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Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: April 27, 2017 04:27AM

Hello Mike,
Yes, the Doble project should end in a fine car. Chris is very keen on the research and has been to New Zealand where he found more Doble parts for the car.

I thought that the Museum was a fine place with a good wide selection of vehicles and lots of steam exhibits including a room full of John Walton's steam engines from cars and boats to steam models and toys.They are also setting up his workshop.
Next to the Doble is a remade version of the Rover turbine car I last saw when it overtook us early one morning on the Briston road in about 1950 when we were travelling at about 80mph!
There is also a large section on bikes which include Chris'steam motorcycle that he is preparing for record breaking.

I think that your Stanley is in good hands. Chris does not hang about. We did see a grey streak going by one day and Chris has Isle of Man bike experience. I hope that he can bring it to a hill climb sometime. I expect that it will be at least as fast as Billy on the hill as I have difficulty holding the steam pressure and temperature on the start line when held up by the officials so I loose too much time on the first half. It must be quite a lot lighter too - Billy weighs in at 19 CWT without me on it which is its original weight.
Regards Bob

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: May 5, 2017 07:02AM

Last weekend I had a pleasant day driving the 1902 White up to Trevithick Day with the traction engines and steam rollers in the streets of Camborne. I am always asked to be there in the morning by about 9 o’clock so I do not have to move anyone (Health and Safety etc). For about 25 years I have set off from here and do my trip up there of about 25 miles and usually arrive about 10am to wend my way slowly through the crowd who love it. This time Nick Howell, who lives near me in Penzance, was coming up with me in his 1902 Toledo.
Both these cars have just returned from their week in the Isle of Man and were running reasonably well but with small problems.
Nick unfortunately soon blew his left cylinder drain cock out but he keeps a replacement pipe on board. He fitted the replacement but it screwed in a little too far and the result was that soon steam was leaking all around it and I had to take him back near his house to get this trailer. I then drove on up largely through the back lanes to arrive at about 11am.
Oh dear! On taking his car apart Nick found that the piston had hit his replacement pipe and cracked the cylinder head into four bits taking a chunk out of the top of his block as well. It is possible that the cylinder head was already cracked as the cracks did not look fresh and that would have allowed the drain cock to come out in the first place. He does have a couple of spare cylinder blocks but I expect that Cast Iron Welders will have another job.
Trevithick Day is a pleasant day meeting old friends many of whom have been steaming their engines for many years. There are still those who never knew that steam cars existed and those who cannot believe that a car can be 115 years old and still running.
I try to take a different car up each year, rotating my four White steamers, but my 1908 White has been out of action for a few years. I have most of the parts now to rebuild the rear axle but have yet to sort the crown-wheel and pinion which I thought was the only problem initially. Of course in the mean time I have put new wood in the chassis involving a nut and bolt rebuild of the car as well as having the upholstery restored. This job (mainly the pinion) seems to have suffered a number of delays out of proportion to the trouble!
After the parade which I led followed by Mike James Stanley, we both slipped off driving home. We cannot go quite as slowly as the engines!
The only problem that I had on the return run was the pilot light blowing out across Hayle Causeway which is exposed to wind. This unfortunately allowed the steam to cool. With no immediate easy run, I struggled up the next couple of hills before I could get the steam temperature up again with the mono-tube steam generator. Just 6hp requires everything to be right! Hills are easy if one has full temperature, conserves the steam and no leaks through the engine.
This car is much better now that I have remade the rear hub to fit properly and have smooth front tyres. It has probably added 5mph to the maximum comfortable speed with the wheels running truer. We can now do an easy 30mph (by Satnav).
The front tyres are “slicks” which are now being made again in the USA (Made by Firestone 4 ply 30 X 3 gum dipped supplied by Northants Tyres). With almost no steering geometry and very thin steering joints, this car does not like having a tread on the front tyres or it can get a severe shimmy on the front wheels after hitting a bump or a drain. I have seen this on other veterans on the Brighton Run. Hidden underneath I have fitted a steering damper for a modern car which I have yet to remove but with these new smooth tyres it is probably not necessary. When the car had its accident in 2001, we had to straighten the front axle and introduced some steering geometry which improved things a little. This of course was not a problem on early dirt roads. It is the grip of the tyre on tarmac that starts the oscillation. With no front wheel brakes and no attempt at hard cornering, smooth front tyres are not a problem and they do have “full tread” even if it has no pattern cut into it!
I am now going out to the workshop to prepare it for about 20 Aerial Square Four motorcyclists who are coming visiting here tomorrow.

