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Steam Motorcycles

Posted by gvagg2 
Steam Motorcycles
May 30, 2006 09:53PM
Is anyone interested in building a new steam motorcycle or steam power plant that is small and neat enough to fit an average size motorcycle?

A power plant this size has multiple uses in bikes, trikes, karts, ORVs, ATVs, lawn tractors, mulchers and shredders, air compressors, water pumps, home generator sets. At low power levels you can still afford to run on liquid fuels (while still available) but rural users can run on free biomass fuels.

The advantages of low power applications is that a shortfall in performance is not such a big deal, whereas in a car project you are likely to scrap it if it doesn't meet expectations (usually inflated to unrealistic levels in the first place).

I'm not a motorcycle fan or rider (prefer 3 wheels minimum for stability) but have admired several of the neater designs from the past - the 1886 Roper for instance standing out as something special way ahead of its time.

The package constraints of a steam motorcycle are quite a challenge while most of the other applications listed are less demanding and within the scope of a home mechanic. If you can't handle something this size, a car project is way out of reach anyway. So this is "entry level" stuff.

There is also no need to be modern and think computers etc are going to solve your problems - chances are some of the 1886 to 1912 designs will clean up most of the "modern" designs when it comes to cost, actual economy, reliability and value for money. It would be more economical for those with common power needs to compare goals and see if there is any benefit from getting castings and CNC machining done for a small batch of common parts. For one or two you wouldn't bother with this.

A project covering some of these applications is already underway but some underlying support from SACA members for projects of this type will be needed eventually to secure the future of the club.

This is a "doing now" project for current builders. It is likely any successful designs (proven in the field) will end up with drawings sold via the SACA Storeroom or made items sold by SACA members. This will only happen if there is genuine demand and sufficient resources for implementation.

In the first instance, it is important that individual's needs are satisfied. If two people have the same goals, that is enough for some mutual self help.
Thoughts of mass production are in fairyland at present although a small Asian based enterprise could probably come up with something if they had a working model to copy.

Are there two steam system builders anywhere who want to do the same thing?


PS. Note that there is an annual competition with cash prizemoney for steam powered vehicles of any type that can run for at least one eighth of a mile when required. Sounds easy, but is a challenge too far away for most.

Being able to run an eighth of a mile is not much of a deal either, our aim is to have steam machinery with 2, 3 or 4 wheels that can go anywhere the driver/rider wants and with normal vehicle range. Many of the potential applications above do not require use for several hours at a time so are quite easy to meet. A running time of an hour or so could be enough, but a duration of several hours would only be a matter of carrying enough fuel.
Re: Steam Motorcycles
May 31, 2006 12:56AM
Hello Graeme,

For now I am too busy with my engine design stuff but a couple of things come to mind.

It seems that designing a small and fairly efficient engine for the job wouldn't be too hard, a little two cylinder unaflow comes to mind. Possibly with a bit of heat regenerating things added.

I think that what needs to be determined first is the boiler and condenser, if one, parameters. This to determine the best engine size. In a small afair such as a three wheeler better to have a little too much steam than to be contiuously running out because the engine is too large.

The type of fuel will have a big effect on how big the thing is, solid or liquid.

It sounds like a good project and the way the world is going the timing seems right.

Best ----------- Bill G.
Re: Steam Motorcycles
May 31, 2006 03:58AM

Thanks for your comments. We will test several easy options but several may come out close to each other in terms of cost and performance.

Full condensing is required these days unless you live by or on a fresh water lake or river. The world is running out of water so it has to be conserved.

The boilers used will have to be able to run on solid fuel, but can take liquid fuel if it is affordable. Say for example you might need half a gallon an hour for continuous running - that may cost $US1.50 to $US3 an hour depending where you live and pump prices on the day. A farmer can drop in a bag of wood chips or corn cobs that will only cost the effort to pick it up.

