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Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: August 26, 2014 05:26PM


On Saturday of this weekend Whistling Billy is a guest at the McClaren Employees Show at their base near Woking. My brother John, and my youngest Son Michael plus his son Joseph are coming with me. I have done a little cleaning but no painting!

I have sorted the water pump connection to the pressure regulator that had suffered metal fatigue. It required careful machining to get the old part out and then pulling out the 1/2inc NPT thread manually but it left the original thread which cleaned up well. I made a new connection which has a filter in it leading to the Finnegan pin. I found also that the pin had been cutting into its hole as it rotated leaving it not working freely. I carefully polished its surface leaving no sharp edges on the spiral groove on it. I also bored out the hole three thou more to give a little clearance. Once the clack valves were checked and renewed that lot was reassembled. Sorry, I should have taken some pictures of these parts when in bits!

I next turned my attention to the burner which I took off and cleaned much melted metal off the surface carefully re-opening the slots. This is from the “heat resistant” stainless steel which my burner seems able to melt. I left the casing in its state of decline rather than taking it apart and having to rebuild it at this time. The insulation under the steel seems to be working well and the outer casing of galvanized steel is holding well if looking a bit unusual with the galvanize powdering off! This is a winter remake job!
Anyway, it is all back together and the burners and pumps worked well coming in quickly but the engine was blowing steam out where it should not.
I took off the casing and lagging around the block while it was still steaming and found that the valve case plate was leaking. I have cut a new copper gasket and will refit that tomorrow. Hopefully it will then be reasonably steam tight when hot. This plate is only held on by machine screws and I might have to make studs and torque up nuts to get a good seal on the high pressure steam that I am using. That will be for the H383 engine that I hope to rebuild over the winter. I have now got most of the parts back for that job.

I also picked up today six new castings for 1903/4 White HP slide valve for my 1903 engine plus some spares, if you should need one!
At the same time I went up to Newquay to the platers and picked up the 1903 White’s condenser badge which has been nickel plated to match all the other bright-work on the car.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: September 8, 2014 06:54AM

8. 09.2014
My brother John and son Michael with his son Joseph (aged 7 years) had a good day at McLaren’s headquarters near Woking. The £100,000,000 kidney shaped building is very impressive with its heating/cooling taken from a large pond where the pipes would come off the kidney using just electric pumps. The building looks over the pond and onto the grass beyond where the helicopters land. The building was full off many years of McLaren racing cars, some sports cars and some motorbikes all of which soon gave me cerebral saturation to try to sort the differences! Everything was spotlessly clean and efficient including the employees on duty. I had to spend two days cleaning my workshop on returning and it is still a filthy mess in comparison!
We were on the other side of the building on layered car parks with strange modern round buildings in an arc. These were posh round glass lifts connecting to the immaculate white walled corridors beneath into the building and the workshops etc.
I was sent a form to fill in – does your car lose any fluids? I was told to hand it in when I arrived but forgot, not being asked for it. We left the trailer there with Billy in it overnight and went to our hotel in Woking. Next morning one needed to be there about 7am. We made it by 7.30am and I steamed Billy and drove it up to the car park where I continued to steam for a couple of hours annoying the neighbors with the Whistling bit of Billy but intriguing many as we had constant interest in the racing car from 109 years ago (rebuilt!). Mike Mutters was beside me with his very quiet Stanley which he was considering selling and probably will definitely do now. Sorry about the noise Mike.
I gave it a rest during the middle of the day while I looked about and then steamed again for an hour before going home. At least the questions generally were much more interesting than the usual although I did have a couple of enquiries about where I put the coal.
I also had an interesting chat with someone who told me about some treatment for nuts and castings which will stop them corroding with the heat. The company is WS2 Coating Ltd in Yorkshire. I have yet to try it or contact the firm but will do in the near furture.
Joseph had a great time going everywhere, on simulators and watching the amazing cycling feats of a champion BMX rider. He also got to ride on a mechanical walking dinosaur! John, who is well on with recovery from his broken pelvis after being thrown off his Steamobile, and Mike chewed the fat while I found a few words for the punters! I did note that some oily water had crept across the road but it looked as if it came from the posh car opposite!
It was a great day and at 5.30pm Michael fetched the trailer and I drove up into it completely forgetting to look to see if I had left some lubrication on the ground of their immaculate car park where even the taps are underground less they be seen! Sorry McLaren!
Michael drove us back to West Cornwall where we arrived at about 1am.

