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Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Mike L Clark (
Date: April 4, 2013 04:28PM

Sound like you are having far too much fun Bob! Great stuff, we enjoy your reports so keep 'em coming.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: April 25, 2013 07:35AM

25.4. 2013
I have yet again been in Billy’s sump following the last testing session where there was still a knocking in the crankcase on hard acceleration. There was evidence in the sump where it had been touching as I had painted the inside surface.
I asked Nick Howell who has a Toledo steamer to come up to my garage and we had a good look around and discussion. We found the following.
1) The crank seems intact and the main bearings seem reasonable although there must be some movement there on hard acceleration but that has not managed to smash the sump so cannot be much.
2) The sump possibly is not the original and the holes have been made oval to allow some movement backwards which is partly causing the problem as the front balance weight is catching the rear edge of the front sump compartment.
3) The sump is also 1/16 inch shallower than a spare one that I have which unfortunately is in poor condition.
4) We also noted that the front big end central bearing of the ball race were loose on the crank. This should not have caused the problem as the balance weight was the thing hitting the sump. This I hope to have solved with steel shimming and Loctite.

I have skimmed out the sump so I should now have clearance for the balance weight and taken a little off the balance weight, which hopefully will not upset any balance. I am running less weight on the front crank; the water return pump from the condenser is not fitted, so these are a bit lighter for the balance weight to counteract.
The sump does not usually have a gasket but I have added a cork one to give a little more clearance.

The sparker is now fitted as the only electrics on the car. I have used an early Bosch switch. Now I hope that I will no longer lose my pilot light on windy airfields or on a sprint.

Does anybody have any ideas how to stop the paint burning on the bonnet? The heat from the “chimney” probably causes the problem rather than that from underneath as I have the generator well insulated and the spread depends on the wind direction. I would like an old English White colour heat-proof pain. I see from the early pictures that The White Sewing Machine Company had the same problem!

Nick and I are off to Trevithick Day in Camborne on Saturday with Billy and the Toledo. This will be test day!

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 04/29/13 12:09PM by steamcarbob.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: April 29, 2013 12:04PM

Trevithick Day went quite well for Billy but Nick’s Toledo suffered from its original bronze main burner cracking again in a repair. A new stainless steel one is needed for long term use.
We were busy with the crowd with about 20 traction engines, steam rollers and the Trevithick engine steaming in the streets of the town. Billy seemed quite an attraction and in the parade, hesitating and then sprinting for 100 yards livened up the crowd to cheer and clap but some thought that I was exceeding the speed limit! Never!
It is an interesting noise with the howling burner and the simpled engine going into a very staccato sound when compound (more like a single cylinder petrol engine).
My work in the engine seems to have sorted the weight hitting the sump but I will have to have a detailed rebuild of this engine when I get my spare engine running and that one outwardly is much corroded at present but seems reasonable inside. I think that I have just located the special paint for the corroded sump where you can rebuild in layers the old aluminium. It is said to do a very strong job and be better than the original if used correctly. It is called “Bullet”.
The next job is to balance the wheels which I have not done since the new tyres have been fitted and check the prop-shaft balance which I think is out at present. I have some vibration at about 40mph.
Reducing the flowmotor bypass from 0.083inch hole to 0.069 inch has definitely improved the sensitivity of the regulation – I think that I might need another 0.010inch still but combined with the manual control for starts, it is much improved and will come in at under 100rpm.

Checking Billy’s dimensions, I put Billy on the weigh bridge last Friday.
Billy’s weight fully laden (1120Kg) or 1 ton 269 lbs
Less water ( 2 gallons short of full 24 gallons) 220 lbs.
Less fuel – main and pilot 9 gallons 80 lbs.
Less Road going toolbox with horn 36 lbs.
Thus unladed weight 2128 lbs. or 19cwt 5lbs.
I have found one reference where Billy’s weight when it first came out was said to be 19 cwt. So I feel that I am not far out!
The front wheels weigh about 80lbs and the rears around 95lbs each. Modern racing wheels are somewhat lighter!
By 1909 Billy’s weight was 1700lbs and the car 18 inches shorter.
Billy’s length is 14 ft.

Edited 3 times. Last edit at 05/01/13 04:29AM by steamcarbob.

