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Re: Wistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: October 13, 2012 06:56AM

Billy has been doing some work since I twisted the crank at Dorset. I rebuilt the engine and had it ready for Prescott - still untested. I have done about ten miles now but need to do lots of miles to get everything running correctly.
I went to Prescott Hill Climb last weekend. There were about ten Stanley steam cars, a Likomobile and the one White, Billy. We were there on show with a climb up the hill at the lunch break.
The first day's climb was cancelled as a Stanley blocked the hill. The second day I was determined to have a run and went first but after the usual 20 minute wait. By then I had the steam too hot and probably too little water in the coil. I started at a fair speed but although the pumps came in, I believe that the water was bypassing through the thermostat bypass and I slowed after about 500 yards with the pressure at 200 PSI. I stopped and ran in water (running the engine with the fire turned off), and then put the fire on just before starting to bring the pressure up to 700 psi. I was then able to go around the next bend, give her a good squirt of power up to the hair pin where I had to slow as there was a Stanley fog -I then followed that one up the hill.
This was a steep learning curve and I will need several trial hills before I can get the set up right before starting - probably have the bypasses closed below temperature and pressure before the start. At least I know that I can get around the bends at Prescott - I was worried that the lock was not good enough.
Try Prescott on the forum and then follow to U-tube to see the action.

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 10/28/12 05:04AM by steamcarbob.

Re: Wistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: October 25, 2012 05:11AM

. Back in the workshop, I am sorting a few of the problems that Billy had.
First and most expensive were the clincher tyres. The first one lasted 7 miles before bulging on the inside wall of the front right tyre. Apparently the inside wall, especially on the front, is where you expect to have problems with beaded edge tyres. But at Ł350 per tyre that is a problem. I have ordered new straight sided rims and tyres and hope to have them fitted in a couple of weeks. That should solve the problem. The tyres coming off I will use on either Lucy (1908 20hp White) or my 1906 White which has white walled tyres on at present; pretty but are they practical?
The next problem was the oiler. I have been unable to pump oil by hand through the dash oiler but it seemed to be working mechanically. I was just about to take it off the dash for a rebuild when I examined my 1906 White oiler. I am glad that I did! The hand knobs of the oil pump have to be unscrewed to operate them and presumably keep screwed down for mechanical operation as in my 1902 White which has quite a different looking oiler. The oiler on the Billy and the 1906 car look more like my 1908 cars oiler on which you no longer have to unscrew the knob before use. That was an easy cure!
The prop shaft was not running true. It was showing 0.1inch eccentricity both ends. Rotating it in the flywheel square (4 possible places) and on the rear Universal joint with thin shimming has reduced this to 0.035 inch. I am going to leave it at this at present and perhaps try to balance the rest out if there is a problem.
The pyrometer needed rebuilding and I still have a cracked glass. This uses the differential expansion of a copper tube against the quartz central rod. It has to be set for the running steam temperature of 750deg F at the top using a thermometer in a well on the steam line for the job. There are two other marks on the dial – to the left, too hot steam (probably about 900deg F); to the right, too cold - below about 600 deg F. These gauges are quite adequate once set up but I am still using a modern electric gauge which does give a bit slower reading but gives a better overall picture.
Still to sort out are the leaking valve packing glands probably due to the bronze pillars between the crankcase and the block being slightly out of true from the engines accident in 1908 when the first car was written off. This will take an almost complete engine rebuild so I have just repacked them for my next testing session. Incidentally, I am trying to get the original car’s registration number for Billy as I used so many of the parts other than the engine from it. Road registration of Billy will be handy for testing and for shows in town as well as easier insurance on rally fields.
After this work I have the water pumps to further refine and the body damage to sort where the front axle has been moving more than expected. There are also a couple of steering parts that need refining. Plenty to do this winter but I am quite pleased with progress so far!

Re: Wistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Mike L Clark (
Date: October 25, 2012 05:19AM

Great thing about steam cars Bob - you never have any problem with knowing what to do with your spare time! You don't have any. Keep up the good work - I'm sure you are right re the tyres.


