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Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Mike L Clark (
Date: May 10, 2019 03:06PM

Billy looks nicely patinated Bob!

I broke a reach pole on the Model H. These came from the US when I bought the car in 1992. I assume they were hickory but were not particularly good specimens and the one which broke was made with the grain lying horizontally, rather than vertical which would have been stronger. I replaced then with seamless steel tube and had no further problems.


Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: May 13, 2019 07:10AM

I wanted to keep the wood poles on this car as they are a strong part of its personality. They do flex a bit and the ones coming off have a slight permanent bend. I expect that steel would have worked alright. We used ash on Billy's wheels as well as on these poles as we found that the quality of hickory was just not available -I think the Americans must sell it all to China for pickaxe handles!
I now have the new poles fitted and am linseed oiling them to darken them in a bit and show the grain as well as treat the wood as per a cricket bat. I took the opportunity to remake the steering joint pins which always wear and give play as they were almost cycle sized on this car and pivoted from one end rather than each side which gives a large mechanical disadvantage.

Attachments: Steering joint .jpg (86kB)   steering joints.jpg (172kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: May 18, 2019 07:22AM

We have just had a grand run from my brother’s house in Lifton to Bridestowe on the almost deserted old A30 road which is now replaced by near motorway roads. This is an easy distance of about ten miles each way and a few hills as it is on the edge of Dartmoor. It would be a good spot to base a tour if there was better accommodation in the area.
My brother was in his 1910 White “Medicann” –i.e. A doctor’s coupe bodied by Cann & Co. of North London as were almost all the English imported Whites. This car is now going much better with the steam temperature being kept nearer the 750 deg F mark with a better mixture of fuel and slightly raised pressure from 50 psi to 60 psi although it can start to howl at this pressure. A few more runs and it should be spot on. It is certainly climbing the local Devon hills much better.
I took my 1902 White as the 1908 one is still awaiting its new pinion gear. This went well and climbed the hills in good style. Most of the time it was a case of holding it back with steam in reserve but I still need to do a little extra hand pumping of water on steep hills. This car only has a single acting water pump and although I have enlarged it by about 1/16 inch it is still not quite enough.
We had a good lunch and then returned in the afternoon. We use this run most years to make sure that the cars are ready for action. His time a journalist wanted to do an article on John’s car.
Nick Howell came with us as he has done this before too with his Toledo but it is awaiting parts still for its burner.
Chris Relf also came for the day out. His 1909 White Model “O” is at present having the upholstery remade. The body is almost finished on this car and the chassis is nearly ready for it after a full strip down. This was Francois de Backer’s car from the South of France. He had found the remains in Ecuador and rebuilt it with his own style of body. We have paid many visits to Francois and Colette over the years and the car was going reasonably well on the last visit but age was catching up with him and he was finding it too hard to keep it working. Last week Chris rebuilt the pressure regulator on this car. I supplied a new spring for it as the spring hardly had any movement remaining in it being about 0.3 inch too short after being compressed for over 100 years. Together with re-bushing and re-pinning the lever and making a new Finnegan pin, this should help it to maintain the pressure more accurately.

Attachments: 2019.5.17 Bridestowe.JPG (203kB)   2019 .5 Bridestowe.jpg (221kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: June 11, 2019 05:57AM

Last weekend my brother John took his 1910 White and I the 1902 White to a country house called Coombe Trenchard which is near comedian Jethro’s home on the old A30. We had a pleasant couple of days mainly avoiding the rain which was about. The event was very low key with expensive stalls on the lawns, good food and a saxophone band amongst other attractions. There were about fifty cars on show but we were the only pre-WW1 ones.
John found on the second day that his car would not bring in the fire when he turned from pilot fuel to main fuel on light-up. This was clearly a water problem but on checking there was water in the tank. He then took the filter out from the bottom of the water tank. This has been remade with a fine mesh looking like it should really be for fuel but the steam oil with a little dirt was blocking it. This is only a low pressure filter and the water is sucked through it from the tank by the pumps. He cleaned it with detergent from the kitchen and we then steam cleaned it using my car’s blow-off valve. All then worked properly and his car went very well on return up some quite steep hills. I think that this has been a problem for some time and may explain why he has not been able to start easily on steep hills and has intermittent performance. It clearly needs a coarser mesh on the filter to allow free water flow from the water tank. The oil in the water tank is very glutinous and one can see how it easily obstructs a fine filter.