A light trike will carry two people with less than one horsepower - a project already completed some 30 years ago. Current users are likely to want something bigger but less than superbike standards.

Re: Steam Motorcycles
May 31, 2006 10:08AM
Hello Graeme,

It sounds like a large Golf Cart would be a good starting point, one of course with the little canopy to shade from the sun. Such a cart could have room in the back to carry groceries and a small two wheel trailer for fuel or longer journeys.

Again, I believe that the boiler and burner are the tough points for a small cart, the engine it'self would then be designed around given boiler parameters, but would be very small. I would guess superheat in the range of 1000 degrees and 1000 psi to be the maximum with good burner control and firing to stay close to that output. That seems like the biggest engineering challenge.

The engine, possibly a small two cylinder double acting unaflow with piston valves. The exhaust steam directly to a heat exchanger similar to the Cyclone to heat the feedwater. If this exhaust energy can be picked off effectively then the engine can be throttled for control without loosing too much efficiency. The big things for an efficient engine of this size are tight piston rings and insulation.

Putting the cart design together doesn't sound too difficult to me once the burner/ boiler is worked out. That looks like the starting point.

It's time has come ---------- Bill G.
Re: Steam Motorcycles
May 31, 2006 10:53PM
Hi Graeme:

Strange as it may sound, my buddy Steve and I were sketching up a bare bones mini bike/go kart steam system just hours before your posting this topic. We are looking at a relatively obscure and bare bones simple engine and would like to keep everything else as minimalistic as possible. So, yes, guess you could say I am interested.


Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 01, 2006 02:20AM
Hi Graeme: Good idea, mutual self help, etc. I have a couple questions. I live in Hungary and whenever I acquire mechanical stuff form the USA, I get charged about sixty percent import duties. So that’s something to consider when swapping parts between countries. Does that happen when Australians import stuff from the USA? How about when USA people import machine stuff from other countries?

You mention that “… there is an annual competition with cash prize money for steam powered vehicles of any type that can run for at least one eighth of a mile when required.”
“When required” kind of sounds like the vehicle needs to be street legal. Is that so?

And about this prize money contest: Where? Who? When? I wanna see!

About two wheeled steam vehicles: Safety consideration needs to be taken into account when designing the boiler, that it may be laid down horizontally for short periods of time without self damage, especially as you lay under the thing, kicking and screaming. Of course it is never desirable to end up under your vehicle, as sometimes does happen with a two wheeler, but possibly having FIRE and SCALDING WATER right there on top of you at a possibly incapacitated moment, would somehow take away some of the relaxing joy of operating the vehicle. You can’t run, and there’s no place to hide.

But having said that, the one good thing about building a steam motorcycle is that generally it is easier to work on than automobiles because you can get at most of the parts fairly easily, since nothing can be berried too deeply. A motorcycle with an easily removable side car (for maintenance) might be the best all round configuration.

If I were to get into something like this, I would think that the simplest route for the engine would be a single cylinder two cycle conversion with bump valve, HUGE flywheel and centrifugal clutch. I would feed the normal gas/oil mixture through the engine just like it was designed, just for lubrication.

(Later on, I suspect that the gas/oil could be separated out from the steam well enough to be burned.) As for condensers, superheat, water/oil separators,… gee, I don’t know. For the more experienced steam person, sure. Why not. But I’m kind of afraid that the uninitiated novice right out of the gate, might be afraid to even get started on such a complex endeavor.

Now, here I go, making suggestions of help (which historically I never keep. So don‘t be surprised if I eventually can‘t come through). BUT, if a group of you can decide on a common goal and needed some common parts needing custom machining done, MAYBE, just MAYBE… I could be of help. My machinist here in Hungary does not have CNC machines but, it appears that he can make anything out of metal and works for US$12.50/hour. Metric dimensions only. No one-offs please and I have no idea about export duties. But if $12.50 an hour is significantly cheaper than in the US, then all other things being equal, perhaps I can do something worthwhile to help SACA stay afloat.

