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Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: November 10, 2016 10:00AM

Hello again Don,
There is one other point that you may not have considered and I did not mention. The slide valves on a steam engine wear a lot because they are forced onto the valve plate with the steam pressure pushing on the valve. Apparently oil could not get between the HP slide valve surfaces when the steam pressure was raised when first testing Billy with two slide valves and raised steam pressure.
The piston valve is a "balanced" valve with no pressure pushing the valve onto its surface and the high pressure is on each end of the cotton reel with the exhaust in the middle. In fact any steam going down between the valve and its surface probably tends to clean that space and hopefully takes some oil with it.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Donald Cook (
Date: November 10, 2016 04:22PM

Yes Bob I am aware of the virtues of the piston valve as I have owned two steam rollers with piston valves one single cylinder & one compound, but both theses had piston rings on the valve bobbin’s. As you say, if there isn’t room for a cage around the bobbin then they couldn’t fit rings.


Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: November 17, 2016 01:06PM

Hello Don,
I had a quick look at my brother's piston valves on his 1910 White. They are much larger, over two inches in diameter, to accommodate the rings and in a large cage. Clearly there would not have been room to fit them on the 1907/08 engines just where the slide valve had been removed. The complete lower half of the engine would have needed redesigning. It took them a year (1909) to come up with the ringed piston valves and by then the whole engine was a new design.
Incidentally, John came down here on Tuesday and we bent up a new bottom coil for his 1910 White steam generator - it has 2 layers with six 180 degree bends and four 90 degree bends but it all must sit on the rims accurately as the weight of the generator sits on it. The last one was slightly too small and allowed it to fall onto the burner as it was heated and it bent under its own weight.

Edited 2 times. Last edit at 11/28/16 05:09AM by Steamcarbob.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: December 19, 2016 09:30AM

Progress has been slow but steady on my winter’s work. I have been engaged on several jobs.
The drawings for my new block castings for Billy are well on the way. It is quite difficult to check things when the block is in the Midlands and I am down here in Cornwall but I had the 1908 White block on the engine on my bench and checked that to try to make sure all the readings are correct on the CAD drawings. That block is now on the fully assembled engine and back in the 1908 car so I cannot use it any more.
I have reassembled the pipework and the condenser is back on this car. It still stands on a Morris Minor rear axle while I await the rear axle parts from the USA which should have been here a month ago but I expect the usual customs hold-up with Christmas is the problem. I will be chasing this soon. At least this axle allowed me to reassemble the rest of the car which now only requires the burner with its pipework and the front mudguards apart from the water pump, which is why the left mudguard is not going on yet. It is a large car to lean over a mudguard and fit this pump.
The pump rod had two large scars in it where sand must have got into the packing, damaging the hard-chrome on both ends. Surprisingly the car was going well while I wore out the gears on its last outing so the resultant leaking could not have been too bad. Anyway I have hacked off the hard-chrome taking off 20thou and made three more pump rods out of EN24T round bar. The rods have 4 inches of half inch pumping rod at each end acting as displacement pumps, both going to make a single water pump to the steam generator. In the early cars only one end of the rod pumped the water and the other end was left off but in 1903 the second end was added to become the condenser return pump. This pump became a double ended water pump in 1905 and the condenser pump moved to the front of the engine to run off the LP crosshead. Although having two smaller pumps rather than one large one, the cars are still fitted with a powerful water damper in the form of a spring loaded piston. The piston of this damper is only made from packing which is compressed by bronze plates pushed together with the force of the large spring.
In the center of the double ended pump rods is a rectangular hole where a square on a round pin slides to and fro for the drive. I milled this but finished it with a hand file to get an accurate fit. The four pumps are now away while the ends are being hard-chromed and ground to 0.500 inch.I will have pump rods for the 198 White, new ones for Billy's two engines leaving a couple spare so that if I damage a rod I can replace it without having to wait for the re-chroming as I have done this time. The pump rod of Billy's spare engine had rusted completely through on both ends; I had to dig the tips out of their bronze ends.
I will fit the right mudguard and burner and then get on with some servicing on the 1903 White on the odd spare days over Christmas. Hopefully all the bits will be here soon to complete the 1908 White. I may even do a bit of brass polishing and a small paint job on the water tank but I do quite like it in “oily rag” condition. I am already treating the new chassis oak with some linseed oil and turpentine to give it a bit of aging. I also use this mixture to clean the old wood and keep the wood spokes and fellows looking good.
Happy Christmas

