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Re: Wistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Mike Clark (
Date: September 25, 2010 06:13PM

Caleb Ramsby Wrote:

> With the fuel nozzle at the boiler being such a
> significant aspect of the fuel flow formula I
> wonder if when the fuel flow past the flowmotor is
> being tested it would be better to have the fuel
> just dump into a bucket as a liquid or go to a
> burner that is actually vaporizing the fuel and
> using it to make a fire, say in the open outside
> of the boiler?

I think you should fire a burner with it as the rate of vaporised gas flow through the jet is minute compared with the rate of flow of the fuel passed cold and not vaporised through the same jet. From memory I once tried the output, hand pumped, cold through a Stanley vaporiser and jets - it was at least 50 gallons per hour, limited mainly by how hard I could pump and maintain 120psi. I am not sure how this would influence the White flowmotor but certainly the passage of gas through the jets introduces massive back pressure presumably because the volume has increased 500 fold or so. You would then need to find a way of measuring the volume of fuel passed on the input side not by how much falls into your bucket.


Edited 1 times. Last edit at 09/25/10 06:13PM by Mike Clark.

Re: Wistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: September 26, 2010 12:59AM

Thanks Bob thats fascinating.
I asked on the SACA site about the pictueres in the previous issue of the SACA Bulletin and didn't get any clarification.
There was a racer from 1902 looked like a standard car with the body and condenser removed then a wind cheating hood fitted plus lowered and repositioned driver seats. Is that correct or was it a completely one of racer?
There are pictures of "Whistling Billy" from 1905 using an under slung chassis with no condenser. This racer is shown crashed August 19 1905 and then the next racer appears in October 1905. This is the Vanderbilt "19" car again with an under slung chassis but with a wrap round condenser.
Is this Whistling Billy rebuilt with a modified body or a completely different car? Higher sides and more wrap round on the driver and mechanics seats? New bonnet and the condenser added plus cylindrical tanks 2 large and one small vs the previous one large tank?
Then in the news from 1908 another picture appears that looks like the original Whistling Billy with minor panel work changes to the rear. Is this just a miss identified date or did two or possibly more White steam race cars exist?


steamcarbob Wrote:
> Let me just put the correct detail here
> 1)All Whites had monotube steam generators. Whites
> were very proud of getting this working well with
> constant temperature and pressure under almost all
> conditions if the cars are kept well serviced. The
> steam temperature is 750deg F (395 deg C).
> 1)The steam generator on my Whistling Billy seen
> in the piture is an original 30hp monotube steam
> generator made by Whites which I purchased it
> America to copy exactly on Billy. It is infact
> still sound although over one hundred years old
> but I would not want to use it on the racer. It
> has some typical left hand and right hand thread
> junctions made in the White factory. The generator
> case is an exact copy except I have used stainless
> steel instead of galvanised steel. The new steam
> generator will fit down into the case with just
> the top tube showing. At present one pipe of the
> original coils is catching and stopping it
> dropping down.
> 2)The rear axle I made myself. The central casing
> casting was made copying the original 2 speed
> White axle but leaving out the bottom gear for
> lightness- as with Billy. The bulge usually found
> in the top of the gearbox was removed off the
> pattern to get it correct-as with Billy. The
> gearing used is 2 to 1 (as with Billy) instead of
> 6 to one in standard cars.The half shafts and
> casings are all made by me as whites standard axle
> but 3inches longer giving Billy's correct track
> size. You can still see on the top of these the
> mounts for the rubber bumps on the standard
> cars.The brake drums I had cast off my 1908
> White(plus a bit of metal) as it and my 1906 White
> needed new drums. The hubs I machined from solid
> copying the 1906 White and the Wheels are copying
> Billy's (14 spoke rear wheels,12 for front
> -standard cars have 10 front and 12 rear).
> 3) The chassis is an inverted standard White
> chassis of American oak modified especially at the
> front and with a flitch plate either side(as with
> Billy) instead of just on the outside.
> Although I am working from just about a dozen
> pictures, it was very useful that Whites tell us
> in their advertising literature that most of the
> car was made from stock parts. This is what I use
> where ever I can and a large percentage of the
> parts are original -if not they are copies often
> because a racer needs new metal to avoid metal
> fatigue.
> Bob Dyke

Re: Wistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: September 26, 2010 06:21AM

First of all,
thank you all for putting the references to Billy links there for me. I have most of the information but I have found one new image of the post late 1908 rebuild that I did not have. After the car summersaulted 3 times in a ball of flame and was burnt out in late 1908, Whites rebuilt it with the nose cone slightly curved and flared out at the bottom - using airodynamics to keep the front end down!
Each picture tends to have a value at seeing a slightly different angle or part not otheruise seen.I still could not find the details of jet sizes- I think that Whites kept this secret!