Attachments: Billy in Camborne 2013.jpg (178kB)   Trevithick Day.jpg (167kB)   Note the sparker switch now below the tank presure gauge.jpg (156kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: June 11, 2013 05:07AM

11.6. 2013

About two weeks ago, Billy attended a small local rally at Geevor tin mine and on the way back we were going well on a straight road with plenty of steam in reserve. I had taken the modern temperature gauge off as the pyrometer seemed to be working well. I noted the pressure and temperature readings were spot on (800psi and 750deg F).
A bang and loss of power soon ended my pleasant thoughts. The throttle main casting had cracked open. I had to phone home for my wife to collect me and I rescued Billy with the trailer.
The throttle body casting was made in America in 2011. The main body and valve are rotated 20 degrees to the inlet and outlet pipes which are at 90 degrees to each other. I decided that I wanted to use good steel for the throttle body this time and have remade it from a 3.5 inch bar of EN8 without the pipes set at 20 degrees offset. This was done originally because of the angle on the steering column but Billy has two levers at 90 degrees working the throttle so this angle can be eliminated. I just had to shorten one of the levers and alter the mounting angle of the middle fulcrum. The body wall of the throttle has now increased from about 0.18 inch to 0.5 inch which should stop any more problems! I MIG welded the new throttle body onto the old body’s mounting bracket.

Following this, I decided to check the rest of the steam line. The pyrometer had been reading spot on 750deg F but was still reading it when cold! On taking it off I found that the copper stem that holds a quartz rod had been replaced at some time with bronze and it had collapsed onto the rod. So my temperature reading was probably way off and I expect that we were in a state of gross overheat. I have remade this stem in copper (and a bit beefier!) and put in a new rod. It now again works well.
The next thing to tackle was the thermostat. This was leaking because I had used an original needle on the water by-pass part of it and it was fractionally worn and just off parallel. This had broken the “O” ring on it which I used in place of the packing. This was copying Arthur Thomson who finds them very satisfactory in some of the water glands and he gets almost no leaks and high water mileage on his Whites. Anyway I renewed the needle and put in a new “O” ring. All is fine, so far. If this is not satisfactory, I will go back to normal packing.
I also found that some of my water by-pass pipe ends which were just threaded on with 1/4NPT (as Whites did them) were leaking and I silver soldered them on. This might just be the extra vibration and stress that Billy puts on them but I found that I had to do the same on my 1908 White and thereafter had no more problems with them. These connections must be absolutely tight for the White regulation system to work well.
After this I just tidied up the pipe insulation and repainted it with black stove paint called Back Velvet with the other parts in the steam line. I have used this also on the upper coils of the steam generator and it does seem to hold and prevent the surface rust which is aggravated by the heat.

Yesterday I took Billy to Tregrehen Hill Climb near St Austell. This was mainly to be on show but I had a couple of runs up the hill untimed. I am still looking at the hills and making sure that I can make the bends with what seems inadequate lock. The lock was not a problem and I made the bends! On the first run, I got it wrong at the start and did not have enough water in the coil but hot steam and we rapidly lost power. I quickly stopped and ran the engine to pump water into the coil and bring the heat up. Just before the temperature and pressure reached the cut off marks (750 deg F and 800psi) I stopped the engine, put the car into gear and off I went. We had plenty of power all the way up the hill. In fact I had to back off most of the time as I was concerned about my poor old engine but my friend Harold who came with me said that I went up as well as any of the petrol cars but quieter!
I was then escorted down the hill for the second run. I was determined to get the temperature and pressure right this time from the start. I ran it up to the correct temperature and pressure settings as I free-wheeled down to the start. I got about 20 yards up the hill and, as the main burner came in, had a large explosion with a blowback in the burner! I then entertained the crowd with a few more explosions as I had a persistent small flame and nothing to put it out (no top hat as I use on my 1908 White!). I will carry a small tube in future so that I can blow it out – it is a long way up the venturi on Billy because of the design of the forced draft system. Billy really very seldom blows back but I still have not fully sorted my old pilot light and I think that this is the main problem.
A kind marshal armed himself with a heat-proof glove and snuffed it out. I then re-lit the pilot light and got the steam up again. Then we went up the hill, this time quite sedately as I did not have full steam temperature.
This is all good experience. I now have a small tube to blow out any blow-backs. I might even fit a bulb from a horn on a small pipe so that I can do it from the cock-pit.
For a fast start my list is getting longer! I must have
1) the temperature of the steam just below 750 deg F
2) the pressure just below the by-pass level at about 700 to 750psi and rising
3) enough water in the top tubes which is very difficult to assess.
4) the flowmotor by-pass shut - I have fitted a hand valve to this.
5) and a strong constant pilot light.
One can easily have full pressure and temperature with no sustainable power and this can occur when one is held up by marshals at the start. These problems do not really occur in the Stanley as you just need a full boiler and full pressure. The White flowmotor system is fine for touring but needs some more attention for racing starts.
Abner Doble further developed the White system and produced his “Equalizer” which injected water half way up the steam generator at the start. I have put in a pipe there (which was also for a whistle) which is blanked off but I am hoping to avoid using it –I have also heard that it was not very successful!
I did have a whistle fitted but took it off as the steam was still too hot for it and its valve.