Good luck.
John H Féhn
Pomáz, Hungary
Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 01, 2006 11:15AM
Hi John,
IN sept SACA has the 1/8 mile time trials. It's a lot of fun there will be cash prises and mileage paid along with trophys for classes. Not street legal but safe.
Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 01, 2006 11:29AM
Hi John,

Import/Export guidelines to Australia can be found on the internet. Low value, personal use items (to $A250 value and with a customs duty value of below $A50) can be imported/received tax free. Specific cases would need to be examined by a customs agent.

The annual steam vehicle time trials event is held at Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA mid September. Private sponsors have been providing up to $US2,000 for the event that is a standing start timed run over 1/8th of a mile. Up to 2005 the winner received $US1,000. For 2006 I understand the allocations will be changed with all participants sharing the prizemoney at a rate proportional to their performance. Some of the steam cars or bikes are street legal but others are not. Some photos of contestants in 2005 are shown on this web site.

Stable options for a motorcycle would include a sidecar (as suggested), a trike with a single driven wheel at the back or a trike with one front wheel and two driven wheels at the back. The front or rear suspension assembly from a VW Beetle is a popular material source for trike options although anything available can be used. Find a local motorcycle sales/repair shop for component suggestions.

Motorcycles can be fitted with safety bars in front and/or behind the rider to prevent the machine and rider from being damaged if the machine falls on its side. These are made of tubular steel and usually chrome plated and called Crash Bars, Highway Bars or Engine Guards. Product details can be found on the internet.

The steam engine conversion you mention has been widely used with most only fitting a steam inlet valve to the head and using direct oil injection into the steam or soluble oil in the feedwater. This would be an entry level design, with progressive improvements made to the engine made for longer life and better steam economy. One or two new boilers will be developed to meet specific new needs. Most other items exist as production parts for the auto, marine or air conditioning industries and can be found in salvage yards.

Your machine shop costs are lower than ours but transport and duties that may be applicable would close the gap. If participants locate machine shop support for jobbing work in their own location that would be a good start. If volume is really low, components would be designed for minimum set up time for machining in a home workshop size lathe (about 150mm centre height) or drill/milling machine. We still have a mixture of metric and English sizes for raw materials but metric bearings are cheaper and more plentiful. Drawings and specifications are produced in metric units here.

Is anyone else near you interested in steam power?

Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 01, 2006 08:50PM
Hi Bill,

I have looked at some golf carts as a starting point but found they were smaller and more expensive than a real car. Road performance would also be limited so I didn't put them on a wish list. There are many electric and ICE versions so the propulsion market there is well catered for.

Steam conditions will need to be reasonably high but must not reduce engine life. It will depend on how high we can go safely with no risk in the field of a lub or material failure. There is no target specified and once you get conditions up a bit the gains get progressively less and costs rise exponentially. Anyone seeking ultimite economy with a steam system runs the risk of being priced out of the market when they try to build it for ICE costs. Being "best" in this game may wipe you out finacially.

We have to build new equipment because most designs available or being talked about are likely to cost more than they can save. If fuel costs nothing you will only save fuel storage space and there is only a cubic foot or so to argue about. An inexpensive, solid, system will win out because new owners will not want to mess with anything or care what the internal functions are. Whether the internal bits are low or high tech will not matter - it just has to go, and go and go. Designs have to be in the public domain, we only look at expired patents for ideas. There is enough available to build a very good system for a budget price without going too deeply into every option.


Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 02, 2006 12:45AM
Hello Graeme,

I think I know what you mean. I try to think rugged like the old Volkswagon. They just kept running and if they broke there was always someone around who could figure out how to fix it.

I was thinking that 1000 X 1000 has proven to be about the limit to get the best performance without going to stainless steels and worrying about singing lube oil too much, given some care as to oil filtration and boiler design.

