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Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: July 17, 2014 03:29PM

Hello Don,
Yes, a fine picture taken by Dom Howard of Whistling Billy and I going into the hairpin at Prescott in 2012. Apologies to Dom, I should have acknowledged that it was his picture.

I am packed up with Billy and travelling to Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb tomorrow for showing and running up the hill on Saturday and Sunday before going on to Les Nelson's "Not a tour" in the Cotswolds.

Of course, the MSA still will not let steam cars compete.

I will add one amusing picture for the boys taken at Prescott by Bill Rich

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 07/17/14 03:37PM by Steamcarbob.

Attachments: P1000259 reduced.jpg (55kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Rog White (
Date: July 20, 2014 07:09AM

Can I improve on the White Flowmotor?
I am profoundly honoured by your confidence. Only in Name.
I long considered it to be the perfect system, except that it is all mechanical and subject to the vagiaries of wear, distortion and corrosion.
But I did think of mimicing it. One could do this using all low pressure modern components. One would need a simple plc (computer) which I wanted to keep well out of the Landy - we did use one in Ireland for the 'Ulster' engine (you may have seen it at Alford coupled to Birkhall boiler). When (if) that engine/generator set is revived that might be the system to be used.
I am finding the simpler on/off method which the Landrover uses satisfactory enough due to 'thermal lag' in the boiler coils, which are a lot less massive than any American White.
The little thermocouple I mentioned is stainless throughout including its own sheath or 'well'.

Attachments: Steam 4b_0001.jpg (51kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Rog White (
Date: July 20, 2014 07:25AM

Can I improve on the White Flowmotor?
Probaly not, but discovered something 2 hours before the Commonwealth Games opened. The wood fired Landy went up the hill without having to run the engine in neutral to get more water. The wood fire definitely 'leads' the water, causing rising superheat. I've no more water to pump, so, when either pressure or temperature get towards raising eyebrows, the firebox lid opens, the hearth blower stops, and the extractor fan goes to half speed and dilutes the flame with cold air - quite effectively holding coil temperature steady. This looks like I no longer need any water bypass control. We'll see. Brian Mcmorran thought that my 13 litres/min pump was too small, but at 300 rpm is only 2.6 litres/min. I could fit a 'kick' pedal for an extra squirt when needed - like the Serpollet 'rowing' lever...
Rog W

Edited 2 times. Last edit at 07/25/14 09:45AM by Rog White.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: August 1, 2014 04:24AM

We went to Shelsley Walsh and the people were quite interested in Whistling Billy steaming in the pits but I had a problem on the hill again. I stopped about four times but eventually made it. Billy almost immediately at the start went into superheat mode and lost steam pressure –in fact the temperature went up to about 1200deg F. which is past where one should stop and let it cool but I was keen to at least climb the hill but with hand pumping plenty of extra cylinder oil in. I stopped and pumped water with the fire off and set off again. This process was repeated until the top hairpin from where I could keep going, even if not on full power.
When I got back to the pits I had a look around. The flowmotor needle had bent and broken at the adjustment nut (I use 7BA- the needle is a fine stainless wire). The fuel needle had remained slightly open to give overheat until I had turned it off while pumping water with the engine on the hill. I had then turned it on again to go. The problem here is that the thermostat needle would have been fully open with the over-heat and thus by-passed most of the water that was needed in the steam generator.
I managed to repair the needle with silver solder using the 7BA nut as a sleeve but some of the silver solder ran up the thread and I was unable to adjust the needle correctly. The damage to the needle seems to have been caused by the fuel needle fouling on the end plug which is hollow but the hole was a little small. I drilled it out larger. I will make new needles and spares when back in my workshop.

The organizers would not let me have a run up the hill on Sunday as Sir Stirling Moss and his entourage had taken all the 20 spaces allowed at the lunch break. I did however have what seemed like several hundred people wanting to see Billy having another go at the hill, but officials could not be moved!
I went on to the Cotswolds’ for Les Nelson’s “Not a tour”, which was very enjoyable, as ever. I borrowed a 7 BA die from our host Robin and cleaned up the thread to give my repaired fuel needle reasonable adjustment.

I believe that there were eleven Stanley Steamers and Whistling Billy, plus some petrol cars. I gave the folks a quick sprint demonstration on the Monday evening after returning from a tour in the Hounslows’ Stanley. On Tuesday after a day touring with Mark Drake, I did a full day on Wednesday of over fifty miles on Billy. I was well beaten up by the bumpy pot-holed roads but could go faster when on the smoother roads. It was a very hot day and I was not sure whether it was the sun, the steam or the fire which was giving me most grief! I did another 20 miles on the Friday, doing only about half the tour as I wanted to get ready for the return home the following day.
It was a very good week.

