch. This is large enough to be easily measured. The measuring circuit can be connected to the gauge with a length of coaxial cable, which merely adds some capacity to that of the empty gauge.
I put together a ten inch long test unit using heat shrink tubing on a bit of one quarter inch copper tube for the center rod mounted in a piece of one inch iron pipe. The measured capacities of this device were; cable, 73 pF., empty gauge, 20 pF., and full gauge, 317 pF. It was not what I had calculated, but quite good enough to make a workable gauge.
There is a common and inexpensive integrated circuit used as a timer. It charges a capacitor through a resistor connected to its supply voltage and generates a pulse whose length is R x C seconds long each time it is triggered. The CMOS version of this device is the TMC555, costs about a Dollar and uses very little power. Even more significant, this version can run faster than the less efficient bipolar transistor versions. In particular, it works beautifully with a resistance of 100,000 Ohms and the sensor described above. The 555 timers can be wired to trigger them selves; thus making an oscillator whose frequency is inversely proportional to the resistance and capacitance used.
I breadboarded a circuit using three TMC555s, a low power operational amplifier and an efficient low power voltage regulator. The first timer generated a pulse of length determined by the capacity of the sensor. The second was adjusted to make a pulse equal in length to that made by the first one when the sensor was empty. The third ran as an oscillator and triggered the others simultaneously. All three were powered by the voltage regulator.
If one averages the voltage of a series of pulses, one gets gets the voltage of the pulse times the period of the pulse divided by the period between pulses. An operational amplifier (op amp, for short) can be connected to subtract one voltage from another while doing the averaging. Thus, it can subtract the output of the second timer from that of the first and drive a meter with a current that is zero when the gauge is empty and full scale when the gauge is full. Adjusting the period of the second timer sets the zero and adjusting the third timer, which sets the number of pulses per second, adjusts the full scale reading. As the timers use regulated power, the voltage of the battery powering the circuit does not affect the accuracy. For an indicator, I used a Weston type 301 10 milliampere meter of about the same age as my car. Thus, it doesn't look too out of place on the dash and is already conveniently calibrated to read 0 to 10 inches! The meter draws more current than all the rest of the circuit. This is not an issue in a condensing Stanley as the circuit can be run by the existing electric system in the car.
How did it work? Beautifully the first time, the meter rising smoothly as I filled the gauge. However, as I emptied the gauge, the meter dropped only slightly and very slowly. A thin film of water on the rod is just as good an outer conductor as a half inch thickness is. And water easily clings to ordinary heat shrink tubing. Experiment result number one: the insulation on the center rod must not be wetted by the fluid being measured!
The immediate logical answer to the problem was Teflon. And, it is available as heat shrink tubing. However, it is not cheap and is normally sold in batches of 100 pieces. After some conversations with the electronic supply house I use, the manufacturer of the tubing very kindly sent sample lengths, a yard each of three different sizes, free of charge. The rod was recovered with a piece of this and the resulting system was demonstrated at the December 2004 meeting of the NorthEast chapter of SACA. On that occasion, it worked very well, running on a 6 Volt battery. By the way, the dielectric constant of Teflon is about 2.7.
There were still questions about whether it would work under steam. The following spring, it was tried on my Stanley, being mounted at the left side of the boiler just forward of the throttle. And the answer was yes, but... My contact to the center rod was through a modified sparkplug at the bottom of the gauge. It soon developed electrical leakage which essentially shorted the gauge. It was not a dead short, but enough to render the gauge useless. I moved the connector to the top end where any similar problem would not be wet, and that cured that one. However, apparently a thin film of water can form on the sparkplug insulator when it cools down so the gauge often reads pinned full with a cold boiler. It does not do this if the boiler is empty, only if it is left with water in it over night. Sometimes, rapping the gauge at the top shakes off enough of the water to make it read correctly, but not always. I think a new connector fitting using a Teflon insulator will cure this issue.
A second problem was more subtle. For the first few hours the car was steamed, the gauge gradually read higher although the water level shown by the original bronze bottle gauge did not change. The readings did stabilize, but after the car was steamed about a half dozen times, it failed completely; shorted out. A post mortem examination gave a possible explanation. When the Teflon tube was shrunk onto the center rod, a small air gap was trapped inside the tube. The resulting increase in "insulation" thickness explains the lower than expected "full" capacity. Under steam, the air in the gap was gradually replaced with water condensed from the steam, which effectively reduced the insulation thickness, making the gauge read almost 30 percent higher. Okay, recalibrate and go on. Then came the kicker; when the boiler was blown down, that water tried to flash into steam, stretching and, finally, splitting the Teflon tubing. Back to the drawing board, again.
My next attempt was to get a new piece of tubing, stainless steel this time, Teflon coated by a commercial firm specializing in such work. They did it free as a manufacturing sample. Fitted to the gauge and tested cold, it looked very good; very good leakage resistance and much higher capacity per flooded inch. But, as soon as there was steam on the boiler, the leakage resistance worsened sharply. The gauge was useless long before there was any measurable steam pressure. Pulled out after only a few hours steaming, that part of the rod which was under water has a curious crazed and bubbly appearance. The part exposed to steam does not have this appearance. Repeat last sentence of previous paragraph.
Small Parts, Inc. now sells Teflon heat shrink tubing in single lengths, which makes it reasonable to continue experiments. I made a new center rod using thin wall brass tube with small holes drilled through it every half inch. The theory was they would allow trapped air to escape during shrinking of the Teflon, reducing the resulting air gap. Also, any possible "flash" steam behind the Teflon tubing could easily escape. So far as it goes, that worked. That sensor was in the car all last season and worked quite well. It is remarkable how quickly the gauge responds. Swiftly going through a few ess curves will make the indicated level swing through a range of about six inches! Mounted where it is, it shows the correct level on any hill and is not affected by acceleration or braking. It still has the cold insulator problem noted above.
Towards the end of the season, it developed a problem. If the water level got more than two inches higher than normal, or about eight on the meter scale, the gauge would abruptly read full, pinned. When the water level dropped again, it behaved normally. I suspected a flaw in the Teflon about two inches from the top end, and that is what I found when I pulled it apart at the end of this year's driving. Above the break, the Teflon looks perfect. Below the water level, there was some black dirt, probably iron oxide, but it had no effect on the gauge's operation. At the normal water line, it is a little dirty but showed no other sign of wear. At this time, I have only a guess as to why it failed. Teflon heat shrink requires a rather high temperature to make it shrink and the only way I could do it was over a gas stove burner. I may have gotten that part of the "rod" too hot.
At this point, the gauge has worked well enough that others should be able to build working units. Maybe they can improve on my attempts. I will rebuild it this winter, with a new all Teflon connector insulator.
The electronic circuit I have used draws only a few milliamperes, plus the current through the meter, 6 milliamperes at "normal" water level. Thus, an ordinary 9 Volt transistor radio battery, NEDA-1604, should run the gauge for about 50 hours. If a one milliampere meter movement is used, even longer battery life will result. This means that the gauge can be fitted easily to any steam car, with a small internal battery if needed. It can be made to any convenient length. Thus, it can still be on scale when the low water automatic has shut off the fire. Most important, it gives valid readings when any of the water level devices ever fitted by Stanley are "off scale", and can do so even when the boiler is cold.
The circuit I used is hand wired on a prototyping board less than 3 inches by 4 inches. It fits in a 2 X 3 X 5 inch aluminum box with plenty of room for a suitable battery. I am investigating the cost of having a printed circuit board made. I strongly suggest using a Teflon insulated coaxial cable, such as RG179B/U, as the sensor cable, considering the temperatures to which it will be exposed. Unfortunately, it is usually sold in lengths of 100 feet or longer. I used a bit from my junk box. It has held up well for the four seasons it has been used.