Attachments: 2017 Trevithick Day.jpg (197kB)   Front tyre.jpg (118kB)   Rear tyre.jpg (139kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: May 15, 2017 06:59AM

We had a good day with the Arial Square Four boys although it was wet and most came by car (sorry Arial boys, wrong spelling last time).
The next day I was out at Trewidden Gardens for a Scope event again with the 1902 White as I had problems with a steam leak at the bottom of the 1903 car’s LP cylinder, hopefully just the copper gasket failed. I had steamed this up first to go to the event. As it turned out the public turn out at the event was poor probably as most people had gone to the beach on a very hot sunny day. I have just started preparing to take the engine out of the 1903 White as it can come out and go back in a day usually and is easier to sort on the bench.
The other problem that I have had with this car is that I tried some steam packing recommended as being very good but it contains PTFE and does not take the full White temperature for long. I will go back to my old packing rings.

I have just completed a three day engineering job making two new front shafts (one as a spare) for my 1908 White Model ”L” rear axle/gearbox. These are 11 ˝ inches long and have two squares needing accurate milling as well as various round parts. I milled the gear square on the center of the shaft to 0.01mm and it still did not fit. I had to polish off the surface to finish it to make the square fit using repeated tapping on and taking off and then polishing out the marks. Both shafts ended up with the square fitting one way with the hole for the spring loaded gear change in line and not at 90 degrees so I was accounting for wear in the gear’s square.
These shafts are this time made from EN8T and will be case hardened before the final diameter is ground on the shaft that keeps fracturing, before I have used EN24T without case hardening.
I still am trying to work out the best way to put in a spiral grove either in the shaft or the bronze bearing. I really would like this about ˝ TPI but of course my lathes go nowhere near this (I have yet to look into altering the ratios at the lathe head). I may be able to do it with the milling machine using the dividing head and the automatic long bed feed as the spiral does not have to be accurate.

Attachments: Gearbox shafts half milled.jpg (139kB)   Gearbox shafts milled.jpg (106kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Rolly (216.255.244.---)
Date: May 15, 2017 10:23AM

Bob if you have a dividing head that attaches to the bead screw it should be a piece of cake.
I have not tried using mine on my new mill as yet. The only time I ever used it was on my old 40 taper Arno Mill.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: May 16, 2017 04:27AM

16. 05. 2017
Hello Rolly,
I am not quite sure how you mean to set it up. I am attaching pictures of my set up. I picked up this lovely old dividing head at Beaulieu Autojumble some years ago and it has done sterling service for me.
I can use it by rotating the handle as the automatic feed goes along. The dividing head has 6 degrees per rotation of its handle or 60 rotations for one rotation of the work, about what I would head for over the three inches. I will probably need to do it in one cut as repeating the exact cut is not easy but the oil channel TPI is not critical. I will also need to do a few practice cuts. I can set the milling head at an angle to make a neater grove. I will have to start at the oil hole to make sure that I go through it.
The White engine runs the opposite way to a petrol engine. Looking from the front of the car, going forwards it runs anticlockwise. This means that looking at my shaft in the milling machine; I would only really need the two branches going downwards from the oil hole near the bearing centre. I would like to put in clockwise and anticlockwise groves to make sure that we get oil where to both ends going both ways. Although I am unlikely to be in trouble in reverse.
Will this remove too much bearing surface?
How deep should the grove be? I was intending to make it about 15 thou.
Any comments?

Edited 2 times. Last edit at 05/16/17 04:45AM by Steamcarbob.

