Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile Recent Messages

Advanced

Tomcat Steamer

Posted by gvagg2 
Tomcat Steamer
November 21, 2006 02:27AM
Would anyone go for a steamer in a body like this? The prototype show car is currently for sale on E-Bay at a price above my 6 pack budget but well below cost price.
[cgi.ebay.com]

Regards,

Graeme
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 21, 2006 06:51AM
Hi Graeme:

I dunno, that kind resembles all the other roadster hot rods out there. I think most people would actually be disappointed if it didn't have a nice V-8 growl. How about something more along the lines of a classic Cord or Duesenberg boat-tail, but cleaned up into a more contemporary package? That would have a more understated elegance and probably be more in line with the smooth and quiet performance you would hope to get from a steam plant.

Regards,

Ken
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 21, 2006 11:28AM
Hi Graeme & Ken,

That kind of money would go a long way toward getting some steam engines developed.

There are companies which build custom fiberglass roadsters and hot rods in more of a production fashion and hopefully lower prices. The Tomcat is more of a show car.

Regardless of the body style, to get going, I believe once the engine system has proven out, a limited production custom shop is the way to start. This would, same as a most custom cars, entail the use of as many production car parts as usable such as steering gear, rear ends and such. Like a hot Rod builder would put it together.

Question is how many dollars? I think $85 -$100K is way too much and $14K would be wishful thinking. How much money would people be willing to pay for a good custom turn key steam car? One to drive to work daily.

Best ------- Bill G.
HLS
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 21, 2006 12:26PM
Hi Bill,
It appears you have a very ambitious program ahead of you. You are a good engineer you have to also be a good business man who understands finance and marketing. Then you need a business plan and a lottttt of money. with out a business plan it would be like building an engine without a plan. It is my opinion that the failuers in the past steam car builders have been because thay had a dream but no plan. Paxton had a dream and a good product but he was also a business man. He saw the future return on manufactureing a car after spending millions. He was the smart one. otherwise it is only an expensive hoby. What I am saying is not to be discouraging but speeking from experance and study the history. If you need money you will need something unique than can get a return on investment. We have no plan to manufacture anything, only to licence our technology. I am sure that Jim can expand more on this subject.
Harry
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 21, 2006 12:30PM
Hi Bill:

The answer is that people will be willing to pay about whatever they pay for basic transportation right now. If you are selling a pickup, minivan, sedan, station wagon or so on, the price you will likely be able to charge for a daily driver won't be significantly more than what established manufacturers are charging for the same machine. If they are driving a Chevy Cobalt that they paid $12K for, then I doubt they will pay much of a premium for a similar steam car. Even if you can give them a break in fuel costs, there is the issue of warranty that will force the price. No matter how good a warranty you offer, to a customer it is only as good as thier expectation that the company will be around to honor it. DeLorean and Avanti owners take note....

On the other hand, if you offer a car that is more of a 'toy' or a lifestyle item, then you may (I repeat, may) appeal to people with more disposable income who can afford a price premium and who will be willing to take the risk on reliability. Of course, you need to have an indefinable 'cool' factor to get away with this; and auto styling is a notoriously tricky business. Anyone who says he can design a sure fire winner is probably a d**n liar. Jim says he knows Ferrari owners who go 800 miles between breakdowns, but according to Car and Driver they could get a brand new Corvette for 1/3 the price that is quicker and has a 100,000 mile powertrain warranty. Obviously they didn't spend all that money for a reliable daily driver but more for the 'look at me' factor.

Regards,

Ken
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 21, 2006 05:32PM
Hello Harry & Ken,

Well, it is my hope to come up with something unique. If the thing works as planned it will be. As you said Harry, I am a good engineer (remark appreciated) but I know I am a dismal finance person. So all I can do is my part in creating the engine. As for finance and marketing, my hope is to attract some genuine interest from people trustworthy and knowledgable in that department.