Mine going up to 1200 degrees is for a different criteria where power and efficiency must both be there.

For the kind of carts envisioned here, the engines seem like they would be small and simple things to build service and replace when neccessary. Being small they would run to higher RPMs than a Stanley for instance, making their displacement smaller yet. Dual bobbins, thread injection.

It sounds as if you have thought this through some already, so you probably have a better idea as to the horsepower needed for a given size and weight. I think figuring out a rough target market is a good starting point, then an acceptable type of vehicle. From there the best boiler/condenser/burner/fuel combo that can reasonably be put in it. The engine, while maybe in rough draft so one can estimate efficiency, would be last.

A four wheel buggy with bicycle wheels? It would get the groceries home.

Just keep having fun with it and it will get off to a good start.

Best ----- Bill G.
Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 02, 2006 08:33AM
Hi folks:

Does anybody have an idea as to how many degrees of admission a symmetrical event valve (open same number of degrees before and after top dead center, such as a bash valve) should have for reasonable performance?


Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 02, 2006 09:05AM
Graeme asks:
“Is anyone else near you interested in steam power? “

The Steam Car Club of Great Britain would be the closest. But England’s boiler codes are really stringent and they are such sticklers about it. I’ve been told that there is a steam group in Budapest but when the ‘Steam Locomotive Gran Prix’ happened last year, only one of the group showed up and he really didn’t really know anything about steam engines. I suspect this group just likes pretty trains.

Hello again Bill: You mention, “A four wheel buggy with bicycle wheels? It would get the groceries home.”

At first the pedal cars found at Margit Island Park in Budapest seemed promising but it turns out they are way too expensive, higher than a used car! Also, I was just paging through some old Modeltec mags, back when SACA was in it, and a 1902 article pointed out that with 4 wheels, an uneven road surface will cause a twisting torque to be applied to the frame, whereas this does not happen with a three wheeled vehicle. This would be especially important with homebuilt cars since the frame may not be as stiff as we planned or would like, and stiffening = weight gain. Also to get to the grocery store means licensing, which is usually easier with a three wheeled vehicle.

“Just keep having fun with it and it will get off to a good start.”

I agree with you there Bill, but to me, adding on the complication of condensers and oil/water separators is just not my idea of fun. Not to mention that to my knowledge anyway, the business of oil/water separation has never been completely, absolutely, totally licked. It seems to me that most of the proposed uses of this project (bikes, trike, karts, ORVs, ATVs, lawn tractors, mulchers and shredders, air compressors, water pumps, home generator sets) don’t really need condensing systems. (and non-condensing is more fun to watch!) I suspect that the initial project would be more popular with more people if it is kept as simple as possible.

Guess I’m digressing a bit here but, another nice spin-off of non-condensing is that the carburetor gas/oil oiling system that comes with a two cycle engine seems to me to be the easiest and best way to oil the whole steam converted engine since nothing has to be done to make it work and it automatically keeps the water blown out of the crank case. Use it just as it is, straight from the factory. An injector is one more thing to have to make and it only lubes the cylinder, not the crankcase and doesn‘t discourage water entering the crankcase. Unfortunately, this is only good for non-condensing vehicles since it puts air into the exhaust steam, so I guess is not applicable to this project, if it is to be a condensing system (either sooner or later).

Incidentally, if anyone knows of an oil injector for this application that can be bought off the shelf, PLEEEEEEEEEESE tell me where I can buy it. I need it so badly for my current project and have found nothing so far. Tks so much.

Lastly, one possible use not mentioned thus far, would be a small tractor. If desired, the engine could be so mounted so that it could be watched while being driven (and heard, and smelled), something I personally find lacking with virtually all other steam vehicles. Also lawn mower attachments can be added to a small tractor for practical use, adding fun to an otherwise pretty boring chore. Tractors also have the added advantage of being off road vehicles drivable pretty much anywhere and to some extent, it is legal to drive them on the city streets and highways without a license plate.

