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Ford Walters record car

Posted by Mark Stacey 
Mark Stacey
Ford Walters record car
August 17, 2002 11:54PM
<HTML>Hi
Just wondering if anyone knows what happened to Ford Walters and his Steam Dragster. I've been going through my files and the reports show the car ran at Drag strips in California and at Bonneville in the mid 1960's. At Bonneville there were problems with salt brine shorting the electrics.
Just curious, any information on the car and Mr Walters would be welcome.

Cheers
Mark Stacey</HTML>
Mike Bennet
Re: Ford Walters record car
September 15, 2002 01:30PM
<HTML>I just posted, on another forum, a request for info of a car that is in a film of racers at Bonneville (around 1953). Car looks like an old Kurtis Indy Racer.
Maybe this is the same car? What sources of info show this car at CA dragstrips? Which strips did he run at? I am in SoCal and know many old racers.
regards,
Mike</HTML>
Mark Stacey
Re: Ford Walters record car
September 15, 2002 02:56PM
<HTML>Hi Mike
I'd bet good money based on your note over at John Woodsen's Stanleysteamers site that it is Ford Walters car.
My sources of info are Light steam power and old Mechanics Illustrated, Popular Science photocopies that I've had on file for probably 30 years. I'll check them out tonight and see if there is any locations.
I'd be fascinated to find out what happened to the car and constructor.
Cheers
Mark Stacey</HTML>
martin jones
Re: Ford Walters record car
July 21, 2004 12:01AM
ford walter (no s) was my mothers' first cousin. about five years ago I talked with ford. he was 82 then. He built the steam powerplant for his dragster of his own design with his own hands. When i was a child of ten I watched ford race jalopys' at the famous ascot stadium on very south vermint ave. in Losangeles. he stayed in racing in one form or another most of his adult life. When talked with ford he said he wasn't racing any more. he was building ultralight aircraft in his garage in torrance ca.
when he built the dragster he was on the cover of many magazines and there were quite a number of stories about him.
I am 64 and i race motorcycles in the santa monica and malibu mountains. there is strangeness in some bloodlines
George Nutz
Re: Ford Walters record car
July 21, 2004 06:35AM
Mark,
I have a book(in NH) that is the story of development of a very high powered steam/water rocket---forget the name of the inventor, the book was a gift from Jim Crank a few years ago. His thrust rockets had no burner/boiler but a tank of very high pressure saturated water and achieved extremely high altitudes. It is his rocket that was used in the Evel Knievel "motorcycle " rocket that tried to jump that huge gorge many years ago. There are several pictures of it installed in very modern streamlined dragsters and all I can remember is it was an Indy driver who headed the project. If this is the car it was destroyed in one of its several runs as its acceleration and thrust were so large that controlling the car bordered on impossible. When I get back will try and dig it out and find a way to post pictures of it.
George
Graeme Vagg
Re: Ford Walters record car
July 21, 2004 04:33PM
George,

I think the dragster you are thinking of was driven by Art Arfons and called Neptune 1. The steam rocket motor was built by Robert Truax. I found a web article on it at:[www.tecaeromex.com]

Graeme
George Nutz
Re: Ford Walters record car
July 22, 2004 05:57AM
Graeme,
Thanks for jogging my old memory, yes it was Art Arfons and the great engineerRobert Truax- was one of the developers of the Arfons and Knievel efforts.
Jim remembers visiting Truax a number of years ago when when Bob was in his retirement, Truax was working on many things in his garage or shop at that time---"old engineers never die-they just keep calculating away"!
George
Graeme Vagg
Re: Ford Walters record car
July 22, 2004 01:32PM
George,

Did Truax get involved with normal steam cars? I'm sure I've seen his name before but am not sure what the connection was.

Graeme
Graeme Vagg
Re: Ford Walters record car
July 22, 2004 03:25PM
George,

I found details of a new attempt to copy the Arfons dragster using the same steam rocket motor design. This may have been mentioned elsewhere before but it helps close off the info loop.
[www.the-rocketman.com]

Graeme
Mark Stacey
Re: Ford Walters record car
July 23, 2004 02:13PM
Mike Bennet with the help of jim Read found the Ford Walters Car.
Below is the email I recieved in 2002. I'm sorry I never completed this thread. I hope Mike can share more with the forum some day
Cheers
Mark Stacey
www.cncprototyping.co.nz