I already have potential contact from a group that could take it to a higher level, but I would end up with nothing or debt and they with it all, at the finish line. Not my type of people.

My friend and neighbor next door said that most likely by the time the engine is ready car designs may well be completely different anyway.

Thinking though that the technology involved with an automobile is about 40% in the engine and transmission, this is what would change.

Anyway, I'll just keep sluggin away.
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 06:16AM
Hi Ken,

Well all those common cars with internal combustion engines are much the same with outside skins being slightly different in a few cases. The whole point of having a steamer is to not be making a noise and annoying the neighbourhood.

Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg replica kits are available and turn key vehicles cost about the same as this Tomcat - from $85k to $137,500 depending on engine fitted. Demo vehicles are being taken to premier car shows such as the Pebble Beach event and sold there. Body kits without chassis, trim and wheels for these seem to be around $15k. By the time you have collected everything needed and had it restored to new condition, labor paid for at normal shop rates, overheads of time spent and interest on money tied up applied, the vehicle assembled, trimmed, debugged, tested and certified for road use, most will find the Tomcat or similar turnkey car is a steal if you are looking for that type of vehicle. Almost any new or near new production vehicle will be a far cheaper option.

I agree the average guy in the street will not pay a premium for anything. This suggests the average future steam car will not be something special or exotic.

At one time kids were making hot rods from junk yard parts and spending very little. Now days they are fitting upgraded parts throughout and spending one to four years on a project and budgets of $80k to $100k before getting involved with sound systems. It appears across the board steam folks are the poor relations in the motoring field, expecting hand build machinery to be less than mass production prices. I think the assembly time for average production vehicles is around 12 to 15 manhours. High quality kit cars have a much higher assembly labor content and take 6 to 9 months to complete. Classic restorations may have several thousand hours of work involved. Somewhere along the way we have lost track of what a new steam system and its matching car is going to cost the build/assemble and what value should be placed on it on completion.

Regards,

Graeme
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 06:17AM
Hi Bill:

As a simple exercise in why the little guy can't build a competitve 'daily driver' and sell it, just go to the local auto parts store and price out a variety of components for any make car. Compare those prices to what you can buy the whole car for, brand new. This is why they have chop shops. If you have a spare billion dollars you can likely tool up enough to get vaguely competitive, but that won't really cut it. If you read the papers you'll remember that Nissan/Renault wanted to partner with GM. This was because GM had more purchasing power than Nissan and Renault combined and was able to get significant price reductions over them. The custom car guys obviously aren't getting anything like the prices that Nissan/Renault are paying, so the vehicle gets that much more expensive. To make a profit, limited production models are going to need to be upscale and fill a very specific market niche very well. You'll have to charge a healthy premium just to break even since there are no economies of scale working for you, so the car has to be something that a target clientele will be willing to spring for.

Lest anyone think I am too negative, consider the following:

Henry Kaiser was disgustingly, filthy rich and revolutionized mass production of ships during WW2. The car company he founded after the war made a decent product but even with all his money it went out of business because it was too lightly capitalized to compete in the mass market.

Tucker built aircraft gunnery systems during WW2 and made a respectable income due to the 'cost plus' contracts awarded was production. Even after raising more money he never really did get cars into production. The Tuckers that were built were made on temporary, disposable dies and the transmissions were actually pre-War trannies reworked in his mom's tool and die shop in Ypsilanti. Lots of conspiracy theories abound as to how 'mysterious powers' put him out of business, but the testimony of the people working there shows they just didn't have the money to cut it.

John Delorean had....well, you know the story.

Regards,

Ken

Regards,

Ken
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 09:53AM
Hello,

I guess I have always thought that if I built a better mousetrap that mice would show up at my door protesting.

Somehow, someway, there has to be a path from the drafting board to the street. Many have said, and I agree, that the thing has to first be built and proven out. I intend to do that. That would mean eventually an engine stuffed into a Caravan or something similar and driven to at least Berrian Springs where steam people could look it over.

