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LSR Steam Car

Posted by Mark Stacey 
Re: LSR Steam Car
September 07, 2008 10:59AM

For comparisons sake, I glean from the web site that their car is 6.000 lbs weight, steam at 580 psia and 752 deg F, 5,247 lb/hr. The enthalpy of their steam is roughly 1380 BTU/lb

Your car was/is 1.200 psia, 1,100 degF, 5,500 lb/hr. The enthalpy of your cars steam is roughly 1,556 BTU/lb

The steam energy difference between the cars is then 18% more for your car.

They changed the length of their car to add more boiler and now it looks like it won't fly which is a good thing. What other comparisons between the two cars can you think of? What did your car weigh?

Best Regards, ---- Bill G.
Re: LSR Steam Car
September 08, 2008 09:58AM
Hi All, Chuk,

Sorry about that, I should have posted the youtube link, for the UK LSR car to this tread.


I saw something about the boiler systems years ago, drawings etc. Since the car is dedicated purpose, Im sure they have there reasons for doing it. If it works for them, then all the better.

Jim, are there any pictures of the LSR car that you worked with?. Also is there anything about that LSR endeaver in your book? Would be some neat stuff to look at.

I think the UK car looks nice. Definitly a streamliner. Be interesting to see what happens on the first attempt and following attempts. Im a big fan of experimental stuff. Im surprised they've kept the project going for so long. Its got to be alot of hard work.


Re: LSR Steam Car
September 08, 2008 10:13AM

The car weighed about 4500 lbs as we were told to make it as heavy as possible. That was not good information at all.
I had a chance to buy cheap a Bonneville streamliner that had three 426 blown Hemis in it originally. That would have been much better than that car we built.

Then, the only tire we could buy were NASCAR Daytona Speedway tires, and not good at all, way too wide; but that was all we could get. Something like the old thin Firestone Bonneville 5:00-20 tires was what I wanted; but not made then. Now I understand they are in production again.

Our burner developed 8.5 MBTU on JP-A. Their propane surface combustion burners were, at the last posting I Looked at, way below that.

Their turbine is turning way below the critical speed, which means a huge water rate. Ours was 5-1/4" in diameter and turned 85K rpm. Turbines are very inefficient when below that one speed, as defined by that 1/2-V ratio. Where the bucket velocity past the DeLaval nozzles is one half the spouting velocity.
Think of over 100 lbs/hr water rate when starting. Drains the steam generator RIGHT NOW and then it goes into overheat. We had problems with this one until I came up with a solution.
We first used a beefed up B & M TorqueFlite transmission, which was turned into crinkly on the first test run.
We had 13 sequential nozzles from the Lear bus unit; but on the Monte Carlo Chevy gearbox to get the shaft rpm up to something usable.

We used a real water pump; but with a very special drive to run it, to overcome that awful water rate turbines have when starting from rest. They use that goofy pressurized system, which is beyond comprehension.
How you sync those steam generators and water systems to give constant flow in each for is something they are going to have to learn the hard way.

My problem with the Brit's car is, and has always been, that it was designed by people who have no experience at all with either steam cars or turbines in cars, they were dreamers and academics and didn't know what they were doing. That is still my opinion.
The other thing that amazes me is that someone is putting a lot of money into this car and whoever it is, is being conned in the worst way.
If they even get that car to fun successfully on a five mile test, then good luck to them.

There are tons of slides presented at an Idaho SACA meet long ago, and even a very bad video of the car running at Bonneville.
No it is not in the book. That is about the Dobles and not me.
It was written up long ago in some car magazine and the car now rests in the Harrah Museum in Reno. I kick it every time I go past it.
The turbine wheel is a desk ornament here, the only reminder of that nutty project I want to remember. Today I sure would do it differently.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/08/2008 10:22AM by James D. Crank.
Re: LSR Steam Car
September 08, 2008 03:33PM

Hover your pointer over Gallery 4 and the first car in view is Jim's Steam LSR. Their may be better shots on the site but it is a pig to navigate.