Yesterday I went to the Local Botallack Rally in a spectacular West Cornwall setting. It is a small event which I enjoy, easily in driving distance for Whistling Billy, and is base in the old Botallack Mine count house and surrounds overlooking the cliffs with several mine buildings. The weather was ideal and the sea flat calm. I met up with my TIG welder Treve who was there with his Wallis Advance roller. He is looking out for any cars or engines that attended the first Cornwall Traction Engine Rally in 1955. Saxon Littler was there with the 1906 Model “F” White that my father owned for many years and is now with Richard Hounslow. Will we be able to get him to attend the 50th anniversary next year?

I now have to get on with the 1902 White’s new thermostat casing. I am now almost certain that the mistake that I made when assembling the joints was to use graphite grease on the tapers which started leaking. If they had been put together dry, any small holes would have sealed with rust. Apparently Fodens would fill their new engines with water and leave them for a month before using them to seal any leaks. Anyway, I am now going to TIG weld the thermostat casing together and that should not leak at all although it runs red hot when in action. The problem that I had was several small leaks rather than one large one. These have never been a problem on the previous occasions that I have done the job. This little White has little reserve power and leaks are not tolerated.

Attachments: Steamy morning start.jpg (44kB)   Joseph rides the dinosaur.jpg (71kB)   Who needs a front wheel to ride onto a lorry.jpg (67kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Rog White (
Date: September 8, 2014 06:21PM

Am about to try aluminium cooking foil on a hot threaded pipe joint where one would use ptfe tape on a cold one.
Filling up with water is the cure for a 'Dibnah' -
Damp Indication But No Apparent Hole.
Leaks are completely unaffordable with the Landy. Strained a few joints during a recent hillclimb.
Can't fill in the 'leak form' yet.
Rog W

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: October 1, 2014 06:51AM

Last Wednesday Whistling Billy with myself and the Steamobile with John had a gentle morning steaming around Bude Castle for Sam Smith and her "Inside Out" program on Sir Goldsworthy Gurney which is going to be shown in January.
John was pleased with the Steamobile which is now going much better having been reduced in power from how our father had it. John has extensively rebuilt the car and reshaped it to as it was originally using the rear seat and other parts which had been refitted incorrectly. Father had purchased it as an almost complete kit of bits back in the mid 1980's and rebuilt it with Reg Parsons but they did not do enough homework!

This weekend Whistling Billy is at Prescott on Saturday and at Castle Coombe on Sunday with my boys and two grand-children Polly aged 9 and Joseph aged 7.I hope that Billy survives the weekend. I found that a couple of balls had escaped form the front main bearing when I had a sump check this week. I returned them but they could go again! I hope if they do that they do not do any damage! This should not be able to happen with the engine that I am rebuilding but I have had one escape before on the 1908 White and it has been alright since.
I have also remade the flowmotor needle bronze bush which seals the fuel off before the valve actually shuts. It was not doing so before and I had some blowbacks as a result. Let us hope that I have now cured these.

Next week John, his wife Anne, Chris Relf and myself are going down to the South of France with the Steamobile and my 1902 White. The cars both fit in one trailer with the rear seat removed from the White Surrey and a black trunk in its place which fits exactly. I cut 6 inch deep indents into the front of the trailer to fit the wheels into when we went to Germany 2 years ago. These cars are lighter together than my 1908 White which just fits the trailer on its own.
We are going to a two day show and then on to Francois de Backer who has a 1909 White with a very French body. This car could be for sale soon!