The more I think about this project, the more I like it. Now if I could just find an off-the-shelf bump valve…

John Féhn
Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 02, 2006 10:41AM
I have thought for a long time that an ???-electric hybred would be an ideal power plant for a lawn tractor. It would be nice to have an electric power source for electric lawn equipment. And the deck would be elctric driven. The deck could then easly be shifted to get to places where the fixed deck can't. Like the sides of the ditches in front of my house amd under trees and shrubs. You could shift it out to either side and it would be somewhat likee using the cicle mowers on tractors.

I don't think one has to be restricted to a motorcycle. There are several kit cars that use motocycle engines. I tried to find one I reciently saw to link up to. Can't find it now. Think it was an artical on one of the Kit car sites. Found this one through a search. Very interisting:


For a motocycle product, I think you need to have good performance. Performance is the main selling point. You need to be at least equal to or better then the average car. I have had motocycles most of my life. My justifacation for a street bike was mainly the high MPG, lower insurance cost. In general lower cost of operation.

I found a minimal suppercar artical a while back. It sure looks like a good design for a test vehical. See attachment of it's frame. It is a two seater formula car inspired design. The one in the artical used a Honda engine. Decided not to post thoes picture because of possable copyright issues. The frame I duped in my Pro/Engineer and generated the frame bitmap. It looks very close to theirs.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/02/2006 10:55AM by Andy.
open | download - frame.bmp (138.7 KB)
Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 02, 2006 12:06PM
Hi John,,,The non flexable frame problem was I think,,an early problem when the thinking was to have an under frame,,tie the wheels together,,not necessary,,especilly on todays surfaces,,,DON'T go 3 wheel ''trike'' You will hit every pothole in the road,,,ALL of em,,grr,,,Sidecar is more stable,,and can miss a few holes,, IS the oil injecter for non superheat,,or S'heat,,,Best of luck ,, Ben
Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 02, 2006 07:43PM

The other car you are referring to is the Ariel Atom that is being made in kit form in USA at prices starting from $US35k. I think the first one was made around 1999. Someone has done an electric version using production EV hardware. Both can do over 150mph at close to F1 performance levels. Ride is a bit harsh and they are not shopping cars. A steam version would make a nice show car but it would not save the world. You would win the annual time trials with this.

I would see something in this category being a Stage 2 development if two or more were interested.

Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 03, 2006 02:36AM
Thought it was a typo at first but the Ariel Atom really is thirty five grand. I remember reading a small blurb about it in some auto mag. The author mentioned that the cold wind up your pant legs was distracting. On the Atom web page, I notice that under the “Press” heading and “Top gear power laps“, they don’t mention the Lotus 7 for comparison, which is cheaper I believe. The Atom claims 0-60 as 2.9 sec. The Lotus 7 (or “Se7en” as it’s now sometimes called) is 3.1 seconds (according to Wikipedia). A close match and supposedly a lot cheaper. I would think that used “Sevens” might be around, probably more than the Atom.

If this style of car is of interest for your project, you might check out:

Lotus seven>
There is quite a long list there.

Ben in Maine: The oil injector is for very wet steam at one hundred thirty five PSIG.

John Féhn
Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 03, 2006 08:32AM
This electric contraption was being shown at the Candy Store for a couple of hours last week. If you like sitting in a bare frame with no protection, then this is it.
Awful whine as it started up, the inverter. Lithium-Ion batteries, the guy would not quote their cost. I wouldn't get into it. Went like crazy, though.
No room for any steam system, let alone any condenser.
Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 03, 2006 07:25PM

I read/heard somewhere in recent reports that the prototype EV Atom cost $150k and target price for the production version is around $100k. Some battery packs can cost $30k but otheres are cheaper. In normal driving they are claiming a fuel economy equivalent to 170 miles per gallon. The electric version is slower than the hottest petrol engined versions at 0 to 60mph in 3 secs. It has beaten a Ferrari and Porsche in formal drag races over 1/8th and 1/4 mile.