Attachments: Milling set up.jpg (217kB)   Milling head without cover.jpg (186kB)   the work.jpg (157kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Rolly (216.255.244.---)
Date: May 16, 2017 01:42PM

My indexing head is a Walter UTA 100E, made in Germany.
It can be driven from the leadscrew of the Mill table for cutting Helical gears or spiral’s.
As the Mill table moves in one direction the indexing head rotates.

Attachments: DSC_0014.JPG (130kB)   DSC_0015.JPG (143kB)   DSC_0017.JPG (73kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: May 20, 2017 05:00AM

20.5 2017
Hello Rolly,
I am afraid this time it is a case the “There is a hole in my bucket, dear Liza—etc.”
I do have a similar looking dividing head to yours but I purchased it some years ago in a damaged state. It had probably been dropped and the dividing wheel shaft is very bent. I do not feel up to doing that job just yet and setting up an automatic drive to it just to cut a couple of oilways.
I do have another answer. A chap called Al, who cuts gears for racing motor cycles, came here yesterday and with Nick Howells for whom he does a lot of work. We chewed the fat on this 1908 White rear axle! We discovered that my two spare crown-wheels that were sent over from the USA recently are 60 tooth wheels where my 1908 car has a 50 tooth wheel. This might explain a little why my car is quite quick in top gear but can struggle with a full load on steep hills. We are also going to try making a silicon seal where the oil goes into the shaft to reduce any leakage back around it. I am going to use my present crown-wheel and pinion although a bit worn as the wear seems to be caused when the shaft breaks and not in general use and it is not discernibly worse than my photographs show in 2006.
Al has taken my two new shafts away to cut the oilway, get them hardened next week with the sets of gears that he has ready for the same process and then going to grind back the bearing surface which I have deliberately left 15 thou oversized.
Hopefully, I can then get my rear axle back together and the car running again.
I hear that Billy’s new blocks are soon to go to the machinists! I am working on improving the pipework with aluminium casing on it and modern insulation.
The 1903 White’s blocks are both at Cast Iron Welders to see if we can salvage both of them.

Once again the 1902 White comes to the rescue and is my workhorse for the season! The injuries on the other cars are all longer term jobs that I cannot do here but I have done lots of servicing and work on improving them in the meantime.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Rolly (216.255.244.---)
Date: May 20, 2017 05:29PM

Casting new blocks for a White is some project in and by itself. Great stuff. I do enjoy your post Bob.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: May 27, 2017 07:15AM

Well done Rolly, I am glad that at least one reads my ramblings,it makes it all worthwhile and perhaps may help someone along the line!

Earlier this week Nigel Tamblin, assisted by me, took apart my Bridgeport 2J2 milling machine head to see why it had developed the “hammers of Hell” in its head and why one section of the head had its very smart paint peeling off. Nigel is a very good steam engineer and has maintained a small railway open to tourists but is easing off as he nears retirement age.
This machine head comes apart in sections: first the motor, then the motor mounting followed by the brake, then the gears section with clutch and back-gear getting down to the spindle section. Luckily there are good videos of how to do it on You-Tube.
We found lots of black powdery muck in the top sections and the grease, packed thickly, was full of it. As we got down to the level of the paint injured section, a block of rubber dropped out about 1 ˝ inches long and pyramidal in section. Everything else was in excellent condition and the gears were not damaged. Most of the bearings were smooth and silent but a couple was getting noisy so we ordered new ones of these.
It then dawned on me what the rubber was. It was the remains of an old main drive belt that must have disintegrated and had been replaced before I got the machine. The inside of the head had not been cleaned at the time which would have involved taking apart the next two sections. This bit of rubber must have been stuck in the grease for many years and then come free. It had slipped down into the next section and ridden around a wheel being thrown off at the side and the constant bashing has loosened the paint on the outside of the aluminium casing. Being rubber, it was not a noise to say “stop now, things are disintegrating inside”. I thought that it was a bearing going and the gears getting noisy.
We ordered new bolts and bearings. We could not get the main drive belt here so I am having one sent over from the USA, with the postage costing a lot more than the belt! This one seems to be a Bridgeport special and runs the variable speed part. The back gear belt came off the shelf.
Yes, I should have stopped using the machine and sorted it when the noise started last year but the machine rests and then has an urgent job to get on with and I knew that I would need help with taking it apart. Anyway I believe all will be well. Really I think that I have got away with this quite lightly. This machine came to me cheaply at auction and has done sterling service over the 25 years that I have had it. It compliments my Smart and Brown lathe well as both machines can work to 1/1000 inch, or 1/100 mm in the case of the Bridgeport, so I have to work out things for that metrically. We await the mainbelt before reassembly although most parts are cleaned and some refitted already.