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: October 7, 2014 05:11AM

We had a good weekend with Whistling Billy. A family event, I went with my sons William and Michael with grandchildren Polly and Joe to Prescott Hill Climb and Castle Combe Motor Racing Circuit.
Michael, Joe and I left Cornwall in the early afternoon, picked up William and Polly at Exeter and arrived at Prescott to set up camp in the trailer at about 8pm. The night was a little blustery but the rain started as we woke up and it was wet most of the morning but stopped in time for my run up the hill at about 12.15pm. I had been looking around the stalls expecting a run at 1pm so I steamed the car and had it ready in about 3 minutes! I went down to the line where they were not expecting me but they kindly cleared the track and sorted the marshalling again.
At this time I was held on the line for a while so I let the steam pressure drop to about 550psi.This turned out to be a good move. I had had a couple of blow-backs (the fire lighting back into the venturi) so I set off with the fire off and as I got going switched it on. There was enough draft to bring it in well almost immediately so I had a good run up the hill whistling all the way. The pressure was soon up to almost 600psi where I have it set at present and indeed it cycled off on the first bend. I had to be quite cautious going into the bends because of the wet and the leaves –several cars had gone off in the morning racing. There was still a little wheel spin on some of the bends but it is easily controlled on Billy with the throttle in the left hand and the steering wheel in the right. This was only a demonstration – The MSA orders are that steam cars are still not allowed to race! Unfortunately I did not get a time for my ascent –That would have given me a base from which to work.
I was happy then but soon the blow-backs became more intense. At about 4.30pm we packed up and loaded Whistling Billy.

We then drove about 90 miles to Castle Combe Motor Racing Circuit where Rodney Gouch had a space set up for us on The Tavern lawn on the edge of the pits with four new Jaguars. An unusual mix! I think that we constantly had the larger numbers of admirers!
We again camped in the trailer, this time it was dry but became very cold in the morning. We were OK! After breakfast in the Tavern my boys helped me to drop the main burner which was well clogged up with debris and melted stainless steel from the top casing. I knew that this was going on but left it undisturbed with the insulation holding it together as I did not have time to make a new one and prepare my 1902 White for France this week. Also the vaporizer needed cleaning and the main jets were clogged. I wonder if the last lot of fuel was dirty?
All cleaned and reassembles it initially fired but then we had blowbacks again. The main jets still had carbon chips coming through and blocking them. After several clean outs I had it firing reasonably and I had a nip around the pits where it fired alright when on the move. I decided to have a go on the track with our scheduled run.
I cleaned the jets and fired up with enough steam to get me out on the track and no blow-back. The main fire was switched off. In front of me was a large chain driven Itala which I did not have time to have a good look at!
As we were given the "go", I steamed away and turned the fire on at about 20mph with no blow-backs but by then I only had about 250psi of steam. The pressure built as I went up the straight with the Itala going away in the distance and I was up to about 450psi after the first lap and going quite well keeping off the throttle as much as I could with the engine rumbling away.
I made the two scheduled demonstration laps without a problem until I had a blowback in the pit lane on the way out but by then there was enough heat in the steam and pressure to take me back to my parking place. I was pleased with the result. Clearly I should be able to go very much faster once I have the “new” engine all up and working and I can use the throttle more (I have it cut down to about half throttle at present to preserve the engine).
I was told that Whistling Billy had the steam lap record anyway!
The pictures are from previous visits to these venues -sorry I have not yet got any sorted from this visit and am just packing up for France!

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 10/07/14 05:21AM by Steamcarbob.

Attachments: Prescott (S).jpg (89kB)   Castle Combe 2013 374(S).jpg (70kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: October 30, 2014 07:10AM

