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Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Brian McMorran (
Date: February 9, 2015 04:17PM

Hi Bob

I have tried blow down tests on my little compound and assume the principle may work on the White engine.
Requires a compressor,throttle valve and pressure gauge.
The gauge and airline are connected to each cylinder drains in turn and the throttle valve between this connection and compressor. Some means of locking the engine is required to allow pressure testing the cylinders in different valve positions. The throttle valve is optional but I used it to maintain a reading on the gauge so that when an increase in leakage occurs the gauge dropped quickly instead of the airflow increasing to compensate.
Added benefit with my little engine was that I could disconnect the piston valves and move them independent of the cylinder and each other.
Once the general area of a suspected crack is found an endoscope could be used to look inside. Endoscope video cameras for laptops are available quite cheaply now.

Hope this makes some sense, I've used the technique for heavy diesels, hydraulics and steam.


Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: February 10, 2015 05:07AM

Hello Brian,
That sounds very interesting. I did some working out about 6 am this morning and came to a similar conclusion as to what I should do.
I do not have drain-cocks on my engine but if I take the exhaust off by the block and connect my compressor on my steam line ( I fit a compressor connection on all my cars on the steam blow down valve) I should be able to push the car gently along to see which department is leaking. Anyway I am going out to the workshop this morning to test my theory.
Being x-medical profession, I do have an old endoscope which still works, it may be of use! It has not been used on patients since before I went to Guy's Hospital in the 1960's as I got it from their spares bin. Otherwise, I may have to try a lap-top camera.
It is great to get some suggestions. This little car is proving quite a challenge and it still could just be the fuel!
I also was not happy when I put it together as the simpling gear mounting bar had been remade and was a tighter fit that I would like. It might just be holding the simpling valves from shutting properly. I will take all this apart and make sure that it is all very free working.
Regards Bob

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: February 14, 2015 04:24AM

I have had the 1903 White’s engine out on the bench after noting that on feeding compressed air through it, air leaked between the strokes through the engine coming out of the LP exhaust. The simpling gear shaft looked slightly bent and was a tight fit and painted. Was the paint on it the cause of the tight fit and stopping it coming out? I did not take this group of parts down to their individual parts when I tackled the engine before as I assumed that not a lot could go wrong with them. Wrong!!
The shaft, when the paint was cleaned off and it forced out of its mountings, was bent and made of stainless steel. Why? It had had a very strong spring on the simpling valve and I suspect that this is what bent it as it comes off the long lever. I made a new shaft out of EN 24 T.
Next I made a new steam inlet valve carefully having a polished parallel stem to 1/10 of a thou so that it would run through the packing freely. This is the small valve worked off the shaft between the two mounting blocks. It still would not seal when ground in with fine grinding paste. I think that the valve had been re-bushed but the seat which looks to be monel metal was not true. Eventually with more grinding I got a good seal in any position. Perhaps I should have reseated it but it could have been the bronze stem that was not straight. The simpling gear now works freely and well.
Hopefully, this system is now sound.
I had a careful look around the casting for any signs of a crack. My son Michael lent me an endoscope for the less accessible parts but to me that block looks one of the finest castings that I have seen. I did take a small bit of metal off it where the LP valve could just catch it on fully open cut–off.
I reassembled the engine and put it back in the car yesterday.Will it work properly now?
If it does not, the only other thing that I can think to do is make a larger HP slide valve and restrict the steam so that it only opens at or even just past top dead center.
My next question here is "when the bottom half of the engine was rebuilt by the previous owner, was the valve gear altered perhaps to give increased lead?" So much had been modified on this car that it is quite possible!

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: February 15, 2015 03:34PM

Well yesterday was a lovely sunny day here and I steamed the 1903 White. It was reasonable steaming up, so I set off down the road and turned immediately up a hill on a side-road probably not warming it up enough before setting off. I ran out of steam about 50 yards up the hill and stopped and made more steam in neutral before setting off again. I could put this down to not having enough water in the coil on starting. This does happen on this steep little hill with the other cars sometimes on starting off from cold.
Then I steamed around Sancreed Beacon which is about a 5 mile trip which is up and down all the way but without long steep hills. Next I headed off towards St. Just and the main road but soon was painfully short of water going up a hill on our side of St. Just. With lots of pumping I made the “Blue Pool” and up the hill past it but had to stop as both I and the car were running out of breath with my hand pumping. When safely past the bends, I stopped and looked under the bonnet to find that the water pump shaft was not moving; setting the pump on full stroke was obviously too much for it and its lever had fractured. I wandered if this would happen as Arnoud Carp had his pump lever break the same way last year.
(Memo -- I must reset Whistling Billy’s spare engine pump lever back to the central pivot rather than the one giving maximum water stroke where it is now).