Attachments: Shelsley pits(s).jpg (237kB)   A broken fuel needle caused overheating on the hill.jpg (113kB)   Billy on tour with the Stanleys.JPG (227kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Rog White (
Date: August 3, 2014 08:07AM

Hello Bob
Surely - surely - surely - the thermostat should bypass the FLOWMOTOR sending all that water to the boiler, making the flowmotor reduce the fire ?
Only the flowmotor sends water back to the tank when at full travel - and full fire. (Correction - so does the pressurestat.)
That's when all is working as it should.
Good luck
Rog W

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 08/03/14 12:52PM by Rog White.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: August 4, 2014 03:28PM

Well done Roger, you were paying attention in class! My 6am musing as to why I had the problem is shot down in flames.
The flowmotor design is slightly different to my 1908 car. In fact, on Billy, it is the 1910 White flowmotor casting. This feeds the water back from before the flowmotor to the space at the bottom of the piston whereas the earlier one feeds it back from past the flowmotor. Either way it should be the flowmotor spring that keeps the piston back to reduce the fire when the steam is too hot (I must check that there is clearance for that return water if the piston is down). The only other difference here is that there is no lubrication for the piston other than the water –All other later Whites will have some oil in the water after the condenser.
The thermostat by-pass perhaps was not working but the normal running temperature has since been fine and I had a run around St Just yesterday keeping the temperature almost spot on the 750F mark.
I could increase the size of the thermostat by-pass which could help.
Certainly the low slow fire invariably causes over heating in the White system. I had that in spades with the broken fuel needle!
I do have another problem which developed then which I sorted and has returned. I have a water leak on the top water pump before the pressure regulator. It is on a large threaded joint. I think that the bronze casting may well have a crack where I cannot see underneath at the back. This too could cause a problem but the strong pumps seem to overcome it most of the time. Of course these bronze fittings are now having to take 600 to 800psi instead of the original 375 psi. I have been running on the lower pressure on the road in the hope of the engine surviving the season. Is there a message here? Perhaps the pumps are too strong on the largest setting of three (most cars are on the middle setting but I do have a 30hp generator) but of course I am revving the car a bit more than usual and all is stressed by work and vibration.
It may be that I need a bit more water by-passing the flowmotor piston just after it starts moving by increasing the taper on the groove in the flowmotor. This would feed more to the coil for the same amount of fire. I set the flowmotor flow for the standard 30hp car which of course could be completely wrong for Billy. I must have the piston moving early as I set off with few revs with the 34 inch wheels on a 2 to 1 axle. I can easily have no fire coming on at all starting on a steep hill –my problem on most hill climbs! From all engine problems, the engine seems to be settling somewhat and is smoother. I am now into regulation problems which I always felt would come.
It takes a lot of sorting but the car is slowly going better, even with the old engine! Hill climbing on steep hills for which the car was not built may always be a problem. A low gear would increase the pump speed and thus the water flow especially on hill starting, but that was not done on Billy in the early days!
Another option that I have is to refit the blanked off condenser return pump, reduced from 1 inch to about ¼ inch bore, as an injection pump to put water into the middle of the coil at the start of an hill climb( a Doble answer). This was probably not used on Billy but I have no engine pictures, written details or drawings.
One encouraging thing is that the water consumption even pushing quite hard is probably hardly a mile a gallon and of course it is not condensing. This must be due to the fairly constantly superheated steam at 750 to 800deg F and the relatively light weight of the car. Perhaps this means that I can turn down the water supply some of the time!
I will continue experimenting. Sorry folks if this are getting complicated—it just is!
I am just arranging a good little event. I am to be a guest with Whistling Billy at the McLaren Employees Event together with Mike Mutters. That should be fun!
I have put in a couple of pictures from Les Nelson's Cotswolds tour

Attachments: Les Nelson, organizer.JPG (235kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Rog White (
Date: August 5, 2014 12:59PM

Hello Bob - Maybe I was. I assume that when the Flowmotor piston has moved to full travel / fire on/ that the valve at the rear opens and sends water back to the tank, causing the system to act as a constant flow device, because it has just reduced the amount flowing down the groove.
Do you have room to fit a pipe with a pre-set valve which could bypass the groove: exactly in parallel with the thermostat? (Might upset your hill start). You could then adjust 'on the run'. What I mean is that this pipe should send water ON to the boiler - never back. The thermostat should never send water back, because it must countermand the temperature.
I would have thought that the variations between the years should tend to improvement in the later years - the customers paying for the mods! But maybe you have to 'freeze' the dates because of replica authenticity.
This is why the Landy has been so slow in development. Doesn't half take time to make things work properly - for the right reason.
Your water consumption sounds good. What is the full fire fuel rate for 30HP coil?
All the best
Rog W