(If my usual luck with cars hold it will break down in Toms driveway LOL. This year the car made it and I broke down with a bad cold.)

In the sixties and seventies there seemed to be more enthusiasm for getting a production steam car on the road. I understand how that died when nothing efficient came out of it, especially after the "gas crisis" of 73. Now we are facing another crisis' of peaking petroleum and global warming, and hopefully bio-fuels will enter into a solution. The steam engine is the one set to make the best use of these fuels without too many problems of switching between one liquid fuel or another.

As I understand it most bio-fuels as produced, such as corn oil, hemp oil, or rapeseed need to be further processed to make them usable in an IC engine. This adds to the price and isn't really as effective as advertised.

Anyway, the push to make an efficient conversion to bio-fuel could provide some positive pressure toward the adoption of the steam engine.

That said we need to consider a path that will get this thing, once proven out, on the road.

Thank You --------- Bill G.
HLS
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 10:27AM
Hi Bill,
They are right on target. The advantage you have over a large company is that the co does not invent anything, people do. You were afraid of some investors would take it all. What do you have and what is their risk? If you don't have a strong patent protection you have nothing of investment value. If you have a good idea of value do a search apply for patents then you have title to your property. Other wise it is a hoby which is a good thing. That is what most of us are into. That is what I was doing until the demand for air qality, multi-fuel became an overriding factor to develope the cyclone. Of course the IC engine is a sacred cow. For obvious reasons. New tech and retooling, its a money thing. However the IC engine has been replaced before, aircraft, so it is possible.
As with any business venture if you donot have the triangle. you will fail.
CAPITOL, MARKETING, PRODUCT
No amount of ego, guts, and drive can get around this. Check history for the answers
I am not trying to rain on your parade, just a little advice. I have been in the inventing business for over 40 years and learned the hard way. If you have somthing of value Cyclone might have some intrest. Have your protection in place. No one Will even want to look at it if you donnot.
If you want to build steam cars there are existing stuff out there even buy engines. put it in a kit car have fun and know your costs.
Harry
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 11:11AM
Harry,

It will be what I can do to create the product. I will keep secrets as best I can with notorized drawings. I have shared pieces of the basic engine design with two steam people that I trust, so if I croak before it is done someone might be able to understand it. If and when there results a worthy engine system, then I will go to someone such as yourself that I also trust.

I much dislike not being able to share all of the developed ideas with others due to the patent thing, as much valuable feedback is curtailed this way. I have not enough money to get patents.

I am looking forward to finishing the design, learning the machining aspects and building a test engine and some prototypes. And having a ball doing it.

Best of Days -------- Bill G.
HLS
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 11:51AM
Hi Bill
Having fun is a good thing. A true business venture is stressful. You must know that a notery is no protection for a patent. What a patent does is give you the right to sue some one for selling your idea. One of the SACA members did a very good search on steam engines patents. It was not very expensive, donnot remember his name but will get it for you. What you are doing might have been done. It is a good thing to check and maybe get other ideas.
Harry
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 12:12PM
Ken, you are being a bit to negitive.

There are several custom shops making good money on one off cars. Check out Berret Jackson auto Auction on the speed channel. Check out what a Boyd Coddington car sells for.

Ken, Have you informed Boyd that he should close up shop sense he can't compete with mass production.

Seen one of Boyd's cars go for around $3,000,000 on a Berret Jackson Auction a while back.

Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 02:02PM
Andy
Ken is not being too negative. Reread his post, he is saying what many of us have said, if you expect to compete in the mass market / daily driver arena you've got rocks in your head. The only possibility is if the technology is picked up by a large outfit like Toyota.
A lot of us have stated there may be a "small" market in the super luxery end of the market. BUT and it's a big but you are developing a power plant. Yes Boyd Coddinton, The Blastolene brothers, many customisers and restoration shops can make a good living but they are not making power plants. They buy them in.
If you want to build a replica say a Doble then it's again possible as you are just copying what has gone before but in time and materials if you get change out of US $250,000 you would have done very very well. I know people have built Doble style or are building true Doble replicas but these are 20 to 30 year projects by very skilled people and if you added up the hours, which are never counted in a hobby thank goodness, the time $ invested would be scary.
I think the closest equivalent to developing a short run of automotive steam power plants to fit into a vehicle that the man in the street, not an avid steam buff, could use is the cost of developing a new Formula 1 engine. In the millions of $.
As the owner of a protyping CNC machine shop and a steam buff I once in a blue moon get approached about making a "proper modern" steam car. My first question is do you have $100,000? And they've all gone away so far....Maybe one day soemone will say yes.
Cheers
Mark Stacey
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 02:17PM
Hi Mark.

Yes I know the cost. But to say one can't compete is being negitive. Quite a few are talking about nitch markets. I beleve a one off unique vehical can make a profit. One has to start someware. Why compete with mass production when you don't have too.

Andy
HLS
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 02:48PM
Hi Andy
Donnot think you cought what he said. To build a proto type could cost a lot of money. Those other builders have a reputation, why would anyone jack up the money with no guarantee of success. Jay Carter spent $500,000 in 1970 dollars the williams spent $7,000,000 Those other guys only buy parts and assemble them. A one man band doesnnot make sweet music.
Harry
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 02:56PM
A few years ago, a New England Stanley Steamer enthusiast wanted a 1911 Stanley 7 passenger 30 hp model 85 in the worst way. It took him almost three years work using mostly hired help, and he was buying as many original Stanley parts that he could find. His final bill for the steamer was over $300,000. It has to be one of the best Stanleys out there but at $300,000. the buying customers are limited. Case in point, "any custom built car will cost you a pile of money".
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 03:37PM
Andy:

I was not being negative. Try realistic. My statements are based on personal experience building prototype and pre production powertrains, prototype and pre production chassis and body components, a stint in the GM design studios working on a few show cars, a stint in a prototype assembly shop and a stint in a Delphi prototype shop. Your statements appear to be based on watching American Hotrod. Please correct me if you do have significant experience with production vehicle development. I'll bow to your expertise with computers,but until then I don't think there is much you can tell me about making cars.

Bill said he wanted to build 'daily drivers'. I say that is impractical. No one drives one of Coddington's cars to 7-11 for a Slurpee, and any passenger sipping a Slurpee would likely be thrown out a high speed. Nothing about one of Coddington's cars from the price, to the style to the amenities exactly defines a 'daily driver'.

I suggested there MIGHT be a market for vehicles that cost a premium. Coddington builds vehicles that cost a premium. You claim I am too negative. Huh?

As noted, Coddington is not a car maker. He is a custom coach builder. He does no significant engineering or manufacturing. Bill would need to do a huge amount of engineering and manufacturing to produce engines and even more to make them in the quantities necessary to build 'daily drivers'. No similarities in this aspect of the business.

I stick to my original suggestion that there might be a chance of selling some steam vehicles at premium prices. Daily drivers? Not a chance.

Ken
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 04:17PM
custom built car will cost you a pile of money".
Pat you can say that again and again. But don't forget time.
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 04:22PM
Hi Graeme:

My problem with the Tomcat is that it is a beautiful hot rod. Some things are iconic and I think that if you mess with them, you tend to shoot yourself in the foot, or worse. People expect a hotrod to look, sound and act in a certain way, and they are going to be disapointed, or worse, if you mess with that. I predict a nasty firestorm if Toyota ever decides to make an almost exact replica of the 1965 Ford Mustang for the same reason. Heck, I remember back in the 80s when Ford was going to have the Mazda 626 serve as underpinnings for the Mustang; I thought the Mustang owners association was going to raid Dearborn and throw rocks at the Glass House. Likewise, a Ferrari knock off with a steam engine will disappoint and lose potential market for it's sheer inability to act like a Ferrari.