Re: Wistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: November 10, 2012 12:47PM

10 November 2012
Last Monday I had a day’s testing for Billy on Portreath Airfield with the compliments of the forces. We were treated well and had a coned off half mile each way run on the main runway which is smooth and wide with three lines running along it.
It looked as if it might have been wet but soon blue sky appeared but the wind stayed quite strong and blew out the pilot light a couple of times. I must make and fit the under-tray under the main burner which will probably stop this.
I had probably only done about ten miles with Billy all together, so this was a chance to check on the chassis performance, the burner and the steam temperature setting. I still have the clincher tyres on so I did not want to do much cornering.
The runs were kept at an easy pace, about 35mph for the first ones and then working it up to about 45 mph maximum by which time I had doubled my total mileage. Some runs were done with a car beside me filming. I will try to get some pictures.

The chassis seemed to work well and the lack of rear suspension did not seem a problem. The steering is positive and the rear wheel brakes reasonable at the speeds tested (Billy was of course only racing on dirt so the brakes were probably little used).
The acceleration was good but I thought that the engine was a bit rough at low speeds. This could be the simpling valve not fully closing.

Initially I tried the three hole main jet of 0.054inch but I could not get the temperature of the steam over 500deg F so I went up to three of 0.064inch which could be too much. That was better. There was a good howl but although I kept resetting the thermostat, I could not get control of the temperature and it crept up towards 1000deg f. I was running up the runway with the fire off most of the time! I think that I will have to try a slightly smaller jet which I do not want to do, increase the thermostat by-pass size or probably better to increase the by-pass of the water past the flowmotor piston to the generator.
Anyway the other problems that came up was an increasing steam leak from one of the pipe nipples and an increasing water leak through the top bronze pump casting, both of which could on their own cause the over-heating.
I will probably now go for a big winter sort out and get the pumps and steam pipes hopefully 100% while the wheel rims are being changed from clincher to straight–sided. I hope to be able to re-line up the crossheads from its 1908 accident and will check the engine ball races.
I have just had the You Tube video sent to me - Put into You Tube " Whistling Billy RRH Portreath "

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 11/16/12 07:22AM by steamcarbob.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: December 18, 2012 12:20PM

Last week I completed the next rebuild of the engine. This time it was to try to correct the persitant leaks from the packing glands and the water pumps. These both resulted from the 1908 accident when the original donor car had a collision in London. The cracked cylinders I had already sorted but the piston and valve glands leaking turned out as I suspected to be from the bronze mountings being bent between the cylinders and the crankcase.
I mounted the top stub that goes into the cylinder in my 6 jaw lathe chuck and tested the other end which is the long bronze part that projects down into the crankcase and acts as the crosshead guide. It is round. I found the front one to be almost alright. It was about 0.005inch out and a sharp tap wth the copper hammer in the correct place brought that one up to true within the limits of my chuck.
The rear one was another matter. That was about 0.060inch out. By cutting one pillar and stretching it using a nut and bolt as a jack, I found that I could get it almost spot on, so I found a washer the correct size and inserted it in the gap before I silver soldered it. When cold this one was also within a gentle tap of true.
Next I assemblesd the bronze parts back into the crankcase and checked for level with the cylinders and engineer's blue, needing very little hand scraping to get it right. I then reassembled the engine.
The top water pump had been leaking from a damaged pipe and I found my original silver solder repair had a pin-hole probably from a bit of oil in the metal. I took it off its fittings and found that there was yet more damage than I had realised before which had been repaired poorly years ago. I was lucky to have purchased a new set of pumps from Arnoud Carp and I used them. They needed some setting up. The ball valves need almost flat edges into the ball -these ones had been given a large 45 degree face for the balls to sit in. Also the clearance should be 0.032 inch but were 0.050inch.I check these by squashing a bit of lead sheet between the ball and the cap and then cutting it in half and measuring the centre.
Anyway all is assembled and back in the car ready for the Race Retro Show near Coventry from February 21-25th.
Billy's wheels should be back in the middle of January with the straight sided rims fitted. I have the new tyres waiting. These will just all need fitting together and onto the car.
In the mean time I am having my right knee replacemnt on Thursday and hope to be OK for the event - which is why everything had to be done by this week!
Happy Christmas

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 12/19/12 04:27AM by steamcarbob.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: February 13, 2013 05:00AM

I am now getting over my right knee replacement. All seems well but it does not like me doing too much work yet!