Caleb, I think that you are assuming that the fuel needle was an on/off valve. It was not. Whites were very pleased with there "regulated fire" which gave enough fire for all occasions in theory and usually in practice.
The fuel needle closes the fuel off for about the first quarter inch and then there is a taper on one side over about an inch and a cut away on the opposite side from abut 3/4inch to full open. These figures are approximate are from memory but the needles have to be very accurately made and I find that one takes me about a day to make with my old kit - no doubt with modern computer controlled kit many could be made exactly in next to no time once set up. The groove beside the piston is tapered and one needs to scrape the solder out keeping it so when adjusting the flow.

The post 1906 White fire regulation-quick summary-----
This allows the flowmotor to regulate the fire. As more water goes to the steam generator,the 2inch piston in the flowmotor is pushed down,the more steam/speed needed the further down goes the piston and thus the fuel needle goes down gradually giving more fuel.
Once the piston is almost fully down the bypass valve at the top of the flowmotor opens so that with full fire on only a small amount of the water goes through to the generator so the steam gets hotter until the water is bypassed by the thermostat.
If the top bypass did not open the generaotr would have too much water and not keep up. Of course if the pressure is right up (no more steam needed) then the piston will close back and the fire reduce.
The result of this is that the White should have the steam at constant temperature indicated by the pyrometer needle at the vertical (750deg F) and the pressure near the bypass pressure with the fire cycling on and off but keeping half way on up a steady gradient.
It is a pleasure to see this keep so steady on a well set up White and the car will then be quite quick.

Re: Wistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: September 26, 2010 06:42AM

Hello Mike,
As you will see from my last scribblings,the fuel on the White is actuallty controlled and regulated in the liquid form. This fuel needle is just 0.093 inch diameter. That is why it is so hard to make. One very carefully files the flats down and end up with 0.048inch in the thinnest place for the 20hp cars -where the the 30 and 40 hp cars have just 0.004inch narrower. To complicat the matter the last quarter inch is just 0.002 inch larger than the rest of the needle to shut the fuel off with the rod end and not the larger 60deg tapered valve end. This has its own little bronze hole which gives a good fit not to pass any fuel- it can be removed and renewed.
These flowmotor needles I feel sure were renewed each service by the White engineers to keep the car running well. With spare engines that I have found on a couple of occasions there have been a box of goodies and in each were about half a dozen fuel used valve rods, as well as used flowmotor top valves,clack valve balls and a few other items presumably returned with the cars after service.

Re: Wistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: September 26, 2010 12:07PM

Hey Bob,

Sorry I wasn't very clear.

I was assuming that the angle of the wedge passage for the water in the flowmotor wall has a consisant angle and linear increase and decrease in its area as it moved. I assumed the same for the flats on the fuel needle valve.

How many flats are made on the fuel valve? From the dimensions and close tolerances that you describe for it I can certainly understand why it would take so long to get right! Do you know what kind of aparatus the White Company used to make it? I would assume that their experience making very small accurate parts for their sewing machines would have given them some options in that regard.

When you test the flow of the fuel do you use the same water flow/pressure through the flowmotor as you do when testing the water flow?

I am just curious if you take multiple readings with different water flow rates to see if the water and fuel ratios are the same through out the operable range.

The most detailed information that I have regarding the White system is from their owner/instruction booklet for their Model M and O. It doesn't have much technical data on the dimensions of parts or the testing there of, I believe they assumed that all of the serious work would be done at the White shop or with official White parts.

I really love the way that the White system controls things, even the water regulator isn't really a true on/off is it?

I believe that this was/is the best control system made for a monotube out there! Much better then the laer on/off principles of Doble(even though with the turbine draft kicking it up and above what the motor does the feed water is still on/off), much less Carters, Pritchards or Barretts system.

It seems to me that one of the reasons that it hasn't been used since the White(to my knowledge at least) is that it is designed to control a vaporizing burner, not a pressure atomizing burner with a fan supplying the air. One idea would be to make a sysem basically the same but replace the fuel valve with a steam valve that runs(via a very small steam engine, two cylinder for self starting) both a fan and fuel pump for the fire, getting up steam with a motor drive for it or with a really strong pilot light. There would of course be some significant issues with getting the dynamic output of the fan and fuel supply to match the water output. Just an idea.


