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Besler’s Kaiser

Posted by Garry Hunsaker 
Re: Besler’s Kaiser
September 27, 2005 06:19PM
Jim,

This Kaiser V-4 and steam generator, would they fit into a Mazda Miata? From your description it would have plenty of power for the Miata and then some. The first Small-block Chevy engines, the 265CID and the 283CID engines, both had a 3-inch stroke. The rod length is 5.7-inches center-to-center.
Re: Besler’s Kaiser
September 28, 2005 03:56AM
Hello John,

I was thinking just use the small block as is with all 8 cylinders. The 2 middle journals of the crank run 180 degrees out from each other, these would be for the high-pressure cylinders. The low-pressure cylinders would be the front and rear cylinders of each bank. I haven't looked into it very far yet but I believe the standard rotation for a small block will have the end journals trailing 90 degrees behind the journal adjacent to them. This put the high pressure cylinder and its low pressure cylinder paired up next to each other on the same bank allowing for a very short tube to be used going from the uniflow port on the HP to feed the LP. Another thing I got to look into is the head bolt pattern, if each bank is identical then you only have one pattern for the cylinders instead of 2.

As for the car how does an El Camino suit you, there are a lot of these from the late 70 to mid eighties still around and should have enough room in the bed for a steam generator. All these cars have automatics in them though, not a single one made with a standard transmission so one might have to switch that out.Something to think about is the Besler type engine operates in the rpm range of the engine it replaces so the automatic might not know the difference and would be cheaper to just use it.

Some other points to consider with a full V8 are a HP cylinder pulse every 90 degrees ensures self-starting so there is no having to bump the starter. Also you can reduce the cylinder bores from what Besler used in the V4 for longer engine life and still have a much larger overall displacement and more power.

I would be curious to know what would cost more, a full V8 with 2 larger identical cylinder castings(maybe), 4 low pressure cylinder heads, 2 high pressure cylinder head pairs and 2 sets of valve gear along with 8 pistons or a V4 that requires a seriously worked over small block or custom crankcase, crankshaft work, 2 different cylinder castings but only needs half of the remaining hardware for the engine.

Jim,

The water groove sounds good for the LP piston but on the HP piston could it have negative effect by allowing steam to be compressed in the groove as a result of back pressure coming from the low pressure cylinder during its compression stroke and then dragging that steam down into the case or was there some kind of check valve between the two cylinders to prevent a back pressure from the LP?

Kevin
Re: Besler’s Kaiser
September 28, 2005 09:33AM
Kevin,

The small-block Chevy has 5-bolts around every cylinder.

John
Re: Besler’s Kaiser
September 28, 2005 10:16AM
John,
The Kaiser engine would fill the engine bay, the steam generator would have to go into the trunk. Then fitting the water tank and feed pump would crowd things.
For the Miata I still like a W-3 D.A. engine.

Kevin,
The Kaiser engine had no check valves between the HP and LP cylinders.
The drawings I have in some old steam engineering books, show S.A. counterflow engines with the piston groove. I would tend to think that heating the oil would be the most effective way, along with much better and more piston rings.
I am constantly amazed that people use end gap rings in steam engines, in place of step gap.
JC
Re: Besler’s Kaiser
September 28, 2005 05:04PM
Jim,

Point taken on the Kaiser engine filling the engine bay, perhaps as Kevin suggested an El Camino would be the way to go, for the Kaiser engine. What bore & stroke would you recommend for the W-3 D.A. engine? Would you use piston valves? I suggested the possibility of using the cyl. castings from the V-2, that George Nutz designed for Mike Brown to Graeme, but he tells me the engine would be to big with those cylinders.

John
Re: Besler’s Kaiser
September 28, 2005 07:58PM
John,

I don't explain things very well so here is an illustration of the cylinder block with the head/piston valve body for the high-pressure cylinders in place. Obviously it is not complete.





Re: Besler’s Kaiser
September 28, 2005 08:20PM
Kevin,
Where did this computer drawing come from? Besler never had computer design facilities, and this doesn't even look like the Kaiser engine at all.
It seems to be a four cylinder inline engine. The Kaiser was a Vee four.

John,
The Kaiser engine drawings and patterns are not remotely avilable, so forget it, except as a design exercise.
It's and easy engine, so start from scratch and do one again.
JC
Re: Besler’s Kaiser
September 28, 2005 08:51PM
Jim,

I was asking what bore & stroke you would suggest for the 3 cylinder W configuration for the Miata. And also what type of valves you would reccomend using. The Kaiser sounds like a neat engine and would be a great project, but I'm more interested in a steam powered Miata.