Attachments: The left side of the engine without the water pump.jpg (226kB)   The right side of the engine.jpg (224kB)   1908 White coming back together.jpg (196kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Mike L Clark (
Date: December 19, 2016 02:25PM

If you are hard chroming EN24 there is a risk of making it brittle which can be avoided by a post chroming heat treatment - make sure the hard chromers know what they are dealing with. Justin Gould made new piston rods for my H5 and had them chromed and dealt with in this way.


Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: December 23, 2016 06:03AM

Thank you for that tip, Mike. I certainly am very ignorant about tempering metal but White were really good at it in the early days with limited steel available.
I have not had a problem with my half-inch diameter piston rods in EN24T when they have been hard-chromed and they take much more strain than the pump rods.
The first piston rods that I made, back in 1988, I used a stainless steel and they soon became spiralled. I then used EN16T hard-chromed and that spiralled in the first few weeks too. Perhaps that was due to not resorting the temper!

Arthur Thomson uses rods already hard-chromed made for hydraulic pumps which is a much cheaper way of doing things but, when I enquired, I was told that they are made from EN18T. Also the piston needs to be held on with a flange cut into the rod. Arthur is a very careful driver and puts minimal strain on his engine. I am not quite so careful and my 1908 White has a large body to cart about usually loaded with four large adults so the hills need a lot of power. Also of course Whistling Billy over strains everything so I feel that I need those rods up to scratch.

I make a few spares in batches of about six but I have in the past cut off the pump-rod scratched hard-chrome, bored out an old piston rod with a good surface (abandoned because the piston has become loose on its rod) and press fitted it onto my pump-rod as a re-surfacing job. This needs to be done carefully and with both ends true!

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: January 20, 2017 05:16AM

I now have the engine back in the 1903 White after carefully going through the simpling valves and making sure all the cover plates were true even without their copper gaskets to give them a good chance of not leaking. I blued each plate and hand scraped them where required. Perhaps that is why the block had studs in it instead of machine screws and was eventually abandoned. It works well when it is sealed and the valve cover was initially very bowed.
The simpling valves were the main issue as usual. The early cars did not have a yolk on the steam inlet valve of this valve trio. On later cars, the yolk enabled the fitting of a larger spring away from the packing gland and any steam leak. The gland instead of being pressed by the spring was then adjusted with a gland nut. I made a large headed packing gland and a large shaped washer to hold the top of the spring which is held by a split pin in the shaft. It now has a much larger spring away from any steam leaking out of its gland. The spring still keeps the gland packing tight. Time will tell if this solves the problem and the spring remains effective. This early casting is slightly different from the later one so cannot easily be modified to the later style.

Anyone setting up a White steamer must make sure that these valves are right. Almost every White owner that I have tried to help initially does not pay enough attention to these valves!
The rear bronze valve shuts off the HP steam exhaust and must be closed for normal running; open when the car is simpled for starting off.
The front bronze valve closes off the channel between the HP exhaust and the LP valve chest. It must be open for normal running but close properly when the simpling pedal is depressed.
The small steam valve which I have discussed in the previous paragraph must close tight with no leak for normal running or the engine will be lumpy and have no power. It must open when the simpling valve is pressed to let the HP steam into the LP valve chest.

I think that it is safe to say that these valves make more difference to the working of the car than worn or weak piston rings and poor valve surfaces. I make no apology if you have heard about them before from me!