I think that it would have to do with if one was using the same fuel nozzle all of the time or not. If it were always the same nozzle size, then it would always produce the same added resistance to the fuel flow and although the quantity of liquid passed without having it converted into a vapor would be much greater, it should still vary with modifications to the valve very closely to how it would change if it were vaporized and had to pass the nozzle.

As long as the testing was done on a system that already worked and the test variables were always the same then it should work to get one in the ballpark or operation.

If one wanted the actual fuel flow during operation then I believe that the added resistance of the vapor going through the nozzle would have to be there.

Interesting stuff as always!

Caleb Ramsby

Re: Wistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: September 26, 2010 04:23PM

Hello Caleb,
I will try to make it clearer but may have to send you a drawing if you really need it. The fuel valve has a constant taper on one side and the 13/16 flat on the other which is 0.020inch deep going 1/32inch before the deep end of the taper. This leaves the narrowest place 0.048inch.
Whites must have had a good system for testing all the details of the flow of water and fuel through the flowmotor but I have told you about most of my testing needed for that part. One just does not have to test flow at all the settings in practice to get the car well set up.

I have done nothing about atomising burners, Whites did not use them. I steam Whites as they were always steamed to work well.
I am not so sure that an atomising burner is so well controlled. One Finely tunes the flame adjusting the distance off the burner grate by the diaphragm on the venturi - is it controllable with an atomising burner?

Whites clearly had with the sewing machine technology the ability to make fine needles with flats etc on them -- not a problem for thrm.

Re: Wistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: September 26, 2010 04:52PM

Just to remind you folks.
My Whistling Billy Replica will be at Prescott Hill climb next weekend on show.

I have just finished making various more parts including all the steam line and splashing a bit of paint around. The pattern for the nose cone will be fitted- no time to make the bonnet with nose cone this week as I will be off helping my brother to set the steam temp on his 1910 "OO" which will be there also possibly climbing the hill. That is now going quite well but we are looking to improve things a bit more.

If anyone wants me to take any specific White parts or information to view etc let me know soom. I hope that I can meet some of you there.

Re: Wistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: September 27, 2010 12:13AM


No need for a drawing, it is all clear now, thanks. I was just reading into your use of the plural flats a bit too much.

Atomizing burners are not nearly as versatile fire intensity wise as vaporizing burners are. Especially if the fuel is supplied directly from a positive displacement pump and the air is from a fan.

On the flip side, vaporizing burners are not as fuel variable as atomizing burners are, a really good atomizing burner can burn a wide variety of fuels at one firing rate and a really good vaporizing burner can burn one specific fuel with a wide range of firing rates.

Atomizing burners usually don't use a grate, they just fire at one intense rate that is high enough to keep the incoming air and fuel velocity above that of the flame front velocity. Vaporizing burners use the grate to keep a high resistance to back firing when running with a small fire.

Vaporizing burners seem to me to be a big key as to why the Whites and Stanley's run so well and atomizing burners seem to me to have a lot to do with the difficulties with the control of "modern" atomizing monotube boilers. That of course being only one small slice of the pie.

My point being that with a variable firing rate burner one is much more disposed to using a proportional water/fuel feed system then with a single firing rate atomizing burner. Thusly the water feed controls become much more problematic.

Caleb Ramsby

Re: Wistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: September 27, 2010 03:24AM

Hi Caleb,
That sounds correct to me.The White varies the fire by demand always trying to keep the temperature at 750deg F and at the running pressureie 475deg F for my 1908 White and 600psi for the later cars.
This is very dependent on things being correct.
No leaking by-passes
The clack valves set with the correct clearance.
The pumps must be giving their full volume
The filter on the by-pass needs to be clear,etc.
Results of these being wrong more often give too much heat and pressure rather than too little.

I tell those that I am helping to set up the sytem;
any fool can put a fire under a monotube and produce too much too hot steam but to keep it regulated correctly needs disciplin to have everything working as Whites designed it to work- and that saves your engine from trauma.

The Stanley system is more forgiving with the set up but it is hard to scorch a White steam generator.

Re: Wistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Jeff Theobald (Moderator)
Date: September 29, 2010 06:25AM

Hi All,

Thought you would all like to see a picture of 'Whistling Billy' taken by Bob on Tuesday 28th September.............

The nose cone is the 'buck' ready to form a sheet metal panel........ Jeff.

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