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Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: January 12, 2014 06:29AM

Progress has been slow but steady over Christmas. Whistling Billy’s spare engine H383 parts are slowly getting together and my bench of restored parts is almost full with the unrestored bench almost empty apart from almost unusable parts such as the aluminium block casing and the fan drive shaft with its pulleys which I will not need.
I have almost completed the bronze parts which had to have most of the steel parts within them replaced from bolts to shafts etc.
I still have not completed the pressure regulator for which I am having a new spring made. This spring is 2.5ins long, O.D. 1.45ins, ID 0.67ins, wire 0.375ins with almost 6 turns with ground ends. This makes a very strong spring and I will have 10 made so will have some spares if anyone needs them. Those restoring Whites of this period will know that this unit has a lever of about 4 to 1 ratio to increase the movement of the water bypass valve (the famous Finnegan pin) that this works. This lever’s pivot which is a steel pin becomes worn and occasionally needs replacing as it markedly reduces the movement of the pin when worn -it just slews sideways. The pivot is threaded at one end and sealed in place with a blob of solder at each end which also stops any leak from it. I have made this pivot slightly over sized.
Making the small spiraled Finnegan pin valve is a little art which I will not detail here at present.
The water pumps are another part which I am held up with but this is just for my own machining. I struggled to get the rusted and broken pump rod parts out of the bronze ends and have cleaned these bronze parts and reset new ball valves in them. I had to unsolder and resolder the plug to get at the bottom channel which was solid with rusted remains of dirt and pump shaft. I still have to remake the double ended pump rod with its square in the center. All the middle fitting was a block of rust and I still have not got it apart but do not need to do so to remake the new one.
The water damper is all finished and complete with its pipes ready to fit. I had one new spring remaining for this from my last batch that I had made several years ago. Unfortunately, my former local spring makers have now gone into large mass production of modern car suspension springs etc and have chucked out their old spring making kit so I have had to find a new company.
The sump and crank-case are all repaired with my aluminium welding and then some filler followed by Bullet paint. This looks like the original aluminium finish and is very strong. I am remaking the engine mounting block fittings and will soon start reassembly. I will be held up then with the company who have the rear engine bearings to sort.
In the mean time I have been doing a little job on the side. The 1902 White had a tiny steam pipe leak causing blowbacks as it forced steam onto the top of the burner. This meant taking out the steam generator and remaking the thermostat and its case. It is probably 13 years since I have done anything to this generator and it impressively runs red hot on the bottom few coils. These had corroded so well that the thermostat and its fittings were a totally solid mass almost welded into one unit. The corrosion stops a few inches from the thermostat so I can probably as before just reduce the bottom coil ( of 12 ) by one turn and fit new ends, nuts and thermostat.
The thermostat casing on this car is a steel tube with two T junctions from which the steam comes in and out before it leaves the steam generator; they are right in the bottom of the fire. Inside this the thermostat rod was copper tube with a steel rod in the center but I now use stainless steel tube which has the same expansion as copper and works well. It is slightly larger than the original copper but does not bend as the original tended to do. When hot the steel central rod which is fixed at the far end to the tube, detracts as the outer stainless steel is expanding faster than the steel. This works a 90 degree lever that allows the fuel needle to shut. Interestingly the fuel (100% petrol in this car) is free to run up the thermostat – there is no seal – but it has nowhere to go so it does not seem to matter. It must be vapor some of the time!
At least I am now remaking the parts for the 1902 White and getting it back together. I want to get this one finished by the end of the month to get on with Billy and the 1908 White‘s sorting.
My brother has been rebuilding his 1910 White condenser. This is the easy part compared to getting it apart with all the machine screws and the gland nuts well seized into the aluminium casing after many years of service and sitting around. This needs reassembling with none of the tubes leaking so that it can run at a vacuum most of the time. At present he is making sure that all the tubes have the full length of fins on them so that they cannot move up or down slipping out of their packing. For the latter we now use two O rings rather than the old rubber tube or the fiber packing which was in this one and had locked everything together. We had to remake some of the packing glands as we had destroyed them while getting them out.