Other things, however, just scream to be messed with. The Model T and A Fords, VW Beetles, Piper Cubs, blue jeans, Model 1911 Colts, pretty girls, Classic Coke and just about everything you can add as a mixer. I don't think steam is a good fit for hot rod or super car chassis' but this doesn't mean there isn't something out there that isn't evocative of steam.

For a steamer to capture the imagination, I think some body style that evokes the nature of the beast needs to be implemented. I'm not sure I know what that is, but I haven't really seen a decent modern steamer yet, either. I suggested the Cord/Duesenberg style because they were elegant, evocative of an earlier style fitting to a steam plants performance and probably if losely interpreted wouldn't outrage anyone very much. A quiet, stately powerplant that could whisk you along smoothly might just fit the bill nicely in a fun, very upscale, limited production, old style touring car. Since it is a 'fun' car people will be more forgiving of less than instantaneous cold starts and lower overall performance and reliability. I suspect a comparable though less exclusive niche would be modern convertibles, seems to me a lot of them disappear during the snowier half of the year so they aren't actually purely daily drivers for most folks, either.

I wouldn't do anything approaching a slavish imitation of a classic car anyhow, but would use them as a starting point. I'd rather someone said "That kinda reminds me of a Cord!" I rather than have them say "Look at the old Cord!" I rather like the 'coffin nose' Cord, it could be sloped back a bit perhaps but is similar enough to early Stanleys to evoke a certain steaminess that other cars don't conjure up. I like the sort of Art Deco look of the chrome on the coffin nose, anyhow. Of course, that approach may flop in the marketplace, too.

Other option is to build steam powertrains and just sell them and forget about the car altogether. Let people tackle the issue as a D-I-Y project.

Regards,

Ken



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/22/2006 06:12PM by frustrated.
HLS
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 05:09PM
Hi Guys
We do plan two test vehicles but this not to difficult for us as this is our business. One engine will be installed in a Excursion the other in a special bodied concept car. These are not for sale as they are to demo the engine only. As Ken said developing a real world car is next to impossible money wise. One engine is alredy mounted on a diferential.
Harry


Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 22, 2006 09:27PM
HI Guys ok I want to billed a car. Who will sell me and engine and boiler vat will make 3oo hp for 15 minutes and not way more 700 pounds if we your making sterling cicely engines we wood have and unlimited supply of fuel
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 23, 2006 05:51AM
Hi Ken,

I appreciate your comments but I don't think you have read the whole story behind the Tomcat development. This car is not a hot rod, but a modern commuter vehicle that looks like one. It is not a replica of anything and has current design running gear for road comfort and handling. The vehicle offered is a special one-off so no one has another - with a new steam engine it would be even more unique. Note that no special performance figures have been quoted and it does not need a massive engine to justify its existance - it commands attention by the neatness and quality of its complete design and is clearly a cut above the rest, hence it caught my attention very quickly. Chrysler has proved nostalgia designs are popular with the Prowler and PT Cruiser being recent new products - neither being a replica of any previous vehicle.

A steamer in any super sports car body or clone will not work until the power and endurance of big internal combustion engines is matched. The hot rod market is fair game as these are only hobby vehicles built and used by folks with lots of spare time on their hands, deep pockets and like spending much of their spare time around cars. You want noise from a steam hot rod, I've got engines that will run on open exhaust that will blow any V8 sound away, but shut it off and it becomes dead quiet. Get a small number of these currently misdirected kids interested in steam power and you will have a new ball game. We have the annual National Hot Rod Show in Canberra early January each year (Summernats) and it is the biggest crowd attraction the city has. It is so big they have to avoid the Xmas and New Year public holidays for the event to prevent the city choking with normal holiday visitors and the hot rodders trying to fit on the roads and into accommodation in the same week.