Anyway look at the car and then I think you'll agree with me, Jim is THE MAN!! Applause for down under and yet another request for Jim to write his steam autobiography. Please.

The LSR article was in a car magazine which is currently packed away as we are shifting house. Hope fully in a month or two when the book shelves are up and the chaos has diminished I'll find it and post the details. It's woth a look as the pictures from memory were really interesting

Re: LSR Steam Car
September 08, 2008 03:44PM
Hi Jim;

" Today I sure would do it differently."

There's nothing wrong with that statement. If I had a nickel for everytime I said that, id be rich by now.

Im still very interested in your book. Hope it works out the way that you'd like.

Id like to add, that your insight, from your tremendous experience with steam, has helped me to understand things that previously I had not considered. Such as heat loss factors in the cylinder and head of a steam engine.


Re: LSR Steam Car
September 08, 2008 07:15PM
Well Jim,

It's still for the time being, your car that holds the record.

I have come to the conclusion that there is something operating in the background in this world that sees to it that good projects and aware people have a real fight for funding or even income, and boondoggles and those who support the status quo get the funds and careers without so much fight. I am not just talking about myself here. I see it too much with others.

In that light I am hoping for success to the British team regardless of it all. I don't want them to make steam look bad. If they do somehow really succeed watch the funding go away.

Makes me appreciate what Harry has done all the more.

Best Regards, ----- Bill G.
Re: LSR Steam Car
September 08, 2008 08:22PM
Hi All,

I would just like to state for the record, there's alot of shit still up in the air....


"Makes me appreciate what Harry has done all the more"

Dont get me wrong,

I like what Harry is doing, I have close very good friends of mine that say to me, If Harry's involved, 'its going to be big time'.

Now look, I dont want to pretend to know everything about steam. My travels in-so-far have atleast taught me that.

But, come-on, a totally enclosed system, of these small sizes. Its alot, NOW, if the cyclone piston engine design makes some expander-efficiency, graduates over 50% piston-engine-efficiency, then I can visulize the condencer working under 'drivability conditions'. But the waste-heat engine, thats different.

I need to see more...

I will soon be offering my injectors for sale to whom ever whats them, on the website"hopefully in 6 months". Ironically I does depend on my credit-line. Been trying to do this for years. Im like 90% there, 3d-software, assets, machines, etc. Getting ready to tool-up. Theres going to be 3 models for sale, SB-612, L912, and SB-500.

But, the biggest problem, that I would face in such an endeaver, is 'basic customer service'. There's got to be some form of technical support.

All my stuff for the valve specifically/itself is MADE IN THE USA, consequently, everthing is assembled in the USA.

This is why I like the UK LSR-car, I really dont mind who sets the benchmark. I find it strange that is going to be like "100 years" since the last benchmark, its just good to see whats being done, and future projects, in the area of an LSR-Steamer.


Re: LSR Steam Car
September 09, 2008 06:53AM
I just noticed that Mark Stacey posted a link to automuseum.org. I too struggled to navigate to anything better than Gallery 4, but the British Steam Car Challenge website has a couple of quite good pics of Jim's car.


Re: LSR Steam Car
September 09, 2008 08:00AM
Interesting comparison ...

Seems to me each LSR boiler is delivering about 140 KW of heat into the water, making steam @ 400C, 40 bar (apologies for using metric units). 440 lbs/hour.

I don't know about volume or weight, but it's looking like Peter Barrett's steam plant is delivering about 240 KW of heat into the water making steam at twice that pressure. Budget 1.5 cubic ft & weighing in at about 50 lbs.

I know there are pressure balancing issues, but 10 cu ft & 350 lbs payload buys you the steam that UK LSR car eats for breakfast. I reckon Jim's car was doing quite a lot better than that, but with the small budget needed for the turbine & elegant compressed air feedwater drive, not to mention the nut that holds the wheel, I'm getting intrigued about how to allocate the 6000 lbs plus gross vehicle weight budget.