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 01/20/14 06:41AM by steamcarbob.

Attachments: H383 Stripped for restoration(S).jpg (185kB)   001 Restoration Progress Jan 2014.JPG (243kB)   005.JPG (203kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: January 12, 2014 01:28PM

I was going to edit my previous article but decided to add three more pictures.

First I made a mistake in one of the previous pictures that I put in and I used one with only half the bench of my restored bits -here is the other half.

The second picture is of the thermostat case of the 1902 White with the earlier regulation used up until late 1906. It is in bits and cut in half as I extracted it from the case as all the joints were solid. Below is the bronze fuel controller which it operates. Above the main casing are the bits of the thermostat rod also cut in half to get things apart. The curved cast bronze rods are the steam exhaust going into a down-facing chimney from the condenser and from a firing up valve if you do not want the initial water to go into the condenser. On these early Whites the condenser did not run at a vacuum but was open at this exhaust if too much steam goes into the system which it seldom does.

The third picture of is the burner which I machined out of a solid billet of 301 stainless 1inch thick and 16 inches in diameter 18 years ago. It is slotted on the protruding upper rings which are hollowed out so the whole thing is only 3mm thick. It is a great burner and usually behaves impeccably. If it does get a blow-back it will blow it out and function normally when the fire comes full on. It was because it started blowing back unusually that I detected the tiny leak in the steam tube that was blowing down onto the burner.

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 01/20/14 06:37AM by steamcarbob.

Attachments: 004 Restoration Progress Jan 2014.JPG (225kB)   Thermostat ready for total pipe replacement.JPG (228kB)   Burner top 2014.JPG (221kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: January 20, 2014 07:13AM

Work continues on the 1902 White. It is interesting the difference in this system to Billy’s but this had the earlier regulation system which they did first use on Billy but found inadequate for the job and then developed the flowmotor used on production Whites from 1907 onwards. Most of the time the old system works well but I can see that it would be impossible on Billy to get the fire in quickly with racing starts. I have enough problems there with the later system. Also if the steam temperature got slightly too hot down the straight, the fire would go off even if the steam pressure was low.
I have completed the new thermostat made from a carbon steel center rod fixed at the far end to its 301 stainless casing which will do the expanding instead of the original copper which tends to bend. When the center rod contracts away as it heats, it allows the fuel valve to close via a small lever all in the bronze end. It is adjusted by a fine thread and double nuts on the stem of the valve.
All this is now enclosed in its steam jacket with the inlet and out let for steam going across the bottom of the firebox.
Next I have to sort out the piping. Most of the generator should be fine although it looks a bit rusty on the surface as the pipe is very thick. I will either have to renew the bottom coil or shorten it by one coil which makes little odds as this car is a good steamer and possibly renew the outlet steam pipe where I will have problems with the connection into the throttle piping which is severely corroded – I expect to have to take that out too!
I will add a couple of pictures of the thermostat piping in the firebox and the steam generator before work starts on it hopefully later today.

Attachments: 1902 White thermostat and steam generator 001.JPG (242kB)   1902 White thermostat and steam generator 002.JPG (212kB)   1902 White thermostat and steam generator 003.JPG (224kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: February 10, 2014 05:22AM