My next job is to change the steam generator in the 1908 White ready for our French Denis Papin tour next month. I made it last year with Billy’s and it should just need the water inlet and steam outlet sorting the same as the old one and then mounting in the chassis. These jobs have a habit of getting much larger however!

Attachments: Right side of engine small.jpg (168kB)   New made throttle {small}.JPG (103kB)   New throttle {small}.JPG (90kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: June 22, 2013 04:54AM

Two pictures were recently sent to me by Malcolm McInnes from Australia. Malcolm has several White steamers and his brother now has his late father’s 1906 White Model F” which is the only other 1906 Cann bodied White that we know about beside that one that my father owned and is now with Richard Hounslow (my brother –in –law).
The pictures both show Whistling Billy in 1905 under test possibly on the first day that it was tested on May 5th 1905.
One picture shows the rear end clearly sliding out while the driver is on opposite lock balancing the car on the steering wheel and the throttle wheel in the centre of the latter. This is almost more like speedway motor cycle racing!
But how about the passenger? There is only enough room for one buttock on the platform beside the driver, only the brake lever to put one foot on, but he is holding onto the fuel tank for dear life! I have a removable tool box on the platform now for road use which I take off for speed events.I hope one day to be able to treat my engine like this but I have to be very careful with it at present until I have the two that I have properly rebuilt and fully sorted.
If anyone has any pictures of Billy racing, especially from 1906 to 1912, I would love to see them.
I am sorry but my attachments did not "take" with the article. I will add them below.

Edited 2 times. Last edit at 06/22/13 05:01AM by steamcarbob.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: June 22, 2013 05:02AM

I hope this time to get the pictures to keep with these words. I have added a picture to show th steering and throttle wheels.
The driver, certainly in the first picture and also I believe the second, is Webb Jay who went on to take the "world track record" for the mile at 48.35 seconds on July 4th 1905.

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 06/22/13 05:08AM by steamcarbob.

Attachments: Note the sparker switch now below the tank presure gauge.jpg (156kB)   WB1Small.jpg (83kB)   WB2 small.jpg (212kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: July 2, 2013 07:49AM

Whistling Billy was out at the weekend at Wendron Motor Show between Helston and Falmouth. I decided to light up at about mid-day but found the lighting up valve for sending the pilot fuel into the main burner for start-up was seized. This was an original valve with a new handle fitted which required it to be slightly shortened. I must make a new one!
I had to loosen off the packing gland to free the valve stem and then re-tightened it but mistakenly against the packing gland so that it was not turned fully off and un-vaporized fuel flooded through the main nozzle and into the burner under tray which was fitted on Billy to help utilize the forced raft from around the nose at high speed. I had realized that this could be a fire risk before but this was the first time I had experienced a problem. When I lit up not realizing that fuel was in the undertray, the pilot light fuel of course ignited and we had quite a fire. I turned off all the fuel valves and it still burnt, so I used a fire extinguisher for only the second time in my twenty five years of playing with White steam cars. The problem was the fuel that was in the tray and not what was spilling – I had stopped that.
I now have an even more singed bonnet but the fire walls did their job and the engine compartment was fine.
We took the bonnet off and checked for any smouldering. I then lit up again. Initially the steam pressure and temperature were all at sea but after a few minutes running it all settled down. I kept the car steaming for about three hours and all was well apart from a few steam leaks. I think that I need to do a lot more “touring “ with the car to get it settled down and me more used to the foibles that it has.
I will attach a couple of pictures of the singed bonnet.
Also I have one picture of the 1908 White Model “L”s underneath showing the new steam generator and burner fitted but not yet full plumbed in. The prop-shaft is not refitted yet either, it needed to come off to fit the generator from underneath. It has no under-tray under the burner to get one in trouble!