We have just returned from a splendid holiday in the South of France. We took two steam cars with us in one trailer, the 1902 White less its rear seat and my brother’s 1902 Steamobile. I had taken some time sorting the White so that it ran well without any steam leaks and had good clack valves sealing properly. The rear seat had to be removed temporarily and replaced with a well-fitting trunk so that the two cars would fit in the trailer together. We had the same set-up in Germany two years ago.
John has spent a lot of time sorting out the Steamobile while recovering from his accident with the little car where he came off it and broke his pelvis when he steamed it without a properly fixed seat. It now looks as it did originally, rather than being too high and too fast with parts not fitting in the correct original holes. It was going well when we got to France.
We travelled over two days via Roscoff down to about 20 miles East of Avignon at a place called L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue for La Farandole des Ancetres. This was a two day rally with an escort driving about 90 kilometers per day in quite mountainous country. The cars were up to 1920 and we were the oldest and smallest. Two racing cars of the period were there too. There was also a fine Stanley of about 1910 owned and driven by Mike Beuvens who also plays a fine base – he joined us in Germany once while I made some trumpet noise.
Our little cars were last to leave as we had to get up steam and slower than the other cars so we were a little behind. I also managed a “pilot light out and flood the burner” incident after about 3 miles. It was soon sorted and I set out again after my brother in the Steamobile. I passed him on quite a steep climb with his wife Anne pumping well trying to keep the water level up in the boiler. My little White took these steep roads with switch backs in her stride and I hardly did any pumping.
I caught up with the main group at the first wine degustation and was up with the rest when we came to lunch, I believe having taken a little short cut! John’s car was on a trailer. The car was still running but he and Anne (the boiler hand pumper!) had had enough after running out of water, he being still in the recovery phase from his fractured pelvis.
These French rallies tend to be a bit of a sprint between food and drink stops. After a several course lunch everyone set off again leaving me getting up steam. Soon I had managed to hit a tree root protruding through the tarmac that I had failed to see. It damaged the front suspension a little. It seems to have destroyed the insides of a damper that I fitted about fifteen years ago when I changed from smooth (ancient slick) tyres to some with tread and this started wheel wobble after grossly uneven surfaces. The steering gear on this car is very thin and there was little steering geometry. I do like the tiller however and with the damper it is a joy to drive. I had to be aware and correct the occasional shimmy from here on.
We climbed up to one village several hundred feet above us on a steep road with switch backs and again my little White took it all in its stride. My brother and the towing team had kindly waited for me and my navigator Chris in the village but all was well and on we went. We were cheered into a village where the old cars were parked, there was yet another refreshment and the mayor had just finished saying a few words as they invariably do in France.
This time we kept up steam and left with the rest but soon they went on past, most faster but I had to stop for fuel. We managed to miss another mayoral event in the town where we were and returned very tired directly to base.
Next day the weather was not looking too good, we were tired having travelled down for two days and then rallied for the next day, so we decided to load up the cars after everyone had gone and go by modern car. It is a good job that we did or we could have been going around there long after we were able to leave and travel the 140 miles to our friend Francois de Backer near Narbonne where we arrived at about 8pm.
We had a very good few days with Francois and Colette who is a very good cook! Francois has a 1909 Model “0” White which he took home with him with a 1946 Cadillac from Ecuador in the 1980’s. The White had no wheels, body or fuel tanks and needed complete reassembly. I have helped Francois who is a good engineer over many years to sort this car and it ran well while we were there. The body is a home built body made by Francois and a friend. Francois is coming up to 80 years and finds the work too much now.
We had some little trips out with the 1902 White. On one of the first John managed to scorch his boiler on the Steamobile when the water gauge gave a false reading. I do like the White system with none of that nonsense! I easily towed him back to Francois house with the 1902 White and all of its 6hp– I keep a tow rope on board for such events. We tried to do the repair job but it was too severe. It needs the boiler out to do a proper job d’rectly as they do here in Cornwall.
I do like pottering around the small quiet roads in the area around Francois in St Nazaire D’Aude, around the Midi Canal and out into the country where you suddenly find steep little hills and good lunch stops. The French and the tourists all seem to appreciate the cars being around. I had fun trying to keep up with Francois in his later car which is really 10mph faster. My little car has a maximum of about 30mph with the mudguards on or things will rattle apart. It is a pity that many of the plain trees along the canals have to be felled as they have a fungal disease.
Now that we are back home having had everyday fine while away, I have taken off the steering damper and it has failed – probably “O” rings in the middle gone but it is “old” –mid 1990s. It is not repairable and is no longer made! I think that I have found another that I can adapt. I would love to find some good “slick” treads.
The tyres on the car at present are Dunlop Cord 30 X 3.5. They are fine on the rear.
The tyres that were on the front before giving no wheel wobble were 30 X 3 four ply made by The Universal Tyre Company in Elizabethtown P.A., USA. I probably purchased them at Beaulieu in about 1994 and then they were old. They did several years good service before one split. I am trying to locate similar tyres.
It is interesting to note that the steering damper that I fitted before was used on the MK 111 Vauxhall Astra made essential when the boy racers used wider grippier tyres!

