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Williams ws. Rankin

Posted by Howard Langdon 
Re: Williams ws. Rankin
April 04, 2009 11:02AM
HI bill and Hairy thanks for the help. Hairy I will call as sewn as I can. Bill I could find Andy. I am so bisaey making chips. Much time left
Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 12, 2009 04:01PM
Great thread. I only had time to read the first 7 and last 4 pages. I may have missed this but what is the efficiency, and the output for various speeds and loads?

Charles Gutha
Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 13, 2009 11:09AM

I've been waiting since about 1960 for that information and nobody has provided it so the hype is wearing a little thin. A test was done in 1942 that had results mixed with actual and theoretical numbers that were not convincing and a subject of argument ever since. Vehicle tests for air pollution done did not show any exceptional fuel economy levels. Demonstrations of vehicle(s) were being made in the early 1960s but the company went broke trying to make a batch of 10 conversions. By the early 1970s lighter and better systems were being produced by others but none were close enough to ICE fuel economy to attract any commercial backing or interest.

I've mentioned elsewhere that steam developers have been promising the world from the time the early devices appeared. In small sizes they did not last long in the market place even with advantages of very cheap fuel and little early competition. Small boat systems had been knocked off by about 1885 and road transport market share peaked about 1902 before real vehicles existed.

It only takes a few hours to get test results to settle an argument but steam developers are either unwilling or unable to produce real numbers for public scrutiny to support a case. You will notice that any published information is quite selective and incomplete to avoid complete scrutiny. The media trying to support the steam dream seems to think this can go on forever but I did note some footnotes in Light Steam Power articles (from the 1970s) pressing for real road test results from builders of cars who were supplying articles for publication.

You may note that most steam vehicle projects do not get to the road test stage and this is probably due to the initial testing showing some aspect is way below expectations. Development produces a lot of scrap metal you never hear about and that is the nature of the game. A bunch of bad test numbers will not enhance the image of steam power.

I doubt if you will ever get a satisfactory answer to your question.

Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 13, 2009 03:04PM
My garage is filling up with scrap metal, too. Thanks for the clarification, Graeme.

I doubt that I understand fully exactly what the uniflow cylinder is; I imagine something like a two cycle diesel with a blower pushing the fuel into the cylinder at the bottom of the stroke -- only running backwards with steam instead of fuel. I doubt if that is accurate.

Also, in my mind's eye, what I understand about Williams approaches a perpetual motion machine: Steam goes into a zero clearance piston (My first problem as I include the piping from the valve as expanding steam, but they use a valve in the cylinder itself so – no pipe. The coefficient of expansion also makes zero very tough to achieve and mistakes costly.) Ignoring that, the low cutoff allows the steam to expand. (Necessary for full benefit of expansiveness of steam, but not necessarily efficiency in converting lineal force to rotational force.)

Then it is recompressed! If there is no condensate in the cylinder, then the pressure and heat is returned to the system minus heat loss, the loss of work done, friction and leakage. If there is condensate, even two lowly molecules: the volume changes, and that might work if we can tolerate water in the cylinder. As long as we are "iffing" Let's condense a bunch of steam and use only the latent heat! All we have to do is expel the water through some kind of steam trap mounted on the head, (but certainly not under zero tolerance!) Reheat the remaining steam with the entry of new steam (like a PIC heater for steam) and go to the next cycle.

If we do it right, we can also eliminate the condenser and feed water pump. After all we just recompressed the steam in the cylinder back into water. It is already at boiler pressure. I say, we have achieved our coveted one lb steam per horsepower. When can we start production?

Not understanding something has its advantages. Walt Disney made an empire on it.

Charles Gutha
Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 13, 2009 05:43PM
Hi Charles,


I doubt that I understand fully exactly what the uniflow cylinder is; I imagine something like a two cycle diesel with a blower pushing the fuel into the cylinder at the bottom of the stroke -- only running backwards with steam instead of fuel. I doubt if that is accurate.