Yesterday, by way of diversion, I got back to some steam car work.
In the Isle of Man I noticed that I had lost a tap with its fitting from the right side of the condenser on my 1902 White. I had used a cork to temporally stem the steam flow. This was a good morning’s work to take off the condenser, then it’s right side with about 30 brass nuts and bolts to fit a new tap with its fitting. Luckily I had a near matching tap to the other side in my spares box and a fitting to adapt which will not come out again. Once done and much grotty old oil removed from the bottom tubes, it was just a case of reassembly and sealing the gasket. It is always difficult to get this totally sealed and the brass is really too thin and bends. Cork seemed too soft and cardboard did not seal. I am using a hardboard gasket now which seems the best so far. The gasket is about 18 inches long but not very wide.
Most of the Whites run at a vacuum in the condenser with a low pressure valve at about 5 psi going to the outside, all assisted by a 3hp four-bladed fan.
The steam on this 6hp White, with two high pressure 3 inch cylinders running simpled, can go through the condenser and any still remaining goes up the chimney. When working, one almost never sees any steam except on starting on a cold day even though it does not have a fan. This little White was the first with a factory built condenser and the White Sewing Machine Company had not sorted all the technology!

Attachments: Bridgeport apart.jpg (196kB)   Damage to paintwork.jpg (164kB)   1902 White condenser.jpg (205kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: June 2, 2017 07:21AM


The Bridgeport milling machine is now back together and running sweetly with everything working where some bits like the automatic quill feed had not worked properly for a few years; I had done it all manually. It worked for taking some bits apart, then cleaning and reassembling them!
The only real problem was the broken remains of the main drive belt from the days before I had the machine. One old rubber belt tooth was being beaten around on top of a wheel which is part of the back gear mechanism and the grease was full of old rubber.
I could not find a new belt in England, so the new belt from Bridgeport cost $70 in the USA and about Ł185 by the time it was in my workshop three days later, thanks to UPS. There must be cheaper ways of sorting postage!

I have also been solving another problem with the 1902 White. I have been carrying a battery around with a small electric pump to pressurize the fuel tank especially when on the road and after filling with fuel. There is a hand pump which I increasingly find hard work and a mechanical pump which takes a mile or two to raise the pressure about 10psi.
These were fine until ethanol was added to the petrol with the bonus of using the mechanical pump in emergencies. It involved stopping, getting off the car and fiddling with wires. This was acceptable When using unleaded fuel on which the car ran happily down to 20 psi. Going back to the Isle of Man confirmed that all was still well with the system when the fuel that was available was lead free petrol with no ethanol in it.
Back in England with the ethanol fuel with 10% heating oil added, when that pressure drops to about 28 psi, one needs to raise it again up to about 35 psi but one can easily be caught on a steep hill with too low a pressure and struggle to keep up the steam temperature. This drops and is soon followed by the steam pressure dropping.
I have now fitted the battery and air pump plumbed in under the front floorboard with a brass bell-push to operate it. The latter should gradually tone in and not look quite so bright; it may not be original but it is easily removed if not required. In the picture, the three brass pedals are the mechanical air pump, the disc brakes pedal and the bell push for the electric air pump.

Attachments: Air pump under floorboard.jpg (212kB)   Air pump bell push fitted.jpg (221kB)  
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