Unfortunately, I don't have the schematic.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/11/2023 11:24AM by frustrated.
Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 11, 2023 11:33AM
Dave also had an alternative sensor, as I found in an old email.

Some additional thoughts; the enclosed article and commercial
magnet floats. These floats are designed to operate reed switches in a
tube on which the float runs. A series of reed switches on a resistive
ladder yields a reasonable water level gauge.

The gauge described in the article has served well on my car for
sixteen years. I have sold several of them to other Stanley drivers
with no unsatisfied customers yet. A printed circuit board for the
required electronics is available. Ditto pix if wanted.

This sounds more easily obtainable.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/11/2023 12:06PM by frustrated.
Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 11, 2023 12:12PM
There are other alternatives. Rolly built what looks like a very decent Derr level gauge.

Then there are always vapor tension thermostats used as a water level sensor -- Charles French seemed fond of these.

I seem to remember a Ofeldt sensor which was basically an expanding metal thermostat with a needle and gauge attached.
Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 12, 2023 05:51AM
Picture on Joe's Stanley. The vertical column with the spark plug is the feature.

Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 12, 2023 10:20AM
Fixed the orientation of the picture.

Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 12, 2023 11:46AM
Thanks so much for the information.

I think I am getting closer.

Ken -
Your reply mentions an article that Dave "attached" - do you happen to have the article itself?
The Tubes with reed switches and floating magnets are actually what I am using in the "feedwater" tank as well as the fuel tank on my Locomobile replica. There are commercial units with guages avail that handle the sliding resistance changes.
The resistance varies from about 30 - 230 ohms.

I had thought that the float/reed switch method would suffer from the heat/pressure aspects of the boiler-tube.
Do you know of a source that will stand up to the Steamer Environment?

In any case -

Is this quote from you or an excerpt from the old email.

"The gauge described in the article has served well on my car for
sixteen years. I have sold several of them to other Stanley drivers
with no unsatisfied customers yet. A printed circuit board for the
required electronics is available. Ditto pix if wanted."

If you have the article or further details I would be glad to become another of your
satisfied customers.

Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 15, 2023 09:10AM
Hi Jim,

This was a quote from Dave Nergaard, who apparently used the magnetic float arrangement. I think it went into a Bulletin article but, between having edited something like 60 issues and having written about 5 books for Tom Kimmel, my memory is simply getting fuzzy. We can ask Dave, if you'd like.