In general, learning more about the "Williams" or "Uniflow" engines, you can research the Williams Engine for some material. But for all practical purposes The Cyclone engine does infact use "exhaust steam re-compression" as a Unaflow engine does. This is a factual result, of placing exhaust bores on the side of a working cylinder. Although im not to sure about the williams/uniflow engines steam admission systems.

The re-compression that I mention, is the result of exhaust steam that is traped in the working cylinder, as the piston moves back 'up-wards' across the exhaust sideporting. In alot of configurations simular to this, not only, may the exhaust sideporting be placed near the bottom of the working cylinder, the compression ratio is determined by chamber clearance, at TDC. Hence, uniflow engines with tight clearance have a very high compression ratio, as compared to an diesel ICE.

Harry has taken this a step further, demonstrated in his first patent, as there is a compression relief valve. If you read the patent, you will understand why that mechanism is there. Also there is an heat exchanger with an overlaying position, over the type of exhaust-ports discussed within this thread. So your really not that far off, all in all, and welcome to the group.


Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 13, 2009 10:13PM
In the case with the Cyclone. I think during low rpm, the re-compression rate is lower and the re-compressed steam is also re-heated in the boiler. At high rpm, the re-compression rate is higher, but no re-heat.

Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 14, 2009 10:33AM
July 14, 2009 The best and only book on uniflow steam engines is the 1922 second edition of Prof. Dr.-Ing. h. c. J. Stumpf's book "The Una-Flow Steam-Engine". It is well worth reading for any kind of an understanding of how a steam engine works. The Williams' files contain several copies of Stumpf's patents, so they were aware of his work. The Williams did not have a zero-clearance engine, just a very small clearance volume engine. Other than that it is straight forward una-flow. The 105 c.i.d. engine from the Victress car, the fiberglass body red and white car on a 1940's Ford frame, is in my shop and the head is loose so a person can see exactly how it was made. As for an understanding of re-compression of steam in a Williams' engine, I think that the best analysis was done by the late Larry Rossett. Larry said, in essence, that the main issue with any kind of an automobile engine, particularly one that is bolted straight to the drive line without any transmission in the way, is one of variable torque. With most modern automobile engines the ratio of torque needed to maintain highway speeds to the torque needed for acceleration is in the neighborhood of 5-1 or 10-1. Thus the issue is now to produce very little torque in a steam engine. It appears to me that the Williams addressed this problem successfully. The problem is how to admit a very small amount of steam into the cylinder at TDC. It is difficult to make a cam with that short a dwell time, particularly when the engine is running at regular IC engine speeds. One way to solve this problem is to have a relatively long valve opening time, but to have enough high pressure re-compressed steam in the clearance volume so that there is little flow of steam from the boiler to the cylinder until the cylinder has moved a ways, lowering the steam pressure, and then there is not much flow because there is still not the pressure differential between the boiler and the cylinder that there would be in a non-uniflow engine. Therefore the intake valve can stay open for a longer period of time with little steam flow taking place. This accomplishes what we want to do. Larry Rossett said that the problem the Williams faced was in having an engine with enough displacement to give sufficient torque at low speeds while having good fuel economy at highway speeds. Tom Kimmel
Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 14, 2009 11:21AM
Thanks everyone.

Despite my cynical sound, this makes a lot of sense to me. I just came back from Wikipedia’s explanation of the uniflow. Your description was good enough that I did understand it. WOW.

As far as using recompression to limit the steam flow, Why not? Keeping the BTU's of the old partially used steam is not a bad idea either.

As ridicules as I made my comment sound, condensing the steam inside the cylinder might not be a bad idea if we provide room for it. At 1000 rpm, 200 hp, 5 lbs / hp hour, I figured 1000 lbs/60 = 17.6 lbs/ minute or 2.2 gals a minute. That’s a lot of water, but condensing releases energy,
The possibility is there. I’m not going to build it tomorrow

I envision a head with a chamber that collects water; I have trouble with a float type steam trap as it must stay oriented to gravity. I don’t see uniflow being necessary because wet steam is nearly the same temperature anyway. Let’s poke holes in this so I can save time and money and go on to other things.