John
Re: Besler’s Kaiser
September 28, 2005 09:03PM
Jim,

Would the Kaiser engine work in something like a Jeep Cherokee? It's another vehicle that is both quite plentiful and popular. As Simon mentioned on the modern sream car thread they have them in Britain as well. I haven't checked but would imagine they are popular in Australia too.

John

Re: Besler’s Kaiser
September 29, 2005 10:24AM
John,
I would size the W-3 engine to give 50-70 hp @ 400 lbs/ft torque at full admission, at a reasonable and usable pressure, like 750 psi. Have not done the calculations; but around a 3 1/2" bore and 3" stroke is a first guess.
Poppet valves and definitely unaflow, two cutoff points, with piston valves and the Lamken valve gear as the backup. Lamont generator and pre mix vaporizing burner, CAT feed pump with full bypass control, and definitely a good vacuum pump, two speed transmission with overdrive in top gear, and definitely an oil separator. Two condensers, one in front and one under the hood area. Nothing radical, just a good usable system.

The vehicle is the person's choice for what he is looking for, sports car, sedan or a Cherokee type. Just to try to keep the total curb weight at about 3,000 pounds.
JC
Re: Besler’s Kaiser
September 29, 2005 01:04PM
Jim, your right the drawing is not the Kaiser engine, it’s a drawing I made for the purpose of further explaining an idea to John. It uses Besler’s compound-uniflow idea but in a V8 with a different cylinder arrangement.

Kevin

Re: Besler’s Kaiser
December 17, 2009 08:57AM
All,

In another post Jim said:

"The Kaiser conversion was sold to Wolfgang Gawor. He left it next to a barn down in the valley where some of our more intelligent immigrates shot it to pieces. Then Stan Lucas bought it when he got all the parts Gawor bought from Besler, mostly damaged, used and worthless leftover junk. He has it now and has and will do nothing with it."

I think the remains of the car were displayed at the annual SACA meet last year and looked much of a basket case needing a lot of effort to rebuild. There are quite a few Kaiser cars for sale regularly in USA and a good complete one costs around $US20k.

There are some references to the project in early issues of The Steam Automobile. Bill Besler was not happy with it. The engine compartment was too small for an adequate complete steam plant and the boiler and condensing system were undersized. The boiler was quite light for a Doble design, being only 115lb, but only big enough to hold 400 psi in normal running instead of 600 to 1000psi that was intended. Morris Frost, after a ride in 1961, though it was OK and wanted one but Bill believed there were enough improvements that could be made that warranted scrapping the Kaiser. In a reply to a letter from Morris, Bill's opening remarks were "Morris is very friendly and flattering, and I only have apologies for the poor performance of the accumulation of spare parts known as the Kaiser conversion....." The Steam Automobile Vol 4, No 1 Fall 1961 page 15 refers.

In 1965 Besler refers to an intention to transfer the Kaiser engine to a larger 1960 Plymouth body with adequate space for a bigger boiler and condenser. I haven't seen any information on that project, but thought if it had been successful the design would have carried through to SE124 in 1969. That project also had space limitations under the hood and again the power level was compromised.

Within the next 5 years others had made significant savings in weight or volume to accommodate a complete steam plant of higher power under the hood of several different bodies, giving more choices of vehicle or steam plant type. All designs, including Besler's, need more development work to make them suitable for everyday use on the road. If a design is limited by low temperature operation, fuel economy will be poor. Using SE124 as a guide, that is around 14 USmpg at 30mph and 6 USmpg at 60mph. Top speed will also be limited by boiler capacity and water rate. If the latter is on the high side, condenser size and performance will restrict what can be achieved. Few, I suspect, would accept this level of performance, nor the cost of getting it (anyone care to put some real numbers against that)?

If I had the Kaiser steamer parts I probably wouldn't do anything with them either. If I had a fully restored Kaiser body, a more compact plant with more power would make a nice period steamer. Models around 1955 have appeal, whereas the style excesses of the 1960s seem to lose the plot.