Mark,
I just have to share this with you. I HAVE LOCATED THE FORD WALTERS CAR!!! You and Jim Reed gave me enough info to make it possible. Thank You! The bad news is that Ford died this January. I located his home and talked to his widow. The car is at a museum in Chino, California. I spoke to the multimillionare who funds the museum and offered to get the car in running shape. OH, for just one fire burn-out in the parking lot!It is not under display, just locked in a storage! The car was up for grabs just over a year ago (I am heartbroken, I would have upgraded the rollcage and safety gear then taken it back to Bonneville). Ford also had a 70's steam car 3 wheel prototype which was also donated. I know an old racer who passed on taking the race car for free 2 years ago, its a small world, the car was around people that I knew all along. Ford knew that he was dying and didn't want his wife to have to deal with his junk, he almost cut them up. After I confirm more I will share it.I plan on writing an article as this unfolds more. I am trying to get an appointment with the curator to take photos and check the car out. I feel indebted to get this info to the group as it was the short piece of race footage that brought me to the group in the first place, where I have had a second education. This man was a pioneer and should be noted! What serendipity that you and I both posted about this car at the same time, what are the odds in that? THANKS AGAIN! Regards, Mike
Re: Ford Walters record car
April 05, 2008 11:10PM
Was digging thru some photos this AM and ran across this pic and thought I'd do a vanity search for Ford Walters (BTW it is Walters with the s on the end) and wound up here. Thought someone might like to see this photo taken in the late '60's of the 3-wheeler Mark Stacey mentioned.


Re: Ford Walters record car
April 06, 2008 12:25AM
Dragster magazine pics. "Light Steam Power" Nov.-Dec. 1960. "Science and Mechanics" Nov. 1961


Re: Ford Walters record car
April 06, 2008 03:58AM
Thanks Justin!

Now there's a steam car. Boiler, engine, 4 wheels, and thousands of lb-ft of instant torque. Jaw-dropping simple & classic.

Hmm, engine intriguingly similar to what I'm working on ...

This car would make a great article for the SACA Bulletin.

Peter
Re: Ford Walters record car
April 06, 2008 03:45PM
Just a small tribute to Mr. Walters inventiveness. I didn't have time yesterday to post a few more images of Walters' dragster from the "LA Times" Feb. 17, 1963, and "Mechanix Illustrated" Jan. 1964. I have a photo or two of his 3-wheel steamer, besides the one already posted, but it will take some time hunting for them. He drove the 3-wheeler in the City of Lomita's Founders Day Parade in '63 or '64.


Re: Ford Walters record car
April 07, 2008 05:49PM
OK, obviously this thing never went 225 mph. Based on the probable efficiency of that engine (25 lbs/hp-hr or worse?) and the size of the boiler (and assuming no high tech finned tubes and suchlike) I'd figure it would be lucky to keep up with current day traffic on I-75. Any reputable documentation on how fast it ever did run?
Re: Ford Walters record car
April 07, 2008 08:14PM
Even a _claim_ about actual achieved performance would be interesting. I'd eyeball this rig at 100 max, maybe only briefly on Bolsover boiler overload, depending on how it's geared. What might be real good, if ports, valve chest, valve gear, etc are OK, is 0-60 acceleration. Maybe in comparison to the initial 225 mph "wild guesstimates", the actual results were too disappointing or embarassing to publicize. Based on the article, my guess would be that Walters eventually located Bolsover boiler & late-10 hp Stanley engine drawings (which he "bored out"winking smiley from Light Steam Power, and might have ended up with a pretty good design. But not "225 mph good".

Walters' comment that he couldn't find any information for designing/building this (pre-SACA) project illustrates the info-sharing value of the Club. Today, especially with the internet, info on how to build a project like that -- and probably how to do it much better -- is relatively easily available. Emphasis on "relatively", not on "easy". Still takes a fair bit of research, "homework", and "thinkwork" just to complete a buildable design.

Peter
Re: Ford Walters record car
April 07, 2008 08:35PM
Peter,

Do you think the body style of the dragster would do 225? I've been at 170 and would have hated to stick my head out that far.

I'm 64 today, like a slow train wreck getting here.

Best Regards, ------- Bill G.
Re: Ford Walters record car
April 08, 2008 07:05PM
Hi Bill,

No problem, it won't go that fast anyway!

BeetleMatic just got towed to the World's Tiniest Old Volkswagen Shop. Tranny flex plate broke ... man what a noise ... that's gas cars for ya ...

Happy Birthday Bill!