I suppose that rotory valves belong on another thread that I have not found yet.

still a great site, thanks,

Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 14, 2009 11:00PM
It would be much nicer if the exhaust valve could be made variable timing. You only want to let as much steam out of the cylinder as power requires, the rest of the steam would be re-compressed and push back into the boiler for reheat and a small amount of new steam (by power requirement) is added.

While I am still on this train of thought. I think throttling should be done by synchronizing steam admission with the exhaust port. Like a stirling engine, the exhaust port functions as heat rejection of the cold cylinder. Am I correct on this?

Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 15, 2009 07:59AM

You really need to set up a test rig with at least a single cylinder engine (made from industrial engine or air compressor parts initially to save time and cost) to test each idea to see what works and what doesn't. Get hold of Ken's patent DVD to see several thousand ideas that sent most developers broke despite looking good on paper (to the inventor). A few did succeed in the market. Most people do not test their idea with hardware and that is a fatal mistake. A ground rule for forum users is that the proposer of an idea has to either provide adequate test results that proves the idea has substance or sponsor someone to carry out tests on their behalf.

If you have a running system, most tests can be carried out quite easily. While a lot of different ideas have been tried by hundreds of developers in the past 120 years or so, the lack of implementation of most of them raises doubts that even a 2 cents idea may be over priced, or perhaps, at best, just misplaced.

Once you have a base line system running, the measured performance will establish an initial benchmark. Steam equipment can be tested very accurately for its performance with standard instruments like pressure gauges and thermometers. In the superheated steam range you only need two measurements of different properties at each vital point in a system to know exactly what all the other properties at that point are. Because of this you can't cheat the system (or yourself) because you know instantly what is working well and what isn't. What you may not know is the real cause of some poor performance. Chasing problem areas may take a lot of time but if you have system test data others can trouble shoot it and home in on likely deficiencies.

Shooting for high performance as indicated is like climbing Mount Everest without oxygen and a guide. You need to get some initial data and be able to repeat it any time you like, then improve on it until the effort is no longer worth while. A low budget system that can achieve a water rate of 10 lb/hp/hr would be very good but needs to be achieved before getting into more serious work. There are no guidelines on an ultimate goal or a performance level that has commercial value as by now costs will be increasing at a fast rate and performance margins will be dropping. My gut feel is that there is no good answer out there due to the conflict of thermodynamic requirements, material limitations and overall costs. Is their a middle ground solution with less performance, some benefits and a commercial application? Maybe, depending on what everyone else comes up with and any gaps that could be filled. That's for speculators still.

Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 15, 2009 08:33AM
HI Caries I ken not go init here I do not have the time. Phone me 819 876 5886 Howard. I doubt you no how much it to make a engine and boiler and controls and more to do a 5ooH.P. one
Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 15, 2009 03:13PM
You guy's are gracious. Thank you. As you can guess, most of my steam knowlage comes from books -- now lost. My experiance was from the packing house. That's boiler only and changing pipes as they rot, installing stuff and maintainence. Then I spent the last eight years in an office bouilding where someone else installed the new boilers. I'm afraid that as the stench of the packing house wore off, so did the sharp edge of thinking. Watching the color of a flame does not promote much thought, but I became good at changing lightbulbs. It is good to read what you are discussing. I feal my synapses firing again as the old gray matter comes back up to temperature. Thanks

I do have a project that I am woking on. I plowed through the theory so many times that I convinced myself that it was worth building. After all, I figure that if it works on paper, I will give it a fifty-fifty chance. (Or the packing house mantality, "there is always time to do it right the third time"winking smiley Too, bad I did not find this site first, I could have convinced myself that it would not work.

But it's the journy and what we learn on the way isn't it? I am so close to finishing it now, that I might as well prove that it will not work. (I still think it will, just not as good as the cyclone, and I now know that there are problems inherant with it).

I will commit to building a test rig next month. but this will start as a simple cylinder -- no fancy stuff. I do wonder about the practicallity of rotory valves controling both inlet and exhaust -- That is I am in favor of it and am looking for advice. as I remember my design from several months back, both the exhaust and intake are tied together. I control the cutoff. I just schetched it out. did not even make a model yet to see if I channeled the air correctly.