Graeme
Re: Besler’s Kaiser
December 17, 2009 11:20AM
I have not seen what is left of the Besler Kaiser, but it is a historic vehicle that needs to be saved. The Keen, the Williams, the Barrett, and more have made their mark on history and they were rescued for posterity. It would be a shame for a historical car like the Besler Kaiser to be lost to only our past memories. Using a donor Kaiser body from the wrecking yard, it would make this a doable restoration. Hopefully, most of the steam components are still left there in the Kaiser, otherwise it would not be worth the effort. An example of a steam car lost and only to be found in the history books is the Doble Detroit. None of them exist today. So what if some of the steam cars didn't give good service? Most museums don't operate their museum pieces anyway. To me, just to see and to touch a piece of history, gives me a warm feeling inside.spinning smiley sticking its tongue out The present Besler Kaiser owner is gettng on in years and hopefully upon his demise in the future, there will be an estate auction where someone can attend and purchase the Besler Kaiser.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/17/2009 03:30PM by SSsssteamer.
Re: Besler’s Kaiser
December 18, 2009 02:59AM
SSsssteamer,

The remains of the Besler Kaiser appear to include the body that needs restoration and much of the engine. There may be no drawings that would allow the original plant to be duplicated. Those who have seen it may be able to add to the list. A historic vehicle needs to be accurately reproduced otherwise it has little significance.

It would be easier to reproduce a Doble Detroit and I believe that was a much more significant steam vehicle. Does the warm and fuzzy feeling extend to the payment of rebuilding costs, storage and upkeep of all these extinct project vehicles? Some do get that involved but it needs more than beer money to do well. Most viewers may only kick the tires.

The Kaiser range featured in the past WW2 era with around 1 million made from 1946 to 1955. Sales volume fell from 1949 due to stiff competition from others and the car division lost an average of $100 per car overall - so a similar disaster to the recent one experienced by the auto industry. The cars still have a collector following and restored ones scrub up well. Attached is a photo of a 1953 Kaiser Manhattan that could make an interesting steam project vehicle - subject to the plant fitting onto the space well enough.

Graeme


Re: Besler’s Kaiser
December 18, 2009 08:45AM
My thinking was to restore the original Besler Kaiser to its former glory. A parts car out of a wrecking yard could be a parts donor for the project. To duplicate the Besler's Kaiser with another Kaiser would not be as productive in my mind. Since there was only one Bessler Kaiser, then that is the one that should be saved. The restoration costs, storage and maintenance is not a stranger to us. We have a 7,500 square ft. car museum plus a restoration facility. Once you have the bases covered, the rest is easy. I would be honored to have the restored Besler Kaiser on display in our museum. To commit the needed money necessary for the restoration would be the question.eye rolling smiley A 1953 Kaiser Manhatten sedan photo is attached.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/18/2009 09:14AM by SSsssteamer.


Re: Besler’s Kaiser
December 19, 2009 11:18PM
From my files, well, from The Steam Automobile quarterly and the Steam Automobile Bulletin mostly, is all the material there is on the Kaiser-Besler. [www.firedragon.com]

I suppose now a raft of other information will be sent to me in emails, rusty steel-bound trunks and body bags, and I guess it's ok to be proved wrong like that, so perhaps I should say it is all I have at this moment.

Jim Crank, of course, was close enough to the car and the work to get steam burns and can tell "the story behind the story", so perhaps we have that to anticipate.

All the best,

Karl Petersen
Re: Besler’s Kaiser
December 20, 2009 07:00AM
Karl,

I haven't found much more information on the Besler Kaiser project that what has been posted above.

Light Steam Power, Volume X1 No 2, March/April 1962 contains a detailed report from SACA on the Western Meet at Oxnard, California from 20 to 22 October 1961. The last paragraph on page 57 is of interest as follows:
"Of special interest at the Saturday night banquet at the Colonial House were speeches by William Besler and Wendell Mason. Bill Besler told about the experimental V-4 single-acting engine his company had built and installed in a Kaiser automobile. Although this engine had had considerable publicity, he stated the performance was not fully satisfactory, and work on it was being discontinued. His company has plans for several different steam engines, but, as yet, no decision has been reached on what type they will develop next, although it was expected that the new engine would probably be installed in a 1960 Plymouth."

There is a brief mention of aspects of it in The Steam Automobile Vol 7 No 1 (Spring 1965) on page 3. In an exchange of letters between Wendell Mason and Bill Besler, Mason mentions he considered the Kaiser boiler being too small for the engine and car. Besler advised that the Kaiser engine was being moved to the 1960 Plymouth where more space was available. As the engine is now displayed (removed) with the Kaiser body, its interim use in the Plymouth or elsewhere does not appear to be reported.

With respect to interest in modern steam conversion kits, there has been no real change in the diverse attitudes of steam club members world wide for the life of clubs. You will probably not get two people to completely agree on any proposal. There is probably no satisfactory solution as there are too many options and each having an adverse feature that is unacceptable to someone or the public in general.