I have just completed the steam generator service on the 1902 White. As expected I had to replace all of the thermostat and its joints, remove one coil length of steam generator piping(about 2ft of 350ft) and take out the throttle and replace the insides - a new tip and seat included. I am using the standard type of seat fitted into an original type of 1902 throttle body which Whites did themselves as a retro service. The problem was that the early original throttles had the seat as part of the body in cast iron and it did not last too long. I tried that for the first few years when I got the car running for the first time since the early days for the 1996 London to Brighton. An attempt had been made to run it in the 1950's but with a gas burner and not thermostat - no hope when you know Whites which must run on temperature between 750 and 800 Deg. F. The steam pressure runs at 300psi.
The top casing on the steam generator is still the original but this is starting to fall apart. I have managed to jolly it along until the next service when it will need renewing. The original bottom case is quite good (for 100 years more?) but needed a small bit of welding.
When all together, I mounted the little White on my ramps on the special mounts that I made for the cross jack which allows the reach pole ends to sit in an half pipe from where they can not escape when running the car with the rear wheels jacked up. This allows me to steam up checking all the devices and getting rid of water and steam leaks. The thermostat needs to cut off the fire at 750deg F. This of course had to be completely reset as the thermostat was all new. I have nearly got this right but have a couple of small jobs to do.
Once this is all done, I can put the body top back on and go out on the roads when we have a break in the stormy weather.
I have put in some pictures of the neat layout of this cars mechanics.

Attachments: Just completed generator sorting Feb. 2014.JPG (235kB)   Note specially made jacks for running safely on the ramps.JPG (231kB)   The mechanics from above.JPG (228kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: (
Date: February 24, 2014 06:51AM

I have now been out half a dozen times with the 1902 White. The first time I had to be towed up the drive as I had no power. I have a run to “The Rabbit Ground” which is about 3/4mile away and it has a slight hill going out but quite a reasonable one coming back. Once I can do that I then can go the three miles into Penzance and back or a similar distance around to St Just with the 1in 5 test hill on one side.
Although the temperature ran up to 750 deg F when jacked up on the ramps, it only went up to about 450 when on the road and my drive is very steep to get back into when the steam is not hot enough. I had to adjust two whole turns on the fuel needle to get things right. I also had a couple of steam leaks and the valve gear was not adjusted quite correctly. After the fettling I can now take steep hills and she is going well but the temperature is still dropping too far (about 475deg F at times) before the fire comes back in. I do have to watch out as the temperature initially goes up too high (near 1000degF) in the first mile but soon settles. This is always a problem with the Whites (probably too little water and too much fire) and it just seems to warm the engine through but as far as I am aware does little damage unless it is prolonged. I want it settled at about 750 and certainly under 800deg F. It seems damage will occur after about 900deg F. The strange thing is that although the temperature gauge states the 475 deg she is going well by then and recovers fully for the hills.
I reduced the tip angle on my new fuel needle to 20 deg hoping to have a full shut off rather than a whisping cut off which is quite nice really as she sits there burbling away when waiting to go. I think that the needle is sticking shut a bit now and I am going to reshape the tip beck to 30deg to see if this improves things.
I had also to go onto a lesser adjustment on the throttle so that it opens slower and does not open quite as far or I am over-keen and lose all my steam. It is now adjusted as it was and not as I thought that it should be!
This minor fettling is quite essential on these cars –I only have 6hp available. I am forever trying to persuade early steam car owners to get out on the road and slowly improve the performance rather than turning up at a tour or rally expecting things to be 100% after a bit of a rebuild. Even this old White that usually performs well and often tours with the big cars needs that fettling and also the driver experience to locate the latest quirks.
I am now arranging a very small one day tour perhaps to a pub with my brother and Nick Howell with his Toledo to make sure that we can all go a fair distance. Having a date sharpens the mind and gets jobs done! I might even put a bit of polish on the car!
I have put in 3 general pictures of the 1902 White.
The rear view shows my “be seen” waterproof road jacket wrapped around my single rear seat over the road – this is the only known remaining White Surrey with the three seats and the 6inch longer wheelbase (the same as the van).
The second picture shows the dash with the steam pressure up to 500psi but running at 300psi, the petrol tank runs from 20 to 35 psi, there is a temporary steam temperature gauge on the left until I am happy with it. The two round brass pedals are the mechanical air pump (with the valve in the center of the dash) and the one to the left is the disc brakes that I fitted after an accident about 10 years ago when the bronze brake drum collapsed on me(the repair was done on a “Salvage Squad” program. The job was not done well and was the only time that the car has not reached Brighton on the London to Brighton Run).
The third picture shows the side of the car with the controls by the right elbow: front to back - throttle, fuel valve and then the oil valve which does on/off and a hand oil pump putting oil into the valve chest. That should be done about every half mile and on hills. On the floor center is the hand air pump and valve and to the right the hand water pump and its valve. Also the vertical Stephenson's link lever is on the right - forwards is down, reverse up.