"Bugless" Pete
Re: Ford Walters record car
April 08, 2008 09:39PM
Of course it would do 225, easily......sitting in the cargo bay of a C-5 Galaxy...
Re: Ford Walters record car
April 09, 2008 02:59AM
Pete without a bug!

Hard to imagine.

Without the "Galaxy" I wonder how fast the Walters car would have gone. The guy was talented to say the least.

Best Regards, --- Bill G.

Ps, The condenser is on hold till I get more money. I believe I have worked out the dropwise condensing part though. The geometry works and the little test core looks like it is in a rainstorm with 180 degree coolant going to it. Better than anticipated.
Re: Ford Walters record car
April 13, 2008 05:36PM
HI Guys it’s to bad vat Ford Walters shell in the trap of a steam hog of and engine and under fired boiler. I doubt he was using 12 gallons and owwer. The 392 dragster I worked on in the 60s it did a run in about 6 sucking plus 2 minutes wome up. In viss time it used 5 galling of fuel. If we going anything we have stop thinking about the Stanley’s
Re: Ford Walters record car
April 13, 2008 06:23PM
Hi Bill,

The Beetle is back, as of Friday. Runs nice now, no ear-splitting grinding noise at least, and I got the front end rebuilt while I was there. 4 new ball joints & new steering box. The old ones were shot. Now I'm retraining myself to _not_ compensate for looseness, which used to keep 'er going straight but now causes the car to weave. It's hard to change when you're used to the car running a certain way. My steamer will have good old simple beam axle in front, fine for normal street/fun driving, easier for DIY mechanics, costs less, better/easier/solid alignment, and lasts longer than some gizmo-packed independent suspension.

Limitations are an advantage. While grounded/bugless for a few days, I hit the shop for fabrication tests and came up with a vastly improved, cheaper, easier-to-build flameholder for my burner. Different details but same approach as David Warriner's burner: an assembled steel flameholder/grate with flame ports (slots in my case) formed by stacked elements, without castings or machining. If I did not impose severe budget/labor limitations on myself, or in this case find myself stuck in the shop, I'd probably make burner plate pattern/casting, and drill or slot thousands of ports, or some other thing, and never would have come up with this improved, cheap, easy, lightweight sheetmetal burner design.

Whether voluntary or imposed by circumstances, limitations provoke ingenuity. "What can I do now with what I have on hand?" has led me (& many others) to all sorts of new & better designs. Hot rod writer Jim Rizzo recently said, "Let's face it folks, we're not building the Space Shuttle here".

I'd like to see somebody pick up that Ford Walters dragster and get it running, see what it can really do. Sounds like it's sitting in a barn somewhere gathering dust. We can calculate & guesstimate the performance -- of anything -- till the cows come home, and never get close to the truth. Small details can make big differences.

Keep On Steamin',

"Bugful" Pete










Re: Ford Walters record car
April 13, 2008 06:35PM
Hi Howard,

You posted while I was writing the preceding post. I agree that a lighter, faster, harder-firing boiler, done right, can give big improvements over the Stanley. Engine, well, good luck with that. Accelerating flat out from a stop is probably not going to give good efficiency with any kind of engine. How efficient are gas dragsters? I don't think their combustion or expansion ratio are very good. Maybe if those 10 foot long exhaust flames are aimed to the rear...

Peter
Re: Ford Walters record car
December 23, 2009 03:51PM
It would be nice to hear how Mike is doing on his research of Ford Walters' dragster and the "Autopsy" and their current condition.

Karl Petersen
Re: Ford Walters record car
December 30, 2009 05:55AM
All,

Ken and Howard have assessed the situation well. For others, which part of "This car did not work as planned" don't you understand.

It appears the dragster did not post any times on the drag strips worth reporting, nor got a timed run on the salt flats. In August 1964 the driver reported warm up runs on the wet salt of 70 to 80mph and salt spray got into the control system causing numerous problems but did not prevent running. The track ended up being closed due to water covering it before a timed run could be made.

Engine modifications were planned for 1965 but I have seen no reports that show they were made or if the car ran after 1964. If you care to examine all media articles closely you will find they are high on hype and lacking in technical substance. There is no information that shows how the vehicle was capable of the performance projected. Overall sizes of components are given and permit an equivalent design to be drawn and assessed even tho specific tuning specifications are not known. It doesn't take too long to discover basic problems. Those who had built a few complete systems probably did the assessment in their head in a few seconds. Others haven't figured it out after 46 years or so.