Edited 3 times. Last edit at 08/07/14 02:41PM by Rog White.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: August 14, 2014 07:20AM

Hello Roger,
White Flowmotor problems on Billy:
On Billy, I already have fitted a valve to shut off the by-pass on the back of the flowmotor so that on starting when the flowmotor piston goes fully down, all water is pumped to the generator. I fitted this especially for hill climbing as we use a lot of water with a fast start on a hill especially if held up for a while at the start. With that valve open, as it is all the time on the tourers, some water by-passes from the pumps near the end of the fuel needle travel to stop the steam generator from flooding on full throttle. One copes with this on the tourers by starting gently form cold –not an option when speed hill climbing.
The result of shutting this valve on Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb start was two-fold.
1) The piston must have gone just a little further than usual and the head caught on the end plug bending the fuel needle and snapping it off at the adjustment nut. It then stayed open leading to overheat - 1200deg F before I realized and started correcting it. I must limit the flowmotor piston a little but I have also drilled the centre of the plug a little larger and it should not be a problem any more.
2) I developed a water leak just after the water pumps on a threaded junction that had never been a problem. The water has to go somewhere when the engine is running fast and the flowmotor groove apparently was unable to take full pump volume with the full throttle by-pass closed.

I have yet to open the groove at the far end a little more. This is a V grove milled into the bore filled and with soft solder and then scraped out in an increasing taper to give the correct amount of flow. I adjusted it for the 30hp White setting rather than the 20hp. The groove needs to be small at the start to give good sensitivity and I expect wider at the end to cope with the extra volume of water needed on Billy on the hill climbs. I do not want to mess it up for touring for which it seems to work well at present.
I have to remember to shut the by-pass valve at the right moment on a hill.

Clearly Whites did a lot of experimenting and I believe developed the whole system on Billy. What a pity that we do not have the details of the settings and by-pass sizes and just how they coped with fast starts which at times they clearly got wrong. Webb Jay crashed into the pond after a slow start on one race and was overtaking the opposition on lap 4 of 5 when he was unsighted by the track dirt and hit the railing, somersaulting into the pond and sustaining what were thought to be fatal injuries (a broken arm, a broken leg, a flail chest with 9 broken ribs and an head injury). He recovered but never raced again and Whites gave up motor racing as being too dangerous. The car was later sold to Charlie Bair together with two new 1906 White tourers and a new White runabout.

I still need to do a lot of experimenting with the fuel control but make haste slowly as things are gradually getting better with the engine and rear axle running in and I get used to it. The easy but unsatisfactory answer in my book would be to by-pass the flowmotor totally for the hill starts with water and fuel.

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 08/15/14 03:23AM by Steamcarbob.

Attachments: DSC_2085 (Medium).JPG (55kB)   DSC_2079 (Medium).JPG (58kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Rog White (
Date: August 16, 2014 07:46AM

Thanks Bob - that explains all. Somewhere I read that the flowmotor was designed to cope with 'part load'. Once you are on full fire then it's up to the thermostat.
Somewhere else I came across an article mentioning the 'Death Valley' taxi service that used Whites - being the only vehicle of the time that would stand the journey. They had to increase the size of one of the four(?) jets in the main burner. Can't tell you what HP the cars were.
Don't do a Webb Jay.
Rog W

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: August 19, 2014 10:15AM

Hello Roger,
My 1908 20hp White has three jets of 0.054inch as do the 1907, 1909 and 1910 cars on one nozzle pointing out at a 13 degree angle causing the fuel to swirl.
The thirty HP were I believe nearer 0.060inch with three jets.
I am aware that there were some cars using 4 jets - I have an original 4 jet nozzle somewhere and it could well be for the 40HP which most of the buses were. I know very little about the large Whites as there are none this side of the pond, although I believe that one engine has survived here. I also came across some large White wheels at Beaulieu once and a large late engine which I sent over to America for use in a car. Many of the car parts seem to be the same as the smaller cars.
On Billy I am at present using three 0.060inch jets in a single nozzle. I have some evidence that much larger nozzles were used on Billy but this steams very fast and even when tried on 0.054inch standard nozzle Billy still howled, so I keep it on the larger one and it actually causes less overheating of other structures as the burner is on for less time.
Anyway Whistling Billy is a bit of an animal and needs his voice to live up to his name!!
Regards Bob

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