This morning I took the engine out and have removed the broken pump lever which has broken across the main pivot. I think that I can repair this as Arnoud did. I have a friend who is very good with a TIG welder and I will consult him. I may well have to mount it on a jig for the job and bush the center after welding. There is room for a little reinforcing on the outside.
I still have not confirmed that the car is going well enough for touring. I think that I am still using too much steam but I hope to do some running around to confirm this. It is certainly better than it was but yet again at one point I seemed to dump all my steam which is a worry. It also seems essential to keep the throttle cut back as much as possible to maintain steam temperature and pressure.
On the positive side I made the trip until the pump broke and I was surprised at one hill where the car slowed down through lack of temperature and pressure but found a speed where it just kept pottering up the hill slowly. It was also recovering to by-pass pressure more quickly after the pressure had dropped.

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 02/15/15 03:43PM by Steamcarbob.

Attachments: The broken pump lever.JPG (194kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Mike L Clark (
Date: February 15, 2015 05:00PM

Bob - I'd be tempted to ditch that and make a new one - it's good to keep as many original bits as possible but there come a time when it's asking for more trouble.


Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: February 16, 2015 05:17AM

Hello Mike,
You are probably quite right to make a new one but I do like to keep the old bits going if repaired well and this one has some interesting sizes of holes. It must have been reamered out for instance in the main pin and the crank-case where it fits as it is about 12 thou over-sized. The sizes were originally empirical (1inch square ends 0.5 ins gaps at the end, 2.5 ins between pivots in main holes etc) but the pump rod end looks to have opened over the years by about 25 thou. I will see if I can get this one repaired but could well make a new one as well. To complicate the issue of making one, it is not straight but angled at about 20 degrees around the central pivot.
Regards Bob

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Rog White (
Date: February 16, 2015 06:56AM

Hello Bob
Don't turn your nose up at silicon bronze - it's a very good material should you need a casting.
Your decription of performance sounds just like the Landy on propane in 2013. It felt short of water. The larger wood fire made a lot of difference, as with superheat the engine required a lot less water (which you have demonstrated to me more than once).
Did you say that the flame was lifting from the burner plate - in other words - have you too much excess air? CO measurements will be misleading if the flame touches any metal. (This is where a lambda sensor comes in - but I never got that far).
Best wishes
Rog White

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: February 16, 2015 07:42AM

Hello Roger,
I did have problems with the flame looking pale and lifting off the burner plate which is a sure sign of too much air. I did some measuring and found that the venturi had been remade almost half an inch too large at about two and three quarter inch diameter.
I worked this out as giving about 37% too much air but Paul had also left out a tube within the venturi which would increase that percentage further. He also used a larger jet and the fuel consumption was very high.
I have put in a bronze reducer and the tube and now I have a much stronger fire which looks fine. As a bonus it hardly ever blows back. I am not completely happy with the system as it sounds as if the fire comes on hard and soon reduces and this may well be not having the correct jet size which I have reduced a bit on what was in it.
I will be experimenting further with the jets when I get the pump sorted and the engine back in the car. I found with my other Whites that the jet size is very critical. I can make my reducer in the venturi adjustable and that must be a good way to go. I am still suspicious of the steam generator as to me it looks like stainless steel but it is stated in Paul's drawings that it should be made from carbon steel.
The other big imponderable is the amount of ethanol now added to the fuel which seems to reduce the amount of heat given. Mitch Gross found that getting ethanol free fuel made his 1903 White work properly again after he had problems with the present "normal" fuel. If can I get it going well on this fuel it will surely work better on any other!I have as yet refrained from adding diesel as it does not have a separate tank for the pilot light which will probably not like it.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Rog White (
Date: February 16, 2015 10:22AM

Hi Bob
Air, fuel flow, fuel energy content, Stainless coil. All four hindering. You've pegged out the field. Within it you should have a working car, I hope ! Good luck.
Rog W

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: February 17, 2015 05:16AM

Hello Rog,

I think that I need to add one further to those.
The engine must be able to use the steam without leaks.
I am still not certain that I do not have a problem here. I think that the simpling valves are now sound.
I am not sure that the main HP valve is not opening with too much lead. This could be because I made a new flat HP valve copying the old one's dimensions but it is fitted in the spare block off my shelf as the other block was too damaged to use with its strange curved HP valve worn through the seating. I have checked the size of this valve and it does seem correct but it would only take a few thou to cause problems.
It would be much easier to be certain if there was no lead on the HP valve. I could do this by making a larger valve and then gradually reducing it but that is quite a lot of extra work. I may get around to that. I also do not have a marked flywheel on this car (no flywheel at all but a foot brake drum) for TDC etc but I may well mark the brake drum while I have the engine on the bench. That would allow me to look more closely at where exactly the leaking is, if there still is some.

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