I have been busy lately rebuilding Billy’s main engine. I have a new block and now have the pistons ready riveted onto the new hard chromed rods with new Clupet rings fitted.
I have just made new valve rods out of EN24T steel with highly polished stems. I am trying this instead of the usual hard–chromed rods which have had the hard chrome peeling off the rods on the 5/16th diameter where the half inch piston roads are alright. It seems that White used a steel like this in the early days. I am not sure if hard-chroming was then available.
I have been able to use the old HP piston valve as the diameter is now about 20 thou below what they were after the surfaces on the old blocks from had been honed out and these fitted oversized. It just needed a careful skim and polish to fit.
The LP flat valve Chris Wedgewood kindly sent me from the Isle of Man as my one had a fine crack through it which I only found when I started to lap it flat. That was a lucky find as it breaking the valve in half could have caused serious damage.
My next job is making a new packing gland for the HP piston valve as the threads are poor on the old one. These also need to be more accurate as they soon leak if they are not when running the engine at 800 psi. They are made of bronze and presumably shrink a little within the cast iron block with the heat when steaming and so eventually the thread is a little looser.
I am replacing the machine screws that Whites used which hold the block and its fittings on. They may be adequate for the standard cars on normal pressure but I am going to use studs and nuts torqued up to try to avoid the burning out of the copper gaskets which Billy seems good at.
I will also be making blow-off valves set at about 1000psi to go on each cylinder. I have the casting lugs ready tapped and drilled.
I now need to make some new copper gaskets and remake the studs which are too long. I can then start assembly. I have already sorted the bottom half of the engine making a new crosshead and that all seems very smooth and free.
Most of this work I am preparing before final assembly. All needs to be together, tested and run in for Chateau Impney on July 13th and 14th .

Attachments: At Coombe Trenchard.jpg (171kB)   Coombe Trenchard.jpg (199kB)   Billy's engine parts .jpg (207kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: June 23, 2019 05:30AM

Come on Club, where is your support for Mitch Gross on his trip on the Peking to Paris Rally? This should be headlines!He has already done over 4,000 miles in his 1910 White 30hp steamer.
One can follow him with on P2Ponsteam. He had to take his engine out with big-end troubles this week. I wonder if he is having the same problems as Arthur Thomson, Paul Morgan and myself had in the 1990s when they substituted the tallow in the oil with rape-seed oil. All three of us using our cars at this time had big end problems causing quite severe engine damage.
Prof. Edmonson in his 1910 Manual tells us that the only important thing with the White oil is that it has 25 % tallow in it. The BSE crisis had stopped the availability of tallow.
I then started adding 20% tallow to Morris 1000 steam oil. The engine was at once much smoother, quieter and more powerful. We had no more big-end problems and I am sure that it benefitted the valve gear also. About five years ago I found Mobil 600 oil to be available in this country which White originally recommended in their manual and I have used that since, not needing go through the pain of preparing oil with added tallow. I still miss the Sunday lunch smell of the engine! Although I am not sure that it is quite as effective, I have had no serious problems with it. I have admittedly not done the mileage that I was doing in the 1990's with my 1908 White "Lucy" but Billy has had to do some hard work with it.
Do follow Mitch's progress - we need a headline on the website with a connection to it!