Attachments: Burnt bonnet after wenron fire small.jpg (87kB)   Singed bonnet after Wendron fire small.jpg (98kB)   Steam generator just fitted 2013.jpg (96kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Mike L Clark (
Date: July 11, 2013 05:08PM

Scorch adds patina Bob - all the fashion these days!

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: August 9, 2013 05:49AM

Yes Mike, I like the scorching but I think that I will need to eventually sort the paint work and I have found a matching cream enamel type paint that resists the heat better. I will make haste slowly with the repainting!

We had a great holiday in France. I was supposed to take Lucy, my 1908 White Model “L” but just finished fitting the new steam generator and then on final testing the day before we sailed, I could not stop blowbacks and found the cause at the last minute. One of the water pumps had the seat popping up and down with the ball. I did not have time to remove the pumps, make a new slightly enlarged seat, reset the clearance and then reassemble, so I took Billy who was ready to go.
We went to the Loire Valley and visited a splendid museum with my brother John and his wife Anne with his 1910 White Model “00”, Bill Rich with his family and his 735 Stanley and Billy with Chris Relf and Dave Try as assistants. They were to travel with John in his Dickey seat if we were going places. It was very hot and I was getting too much heat coming through the dash so I had to put on extra clothing to stop me being burnt. Later we visited a friend of Francois de Backer who was saving his 1909 White for Chitenay and I ran out of water a few yards before his house for the first time. How far will Billy go on its 24 gallons of water? Nearly there and back! I expect that it will go about 20 miles but nothing is yet proven.
We then went on to Chitenay as part of the celebrations of the tri-centenary of the death of Denis Papin in London in about 1713. It seems that he invented a steam valve which led to the development of the steam engine.
This was a small but very good little show over three days. The 1770 Cugnot replica was there running as was the Trevithick engine. Several traction engines and other steam vehicles were there including NO 1, a Burrell showman’s engine from England.
We were treated excellently and all went well except that I visited the railway lay-out with Billy and went slightly off road to let someone pass on an unmade road. Unfortunately, Billy’s back right wheel went into a hidden ditch and on giving a little throttle, I had some wheel spin and as we climbed out of the ditch, the crank again twisted. We were now just a static exhibit. Billy had been running well until then although the engine is still in trouble with the poor ball races.
Our three hot days were completed here and we then went on to Champagne country where we were welcomed at the local mayor’s house which overlooked the Champagne vineyard country and the river Marne as a huge bowl. On the last day we put on a show for the village with Billy static and Bill Rich giving rides in his Stanley before being guests of the twinning committee for a splendid BBQ type dinner with lots of the local juice.
Anyway, I will have a chance now to inspect the bearings as I need to strip the engine and rebuild it again with the crankshaft re-pinned and pressed together in the correct position. Not surprisingly, this seems to be the weak member in the power train on my Billy. Whites had better conditioned engines and twisted the universal joints on the prop-shafts. I still have to get started on working up my spare engine which is in very poor condition from being in a wet shed probably for 50 years!
I have also noticed that I am getting some damage to the venturi, probably through bouncing up and down on rough country and excessive heat on blow-backs. I also have some steering box wear. These are not surprising findings considering the hard treatment Billy gets at times with no rear suspension but just chassis flexion. I am really quite pleased with the general strength and handling of the chassis. The steering is quite light which is essential as one hand is needed for the throttle wheel in its centre to control the power and the “rear wheel steering” as it spins the rear wheels and the other is on the steering wheel.
Anyway, I am hoping to be ready for action on Prescott Hill Climb on October 5th and Castle Coombe later in that week but in the meantime we are touring with the 1908 White on the Three Counties tour. I have made and fitted a new valve seat using Monel metal. I am sorting a new flowmotor needle and also need to repair the speedometer cable before the next test run.

Attachments: Cugnot.jpg (94kB)   Chitenay 3 Whites.JPG (90kB)   Cugnot ratchet drive.jpg (92kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Mike L Clark (
Date: August 9, 2013 04:42PM

Magnificent trip Bob - Vive le France! You really are giving Billy a good shake down. Can't you do something better with the bearings, perhaps not original but better able to cope? I met Francois de Backer on a Salmson rally a few years ago as, like me he has a Salmson, although more recent than ours. Cugnot replica is amazing but perhaps not a good touring vehicle.

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