Whistling Billy has now had much of the winters work done. I rebuilt the engine with the block now hopefully in line with the crankcase having corrected the damage from the engines 1908 accident. Also Billy has new water pumps as the old ones suffered damage in the same accident.
I also made and fitted a lever on the steam oil pump as it is too hard to push down from the seat without the lever. The 1908 White and the 1906 White that I have here have different levers so I copied the latter being nearer the date with slight modifications for easier fabrication and strength.
I have now had the wheel rims changed from beaded edged to straight sided rims with the fitting done by Robert Hurford who made the wood wheels. I then painted them and completed the rim clips before fitting the new tyres which needed gaiters (or “formed rubber flaps”). I hope that these tyres last much longer than the 7 miles that the first beaded edged one managed!
We have done a little paint touch up for the Race Retro Show near Coventry which we are attending from February 22 to 24th .
I was unable to get the You Tube video “Whistling Billy RRH Portreath” onto the club site - I do not know why but transferring it seems to be blocked. Anyway, if you have not seen it, it is the best one of Billy; see it by going into You Tube and then feeding in the title.

Attachments: DSC_2606.JPG (127kB)   DSC_2594.JPG (186kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: February 27, 2013 06:35AM

We had a good time at race Retro and Whistling Billy will probably be in quite a few magazines and papers as well as on the internet.
I was in a back corner at the start but the organizers realized that we were a different attraction as I was setting up and we were moved to pole position on Speed Lane onto Murray Walker and Sir Stirling Moss’s signing stall complete with two pretty girls for the three days.
We certainly had a constant crowd all day every day until packing up time on Sunday. Many people had difficulty getting their head around the steam side of things but also the wood wheels, the single gear, the lack of rear suspension, the throttle in the middle of the steering wheel, the lack of clutch, the simpling pedal, the shear speed of the original car and even where they should put the coal.
Anyway it was a good three days and my new knee held out. I used my Galaxy tablet to show the Portreath Airfield video to demonstrate that Billy was functional. There is a new video on You Tube and I will put a couple of pictures here.
Next comes some more testing.

Attachments: Pole position on Speed Lane.jpg (232kB)   The two girls came with the stand!.jpg (238kB)   Moss and Walker.jpg (166kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: alpinemauve (Moderator)
Date: March 1, 2013 04:19AM

CCW feature Whistling Billy and the article can be found here:
CCW Article

A video of Billy (and from this video you can hear how Billy got the name here
Whistling Billy Video

"Making it’s first big show debut was Whistling Billy, the 1905 steam-powered racer that was campaigned in period by the great Webb Jay.

Owner Dr Robert Dyke, who has recently completed a six-year restoration of the race car, told CCW: “The restoration was a mammoth task. I had nothing more to go on than period photographs of the car. It’s only just been road-registered and I’ve only managed to cover about 12 miles in it due to a knee operation – and the weather!” Originally named Billy, it gained its full moniker due to the screaming noise from its burners as it hit top speed.

As well as Race Retro, the car has been taken to the Prescott Hill Climb. Robert had a scare during one of the events, explaining: “The boiler began to get red hot and the temperature touched 1200F as the pressure went through the roof. All of a sudden the back wheels span up to 100mph, damaging the crankshaft – cue another rebuild!”

The car was originally built by the White Company and was raced in America, where it clocked a world record fastest mile of 48.35 seconds, beating the old record by some four seconds. An average speed of 74mph was recorded during the run, but the car was capable of reaching a scarcely-believable 120mph. In an age when motorsport safety was almost non-existent, Whistling Billy was a dangerous car to drive. Numerous pilots were injured in crashes, including Webb Jay, who suffered head injuries and nine broken ribs in one accident. The car fared little better, being rebuilt in 1907 and again in 1908, following an off-piste trip into a trackside pond, among other incidents.

