Latest News

The Forum

For Sale


About the Club


Committee Members

The Steam Car Register

The Steam Car Magazine

American Steamers
US section of the site

Photo Gallery

Video Gallery


London to Brighton

Land Speed Archive

Vehicle Specifications



Website Directory

by John Tilley

Following what appears to be a natural progression from a Locomobile, I looked around for a Stanley to restore, to find the only available project was a rather daunting one of a chassis and boxes of bits belonging to Sprague register page 46.

I made a visit to the current incumbent David King and viewed the various boxes and crates, fairly evenly spread in garages around Melksham, and then quite reasonably concluded that it was a most unattractive proposition. However, after one or two other disappointing leads, it appeared to be the only proposition, so a trip was made with pickup and Locomobile trailer to collect the ton of what I hoped would add up to an original car.

The only item to have had any attention since the dismantled car was shipped from Oregon in 1972 was the chassis which had been cleaned and primed by importer Alan Griffith. This was in good original condition as were both axles, but hubs and wheels needed rather more effort.

The engine block was excellent, virtually unmarked. The valve spindles and guides were replaced, as were the cross head guides. Surprisingly, one cylinder head plug has such loose threads that I feared it would blow out, so I made a new one. The boiler included in the "kit" had around 1500 steel fire tubes about 5/16 O.D which were obviously not original Stanley. Judging by the corroded state of the tube ends, these were not even worth pressure testing, so a new shell was collected from John Goold. I then spent weeks agonising over, but only three evenings actual expanding, the seven hundred and fifty 1/2" O.D, 1 8g copper fire tubes. My agonising was based on engineering knowledge that copper rapidly loses its mechanical properties above 2OOdeg.C. and we happily run the boiler at 26Odeg.C plus superheat at almost unheard of pressures! I had grave doubts on the security of the expand ends, and did in fact firstly roller expand the tubes, to give a parallel expansion, before "bashing" in, the ferrules.

I have since been appraised of the fact, by a metallurgist friend, that if one takes some copper in its annealed state, then its properties remain little changed up to 4OOdeg.C or so, but 1 8g annealed copper fire tubes at 550 psi? What ever my pre-conceptions, the boiler along with dozens of others of similar construction performs just fine!

Most of the original burner and pilot was re-housed in a new casing, and I discarded the original vaporiser, which included a smoke hood 'pre vaporiser' in favour of a straight tube 'ottoway' type.

The automatics all scrubbed up well and although the controls included a three tube water level device, (which I have plumbed in, but not yet commissioned) I've added a Klinger type sight glass nestled between the foot boards. A valuable part of the 'kit' to my mind at least, is the original firewall board, complete with guages and original somewhat crazed paint, now carefully preserved.

Although against my principles of 'spend the winter making it and the summer using it', I accepted this as a two winter project, so on May 1st (my symbolic opening of workshop doors) the Stanley appeared on the drive in chassis form with me sitting on a kitchen chair, creeping along on 120 psi compressed air fed into a blow down.

The next winter began with extensive pipework, following the Stanley 'knitting pattern' piping diagram, complete with a few deliberate mistakes to keep me awake! I had decided not to copy a 5 seater body, which it may well, but not certainly had had, but came up with an English body as though it was an imported chassis. I had vision of a two seat pickup style, but the Stanley 'delivery wagon' illustration shows something rather more basic than comfortable. The design eventually to emerge was a part copy of the Stanley five seat up to the rear of the front seats, then add a timber pick up back. This all took shape pretty much to program, with a contribution from an American ash tree and a local (Hinkley) panel beater and upholsterer. I did notice that the car assembly sequence would mean that, if any chassis work was later found wanting it would involve painful dismantling of the whole body, so a trial steaming was arranged, with me on the same kitchen chair, but engulfed in steam (which fortunately masked my terrified countenance) before final assembly began.

I must say it did perform rather well, or at least it didn't explode, or catch fire - much!

A bit more work, a few coats of paint, and May lst(ish) out came SV 8661 an accredited and street legal (ha!) Stanley 735 pick up truck. A small celebration steam car meet was arranged to introduce 'Stanley' some of his friends, and we had a short trip with seven SCC diehards as cargoe.

I subsequently fitted a canvas 'tilt' and we have made a weekend trip, over nighting in reasonable comfort in the back. Have I the first steam powered camper? I've added a number of 'ideas' to improve comfort, safety and reliability that are worthy or note.

A standard 'mini' alternator in place of the axle driven dynamo, geared up 2.5:1 with a timing belt drive. This cuts in at 8mph and provides adequate battery power.

An under floor lamp to illuminate the Klinger guage, operated by a foot switch.

Oil tolerant brake linings, which are as used on crane brakes and really do perform well.

A Les Nelson water pump discharges pressure guage, it really does tell you instantly if you are pumping, by-passing or have run out of water!.

A three way 'shoe valve' on the condenser to water tank line, this allows me either to return the condensate to the tank, or dump it. My inclination is only to re-use condensate when circumstances demand (ie no ready water on route anticipated), to reduce as much as possible oil return to the boiler.

A smoke hood secondary feed water heater, from 3/8" s.s pipe, to compensate for the A smoke hood secondary feed water heater, from 3/8" s.s pipe, to compensate for the non-condensing cold water tank syndrome.

A flue stack steam blower, just/pipe with a 1/16 nozzle fitted in the top bend. This does 'lift off any burnbacks at the nozzles.

Make a 'short' steering drop arm from 8" to 5" to reduce the incredible steering effort, due in part to the 600 section tyres

The Steam Car Club of Great Britain
The World's Premier Steam Car Preservation Organisation
Contact us via email: info@steamcar.net
©The Steam Car Club of Great Britain. All Rights Reserved
Website Design by Nick Price Creatives