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Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: August 22, 2020 05:24PM

I ran my own little pilot light clinic this week. I numbered my pilot lights with a metal tag 1 to 4 to make sure that I had the right one. These are all from my 1908 White. I have had no problems with Billy’s pilot so did not include it. I was running the pilots with a pipe off my fuel filter using the adjustment valve on the 1908 White on hexane at 50 psi.
Chris and Ian Relf came along and we tested Chris’ pilot which worked well. It had one of my pilot light tops on it that I had given to the previous owner of his car, Francois de Backer.
To start with, no 1 and 2 (the latter is one made by Chris Wedgewood in the Isle of Man) were not good with a high yellow flame so I cleaned and serviced them. Apart from a leak around the base of the head on No 2 they were then good. I will put an asbestos/copper washer in that. I have not discovered if they had anything there originally but I find those the best if I can find the right size.
No 3 was quite good having been serviced already.
No 4 still had leaking screws and I replaced those using 3/16 inch Whitworth screws with new copper washers. I have always had difficulty finding the original screws for these. They must have a good strong head but not be too deep so they still fit in the outer casing.
I have seven pilot lights for these cars (two are just remains for spares now with the main casting well broken and much repaired). Billy seems to have a good one but I still carry a spare with the car. I might try to get another one of the old ones going with a radical rebuild of the original base casting. The final death of these usually comes with the breaking of the heated down-pipe (and the up-pipe less often) which will take some silver solder repair but the old bronze has carbon in it from its use and usually leaves a slight leak which one has to chase – that bit seals and it leaks in another place!
I suppose that one cannot expect over 110 years intermittent use out of a bronze casting that has been repeatedly heated and cooled unevenly! I do take my spares with me on tours as I find that if one gets troublesome, the next one might not work also. They are really all very old and much repaired. That is why I had a new one from the Chris Wedgewood.
I have a Paul Morgan (made at Ilmor Engineering in about 1995) little earlier vertical-style pilot light in the 1902 White and that has never given any trouble but just needs a clean once a year unless I put really dirty fuel in the car. I machined the main burner grate at the time out of a 16 inch diameter x 1 inch round of stainless steel and this combination has always worked well. The original pilot light had been destroyed and an attempt had been made to run the pilot light on gas. I got it going for the 1996 Centenary London to Brighton Run as it had not run properly since about 1908. The gas pilot was made in the 1950’s but was a failure. This car only has one tank so the pilot light runs on petrol now with a little heating oil added as it contains ethanol which otherwise stops it from climbing the hills. It does not like more than 10% heating oil which is about enough. It is much happier on plain petrol without ethanol in it but we are unable to get that here. I am considering fitting the car with a second tank for hexane like the other cars and then I could probably use just heating oil as the main fuel. I am not sure if this car’s vaporizer, which only has four passages where the later cars have six, would be adequate. I would also need a much smaller jet.

I am making a special testing rig so that I can more easily test to find the pressure at which the pilot lights work best. I note that some of our American colleagues in the past used a lower pressure on the pilot light than the main fuel tank. I have never done this but now we are doing more fiddling with the main fuel, I find that the fuel pressure needs to go up 5 to 10 psi for good running resulting in the pilot light being too high.
To make the pilot light tank, which probably contains hexane, run at a lower pressure requires the air-line to be disconnected from it and then a hand valve and pressure gauge put in line so that it is then adjustable. Perhaps one can just put a reduction valve in line but that limits the variables.

I will add a couple of pictures of pilot light s under test.

Attachments: leak below the head.jpg (167kB)   too much yellow.jpg (134kB)   1902 White with sprag in 1950's.jpg (240kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: January 29, 2021 06:46AM

Here we are in Covid lockdown again and I have been very idle in the workshop. I have made some progress rebuilding Billy’s engine H4 after a nasty stop while ticking over in my yard soon after I completed the last rebuild. Perhaps it was a good thing that I was not stressing the system on a hill climb when a ball bearing escaped from the centre main bearing.
Having finished the crankshaft and main bearings and fitted them into the crankcase and sump which have been welded where they had been cracked. I assembled them together and fitted the block only to find that the valve rods did not line up with their places to screw into on the Stephenson’s link motion.
Taking things apart again revealed the problems.
1) Both valve stems were bent by about 30 and 40 thou which I had failed to notice before. I made two new HP and two LP valve rods so that I have spares also.
2) The top links of the Stephenson’s link motion were both bent about 40 thou when I mounted them in the lathe and checked them, so I remade these.
3) Both valve rod packing glands were bent! This was quite a surprise and I have yet to remake them. This time I will use the Abner Doble system with flat surfaces for the packing rather than the old White system with sloping surfaces. Doble thought that his system was a vast improvement for keeping glands tight.
After fitting these I will see if all is true. If not, I will probably have to remake with slight eccentricity the bush where the top part of the Stephenson’s link fits through the crankcase to make sure the valve rods going down through the valve rod path are true and free moving. This is a bronze bush fitted through the aluminium crankcase with a nut on the top to hold it in place. I will have to jig this with a special valve rod made to accurately centre it. At least this bush is just bolted into the crankcase. The Stephenson’s link motion should take the minimal remaining eccentricity on its sliding cam.
This must all be damage caused by that ball bearing rattling around the crankcase. I am going to fit strong magnets in the bottom of the aluminium crank case where hopefully anything loose in the future will not get hit by a moving part.
I hope that I do not find any more problems as I do not have a spare crankcase other than the very weather corroded and accident damaged one in the car at present. The damage above was mostly caused when the rear block mounting broke and the block was raised off the crankcase presumably forced off by the ball bearing pushing against the cracked sump. I have lost a ball out of this bearing on the 1908 White some years ago and it caused no damage. The balls are tapped into the bearing through two indents in one side of the race which have to line up for the ball to escape. Usually they are fine and it takes quite a force to get them out, but it is probably not the best system!

I took the 1902 White to Land’s End for the “Virtual London to Brighton” since I only live about 6 miles away. We had to delay a couple of days as two storms went through and even then my fire was blown out at Land’s End. The trip was not uneventful as the car had not been out for some time but we managed it and it is not without some testing hills! There is some video on Facebook and the VCC site of our trip.

Keep well. We hope to be able to rally in the summer.

Attachments: Billy steaming at Trevithick Day.jpg (152kB)   At Coombe Trenchard.jpg (171kB)   Lucy in St Just(s).jpg (146kB)  
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