Attachments: 24.02.2014 Be seen from behind!.JPG (225kB)   24.02.2014 Note throttle, fuel valve and back oil valve.JPG (234kB)   24.02.2014 Dash.JPG (96kB)  
Posted by: (199.114.240.---)
Date: April 1, 2014 08:02PM

deleted as spam

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 04/02/14 04:55AM by alpinemauve.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: April 29, 2014 07:03AM

tester 1

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: May 2, 2014 07:31AM

1.5. 2014
Hopefully the system is now returned to normal after a computer attack. I have struggled to get it working again. You may note that the Whistling Billy section on the front page of the website has now expanded and I can feed into it pictures etc.

I completed the work on the 1902 White and have done a couple of good runs. Nick Howells with his 1902 Toledo and I with the 1902 White went up to my brother’s house in Lifton one beautiful clear day and with John with his 1910 White we drove along the old A30 on the edge of Dartmoor to Bridestowe where we had a good lunch. We then checked the water levels and topped up with buckets over the bridge. John chucked his bucket over the bridge and unfortunately the chain link pin came unscrewed leaving him with the rope in his hand and no more. We could see the pin and yolk on the bottom of the river and the bucket went down the river. John rolled his trousers up and went paddling. Luckily he was able to retrieve everything except his dignity!
John's White is now going well and he went home but returned to rescue Nick Howells who had run out of fuel as he has two connected fuel tanks and he has found that filling one does not necessarily fill the second. He still lacks power on the hill as he has not yet completely sorted his burner and jet problems using a remade Toledo type burner. In the meantime I had pottered on back. This road would make an excellent base for a tour. We went past Jethro's place on this little trip.

Next I turned my attentions back to Whistling Billy. I tried lighting up and found that I had persistent blowbacks when things got hot. I cleaned the burner, the slots (with a 25 thou broken slot cutter with a crude wood handle), the vaporizer and the pilot light and I think that the firing is now alright. I suspect that the main problem was bits of grass etc. blowing into the venturi as it is very near the ground and uses the forced draft from around the nose cone but there was a surprising amount of debris on top of the burner and some of the slots had suffered rusting from our damp sea air.
The next task was to sort the steam leaks on the engine. My 1908 White potters on with very little attention to the engine usually but Billy is quite different using lots of hot steam and large pressure. I took the simpling gear off the top to remove the top aluminium casing plate. This is really an unnecessary chore that involves banging out two tapered pins and several split pins etc. I do not need to do that anymore as I have now cut this top plate in half under the simpling shaft so I can get at the cylinders and the bits under the casing. I am going to take off the top of this the two cast mounting brackets for the fan shaft that usually runs over the engine but of course Billy has no condenser or fan. I know that I am busy destroying an original White part but those brackets were broken off in the original accident in 1908 that this engine H4 had when its car was written off. I had welded them back on but they would not be strong enough for their proper use. I will then use these holes to put top drain cocks into the cylinder heads. I have not done this yet as I am working the system out on the spare engine H383 first. I need to find or make drain cocks with about 2.5 inch stems before the threaded part. Hopefully I will then be less likely to blow out the piston rod packings or the top gaskets. Part of the problem here is that Billy has a light flywheel and turns over very quickly on starting. On the original cars you carefully turn the engine over as you move the Stephenson’s link motion back and forth but it is all a bit hectic with Billy and I seem to blow out packings at a rate of knots probably at engine starting!
I have just discovered another reason for the valve rod packings to blow out. The Stephenson’s link motion rods come through the top of the crankcase to meet the valve rods with half inch rods running in bronze. Seeing these a bit rusted on the spare engine I mic’ed them up and found that they were about 6 thou worn which will allow play of the valve rods in the packing and thus blow the packing. I am going to turn them down slightly and re-sleeve them with old hard chromed piston rods which are spot on for size and very smooth. I use these old rods, which I have discarded as the tops have come loose on the piston, on the water pumps as well and I find it a cheap, quick and efficient method of repair.
On taking the top plate off Billy’s engine, I found that the simpling gear plate needed a new copper gasket and that the plugs where the main valves are inserted were loose. I tried tightening the HP one and found the thread was poor so I mic’ed them up. They were 20thou undersized presumably due to the bronze trying to expand in the iron block and being shrunk. I made new ones still in bronze as I would rather they went again than crack the block. These are 1.25 inch X 20tpi, so quite a fine thread for the job. They clearly do not like Billy’s fast supplied hot steam. I never quite know what the next problem will be! Having checked for leaks I reassembled the top and am now ready for the next steaming possibly this weekend.