This web site is so exciting that I keep jabbering on like a kid with a new toy. Thanks for your patiance. charles
Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 16, 2009 04:41PM
Rotary valves: People who know what they are doing do not use rotary valves. Karl Petersen says that the Richard Smith rotary valves worked fine, so you should ask him for his opinion. They were designed in to the Lear Delta engine and people who worked on that said that there was not enough space left inside the triangle to make a rotary valve large enough to let in enough steam to make any power. The engine was designed for 800 hp and depending on the person telling the story it made on the test stand either 50 hp or 80 hp. As for the rotary valves leaking, they used a seal design lifted from a gas turbine engine, thus not getting much leakage between the ports. The original Dutcher-SPS bus design had a very clever rotary valve to operate poppet valves, thus getting complete control of cutoff timing. The person who made it told me that each of the three moving parts was coated with a different metal in an attempt to eliminate spalling. The problem was that there were always some metal shavings in the piping that jammed it up, so it was discarded. The best rotary valve design is from the Graeme Vagg V-4 that he made back in olden times using VW pistons and connecting rods. A good example of this engine and valve is in my shop. Some people say that the valve did not let in enough steam to make real power, and some people say that this was a good idea because then there was good efficiency from high expansion. I still think that people who know what they are doing do not use rotary valves. Tom Kimmel
Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 16, 2009 07:29PM

I think you got an 'F' on that one, but don't be discouraged. It happens... Also, your mention of condensation on cylinder walls is as equally bad...

As Tom note's, even with open center tri-bore rotory-valves, no amount of overdrive or underdrive valve gearing is going to solve the underlying mathmatics problem. Under such an ideal condition the mechanism will 'hunt'. Imagion an dual-overhead cam IC engine, you set the timing marks, slip-on the belt and its over. However if the timing belt is one tooth off, with relation to cam or crank angle setting, then the timing belt will 'hunt' and eventually the engine will not run. Not to mention bent valves on an equivelant IC engine with 'tight' clearance using poppet valves. In essence there is no mathmatical solution with even the best rotary valve gear, especially at high RPM engine running speeds. Hence the mention of use of rotary valve hybred with bash valves. If you actually tested your hypothesis, in the real-world, by implimenting your valve timing geometry you would eventually deduce the same. As Greame intelligently recommended to you, convert an single cylinder engine or modified A/C compressor, and turn it over to see if you can actually achieve the valve timing event's that you propose. And if you would like my opinion, install an safety valve thru the bore of the cylinder just above the top of the piston, that will let pressure escape just in case the piston is stuck at BDC, before you charge any engine, with steam or compressed air...


Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 16, 2009 09:30PM
Jeremy: That explains why I have only seen them depicted on the corless. What is the best valve for 100 hp? (I decided to learn to walk before I run the marathon.)

Howard: I plugged your dementions into my program. I was successfully able to depict a zero sum gain minus the little exhaust at the bottom of the stroke. but there is still something I do not understand:

Converting steam energy to work uses BTU. I assume that the loss is in the form of temperature as the pressure is dictated by the system under load. I assume that converting to work is different from the Boyl's PT/V. I do not have the words yet to even ask. How does performing work affect the williams / rankin and other charts?

Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 16, 2009 11:55PM
Check attachment



Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 17, 2009 05:40AM
Tom and Jeremy

I remembered! The work done is represented by the area in the Rankin cycle. Now I remember seeing the pictures of the machines that measure this. It's coming back! So much forgotten! There is spark but it’s still only one cylinder and hit and miss. It's like learning to walk all over again. I almost remember knowing this stuff before.

a three day weekend then i'll be back to reread this on the williams. It might sink in a bit futher.

Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 28, 2009 06:05PM
Ken, How can I get hold of your Patent DVD? charles
Re: Williams ws. Rankin
July 29, 2009 04:54PM
Hi Charles,

How about if I start up a different topic for this discussion? Don't want people to accuse us of 'polluting' the current thread... :-)


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