Re: LSR Steam Car
September 09, 2008 09:13AM
It comes to,

Jims car was 300 HP and used 18% more heat to get that, than the British car. Also Jim's turbine probably was more efficient, had to be, because of the higher steam temperatures and pressures and layout.

The LSR turbine then puts out a maximum of 246 HP. Jim's tires were not that good and the LSR tires are good, but the car weighs more, so rolling resistance might be similar. It's all down to the difference in aerodynamic drag. This factor would have to be over 20% less than Jim's car to beat his record.

Best, --- Bill G.
Re: LSR Steam Car
September 09, 2008 10:32AM

Very good observations. We used what we had, and that was all based on the Fiberfab Aztec car body, although not much of it remained and the Lear hardware.

According to Bob Barbor, that Lear turbine at 85K rpm was some 85% efficient.
Bill, your figure matches what Bob said we were getting, 350 hp, as he used 1,000 psi in the bus and we used 1200 psi.

Today, if I got involved again, and considering all the problems we had using a turbine to begin with, I would try to get two of those new Doble F engine castings and build up one double engine, stacking them in the rear. Lamont steam generator with a draft booster, carburetor burner and again run non condensing, in a streamliner. The original F was designed for 1500 psi @ 850°F steam, so boost this up to 2,000 psi. Such in a good chassis should get about 225 mph or more.

Considering the rpm Bob got at speed, someone said that in a couple of test runs at Muroc Dry Lake the year before we went to Bonneville the first time, I had the car up to about 157 mph. I was too busy reading gauges to tell what rpm it was going.

Re: LSR Steam Car
September 09, 2008 03:29PM

Been considering what my engine layout would do with the first stage added and proportioned to full power with 5,000 lb/hr of steam at 3,500 psia @ 950 deg with reheat at 1,000 psia to 1,200 degrees. Exhausting at 60 psia no condenser. Looking at just over 1,000 HP

A body like the one used for the Diesel engine record recently would be ideal. That car went 328 mph with 1,200 HP so 1,000 HP should push it to 306 MPH.

Now that would be a steam record no one would laugh at.

Oh well, just a dream at the moment.

Best Regards, ----- Bill G.
Re: LSR Steam Car
September 13, 2008 11:17PM
If I were to build a steam vehicle for a land speed record, I would have to agree with Jim Crank, a good piston engine and a Lamont boiler would accomplish the task by going in a known direction and avoiding turbine and other known pitfalls...

I also agree that a condenser would be more engineering and wind drag than you would want for this task, but I would use that exhaust steam to advantage. A draft booster of some type would seem to be mandatory when running full out.

The other idea I have is would be to run copper tubing in the boiler except for the superheater. Copper has a heat transfer rate almost 9 times that of steel and it is more than strong enough, at least for the life span of a speed record. This could save a lot of boiler weight and some space.

Peter H
Re: LSR Steam Car
December 05, 2008 03:50AM
Have you guys spotted GB steam car club front page. Video of LSR car moving.


Re: LSR Steam Car
December 05, 2008 08:01AM
Greg do you know how long the old RAF runway is on Thorney Island

Re: LSR Steam Car
December 05, 2008 08:30AM
Are these guys running any superheat??,,,Cheers Ben
Re: LSR Steam Car
December 05, 2008 08:40AM

Google says 1.13 miles.

Ben, I'm certain they're well into superheat. From memory, I think their spec is 400C, 600 psi.