Attachments: The White in Russia.jpg (162kB)   Beijing.jpg (129kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: August 13, 2019 04:58PM

13.08 2019
I have had a busy month trying to keep many appointments with the three White steamers so have had little time to keep the updates going!
I went to Chateau Impney with Whistling Billy. Three days before the event I had a large bang while running in the engine with the new block and it broke the three bronze pillars on the HP end of the block mounting. Old bronze goes crystalline and is always a weakness as I have found to my cost over the years. I looked in the cylinder and there is no foreign body there or obvious reason for it, so it must have been an hydraulic incident- and I had temporary taps on it but I had already shut off the top HP one. I am awaiting automatic taps which I hope will solve the issue. I spent the next two days preparing and changing the spare engine which I had recently taken out. I rushed to then get off up to the Chateau Impney Hill Climb for scrutineering. I was joined by my two sons William and Michael and two grandchildren Polly and Joe.
My efforts on the hill came to little as we were held up each time at the start. The first two runs (officially practice) I had a blocked jet each time and the third I had a slug of carbon in the vaporizer. The fuel was burning in the vaporizer as we sat still. Each time I went up the last half of the hill with only 400 psi and sounding like an ordinary steam car.
For the final run I had the full pressure and temperature ready at the start, fancying a good run. A car a couple ahead of us went off the track and it took an hour to sort him out! When I eventually got off, everything was overheated but I got up to in front of the Chateau when I was red flagged as the chap ahead of me had stopped on the course. Billy did not like that and we had a very large petrol explosion it the steam generator which blew open and bent the chimney cover! So I ended up officially 20 seconds slower than the last time! If only the officials would recognize that these cars cannot sit still when ready to go. I do not really want to fit any form of fan to keep things cool as I have no electrics on the car. Chatting to others, they also have problems sitting still ready to go with racing cars.
We all had a good weekend and Polly and Joe seemed to enjoy the experience with lots to do around the grounds such as tank rides and The Wall of Death. I still remember with affection being taken to Prescott as a young teenager about 60 years ago!
The racing cars present were great. One does not often see twenty vintage Bentleys in a line or so many Bugatti and later racing cars together. There were many unique cars such as Babs, the Leyland No 1, many early hill climb specials such as Bloody Mary, racing cars from the 1950’s and 60’s, rally cars and of course various monsters with aero engines as well as our group of pre WW 1 racing cars. I have never seen such a varied collection of racing cars before even at Goodwood.

I went on from Chateau Impney to the Cotswolds’ gathering where we had an enjoyable few days but a bit of a White disaster! Chris Ashton’s 1909 White had problems which ended up with his thermostat having a hole being brazed. He now has a new one to machine! It took the few days there to sort it.
I joined my brother John and his wife Anne there and we were going to go around in his 1910 White but he had a problem just before going up there. He brought the car up not working. We checked through the clack valves before steaming it as that was thought to be the problem. It was not! On steaming, it was obvious that the problem was a severe leak from the head of the flowmotor. This has a copper washer in it squashed by about a dozen screws around the periphery which puts a lot of strain on the bronze. I do not know why it suddenly started leaking, perhaps overheating with steam in it! We tried taking it apart, cleaning it and resealing it several times, all to no avail. We even tried Billy’s flowmotor which did not fit and then tried the end of it which would not seal. We really needed to machine the parts.
We gave up and came home a day early with the weather getting very poor!

I needed to refit Billy’s flowmotor and also Chris Wedgewood had noticed that my water pump was leaking from the steel shaft! On this I had a hard-chromed casing from an old but undamaged piston rod. It was leaking up through the fitting! This is a new problem for me. I now have fitted a spare new pump rod as I made a small batch of them last year. I then went on to the flowmotor.