If you want to be competitive in the motoring world, you have to be able to build a steam plant (with condenser) that will fit existing cars and be the same order of total weight.


Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 03, 2006 07:43PM
If that thing is worth $150K US, then someone is pulling a fast one. Not the least hard to make the same type and not complicated, no body, four little bicycle fenders. A kit car if there ever was one, only someone lost the plans.
He said that the motor and converter came from Los Angeles firms, used what looked like the Honda front drive transmission.
What surprised me was the loud whine of the converter. Offensive.

Absolutely right, this is a toy, a real car is what is needed.
Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 04, 2006 09:07PM

Was the EV you saw the Wrightspeed EV version of the Ariel Atom? If it had a Honda drive system on the back wheels I suspect it was as the base models built in UK use a Honda powerplant. The US built cars use a GM ECOTEC engine.

The Wrightspeed conversion uses the Tango EV powerpack made by AC Propulsion. It is likely more battery storage capacity has been added to increase range.

More EV sports cars are showing up and home builders can get kits for less than steam engine parts for 100mph performance but with limited range. Some are designing for 80 to 100 miles range that is enough for a commuter vehicle in most places. A steamer can beat them for weight and range, and could beat the price as well with a little work.

What was making the offensive noise in that EV? Was it a cooling fan for the high powered electrics? How did the noise compare to a howling burner on a steamer?
I thought all this alternate power stuff was supposed to be quiet.

Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 05, 2006 09:21AM
Hi Graeme,
I believe it was the Ariel Atom, anyhow that exposed frame bodyless thing. Yes, a Honda drive system.
Battery pack was right behind the seat ahead of the rear end down low, very small; but lithium-ion are quite compact for what the put out.
The control box was putting out the loud whine. This sure was no fan, and I think it was some form of a chopper if it was a DC motor. It rose as the speed increased. You could hear it 50' away.
Not as loud as a Stanley burner and certainly not as loud as that scream a White burner can develop when it is not happy.
Very nice construction and very professional, just not very practical.
Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 05, 2006 11:05AM
Hi graeme

Thanks for the name. Didn't know what it was called. The artical I read was a news artical someware and could not find it again. I save some pics and made a cad of the frame(easy with Pro/E).


Anyway I think something like it would be a great. It would get attention and promote steam power. But would have to have good performance. It a minimal car, open design make every thing easy to get to. Frame would need to be desiged to engine fit.

I have seen several three wheelers kits that use back half of a motocycle mated to the kit.

Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 05, 2006 11:25AM
I didn't bring up the Ariel Atom as canadate for conversion to steam. It's the basic idea of a minimilest design. It is more pritical then a motocycle. Cartianly could cary quite a bit in the pasanger area.

Dam right it would be a toy. Oh what a toy though. And besides thats what this is about right now. Making steam toys. If people will pay the price of the Likamobile. This type of vehical should do well.

Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 05, 2006 12:09PM

I've seen drawings and photos of all parts of the petrol versions of the Atom but none on the Wrightspeed EV version. There is a video clip of it running on the road but my computer sound system is faulty and I couldn't hear much.

Vehicle specs say it has a single 3 phase AC motor rated at 236hp direct drive at 8.35:1 diff ratio. The Lithium Ion battery pack weighs a quarter ton and total weight is just over 1500lb (about 400lb more than the ICE versions).

The media writers didn't care about the impractical aspects, gave it a five star rating and said it was the most exciting drive they had ever experienced. Understand Jay Leno wants one. Drive efficiency on the road is high, a third the energy of a hybrid and a tenth that of the super cars it beat on the drag strip. Quite a toy.


Agree something like this would be better than a 3 wheel motorcycle conversion. Local friends said they would prefer to design their own body.