Last weekend I had about 40 people here from the Cornwall Vintage Vehicle Society (C.V.V.S.) with their vintage and classic vehicles for a couple of hours look around the cars and workshop. I brought over my son Michael’s 1914 Stanley too which needs the scorched boiler sorting so I hope to get that done soon as he is very busy with his business. It was a good excuse for cleaning the cars, the garage and the workshop!
I did however fail to go to Trevithick Day in Camborne on the 1902 White, which was all ready to go, as the weather was so fowl for me and the old car. I usually drive there and back whch gives me about a fifty mile round trip with my various deviations to avoid traffic.
I have just got back the main bearings for Billy’s spare engine from HB Bearings. They look to have done a fine job and now I can get on with assembly but I seem to have many events coming up and am running a bit behind where I hoped to be by now.

I am having some problems at present trying to get entry to events such as Hill Climbs although the Bugatti Club are happy to have us at Prescott and Castle Combe want me on that circuit(Unfortunately both have appropriate events on the same weekends!
The VSCC which I have joined seemed to be the problem at first but eventually I found that the block was at the MSA. I believe that Mike Clarke and Basil Craske have both trod this path before me. It does seem extraordinary that similar problems have been going on for over 100 years. Basil found at first that the problem was with the iron wheels and the coal! Having educated them a bit he still came up with hurdles.
The petrol car boys seem to be almost afraid of the steam cars even if like Billy they do not have a boiler ready to explode (even if they do not). I am pushing just to be allowed to hill climb and possibly race in the open Edwardian class if I can get my engines strong enough.
If you have a steam car, especially a racer, do contact me as larger numbers might make things easier. I did note a little hope when I mentioned that these cars run on petrol or petrol/diesel mixture. This might just be the key to getting in.

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 05/03/14 04:32AM by Steamcarbob.

Attachments: 2014.5 Billy\'s top engine cover modified.jpg (109kB)   2014.5 Cars on show.jpg (110kB)   20145.5 Spare engine,burners and benders.jpg (123kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: May 27, 2014 07:05AM

I have been busy this week but for Whistling Billy have only put a spring on the throttle using a split pin head as the mounting point while I see the effect. It is possible that I could extend the throttle lever system and make a right footed standard throttle foot pedal rather than the friction damped hand throttle operated as the “middle steering wheel”. This would undoubtedly be safer in case of a crash as the throttle would be automatically shut off rather than the driver having to close it. I may also alter the leverage system to make the throttle gentler. The problem comes with warming up the engine – the throttle needs to be held just open.