I tried fitting the "O" rings both on the end plate of the flowmotor and two on the piston. For the end plate, I used a full brass plate under the screws and 55mm ID x 2 mm thick “O” ring. I started with 2 mm brass plate and machined and then emery papered the plate down 10 thou. The hole in the centre of the disc was 59 mm to allow for the ring. I machined flat the flowmotor end plate which had some distortion from being repeatedly tightened. I then levelled the body side of the plate to it with a file and fine emery block. That too had some distortion where the screws had been tightened.
Next I grooved the piston for the “O” rings which had five small grooves in it, using the second and forth groove to take 1.5 mm "O" rings leaving 5 thou clear of the surface. I then reassembled the whole thing with a new main spring and new small spring on the end by-pass valve.
I added half a cupful of synthetic oil to the water tank as Billy does not condense and the flowmotor was dry. One usually has some oil in the water tank which lubricates the pumps and the flowmotor. I steamed up at Sunday’s event and this worked very well. There were no leaks and the fuel needle shut fast bouncing twice as it went off; it is a long time since I have seen this so well demonstrated which is what Dick Hempel tells us should happen in his letters on Whites!
I was still getting overheating of the steam so I have reset the flowmotor to the 30 hp setting, passing an American gallon of water in one minute twenty seconds where it was on the 20hp setting, 20 seconds slower. Billy has a 30 hp steam generator and 20 hp engine. It clearly uses the steam faster like a 30 hp car would so I should have done this before. The flowmotor has a slow regulation and a different regulation for going fast. I don't think that Billy uses the slow one much! The “O” rings in the piston may have reduced the flow slightly so I should have checked the flow on assembly but I did not have time as I was rushing to get to a small local show at Geevor Mine yesterday.
I steamed Billy joined by Chris Relf who is now steaming his 1909 White as a chassis while awaiting the body to be upholstered. This is the x-Francois de Backer White from the South of France. The engine and generator are now working much better as he has sorted most of the leaks.

I took Billy’s flowmotor off today to re-calibrate it to sort out the water flow which is done by deepening the groove in the bronze cylinder. If one goes too far, one has to refill it in with soft solder. I have removed the two “O” rings on the piston as they reduced the water flow too much which was confirmed on the test rig.

The 1908 White has been to several shows recently but had a severe episode of overheating on the last outing and I need to get to grips with that this week. I have yet to work out the problem. I have not done any road running in this car other than about four miles last week since I refitted the rear axle from a remake of the crown-wheel, pinion and front shaft by Llewellyn’s of Bristol.

Attachments: 1908 White and Chris Relf's 1909 running chassis.jpg (187kB)   Billy's flowmotor.jpg (203kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: August 15, 2019 04:40AM

I wrote this note to my brother when he had a FLOWMOTOR PROBLEMS
Good morning John,
The flowmotor really has two modes of control.
First there is the low speed one where the piston moves along the first inch gradually increasing the fuel as it pushes the tapered part of the needle and increasing the water as the piston goes over the tapered groove in the cylinder. The speeds in the early days were often only about 12 to 15 mph and this was then OK.
The faster regulation for nearer 30mph and more with the increase in pump speed caused the water to overcome the fire and the valve at the back prevented the generator from flooding. This is what we use almost all of the time as the roads are so much better than the old dirt tracks.
Whites carefully set the groove in the factory. We can only guess at it but it tapers from almost nothing to about an eighth of an inch over the 3 inches of cylinder. I have just been re-adjusting Billy's to try to get the fire in faster and then getting the heat right without grose overheating. I had to take my experimental "O" rings off the piston as they restricted the water flow too much.
As the piston wears one probably gets more water going through but perhaps the piston does not go down quite as far as some water goes past the worn surface, so it could all equal out.
The piston is held back from going straight down by the spring in the bottom. This can weaken over the years and does need replacing occasionally. I have run out of the batch that I had made.The spring on the small valve at the flowmotor end also needs to be right and not too long or strong or it will slow the fuel flow a little.
The piston is lubricated by the cylinder oil in the water returned from the car condensing. The importance of that was shown to me when Billy's piston was dry on taking the flowmotor apart. Billy of course does not condense but just chucks the steam oil away with the exhausted steam leaving a clean water tank. I now am adding some synthetic oil to the water tank to lubricate the flowmotor and the water pumps.

Your problem is answered by the change-over from the slow to the faster mode. I am still not certain exactly where one should measure the flow. Logically the rear by-pass valve would have been 1/4 inch longer and opened at 1 inch, but perhaps Whites found that this was too late. I think that the rear valve is open somewhat at the time of measurement at one inch of piston travel but Whites would more logically have measured the flow either when it was either open or closed, possibly both. I have no details of their work.

Any comments will be welcome if you have experience of this problem.

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