Putting a steam system into an Atom may not be a good showcase unless you could knock off all the other versions. You need a new approach but don't think aloud here because the news would be stale before anyone built it.

Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 05, 2006 01:30PM
Hi Graeme

"Atom may not be a good showcase unless you could knock off all the other versions."

You mean version of the Atom?

I was thinking along the lines of a steam car kit. Don't think ICE units matter much. Like the Likamobile it would be targiting existing steam nuts. At least it would be a start. A roadable car that could be a commuter. Just getting a few on the road would generate a lot of public interest.

A three stage expansion is looking good weight wise. Wonder if Bill has found the same with two stages. The lower pressure stages are lighter then a single stage would be. And the high pressure stage being so much smaller is also lighter. What I end up with is a larger engine of less weight for the same output. Can't build one lighter then the old Stanley. But then the Stanley wasn't all that ridgid and could be over stressed.

I origionally was thinking of a rebody Lamb kit car. But thoes require so many hours on just the body and interior to look good.

An Atom type steamer would be on about the same level of Chuck's dragster to build. Would have simular pontential in drag racing. But could be so much more. We could run them on circuit tracks. Expand compitition. And compition makes for improvements. Gets us closer to a modern steam road car.

Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 05, 2006 11:38PM
Hi Yall-

I've been following this thread with interest, but had to reply when
I saw my name mentioned!!
I like the looks of the Atom, and think it would be a good design to use as
a starting point for a steamer..I think it would be quite a bit more labor-
intensive than the Dragster was..I built the Dragster to be just what it is..
this car would have to be much more and would take quite a bit more development
to be a real road car...
And aren't we getting off the subject??--I thought Graeme was talking
about a simple steamer--a motorcycle..
I've been thinking about such a two-wheeler myself for some time..and
I've come to the conclusion that I think it would actually be more trouble to
design and build a motorcycle (that was a real road machine) than it would be
to design and build a 3 or 4 wheeled vehicle...simply because of the shortage
of space for tankage, condenser, etc, etc...
To have any real range, a two wheeler would have to have a condenser
which besides taking lots of space, will add greatly to the heat problems
which are already going to be a bit hard to deal with when you're sitting
in traffic with a hot boiler between your legs...I see a motorcycle as
being a pretty hard vehicle to get right--that is if you're gonna have
a practical cycle that will look good-go well-and have some range...

Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 06, 2006 04:39AM

A motor bike could be easier than you think. A package assembled by Stephanie Thomas around 1975, with assistance from RJ Smith, placed the steam generator beside the rear wheel and water tank on the opposite side. The machine was displayed at SACA steam meets in Chicago and Long Beach around that time.



Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 06, 2006 09:24AM
Actually simpler than you think. That steam motorcycle that David Sarlin restored, ex Cliff House Museum, S.F., was a really nice packaging design. Check out the back issues of CYCLE magazine, they put out a good history of steam bikes with loads of photos.

Consider the Honda opposed four and six cylinder models, plenty of room. There is even one here in town with a small block Chevy in it and it is a most professional job.
Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 06, 2006 11:51AM

Are you referring to the Gillenwaters 1922 steam motorcycle that was restored by David Sarlin? There is mention of a reference to an article on it in The Steam Automobile Vol 19 No 1, 1977. Believe it could do 110 mph using a 3 cylinder SA uniflow engine.

Mother Earth News published an unidentified Steam Bike picture in 1972. Anyone know who built it?


Re: Steam Motorcycles
June 06, 2006 03:05PM
Hi John

The Lotus 7 is quite a bit different then the Ariel Atom.

The Atom really has no body. It's engine is in the open. It's a mid engined.

It's the minimulest design that makes it more ideal for development of a steam car. I wasn't thinking of converting an Atom to steam. It's the design aproach that would be emulated. Start with the frame and go from there. My Nabor has built several sprint car frames. The Atom type frame doesn't look and more dificault a job.


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