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  A TURNER-MEISSE REBUILD
By Dennis Wedgwood

Up to now I have hesitated to write about this beast as at times I have despaired of getting operational. I am therefore glad to tell you that at Onslow Park Rally near Shrewsbury in August I made 2 or 3 trips of at least 200 yards length!

I acquired the car as a pile of bits in the 1960s from Ralph Delves of Talke near Stoke-on-Trent. After storage for many years, restoration began about six years ago. The engine number is 217. A similar car in the Black Country museum (still owned by the builders Turner), that The Veteran Car Club has dated as 1904, has a number more than 400 - presumably, my 10hp car is a 1903 model.

Two thousand has been the year of the steam generator - God willing 2001 will see me on the road with a suitable body fitted. The Atlas Foundry in Shrewsbury has made the generator and I am most grateful to Edmund Davies and his craftsmen who have done a super job. The most frustrating part of the restoration has been the burner (why are you not surprised?) for although I had dimensions of the mixing and burner tubes, my reference stated that 1200 "small" holes pierced the burner and that the jet was about" 1/16th of an inch. It did not mention the venturi.

The photo (right) shows the burner with the tubes resting on the cover of the mixing chamber that has been removed. The wide tube is the mixing tube into which a single jet (currently 1 .4mm diameter) projects vaporized fuel. The seven smaller tubes are blind-ended and are fed from the mixing chamber. Their upper surfaces are pierced by 1200 x 2mm holes through which the fuel/air mixture emerges in a mat of flame below the generator tubes (we hope!).

Unlike the Stanley and later White burners that take all the air through the venturi, the Turner burner is open below so that secondary combustion air enters between the burner tubes. A consequence of this is that the mixture entering is relatively rich, the venturi I am using is just over 0.75 inch diameter. After taking advice from John Goold, Les Nelson and Bob Dyke (my thanks to you all), I finally got the burner to behave after a depressing month of environmental pollution, bush fires, deafening blow-backs, burnt fingers and the embarrassing nuisance of re-drilling all 1200 holes. The only thing I did not do was set the garage on fire as I did all my pyrotechnics out- side after being told by John "when you fire 'im up 'e'll scare the s*** out of you!" All I can say is "You were right, John". However, I now have a mat of blue flame so I am hopeful that the burner will prove reliable.

Dennis Wedgewood had a great day when he took his Turner Meisse out for its first public steam at Onslow Park Steam Rally, perhaps after saying a prayer! Photographs from Diana Goddard

A few words about the Turner system are appropriate since it operates on different principle to the Stanley and with considerably less refinement than the White. Basically, the power unit uses a true flash-boiler and is very similar to the Pearson- Cox with 4 double grids of zigzag tube totalling 150ft of steel tubing in 16 layers. The engine is a three cylinder single-acting unit with sliding camshafts. In neutral, the exhaust valves are open to allow coasting without braking effect but the steam valves are closed, as there is no regulator. Power is "controlled" by varying the feed water rate while the generator tubes are kept hot by the more or less constant output from the burner. Since feed water + flash boiler = steam to engine, this could produce exciting moments in modern traffic! Actually, there is a "panic button", a pedal operating a throttle cutting off steam to the engine, further pressure applies a transmission brake. This device is not yet working, (see "garage" below). There is no thermostat or even a pyrometer, though contemporary reports say Turners go best when the steam pipe is dull red - just like a Sentinel, eh John?

Starting procedure involves heating the generator for 5 minutes. Water is then pumped by hand into the hot tubes, the valve lever shifted to start and we are off! Water feed is then continued by a mechanical pump driven off the half-shaft. One controls the feed rate by varying the pressure on the by-pass valve via a lever on the steering column. Transmission is through spur-gear reduction to a differential and half-shafts, each of which has a sprocket for twin chain-drive to the rear wheels. There is an engine- driven air pump to pressurise the fuel tank, a feed-water-heater and condenser returning some of the exhaust to the water tank as condensate. The control of steam pressure and temperature is entirely manual, not for me the luxury of "un petit cheval" as described by Anthony Bever in the January Journal ("tres elegant") but I have had my share of sooty mushrooms in the spout of the mantelpiece - "formidable, mon brave!"

On return from Onslow Park I got the car stuck on the slope in front of my garage - not a sign of movement, even at 8OOpsi. I discovered eventually that the camshaft was limited in travel to give a maximum cut-off of 50%. When I adjusted this to 80%, I shot towards the garage with startling acceleration. Owing to the high seating position it dawned on me during my short journey that my head was above the level of the lintel so I ducked smartly as I went. With the prospect of approaching the far wall at inappropriate speed and decelerating by the only means available, I threw the engine into reverse - and I was outside the garage in a flash! Enough, this could be the start of a Hoffnung and the barrel story, the end of which must wait until another time.



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