Unlike conventional racing cars, driving Whistling Billy can be difficult to master. “It’s much trickier because of the huge amount of weight over the front axle. At the beginning of a race the boiler holds about 280lb of water, but by the end of the race this is more like 40lb. Not only does this drastically change the dynamics of the car, it makes it get an awful lot faster!” The 20hp White steam car engine features a piston valve instead of a slide valve and runs on a 80:20 petrol/diesel mixture. Incredibly, the car doesn’t even feature a clutch – the torque being enough to get the car underway. The throttle is controlled by a smaller wheel that sits within the steering wheel, allowing the brave driver to feather the throttle through bends. Most of the other components were taken from production cars of the period."

SCCGB Website Designer

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: March 5, 2013 04:58PM

There is another You Tube video on []
or You tube "Race Retro debut for Whistling Billy"

There is quite a large mistake in the article above written by a journalist. It is the water tank that weighs 280lbs full and 40lbs empty (24 gallons of water) and sits behind the front axle. Of course for "boiler" one should read "monotube steam generator" anyway.

I have been making the car "road legal" with a tax disc (LN2420) and number plates plus mirror.
Also I am fitting a hand stop valve on the flowmotor by-pass so that I can force all the water to the steam generator on racing starts hoping to avoid a hot dry steam generator like I had at Prescott and having to stop to pump in water. I think that I can avoid the thermostat bypass openning by careful starting but I may need a hand valve on that too.


Edited 3 times. Last edit at 04/23/13 03:49AM by steamcarbob.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: April 4, 2013 05:19AM

2nd April 2013
On Easter Monday we had test runs on Portreath Airfield. This time Whistling Billy was joined by Nick Howell’s 1902 Toledo, Arnoud Carp’s 1904 White Model “D” but my brother had burner problems and was unable to bring the 1902 Steamobile but came along anyway. It was a dry day with a bitterly cold east wind but we used the trailers to create a sheltered zone.
Nick Howell had some good runs in his Toledo but eventually his burner problems got the better of him. He has returned to petrol as he was unable to get satisfactory vaporization from kerosene.
Arnoud had brought his newly restored White over from Holland and we had spent a few days sorting out the systems. After initial poor steaming, lots of water pumping by hand got the car going and then it ran quite well up and down the runway. This is very like my 1902 White, one needs to do the hand pumping until suddenly it has enough water in the top of the coil (2 to 3 coils full) –then it runs and the single small pump can keep it going except it may need a few extra hand pumps on steep hills. He will need to check the clack valve nearest the steam generator on the water side as this could be leaking back. He is gradually getting the correct the steam temperature and pressure, both of which we had adjusted just below where we thought they needed to be. The settings were alright when the car was jacked up in the workshop but 3 miles on the road are always needed to get the correct settings.
Billy steamed easily and ran well up and down about 15 times probably at about 60-65mph with lots left on the throttle. The chassis seemed very stable and the rear wheel only brakes seemed alright too. Initially the steam temperature climbed a little high and then I adjusted it and it was a little low. I soon had broken the leather belt driving the rev counter/speedometer. The pilot light blew out in the severe wind so we fitted the under-tray which I have just completed but not yet painted underneath. This improved the situation but I do need a stronger pilot light and I will fit a sparker which I already have. I have several pilot lights but after a lot of use and repair over 100 years, I have difficulty getting them to maintain a good flame.
The shut–off valve for the flowmotor bypass that I fitted proved very useful and told me that the flowmotor bypass valve has much too big a hole in it –it almost stops the fire coming full on. Just cracked open we made plenty of steam but full open the fire was reduced. I intend to keep this shut for racing starts to get the full amount of water in the coil when lots is being used before the engine is fully heated.
Towards the end of the testing I found that I could not accelerate fully without a judder. I think that the poor big ends are catching up with me with the extra power. These engines have all ball bearingcranks and big ends and the ways were never very accurately ground but had a lot of wear also. I had just polished them and put in new balls. I will take the sump off and have a look around! I was hoping that this engine would last until I had sorted my spare which is outwardly in very poor condition but with reasonable insides.
Oh, Yes. I have burnt the bonnet paint off again but I have had sign writer Squirrel up here and he has painted the registration number on the bonnet and the fuel tank and put 1905 on the sides below the seat.

Attachments: DSC_2653 (800x531) (640x425).jpg (214kB)   DSC_2654 (800x531) (640x425).jpg (207kB)   DSC_2655 (640x425) (640x425).jpg (228kB)  
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