Re: LSR Steam Car
December 05, 2008 09:05AM
Greg Walker Wrote:
> Have you guys spotted GB steam car club front
> page. Video of LSR car moving.
> Best
> Greg

Nice video. I didn't know it was a none condensing engine though.
Re: LSR Steam Car
December 05, 2008 10:26AM
hi Only time my old racer puts out that much of a steam cloud is when the superheater is flooded,,or the temp is below 20f then the cloud is several ft back,,,/// rarely,,Ben
Re: LSR Steam Car
December 05, 2008 10:28AM
Hi Guys,

I'd guess from the weather that the temperature was in the 60's. Now that was a slow run and the steam had no space between the tail of the machine and beginning of condensation so I'd say it was saturated coming out of the turbine. From the sound it hadn't reached any great RPMs. So at least it moves down the driveway. That's good.

Did you notice the steam coming out of the cockpit when it stopped?

Good to see it moving.

Best, --- Bill G.
Re: LSR Steam Car
December 05, 2008 07:37PM
On the day of this very first test run it was very cold and damp day. The burners were on low fire, on the short road beside the workshop 17 mph was achieved on the first trial run.

The steam issuing from behind the cockpit as the car stops, comes from the change over valves, as steam is diverted from the turbine to the venting tubes at the rear of the car, it was an excellent performance, with everything working as it should.

As soon as the weather permits a test will be carried out at the local airfield, possibly next week, I hope to be there and will keep you all posted with news as I get it.

I have just loaded a better quality video, have a look here……….. [www.steamcar.net]

All the best, Jeff.
Re: LSR Steam Car
December 14, 2008 01:40PM
Re: LSR Steam Car
December 14, 2008 10:42PM

It still appears to be running on saturated steam--eh??

Re: LSR Steam Car
December 14, 2008 11:50PM
Hi Chuk,

Yup, I think they may have set a world speed record for propane powered steam already. At 40 MPH it just might be faster than Tony Grzyb's bike! LOL

Really wonder what it's going to do when they get it up to speed and the super heater kicks in.

Wish them well.

Bill G.
Re: LSR Steam Car
January 10, 2009 03:28PM


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/2009 03:32PM by Greg Walker.
Re: LSR Steam Car
January 10, 2009 04:34PM

THORNEY ISLAND, England—The movie, The World's Fastest Indian debuted on British television over Christmas. Members of the British Steam Car team probably nodded with empathy at their flat screens as they saw the challenges surmounted by Bonneville record setter Burt Munro in the early 1960s.

Last year was supposed to be the year when the team's sleek, green steam machine broke one of the longest-held speed records at Bonneville. Fred Marriott, who hit 121.57 mph in the Stanley brothers' Rocket at the 1906 Florida Speed Week, set that record. The British Steam Car's target speed of 170 mph would have netted the records for the kilometer and the mile, as well as beating Sir Nigel Gresley's 1938 Mallard which at 126 mph is the world's fastest steam locomotive.

Instead, after a series of small faults including a bent steam valve, the team missed its self-imposed shipping deadline for the 2008 Bonneville Speed Week in late August and the World of Speed events. Since the salt is too wet to run on after October, the car will now winter in England. Team members are at home, planning for 2009. But after a successful test at a Ministry of Defence airfield at Thorney Island near Portsmouth just before Christmas, the team's spirit is upbeat. The car's performance now leaves the team with a choice of venues and times for the record-breaking attempt, California's Edwards Air Force Base in early spring, or after a complete refurbishment of the boilers—Bonneville in the summer.

In recent Thorney Island tests, the steam car performed well. The steam generators built pressure successfully and the safety systems shut the boilers down car quickly when a small problem was detected. Six separate runs were performed with the two six-man teams at each end of the runway that practised spinning the three ton, 25 foot long steam car around on the purpose-built jacks.

The boilers were only making 'wet steam' at 260 degree Centigrade, so the top speed was limited to about 35-mph. But project engineer Matt Candy said he was "delighted" with the results.

"No, Don didn't climb out of the car as white as a sheet [from traveling at high speed], but that wasn't what we were testing," said Candy. Don Wales is the team chief test driver and is also nephew of Donald Campbell and grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell. "We have two teams of six people to turn the car around, refuel and check it and we needed to check those drills," said Candy.