In our area we treat lemon steam projects the same way as we treat our farm animals. When they expire we bury them in a deep hole as quickly as possible to prevent critters getting at them and digging up the remains.

Graeme
Re: Ford Walters record car
December 30, 2009 10:34PM
I have to say the comradery here among you steam enthusiasts is poor to nonexistent. I believe if Mr. Walters was alive today he would be sadly disapointed in this group where he enjoyed steam as an interest and as a hobby. I'm sorry to say that I wish I hadn't wasted my time and effort sharing pictures and articles as I see they have only lead to belittling the mans work. Why don't you all post some articles here showing your great talents and achievements in steam dating back almost a half century ago or are you all just full of hot air and steam.
Re: Ford Walters record car
December 31, 2009 08:15AM
Quote
Bill Gatlin
Peter,

Do you think the body style of the dragster would do 225? I've been at 170 and would have hated to stick my head out that far.

I once watched my cbr900 pull redline on an old lakebed in 105 deg. heat (approx. 165). Was impressed, had a lapse in sanity and sat up. Almost ripped me of the bike..I'll bet I was microseconds in time grasping the bars..a slip would have hurt.

These dragster fact are always fun: [www.ultimatecarpage.com]
Re: Ford Walters record car
December 31, 2009 09:22AM
Justin,

The real problem here is the way an extensive media promotion was given to an undeveloped project that subsequently underperformed by a very big margin. It isn't an isolated case or limited to steam promotions. You will see examples everywhere relating to new technologies, medical "breakthroughs", political announcements etc. Some call it PR, others now call it spin. On this site it is usually mentioned as BS or hot air. Examples of steam power BS go way back and is in sales literature for steam cars, magazines, books, the internet etc to the extent that newcomers would have no idea what is true and what isn't. If you treat steam as a hobby only, it doesn't really matter what the truth is. Authenticated data is useful, off-the-wall numbers and opinions are useless.

The 1960s era was pretty bad for it when inventors were coming out of the wood work with new super steam systems to solve the air pollution problem - all seeking development funds for their latest product only one week away from public demonstration. These days we insist on seeing a tested product first - then you can talk about it. The penalty for non-compliance is a public burning at the internet site where the crime is committed :-).

Building a steam system from scratch with your own facilities does take a certain amount of dedication and effort but it isn't such a big deal. Some of us have done it a few times and you can read about that in old issues of the SACA journals or Light Steam Power.

Ford Walter's project only started about 5 years ahead of my first project and we were aware of it but not influenced by his approach. I attended several steam club meets in USA in the mid 1970s when working there but did not meet him or see the dragster anywhere. Photographs and descriptions reported do permit a fair assessment of what the steam plant could or could not do. Only timed tests could confirm that, and if not recorded, would best not be sought. If the builder had confidence in the vehicle, even limited to the dragster use, I would have expected it to be kept operational for regular display. It would probably be capable of winning the SACA time trial event every year. A vehicle designed for only 1/4 mile range does have limited value tho.

Graeme
Re: Ford Walters record car
December 31, 2009 12:07PM
Justin,

Thankyou for posting your information. There are more lurkers here that silently appreciate the photos, articles, and links that are provided, than participants.

You are correct that we can be harsh in our criticisms, and sometimes disrespect the person. While there is no excuse for disrespecting the person, criticism of unsubstantiated claims is fair game here. For the most part, I don't censor posts. Start doing that and it becomes full time...

Thanks again,
Scott

Best,
Scott Finegan
Re: Ford Walters record car
December 31, 2009 12:48PM
Justin,

I am sure we all appreciate the information you posted. For beginners working on new designs though, misinformation can do real damage. This is what we try to weed out. How would you feel if you came up with an engine system that was "only" 30% efficient overall and didn't pursue it past much testing because some company with lots of money from somewhere found that they had just achieved 50% efficiency with their steam engine.

Well, lets see, the big Sulser (sp) diesel engines that are used in ships can do this, so maybe my 30% efficiency engine isn't so good. Worse, others read this advertising stuff and would get turned off to taking any interest in a lousy 30% efficiency engine. So the press bs takes the day and the serious researcher doesn't.

How, for instance would someone like Harry be affected at a show if he were talking to a potential interest in his engine and someone walked up and said: "Oh -I - I heard dat someone jus developed a real super 50% efficiency engine, so that Cyclone there, that's nothin. " Damage done, idiot walks away.

Best, --- Bill G.
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