Attachments: 1902 White and Steamobile in trailer(s).jpg (234kB)   1902 White and 1902 Steamobile ready for the rally(s).jpg (81kB)   Most cars were larger and faster than ours(s).jpg (183kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Mike L Clark (
Date: October 31, 2014 04:47PM

Sounds like a great trip Bob. We have at least one trip per year to France usually with the 1925 1100cc twin Cam Salmson - this year to a rally in Bordeaux, motoring 1500 miles on the trip. Good to hear news of François de Backer who is a fellow Salmsoniste. I see his White is now for sale.

Just such a wonderful country to visit with all those empty roads. We met Michel Beuvens on the "Circuit des Ardennes" rally in Bastogne in 2011.

Edited 2 times. Last edit at 10/31/14 05:34PM by Mike L Clark.

Attachments: Michel Beuvens small.jpg (72kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: November 3, 2014 12:05PM

Hello Mike,
Francois sold his Salmson last year but is now after another probably earlier one. I think that the White is now sold and coming to England but I am unable to tell you more as yet!
He was not so well and agile as he has been and found the 1909 White hard work although he now has the mechanical side quite well sorted.
I have put in a couple of pictures of Francois and a trip out that we had while in the South of France last month. He took us to Perdiguier where they produce very good red wine. Christine is one of the owners of the Chateau. We had a little show there a couple of years ago when I had the 1908 White there.
I feel that most 70 plus year olds need my best tool - the ramps to lift the car to an easy working height! They make life so much easier.
Regards Bob

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 11/03/14 12:13PM by Steamcarbob.

Attachments: Francois de Backer at work.jpg (83kB)   Francois and Christine at Perdiguier.jpg (64kB)   Francois in his 1946 Cadilac.jpg (70kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: November 28, 2014 05:53AM

I am now happy with the 1902 White with its new steering damper. I had a good steam around Penzance and St. Just and all was well, so I have put it to bed for a while.