I am awaiting steel to complete the prop-shaft on the 1903 White. I have to make a new part of the flexible joint on the back of the propshaft complete with about 6 inches of propshaft. I am keeping the propshaft complete which has a clutch on it in case it is needed in the future. I do not like it but it can be refitted just by removing a split pin and one rod from the rear flexible coupling. The car was not made with a clutch and it has already scarred the fuel tank – the next time it might rupture it. Before I owned the car, I suspect that someone pushed the wrong lever forward in an emergency; the Stephenson’s link lever into reverse instead of the handbrake on. This puts a great strain on the transmission which clearly flexed somewhat to do this damage. Three quarters of the old propshaft came with the car so I am completing that one. This could be done with castings but I am just as happy chopping it out of a solid bar of steel which I have collected today.

I have had some game with the replacement gears for the rear axle of my 1908 White. I found some in Oklahoma and they were posted over to me. The postal company here sent three letters for notification of arrival, for payment of customs, for collection and their intention of returning them; all to the wrong address when it was clearly written on the 26lb package. They did not come near me in Penzance but 60 miles away in Bodmin. I had no idea that they were here. They then sent them back to America in a slow container. We have heard no more as yet. Oh dear!

With two cars almost ready for the next season (if my rear axle parts arrive), I am now going to sort out the leaking steam inlet on my usually very reliable 1902 White. I believe that it has come loose because I have tightened the chain and altered the angle of the engine and then the pipe going into the engine. This unfortunately could mean taking the engine out just to get access to the joints. I will also try to take a couple of links out of the chain as it is not very convenient in its present position.

While I do this work on all the cars I do the winter service and replace the bronze balls in the clacks and check the clearances. I clean off any dirt and cooked flies at the same time. This helps to keep the cars running well.

I have just collected my three new and one restored pump rods for Billy and the 1908 White. I machined the three new ones from a bar of EN24T and just cut off the old damaged hard chrome on the old rod. They then went off to Hardchrome UK in Birmingham who have plated and ground the shafts back to half inch. These hopefully will last my days out with Billy’s two engines and my 1908 White which all have the same pump rod. I will add a picture hopefully.

Attachments: 1903 White simpling valves.jpg (179kB)   1903 White simpling pedal.jpg (212kB)   New and restored pump rods.jpg (163kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: January 23, 2017 01:00PM

The winter's work still goes on on the 1903 White but I think that this will be the last step for a while.
I have now completed cutting a new end for the propshaft with half the universal joint out of a 4 inch diameter and 9 inch long lump of EN16T. The final shaping I did by hand with a die grinder and Dremel. I left a short spigot on it going into the propshaft tube a tight fit. Having pressed it together, I then pinned this with a ¼ inch steel pin and welded the tubing. Hopefully it will hold forever and a day.
It was quite a fiddle getting the joint tight in the middle of the U-J but there are two brass washers in it which I had to remove 15 thou off each. I was lucky to find in the many collets for my Smart and Brown lathe exactly the right one for holding these washers so in the end it was quite easy just using the top slide parallel with the bed and using the dial on it to take off 15 thou. I ended up with a tight fit but this will soon loosen with use.
Now at least I have a prop-shaft as it should be for the year with no clutch on it and one as a spare with the clutch on it. The clutch is great in theory but one cannot start the engine gently with no flywheel with the rear axle disconnected.
When Whites introduced the neutral in 1905, they put a flywheel on the engine and I am willing to bet that this was to stop damage with the sudden starting of the engine as it is just not controllable to stop over-revving. I am reasonably certain that this broke the water pump lever last year. The second problem was its liability to rupture the fuel tank if the transmission is over stressed as it has been before. The scar in the fuel tank is visible but safe. Now it should not get near it under any stress.
I have attached a couple of pictures, one just as I have fitted the new end on the propshaft and before the final welding. The joint has a leather dust jacket on it when on the car.