The steam generators are pressurized at 40 Bar, which makes 'wet' steam which gives the characteristic white clouds behind the car. For the record breaking run that 'wet' steam is further heated into 'dry steam' at between 380 and 400 degrees C. "We have run super heated steam in tests, but only with the car static, which puts a huge strain on the boilers," said Candy.

The successful UK tests mean that Candy faces a dilemma. He has already made preliminary contact with Edwards Air Force Base about the possibility of running the car on a dry lake bed there. He has also reconnoitred potential suppliers of propane fuel, demineralized water as well as meeting members of the Southern California Timing Association, who run Bonneville's Speed Week and will help survey and prepare that course.

But there are other factors that might make a spring record attempt impossible. Charles Burnett, the team's principal backer and record-breaking driver, wants the car to run in full-power, dry-steam configuration here in the UK before going over to California for a record attempt but, as Candy explains, that will mean that the boilers will need to be rebuilt. And simply sourcing the materials for that job will put the record-breaking attempt back to mid summer and the Bonneville flats. "The boilers are so fragile," he said. "We could go over with the boilers as they are and take some spare parts. If we have a cracked tube, we can dismantle the thing and weld the crack, but it's three days work and that's quite a pain."

Alternatively the team could accede to Burnett's wishes and test run at superheated steam conditions in Britain then fully refurbish the boilers, but that means delay. "With three kilometers of fine tube to source, uncoil, straighten, cut, seal, weld and test, we couldn't be out there until July," said Candy, "and that means Edwards Air Force base might be closed to us."

So for now, the British Steam Car has gone into storage at the team's base in Lymington, Hampshire to weather an exceptionally cold British weather and some fierce debate on what the future is for the world steam land speed record. —Andrew English

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/2009 04:36PM by Caleb Ramsby.
Re: LSR Steam Car
January 11, 2009 02:03PM
Well if that post from Popular Mechanics is correct and who knows with reporters, the whole project is in terrible shape.
Doing a high speed run in the UK will destroy the boilers, but they will some how hang together just long enough to get the record in the USA?
Sorry that doesn't make any sense as the pictures of the units show the super heater as a coil and the most accessible part of the whole unit?


Re: LSR Steam Car
January 11, 2009 02:43PM
I say full marks for being honest and admitting there are problems instead of hiding behind bluff and bluster.
What I don't like is the 'Green' banner they promote by the use of LPG but needs must when in the hands of sponsors.

I think the real problem lies with the multipass tubing as originally suggested by Jim Crank. If you look at the pictures of the unit on a workbench you will see the major work involved in replacing just one tube. Also the generators are surrounded by all sorts of auxiliaries thereby impeding access.

A comment brought up at another forum suggested that a turbine record should not be compared against a reciprocating engine. As far as I'm aware the only classes for steam power is by weight, does anyone know better?

Re: LSR Steam Car
January 11, 2009 03:40PM

Unless the design has been changed, the large dia coiled tube is the economizer, the small dia tubes going back and forth are the evaporator and superheater sections.

I have always thought that this was a backwards design, look at where the burner is placed, on the small dia tube side. When they had a tubing failure, it was in the very small dia tube section.

Three 30" Stanley boilers would in an ironic way be safer then this fickle monotube, that is it would be much more stable and not prone to operational failure. Of course a Lamontish type would be much better and even safer.

This really is absurd and rather upsetting to me. On many forums that I have found this being discussed, or in response to video etc., it is seen as a joke. With responses such as, "Land speed record at only 170 mph!". I can't say that I blame them. . .

Caleb Ramsby
Re: LSR Steam Car
January 11, 2009 04:37PM
Ya gotta admit, using a streamliner to set a speed record about 30 mph below what a Corvette fresh off the dealers lot can do with a stereo, A/C, Onstar, power steering/brakes/window, cup holders and a good looking red head in the passenger seat....and at a fraction of the cost...does look a bit like underachieving.
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