Next I went back to my 1903 White which I recently purchased. I had found an old 1903 White block which I just happened to have on my spares shelf and had it honed and the mating surfaces skimmed. I had extracted a few studs which should not have been there and cleaned all the threads; none were oversized or damaged beyond use. This I had to do because the previous owner had modified the HP slide valve to run in a curved surface and it was worn badly even to the extent of breaking through the surface (why do people do these things?). Also the piston rings used were narrow modern ones and the bores were 80 and 105 thou oversized! The block is probably beyond repair.
My new block took standard pistons which I happen to have in my spares and I fitted some new rings. I had to have a new HP valve cast (I have some spare castings if you need one) and I have fitted the valves. I had to refit all the packing glands as they were all seized up because the tolerances seemed too little. The previous owner Paul was tied in with F1 but the White is old technology. The simpling valves must work perfectly and it took a long time to get these sorted as they are quite critical on running a White.
I soon had the engine in and tried to steam the car. The steam line was again in trouble. A modern thermometer had been fitted. The modern fitment came away in my hand when I tried to tighten its packing gland. Corrosion and just being inadequate for the pressure were the problems. I remade the rear of the steam line leaving this out, but this does not answer all of the problems. The safety valve has been fitted pointing at the prop-shaft and only missing it by about an inch. It should face forwards on a steam riser with a temperature probe hole in the top and this brings the steam pipe up to align with the throttle. Just before that the latter is a junction for the oil line to the pressure regulator; that had been moved around the corner where it is very difficult to get at although it is a thing that one needs to check quite often.
Oh Dear! Why do people do useless modifications?
I am going to make a new steam riser and total new steam line. I have already replaced the inadequate bronze throttle with a steel one.
Anyway I did try to steam the car again. The engine is now smooth and runs well. I went off down through the village but soon found that I had no steam as soon as I came to climb hills. I had to have a tow back up my drive.
I had reset the pump ball valve clearances to the correct 0.032 inch when I had rebuilt the top of the engine. I decided to have a look at the two balls by the hand water pump which are on the steam line. Washers of about 0.092inch had been fitted under the caps. The total clearance was 0.145 inch and 0.135 inch. I disposed of the washers and reset the clearance to 0.032 inch. The water pump is like a new one! I now hoped that all would be well!!!
Yesterday I steamed again. I could hardly get up steam. I looked at the fire. The main jet was fine. The fire was poor where it had been better and it was not shutting off properly.
The fuel regulation on this car is directly from the thermostat. I thought that I would just check the needle and possibly have to take the fitting off.
Oh Dear!! Guess what?
The old one has been dumped and the new one has been modified!!!
The valve has been remade to a new design with quite a strong spring to keep it closed where White found gravity was enough. I think that I will have to take the steam generator out to get this apart but I am trying to find out just what has been done. The mountings have been modified amongst other things.
I have decided to start remaking all the steam line correctly and move on from there.
I have just steamed again. This time I did not have enough fire. I took the modified filter off and guess what? It looked like a modified F1 micro-filter had been fitted and it is now replaced with a proper brass tube with bronze gauze in it and the fuel flows again. The lumps of rust and dirt should not go through it but fuel will flow freely. Off to try again!
If you have a White, please do not modify it with your own ideas but make it work as the makers intended. It then stands a chance of working properly!

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 11/30/14 12:15PM by Steamcarbob.

Attachments: May26 2014 021.JPG (243kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: December 7, 2014 05:38AM

I have just finished reassembling the 1903 White now with its correct steam line, in the correct place with the temperature testing well where it should be and the safety valve pointing forwards where it belongs and not almost touching the prop-shaft. I had to remake the line from the steam line to the pressure regulator as the circle in the pipe to stop the oil flowing out of it had been left out and the junction had been cleverly hidden under the wood siding the bonnet where one could not get at it easily for routine servicing i.e., making sure that there is oil in the pressure regulator and not steam. When one now looks at the steam line and compares it to my 1908 White, one can clearly see the evolution of the system. The 1908 White has the thermostat in line where the steam riser was in the earlier car. This is across the bottom of the steam generator in the earlier cars. I did not bother with getting castings made for the steam riser and the junction for the pressure regulator pipe and blow of pipe but cut them out of solid. Arnoud Carp kindly supplied me with the dimensions of the steam riser.

I also remade the front mountings for the water tank which had just been left out leaving the water tank attached to the dashboard and all of it wobbling about only held still by the bonnet.
I am now going to try to stem the small air leaks in the fuel system. The tank filler has had its gland replaced by an O ring I will accept that if I find no leak there. I expect now to find some strange modification in the valves leading to the mechanical air pump on the front of the engine. One odd thing here is that the hand valve to seal it off is under the bonnet. This is a backward step from the 1902 White where you do not have to get off the car to re-pressurize the system as the valve is on the dash. I need to check that this is correct!
I am attaching a couple of pictures of the new steam line in the 1903 White with one of the 1908 Whites system, the steam lines are clearly seen as they are silver paper coated. This car has its body off while the front seat leather is being restored and I intend to strip it down and replace the wood chassis side members which have burnt through by the steam generator and fully service the engine and rear axle as these are well overdue. A complete rebuild is required probably during next summer.

I hope to steam the 1903 White again in the next couple of days, weather permitting!

Attachments: Steam line 1903 White from below.jpg (224kB)   steam line 1903 White from right.jpg (238kB)   Steam line 1908 White.jpg (210kB)  
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