For Whistling Billy and Ray Clark’s Daimler Doble, we are going to fit spring loaded ball valves as drain cocks for the cylinders. For these one needs good springs that do not collapse under heat. I am going to get another batch of White safety valve springs made which work at about 1000psi when in the safety valves. These will be made from Inconel which is very expensive and one must purchase a minimal length. The dimensions are Length 1.5ins ID 3/8inch OD 0.566inch Wire 1/8 inch. The last batch of these that I had made cost about £35 each – it you need any please contact me. I expect to get about thirty out of the length of Inconel but the last batch soon went.

Last week I had a telephone call from Liz Morgan. Her husband Paul set up Ilmor Engineering which converted the Mercedes engines for the F1 where Coultart won and the American racing series which the Penske cars won. Paul was killed thirteen years ago when his aircraft carrier version of the Spitfire crashed on landing. Liz had decided to sell his 1903 White which I located for him in the mid 1990’s. Paul had the car extensively restored and drove it several times on the London to Brighton Run, driving the car down from Northampton to Hyde Park for the start.
I ended up purchasing the car myself and brought it home last week while at the same time I delivered the body off my 1908 White (Lucy) to the leather restoration team at Northampton University.
I had made a trolley for Lucy’s body which is about 7ft 6ins long. The body takes four people to lift being a Roi des Belges 5 to 7 seater built by Cann & Co of North London when the car was imported as a chassis in 1908. The rear compartment upholstery is fine but the front is now poor but I hope will return rejuvenated. The body’s held on by 6 large bolts and the mudguard bolts. I needed to remove it anyway as the center wood section of the chassis has burnt out and needs replacing. I have already made and fitted a new steam generator and am hoping now that this will not happen again. Also I want to have the original springs re-set and re-tempered. These are dated October and November 1907. The rear axle and engine need full servicing. I have been using this car quite extensively in recent years and it is in for its big 25 year service!

The 1903 White is in good order with only a few little chips on the paintwork and has good upholstery. There is no hood or windscreen. The body is a 4 to 5 seat rear entrance dogcart style. The bright work is all nickel coated. A very useful matching temperature gauge has been fitted.
There is a great advance on the design between 1902 and 1903. My 1902 White has the simple engine under the seat with chain drive but the 1903 has the compound engine in the front with shaft drive. There still was no form of clutch on the car but Paul Morgan fitted a manual dog clutch for warming up the engine on the front of the prop-shaft. The engine compartment is separated from the flywheel and its brake –These came together as one unit in the 1905 model “E”. The burner, pilot light and steam generator are almost identical but are a little larger.
I have cleaned the old sump oil by removing the sump where all seems well. I have cleaned the main burner and pilot light. The throttle was seized up but Paul had here made the casing apparently of bronze –that is not adequate for the temperature and the throttle must have been too fierce as the throttle tip had been machine incorrectly. I have fitted a complete new throttle as I happened to have the parts available ready for my other Whites.
The engine was reported as being a bit rough recently. This is almost certainly the simpling valve rusted or corroded. It is a small valve but must close 100%. The brakes need some attention and then I can start testing. The fuel tank was still holding some pressure and the fuel smells reasonable having had no air in it!

When testing your steam car please make sure all is basically safe.My brother John is recovering from a fractured pelvis having been thrown off the Steamobile when it was only just moving because he was sitting on a sheet of plywood rather than a fixed seat. He was reversing out of a shed and was not aware that the right rear tyre had a puncture. The car turned to the right on the slope and he went over the left side. My father burnt the back of his legs on this car when he did not fit the screen on the front of the seat. It is a small car but needs lot of respect. We all wish him well.


Edited 1 times. Last edit at 05/27/14 07:22AM by Steamcarbob.

Attachments: May26 2014 021 (2).JPG (243kB)   May26 2014 019 (2).JPG (239kB)   May26 2014 002.JPG (240kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Donald Cook (
Date: May 28, 2014 04:23PM

Your new White is a smart looking car Bob, do you plan to use it this year?

Please pass on our best wishes to John for a speedy recovery,

Don & Lesley

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