Some Final Assembly and First Time Steam Up
May 28, 2008
I installed the basket, by centering it on the back panel over the burner and drilling 2 holes through the basket support and the back panel. I used 2 carriage head, ¼-20x2”, and 2 wing nuts with washers to secure the basket. This will also allow easier future servicing.
It has been brought to my attention that the burner requires more fresh air than is allowed by the stock set up. This is easily accomplished by drilling holes into the top section of the plastic cover. I drilled a series of 1 ¼ “ holes with a hole saw. Remove the cover from the burner so you don’t drill into the fuel lines. I also retapped the mounting screw adapter to ¼ x20, so I could mount a stud and a wing nut for easier cover removal.
Reinstall the cover and the basket. Loosen the 2 - 13mm lock nuts that secure the burner nozzle to the boiler and back out the burner until it just touches the basket. This was recommended by several builders who have had their cars already steaming, this moves the flame back slightly for a better heat transfer.
I left the cover off the burner and left my panels off at this time so I could perform my initial tests for steam up. I also placed the rear axle on jack stands so the rear wheels just cleared the ground.
I filled the fuel tank with 5 gallons of heating oil, some builders are using Kerosene. Do not use diesel fuel as it will smoke and the burner will not run properly. I bled the inlet fuel line with my vacuum bleeder at the outlet side of the fuel pump. Secure all the fuel line fittings. Check for any leaks, and attend as necessary.
Make sure your batteries are charged, add steam oil to the pump reservoir, bleed this system as described in an earlier build installment if you haven’t done so, and add Hypoid gear oil 75/140 wt to the drip oilier.
Fill the water tanks to full. Open the valves at the boiler for the turret, open the sight glass valves to allow water into the sight glass. Using the hand pump, pump water into the boiler until the sight glass is full. Turn the power switch on the inverter to off, turn the panel key switch on, and check the led lights. The water tanks lights should show the top led lit. and the boiler led 3rd light on. Keep pumping water into the boiler until the top blue led illuminates. Turn off panel key. Check for leaks, Check for leaks, Oh Yea; Check for leaks. Attend to these leaks now, if it leaks now it will be a screamer once you fire the boiler and add pressure. Patience will pay off. . I had a few leaks from fittings that I forgot to tighten and a leak at the water tank bung for a level sensor, the weld wasn’t complete, since there is never any pressure in the tank I used some 5 minute clear epoxy and that took care of that problem.
With my leaks taken care of it is now time for steam. Make sure you turned your inverter switch back on. Place your bypass water valve into the open position. Note; since the water pumps are always pumping you have to monitor the boiler level, what the bypass valve does is to allow the water to bypass the boiler back into the water tank so you don’t overfill the boiler. When the blue led is lit it means there is enough water in the boiler and you should stop filling. As you drive the blue light will go out, when the green light (3rd Led) goes out, you need to close the bypass valve to allow the boiler to refill until the blue light is lit and then open the bypass valve again.
Put your safety glasses on. Turn on the panel key switch. You will hear a squealing noise from the inverter, (normal) and the fan will start to blow for about 20 seconds, then you should hear the burner ignite, sounds like a muffled jet engine.
Pay attention as things happen rather quickly. Watch your pressure gauge start to climb, it should reach about 230-250 psi in about 5 minutes. The burner should shut off at about 230-250 psi . If your boiler does not shut off by 250 you need to adjust the pressure switch by turning the adjusting screw out until the burner shuts off.
With the reversing arm in the neutral position, apply a little throttle to remove any water from the cylinders. Put the arm in the forward position and apply the throttle and the engine should rotate the wheels. OH YEA! The damn thing actually works, I now tried reverse and it worked like it was supposed to. What an absolute thrill. But, back to reality at hand. Watching the boiler led lights and the pressure gauge, and playing with the throttle I ran the engine: The boiler relit itself at 175 psi, I then noticed the green boiler led light went out so now I had to close the bypass valve to refill the boiler back to the blue led being lit. Worked very well as it was designed to.
Reality 101; water and steam leaks; I shut off the console key and ran the engine on the residual steam for a while, just having a bit of fun, but also looking in earnest for every steam and water leak. I used a marker pen to mark all the leaks and wrote them down in my log book so I wouldn’t forget where all the leaks were. Don’t try to tighten or perform any repairs until the boiler is cool, do not drain any water either, the water is what keeps the boiler cool. It has been recommended that the boiler be kept full when parking the car for several hours or done for the day.
My leaks were as follows:
Both steam chest covers and through the bolt holes.
Threaded joint at the safety blow off valve.
A welded joint on the turret where the union was threaded as well as those threads.
A welded joint on the R/S water check valve as well as the straight threads to the boiler.
Sight glass fittings to the manifold.
I know you might be impatient for driving the Likamobile, but fix those leaks now, so when you do drive you only have to worry about the operation and the fun.
Tomorrow; I will dismantle all the fittings and pieces that are leaking and repair.
When I first went to fire up my boiler, the system would just about fire and then shut down. My friend Gil Harris, who I talked into building a Likamobile, let me borrow his burner set up so I could diagnose my firing problem and it turned out to be a faulty Inverter. With Gil’s inverter I was able to continue.
Several builders reported that they would melt they’re flame sensors and those remedies were bought forth above.
If you have a leak at any welded seams as I have; you can silver solder them for a good seal and strength. I am using a different sealer for the straight pipe threads; called Expando, available at your local plumbing supply. I will be using the Right Stuff on my valve chests and covers, as this is a rubber sealer that can stand the steam, heat and pressure. The Hylomar that was originally suggested by MW’s does not perform well under steam heat/ pressure.
This report should give you a successful first firing as long as you followed the build and made all the adjustments and changes as described in the Kits report.
All in all; I’m very pleased. The boiler, burner, and engine performed as it was designed. Model Works and it’s engineers/machinists have done an out standing job. Yes, there will be some fine adjustments required, maybe a few updates, needed. But that will be presented on this build site as more builders get steaming and report on what they have discovered.
My boiler is now cool so I can start draining the water, I’ll report again after I’ve made my repairs.
Click here for almost complete picture
Update 2010: Modelworks are now Steam Traction World their website can be found HERE
Go to page:
Kit One and Two.
Kit Three and Four.
Kit Four B and Five.
Kit Six and Eight.
Addendum Kit Ten.
Kit Seventeen and Eighteen.
Leaf Spring Modification.
Brake Pedal, Brake Line, and Throttle Pedal Installation
Fuel Line Pickup Modification.
Super Heater, Hand Pump, and Plumbing.
Some Final Assembly and First Time Steam Up.
Road Test and a few Modifications.
Locomobile Cylinder Drains July 2009.