Attachments: The two propshafts before welding and paainting.jpg (210kB)   The new end before pinning and welding.jpg (176kB)   The propshaft fitted with cover.jpg (161kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: January 29, 2017 06:45AM

Having done the essential work on the 1903 White, I then moved onto the 1902 White which had a steam leak on my last trip out and I had to return it home in my trailer. This is an unusual occurrence for this car which has been touring in the South of France with the French veterans two years ago, touring at Peter Stevenson’s tour and done sterling service including being driven around by friends for the three days at the West of England Rally, all since its last proper service. It is invariably the car I go to if the others are having an off day! She is very simple, a joy to drive and often keeps up with the big Stanleys as she does not usually need the mid-morning water stop armed with a large water tank and a condenser. We do have rear disc brakes fitted for emergency use as the original single brake is not adequate for modern traffic.
I located the steam leak by attaching the compressed air to the steam blow off tap on which I always fit a connector to the air-line. It is very handy for testing engines and steam generators, blowing water out of the system and finding leaks. I even move the cars around my workshop with it if I am feeling idle!
The leak was a crack where the steam pipe meets its bracket on the engine which unfortunately is under the rear engine casing and this required the engine out to sort it.
I also had a new problem with the floorboards not quite fitting recently, obstructed by the engine. I had tightened the chain which is hinged on its mountings and has an adjustment bar at the bottom moving the engine forwards. On closer inspection with the seat off the car, I realized that the wood plank across the middle of the car on which the engine and steam generator mount had severely warped taking the engine forwards at the top.
I have had this wood plank burnt before and made the new wood replaceable as it was originally built into the structure of the wood frame of the car. It takes a lot of strain and is very definitely part of the structure of this monocot built car. It was originally covered in copper sheet and I have tried with and without this copper coating. It was off last time so it will be back on this time! The problem with it being on is that I cannot replace my small wood part where the throttle mounts without taking everything out of the car including this wood plank.The wood still burns with the copper on or off!
I took the engine, water tank and steam generator yesterday and as I took the burner off I had a large quantity of rust and soot go down my neck. It did need at least a burner clean out! I had to cut the main plank to get it out as I had made the wood structure too complicated a joint. I will rectify this.
Now I have most of the bits cleaned and ready for reassembly when I get the new wood shaped and recovered in its copper sheath. I will briefly go through the engine also but that was working well.
The big problem here is the severe heat transmitted into it from the throttle which bolts onto it and is at about 750deg F, glowing red in the dark and not good for wood. This area invariably comes out charred although it has insulation between it and the wood and the bolts are in insulated tubes. It has to be held firmly in place or the throttle will not turn off properly. The steam generator and the engine also send heat into this wood. I expect that the wood warping had also caused the steam pipe from the throttle crack where it goes into the engine. I may put a copper washer on the joint just before it which may leak a little when cold but will also allow a little movement of it when cold to ease the stress on this pipe. It will also make it easier to undo after a year or so of being used.
I have tried several ways of coping with this burnt wood including cutting out the burnt bit where the throttle bolts tighten onto it and having a separate bit of replaceable wood there; that seems the best answer so far. I have even considered replacing the complete wood structure with aluminium but that might transmit the heat into the rest of the bodywork and cause more damage. Hopefully this wood renewal will outlast me!
Has anybody got a better answer? Is there wood that does not burn? The only wood that I have seen with this property came from several years in the sea!

Attachments: 1902 Steam generator out.jpg (162kB)   Engine steam generator ,water tank and cross mounting out.jpg (185kB)   THe cut up wood mount,engine and throttle on the bench.jpg (182kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Ray White (
Date: January 29, 2017 08:16AM

Hello Bob. I have been following with interest. It occurred to me that perhaps vermiculite fire board may be the answer.? It can't burn, won't readily transfer heat and can be easily shaped. It is also pretty strong. Just an idea.



Sorry, the link hasn't worked!

Edited 5 times. Last edit at 01/29/17 08:35AM by Ray White.

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