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Road Test and a few Modifications.

I apologize for taking so long to post my road test results as I was just having too much fun driving around the neighborhood and taking in the admiring stares. Also I wanted to collect as much data as possible with several runs under my belt.

June 2, 2008
All the leaks, described previously, were repaired. Upon trying to fire up the burner I didn’t get any boiler sensors to function as they had; I removed them to find the brass ends covered with a type of black tarnish, so I cleaned and reinstalled them. Everything is now working.
4.0 Hours

June 5
Fired up the boiler to take on the road, only 4 minutes to wait. Put the reversing lever into the forward notch and the car moved with the slightest amount of throttle pedal movement. WOW! But back to the movement at hand, check the brakes to make sure the car will stop; they work. Now down the drive to the street and accelerate; WOW! The car accelerated smoothly with the unmistakable chug of steam emanating from the exhaust; what a very distinctive sound. I was watching the pressure gauge to make sure the boiler cycled as it should, off at 230 psi back on around 175 psi. Also; watching the boiler lights, I would turn the bypass valve to bypass when the Blue Led lit (the light is quite bright even in direct sunlight, so it is easily discernable as to when to use the bypass valve) and turn the valve to closed when the Green Led started to flicker. I was becoming more confident in the operation and now knew what to expect; I was really enjoying the fruits of my labor.

The engine seemed to run quite well, I did hear an intermittent knocking noise as the engine catches up to speed; I pulled the reversing lever back to the first forward notch and the noise did subside some. I’ll have to check to make sure there isn’t anything hitting each other or something coming loose. After a check everything is tight and nothing appears to be hitting anything. By pulling back on the lever you are lessening the amount of steam into the cylinders.

The tiller steering is not as bad as I thought it would be; just firmly hold onto the tiller and don’t try to overcorrect every time a wheel hits a rut or a groove in the road. Overall the car tracked straight and turns precisely.

The brakes are quite adequate, but a firm foot pressure is needed for more abrupt stopping.

After the road test I started to check for any new leaks; None at this time, but from what I’ve been told chasing leaks in a steamer is part of its mystique.
2.0 Hours.

June 10
I’ve taken the car out several times to make sure I know what I’m doing and to keep checking on the reliability of the car. I did adjust the pressure sensor so the burner shuts off at 250 psi, which has helped when going up slight hills. I noticed that the engine goes through a lot of steam oil; the reservoir was almost empty in about 3 miles. I also noticed a sticky wet floor under the exhaust tubes. I contacted some other builders and they said the same. I contacted some steam guys and was told that the vehicle should go through about a ¼ cup of oil in about 25 miles. I was going through too much.
I fabricated a simple device that can control the oil consumption. I installed a 5mm x 35mm bolt into the front oil reservoir mount hole under the pump arm. This will control the downward movement of the arm. I drilled the hole in the valve link coupler just larger than the pump actuator rod, I drilled two 1/16 holes in the rod, one near the bend and the other at the end of the rod. Using a cotter pin on the top hole with a compression spring I can adjust the upward throw, by shortening the spring. I used a hairpin clip on the bottom hole with a small washer to help with the downward throw. Now you can adjust the pump arm throw which in turn controls the amount of rotation of the pump cams. If you look at the pictures you can see I marked the reservoir with silver marker to show the before amount of throw, (two longer lines) and the after amount by the top line and the shorter line near the top. Make sure that the reversing lever is in the full forward notch and the valve guide at its full upward position. With the oil pump arm in its most upper position measure the distance between the upper cotter pin on the actuator rod and the coupler the rod slides through, this is the length required for your compression spring.
Rotate the engine so the valve guide is now at its full downward stroke; check the oil pump arm it should be against the bolt stop and the coupler against the lower hairpin, if not shim with washers. Also; drill a 1/16” hole through the coupler and the valve arm bolt, secure with a cotter pin, to prevent the bolt from backing out.
I have found that I am now using about 1/2 the reservoir in 10 miles.
2.0 Hours

June 11
Some builders have reported to get some scoring on the crossheads and guide tubes, and they have installed oil lines to the existing tapped holes in the cross head guides. I made up some brass tees along with plastic hosing and adapted to my drip oilier. Also it is not necessary to run with the drip oilier “ON” all the time. I open my drip oilier as I’m getting the car ready to steam and after about 5 minutes I turn the oilier to the “OFF” position. I found that this provides plenty of oil; I use the Hypoid 85/140 gear oil, as it doesn’t have the tendency to sling off and always leaves a slick coating.
3.0 Hours

June 12
You probably noticed that the hand pump piston has a tendency to push the engine kick board out as steam pressure builds. Also; where do I store the hand pump handle?
I shortened the pump handle at both ends and bent the handle another 5 degrees, I replaced the existing drip oilier bracket bolt with a longer bolt and bent it towards the rear slightly to allow the pump handle to be vertical. By inserting the pump handle opposite of normal use the pump piston is now locked into position and the pump handle is in its stored position, as it is close enough to the top panel to prevent the handle from popping out while driving.

June 29
I purchased a wireless bicycle speedometer and installed it on my car. Now I know that even though it feels like 60 MPH it really is only on average 20. There is also an odometer and a clock. Works rather well and is easy to retrofit to the car and only $54. usd. I have taken it to about 30 miles an hour on a level surface, but it performs better at the 25 mph area.
2.0 Hours
July 5

At this point I have used the car quite a bit and it has held up most admirably. I had to keep tightening some of the fittings, but nothing drastic. I took my wife for a ride and wouldn’t you know it; the steam exhaust pipe came undone and dragged on the road to make a not so pleasant sound. At the time I’m thinking my valve linkage is broken and binding on the chain, my wife is asking; Am I Walking Home? Once I find the errant pipe, Damn that’s Hot. I just put it back onto the engine and away we go. I find that I get 10 miles to a tank of water.

In Conclusion
I have not as yet replaced the rear axles with the new improved axles from ModelWorks. I have been too occupied with getting the car steaming and driving. Also; I wanted to get as much information as possible to those builders who have been following my build, so they can get steaming as soon as possible. I will probably perform the axle change over this winter.

I think there are 6 completed steaming Likamobiles in the world right now. Some have made a few modifications to help better enhance the performance, while some others have come up with reliability modifications. A lot of these modifications have already been reported. As with all steam cars; they were something to be tinkered with and improved upon. I urge anyone with an idea/ modification to post it on the Yahoo Groups – Likamobile forum so as to share with all the builders.
I will post any other modifications that I have personally tried and report. For now I plan to just have some fun driving my Likamobile and showing it off.

This Likamobile project has allowed me to meet and speak with some wonderful people from around the world; they have shared their experience or expertise, to which I am grateful. I am remiss in not keeping closer contact but am no less enthusiastic.

I am more than pleased with the results. Model Works had made certain claims in the beginning as to the performance and I believe they made good on their claim. The engineers, machinists, and all who made the Likamobile possible should be proud of their accomplishment. So if any of the engineers and machinists are reading this web site I want you to know I believe you did a top shelf professional job.

Happy Building
Rick

Road Test and a few Modifications.


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.

Kit Seven.

Kit Eight.

Kit Nine.

Kit Ten.

Addendum Kit Ten.

Kit Twelve.

Kit Thirteen.

Kit Fourteen.

Kit Fifteen.

Kit Sixteen.

Kit Seventeen and Eighteen.

Boiler Installation.

Burner Installation.

Leaf Spring Modification.

Engine 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.




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