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California Highway Patrol Steam Car Projects

Posted by gvagg2 
California Highway Patrol Steam Car Projects
July 13, 2006 04:29PM
Newspaper clippings from 1969 plus brief mention of the above subject in other steam post discussions indicate the California Highway Patrol commissioned six projects with a view to funding a demonstration batch of about 20 or 25 steam powered Highway Patrol cars in the late 1960s.

One of the demonstration periods was due in November 1969 by General Steam Corporation but no test results of anything they built seems to be documented.

Does anyone have any details of the performance requirement for these cars, as I understand it was a specification that no steam cars built to that time could meet and could explain a lack of reporting of the program results?

Re: California Highway Patrol Steam Car Projects
July 14, 2006 11:08AM

Certainly, I was there and attended all the meetings with Bill Besler. There were several meetings in Sacramento to discuss the feasibility of such a project before any proposals were to be formally solicited.
The whole idea was absurd right from the start. The weight of the vehicle, space requirements, and the performance standards the Calif. Highway Patrol insisted on, were too high to make any steam system even remotely compatable to their present high powered V-8's. 100 hp, maybe, was far from the 400 plus hp they had then.

Also, at several meetings, some idiots from Los Angeles were insisting that they could make a car to meet the requirements with two Stanley boilers in it. Even they saw the abysmal ignorance of some of the steam car people. This one got a good laugh, as the two beat a hasty retreat out the door. Bill was in hysterics at that one.
The whole project never got off the ground.

Re: California Highway Patrol Steam Car Projects
July 14, 2006 10:02PM

The people from Los Angeles claiming they could do it sound like they are from the same group trying to build the steam helicopter, a boat and some military systems for 500 watt, 5kw, and power plants for 150, 300 and 600hp. Initials of companies that might ring a bell are CSD, API, TDS Inc or TDSI and GSC (as above). The proposals included a twin capacity boiler steam system but the were smaller than Stanley boilers.

To complete the picture of who was doing what (or pretending/trying to be doing something) can you remember any company names or presenters giving proposals?

Much of this happened about 5 years before I went to the USA so I did not meet the fly-by-night people. I was invited to tender for some of the California steam projects as my early work was published in Light Steam Power but they wanted too much for too little time and money so I just watched from the sidelines to see what happened. We did have parallel projects running on much lower budgets and all had only modest power needs of around 40hp to 60hp that condensing systems were able to manage.


Re: California Highway Patrol Steam Car Projects
June 24, 2007 12:39AM
I have my files on this program with the requests for proposal and general confusion. Calvin Williams, Dick Smith, Lloyd Lanterman, investigator Karsten Veig and I attended an early Assembly hearing for low emissions vehicles, and I asked Veig if the state couldn't simply buy some steam cars for the motor pool. Veig said that was very tightly controlled. I asked if they controlled all the state cars, and he noted that only the California Highway Patrol cars were not in that group, so a light went on and I asked if the CHP could not buy some steam cars to demonstrate. As soon as the idea was spread around, the difficulties began to be created, and of course no cars were built.

Yes, the Controlled Steam Dynamics, Arizona Patent Investors, Thermo Dynamic Systems and all were the same bunch of partnership investment scammers, and I have files on that too. I did contract to them to do developments, run development shops and license technologies, as did Smith, but it became clear that they were simply using the contracts as hunting licenses for fleecing investors and had no intention of funding any of the actual development, much less get into manufacturing. Frank Bird saw through them with perfect vision while Smith and I were still thinking they might redeem themselves with real projects. It was something we wanted to believe since no one else was coming in with orders and plans of similar scale. I do wonder what became of the principals and Tom Kimmel has tried to track them down for some time to no avail. Perhaps they needed to become invisible due to activities after we lost track of them.


Karl Petersen
Re: California Highway Patrol Steam Car Projects
June 24, 2007 10:06AM
Quite right. The whole steam car business, with a few exceptions, was simply awash with fraud, criminal incompetence, and investor fleecing. Add Wallace Minto and Ken Wallace to your list too.
Besler refused to even send a reply letter to the Highway Patrol people, who incidently were very embarassed to be dragged into this mess. Said it wasn't worth our time to attend any other meeting after that first one. He was laughing all the way home.

The Federal Clean Air Car project was similar, the government grant business and not the steam car business, coupled with academics who never knew what end of a screwdrive to hold. All this did a ton of damage which still plagues the steam car.
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