A production version of the Tomcat has yet to be produced and would not need to be finished in such an expensive manner. There is no indication of prices. Local hot rod turn key vehicles are being produced for about $US25k so a rolling chassis would be well under that, leaving scope for a modern steamer to be built for less than the cost of a genuine Locomobile ($US40k average). I would see one new steamer a year being better than none - make it 2 and see what develops after that.

If we only produce engines or power packs, thats all we will have - a pile of hardware sitting in a corner. Get a local mechanic or a turn key kit car builder to fit the plant to existing popular bodies and have the engine supplier arrange for all servicing and back up and we might get somewhere. The kit car people have no trouble taking a spec built vehicle to a big motor car event and selling it there. If a developer can't afford to have at least one spec vehicle for display, demonstrations and sale at any time he won't be around for too long.

Regards,

Graeme



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/23/2006 02:02PM by gvagg2.
HLS
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 23, 2006 12:22PM
Hi Howard,
Just write the check you can get anything you want.
300HP is easy condensing is the problem. The 300hp design we are playing with is about 700 lbs 39" in diameter X 33" high with the heat exchanger and condencer. we are planing a simple test version without the condencer this coming year.
Have a happy Thanksgiving
Harry
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 23, 2006 02:00PM
Graeme,

A Mercury Mariner hybrid costs just under $30K. It is advertised to get 32 mpg city. The kind of "kit" car I have been thinking of would be about the same size but a lighter build- less weight.

I would still like to see something similar to the old Ford woody station wagon. It would have the nostalgia factor, be utilitarian not requiring the super finishing touches, plenty of room for the kids and groceries. the front end shape leaves plenty of room for engine, boiler and condenser.

The engine I plan to prototype is between 100 -120 HP and should not disappoint in the torque/acceleration department in this weight of car.
An engine with variable cutoff which can reach maximum output at a fairly low RPM can have the maximum cutoff controlled in relation to the boilers saturation pressure ie if boiler pressure drops the cutoff is shortened. This keeps the boiler at maximum power output and the engine at maximum power throughout it's RPM range. No IC engine does this.

This steam engine and the rest of the system is as different from the old stuff as Harry's Cyclone is. If it doesn't beat the pants off of the Mariners MPG then I haven't done my job. I'am betting it will.

Best regards ---------- Bill G.
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 23, 2006 08:43PM
HI Harry have you dino tested the 6 cylinder engine. The truck is coming on the 27 to take the Williams engine and boiler to lee hi university engine testing lab for dino testing
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 24, 2006 02:29AM
Hi Bill,

Here is one Australian supplier who has a Woody kit, pick ups, rods and sedans. I think there are others Woody kits elsewhere and will look out for them.
[www.auskitcar.com]

You need to get fuel economy as good as possible but without blowing the budget. I have a small farm situation so fuel is virtually free with running costs per mile so low that only a more economical and cheaper steam or stirling system could compete with it.

Regards,

Graeme

PS. Found this one later. It might be closer to what you had in mind.
[www.gatsbycars.com]



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/24/2006 08:46AM by gvagg2.
HLS
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 24, 2006 09:31AM
HI Howard,
almost all testing is on the 2cyl generator engine as we have a licence to manufacture. We need to get it into a production version. The 6cyl is a more advanced engine. I don't have a desire to rush this system until all parts are tested properly, just to watch it self destruct. A lot of the 2cyl parts are in the 6cyl.
Of course we are all very interested in yor Williams tests being run. What is the boiler you are using? There are so many efficency numbers floating around it would be good to get the net hp in relation to gross fuel burn in Btu or lbs/hp/hr. The boiler seem to be forgoten as this heat exchange is the first loss.
Harry
Re: Tomcat Steamer
November 26, 2006 08:02PM
HI Harry the boiler is the gene monster boiler witch I post did a pick of a wile back. It fires 20 gallons an our and runs 1600 psi and 1000f
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login

All files from this thread

File Name File Size   Posted by Date  
PDR_0780 eng n wheels 4.JPG 149.4 KB open | download HLS 11/22/2006 Read message