In the brief period of researching the above topic it is evident that the Besler Kaiser project made some progress by fitting a steam plant under the hood as required but the plant did not meet performance, size and cost requirements for production at any level (namely commercial vehicle or club kit small volume). The lack of power from the internal combustion engines fitted to the Kaiser cars was a big issue, as was production costs. Others were using higher powered V8 engines and lower prices so steam could not compete with power level, volume, cost or fuel economy. There was a fair amount of steam plant development in the 1950s and this allowed SACA to get such a good start in 1958.

Graeme
Re: Besler’s Kaiser
January 27, 2010 10:00AM
The Kaiser-Manhattan is in my possession. I acquired it a couple of years ago and have had it on display at my shop for the September steam meets here in Southwestern Michigan. I popped the heads off so that everyone can see what it looks like, but have not taken the head apart to see how the piston valve works. The automobile was vandalized before the person got it whom I purchased it from. Since then the engine and boiler were taken out of the automobile. I have everything, including the original body, which is mostly important for the engine mounting brackets welded to the frame. The boiler was a conventional monotube. It was not one of Besler's commercial stationary spill-over designs. What is interesting to note is how the uniflow crossover compound engine was timed for a 90 degree V. The exhaust ports are rectangular, vertical, and quite long, more than an inch, and this means that the flow from the HP cylinders into the large diameter receivers starts quite a bit before BDC. I have not studied the geometry necessary for a cross-compound engine but I think it would work best with a 180 degree crank. It appears to me that the reason for the V-4 single acting uniflow is because it is a very small engine and will fit in the engine compartment. The car needs a good California body. I have located a good body here in Michigan but the floor pan is rusted out. The original car had all of the glass broken out of it. The Kaiser car, along with everything else in my collection, is always available for study by anyone. Just contact me first to see if I am in town getting ready to think about writing my book on steam or if I am travelling around collecting more things and interviewing people. Tom Kimmel
Re: Besler’s Kaiser
January 27, 2010 11:46AM
Tom,

The piston valve works like any other. An eccentric on the crankshaft with a bell crank up on the top pushing the piston valve back and forth across the head.
No, the steam generator is one of Beslers small smoke generators with a few coils added, I think. I know it was not made from scratch but adapted from those smoke generators for the military, Bill had about a hundred fifty of them stacked all over the plant still in the shipping crates.

The engine never went into any Plymouth, the next steamer on the list was the converted Chevy for General Motors. You have that one too.

I forgot you bought the Kaiser from Lucas.
OK, something to ponder. When Wolfgang Gawor bought the Kaiser and all those old and useless Doble parts, the drawings, patterns and core boxes for that engine were all in the back seat of the Kaiser. I know because Barney and I put them there when the Kaiser was retired by Bill and shoved in a corner of the lab.
Now, did you get them from Lucas or did Gawor remove them before he died. In which case, were are they now?
Gawor had some kind of agricultural building on his property down near Fresno. He was in the grape business in some fashion.
Could they be in there or could his wife possibly know? Or did they go to his home on the Isle of Gurnsey. Did he have a son, who might know?

Jim

PS. The Kaiser came about because Henry J. Kaiser wanted Bill to convert one of his Henry J compact cars into a battery electric. He thought that was going to be the coming thing.
Bill managed somehow to convince Henry that he didn't want an electric car, what he really wanted was a steam car. Just how he managed this one I have no idea.
Anyhow, a brand new Kaiser Manhattan appeared in the lab one day. Barney said "We are going to build a new steamer out of that and how would you like to help."
Re: Besler’s Kaiser
January 29, 2010 02:54PM
It is very unfortunate that the Besler Kaiser was vandalized. With the Kaiser parts from a rusty only Michigan parts car, that California Kaiser will look it's finest again. Hopefully most of the steamer parts can be reassembled into at least a static display of the Besler Kaiser. Jeff Theobald bought the 1940's Keen Steamliner in much the same condition. He has since restored just about everything and he has had it running the roads. These are cars with STEAM history. You can save it now, or it will become lost forever, just like the Detroit Dobles. I feel sad that none of the Detroit Dobles survived. Sure, they did not perfom as well as the Emeryville Dobles, but that is just another issue. Thank you Tom for saving the Besler Kaiser's remains.
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All files from this thread

File Name File Size   Posted by Date  
Low Press Cyl - 1.jpg 25.3 KB open | download Rolly 02/05/2005 Read message
besler sb.jpg 42.1 KB open | download Kevin Harpham 09/28/2005 Read message
1953_Kaiser_Manhattan_sedan_.jpg 54.2 KB open | download gvagg2 12/18/2009 Read message
1953_Kaiser_Manhattan_2.jpg 14.1 KB open | download SSsssteamer 12/18/2009 Read message