A somewhat more elaborate method that I thought of was to wrap a vertical copper standpipe in two belts of electrical wire. An iron float would ride inside the standpipe. The lower coil would be energized by alternating current. The pair would function as a transformer. The float and coil layout would be such that the float would barely rise into the upper coil at low boiler level and reach all the way to the top at high level. As the float rises and falls, the output voltage in the upper coil will vary and that can be directly read off of a voltmeter. This is a bit more elaborate but we don't have to worry about temperature affecting permanent magnetism.

It would probably work even better if you had some kind of sight glass to replace the copper tube.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/15/2023 10:58AM by frustrated.
Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 16, 2023 08:42AM
Ken and Rick,

I am using the magnetic float units in my Water and Fuel tanks. They have a "plastic" float.
Since I am still investigating and speculating on the best way to do the boiler, and since I have
not even seen (other than pictures) the piping arrangement, I am thinking that the "sensor array"
will parallel the sight glass somehow and sit at the proper elevation to read the water level inside the boiler.

I picture a standpipe, 1-2 inches in diameter, with a probe arrangement of some sort.
So some physical and environmental characteristics need to be defined in order to talk competently with a probe manufacturer.

1. What Temperature should I expect the water/steam in the standpipe to reach?

2. What pressure will be present?

3. What length of standpipe makes sense?

I have seen an all stainless float sensor and am thinking that this is probably better than
plastic parts given the temp/pressure. I do not know if I need to worry about parts inside the probe melting
or adhesive failing etc. since I do not know the manufacturing process on the interior parts, switches, resistors, etc.

It would be very helpful to know if there is a commercial unit that someone has tried out and that works.

All this assumes that the Steam Generator/Boiler used in my Lykamobile build will resemble those in all your Stanleys.
I know it is a multi-tube arrangement and from looking at previous builder's logs, seems to resemble (at least outwardly)
those in most Stanleys.

The electronics on what to do with the probe signal I can deal with. I see resistive - approx 20 - 250 ohm, I also see 4-20 MA loop units. Both I can deal with. I just need to focus on the actual physical sensor array and housing itself.

Thanks for all the input. Every little bit helps.

Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 16, 2023 10:58AM
Hi Jim,

Assuming that you never exceed the 300 psi boiler rating which online sources give for the Lykamobile, the water temperature should never exceed 417 degrees F, which is the saturation temperature at 300 psi. Generally speaking, fire tube boilers generate saturated steam, unless a superheater is added, so I would guess that your steam temperature should not be significantly higher. It would be good to confirm that with someone operating the same type of device.

One trick that has been employed with metallic boiler floats is to add a little bit of alcohol, gasoline, or even water to the inside of the float. As it heats up, the fluid inside vaporizes and the internal pressure rise counteracts the outside pressure trying to crush the float.


Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
May 18, 2023 09:27AM
Hi Jim,
Ken answered your first 2 questions. I'm going to give you guidance on what level to indicate your boiler.

If you look at the picture of Joe's Red Stanley attached earlier in this thread, this gives a pretty good idea of where to locate (what height) the standpipe. What it needs to be. The Stanley boiler pictured is a multi-firetube boiler like yours. Figure a couple of inches down from the top to allow for insulation. Then give it an estimation. I would say the height is about 3/4 up from the bottom of the boiler tube sheet. Please use your own estimation so that I'm not liable for this information.

Note that the standpipe is connected to the top and bottom of the boiler. However, the sparkplug is mounted vertical so when water level rises, it indicates directly.

Also note that when I startup with my steam vehicle, my boiler is full. When Joe and Herb along with other Steam Car owners, they all start with their boilers full. They use up about 1/4 of the boiler volume to warm up the engine and get everything running smoothly. Most of that volume is used just to warm the chest and is blown out the bottom of the engine (without it running). In other words, the pumps are not replacing the water. Steam car owners seam to be patient and take their time to warm up the boiler and engine along with slowly running the engine over while the car rearend is jacked up.

It takes me about 45 minutes to get my Steam Scooter ready for a run.

You'll play with it and learn what your car likes. Always keep water in your boiler for the replacement boiler is costly. Also, most steam car owners think of the boiler as a consumable part. It is just a matter of time before replacement.

Hope this helps,
Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
July 10, 2023 09:59PM

Thanks again for the visit last week. I enjoyed the long talk we had.

I have decided to add a little of modern control to my Lyka.
However, I have also made it so I can remove it and revert to "manual".

The end result is a Dashboard with a control/gauge cluster.

A single cable connects it to the relay box for lights etc.
If I unplug the cluster, then the system reverts to the standard controls
which are burner and light/accessory power.

Here is a pic, and the full details are on my blog.

Regards to all,

Jim Pope
Denver,CO USA

Re: Trying to reconcile history vs technology.
August 17, 2023 09:44AM
Note to all..I submitted an article to Margie about Jim's Lykamobile steam car. Please look for it in future bulletin's. Hope club members enjoy it.
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