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Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: March 31, 2018 06:39AM

I have rechecked the files. My computer tells me that they are jpeg - so I will try again.

It did not work. Sorry. My machine certainly confirms they are JPEG and the folder tells me in red that it only accepts JPEG. It will not accept my pictures. Perhaps I am daft!

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 03/31/18 06:43AM by Steamcarbob.

Attachments: 4 G memory 356.JPG (134kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: April 21, 2018 07:15AM

We actually have the sun out again! I am putting away the thermostatically controlled heaters from under the cars and the first one has been outside for a polish-up and look-around to see what needs doing. This is with me the 1902 White Sewing Machine Company Model “B” Surrey.
It is apparently the only early White Surrey remaining and has the original rear seat as advertised by Whites as “for your man”. It is still a very original car although it has had a few runaways with Sir Charles Ross and me before I fitted the disc brakes for emergencies. The latter can be unbolted and removed quite easily.
This car does get a lot of use, possibly more than it deserves for its great age. Last year we toured in The Isle of Man with it and other rallies. It is quite simple with a White mono-tube steam generator and a Locomobile like engine but is a joy to drive and keeps up with the larger cars quite well. It is slower but has a large water tank and a condenser so needs fewer stops! Over the years it has been my “spare car” if any of the others are out of action and booked in somewhere. It sits in my workshop ready to go and has been remarkably reliable.
The first thing that became apparent was that I had not managed to get oil into the cylinders at the end of last season. I give about a dozen pumps of oil into the steam just as I run the last few feet when finally parking up. Moving out of the garage yesterday, the cylinders were almost seized and very squeaky. The engine has just one speed and is permanently connected to the rear axle by the chain drive similar to a Locomobile. I will have to be careful steaming to get plenty of oil in there. The oiling is all by hand on this car –one gives a squirt about every half mile and more on the hills. It becomes a thoughtless routine after a while but is difficult when first done.
As I polished the woodwork, splits on the side panels appear a little larger than last year. These were ash panels and the left one is quite damaged. They move with the heat from the steam but after 116 years there is now some collapse too. The ash does denature and become more like balsa wood with heat, oil and abuse over a very long period. We had to replace the bottom of the monocot wood body after an accident in 2000 and one side panel was replaced with marine ply but that one has developed fine chip lines along it destroying the lovely finish that was on the wood. The bottom wood frame had denatured before this and the body had dropped nearly an inch in the middle so it was already booked in for the repair before the accident which was a runaway when the bronze brake drum collapsed.
The question is “do I do anything to it or just keep using it as it is”?
I think that I stabilized the problem last year with powerful wood glue. I might just try a little superficial improvement now and remove any excess glue and touch in the paint. I am not one for great finishes which were never there in the very early days. I would rather see the car in its used state. Ths car is hand painted but the panels did have a fine finish on them once!
The brass is half polished now and I will complete that. I am recovering my health slowly but still am limited in the amount of work I can do before resting.
The leather is treated. I was advised not to treat it at all by our expert who worked on my 1908 White’s original leather but I just do not think that that is correct when a car is in action, subjected to winter storage in not ideal conditions, then it goes out in the rain. She restores ancient leather items and they sit in a museum in ideal conditions with temperature and humidity control.
This car has treaded tyres on the rear but smooth tyres on the front. The latter I fitted after finding that the car developed a shimmy after hitting drain covers or uneven ground when it had Dunlop Cords on the front. The steering mechanism on the car is very light and of primitive design. I fitted a steering damper after checking the steering many times and then tried some old treadless tyres that I had found at Beaulieu Autojumble. These tyres ended the problem but after a few years one split. I then went back to treaded tyres and even fitted a new steering damper. Then a couple of years ago I found some smooth tyres again made by Firestone in the USA and obtained by Northants’ Tyres. They are fine and I have no steering shimmy but I still do often check the steering for alignment and wear as I go around oiling it. We did add some camber on it after the accident as there was none originally and we were straightening it. Are these legal? Don’t ask! They have a full tread but are slicks. The car only does about 35 mph and there are of course no front wheel brakes. I have yet to get a front wheel slide!
Next I will move onto the mechanical side and see if I can get some oil into the cylinders; probably spray-oil to start with as the inlet enters into the valve chest. Pressurized penetrating oil with the car jacked up will probably sort it and as a bonus soften the packing. The engine and chain will also have a paraffin wash.
Then it will be grease, oil, fuel, water, pressure check on tyres and tank and apply the blue touch paper.

Attachments: Ready for 2018 season.jpg (234kB)   Rescued. 1902 White pictured in 1950's.jpg (240kB)   right ply panel.jpg (168kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Mike L Clark (
Date: April 25, 2018 02:55PM

Steamcarbob Wrote:

> Then it will be grease, oil, fuel, water, pressure
> check on tyres and tank and apply the blue touch
> paper.

and stand back!!!!

Could you stop the body sagging by means of a Stanley type truss below the base?

Good to hear you are back in action Bob. As an old blacksmith chum would often say "Keep banging 'em in".


Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: April 26, 2018 06:36AM

I try to keep the car as original as possible and the main ash “chassis bar” along the side of the car is very light (sections are 2.6 X 1.16 inches) but the wood had really gone very soft. It had to be replaced and hopefully the next one will last 100 years. Adding a metal bar out side or an angle iron underneath it gives more heating from the metal and little drainage of oil. I suppose in 1902 they considered that this wood would be treated like a carriage member and they forgot the heat and oil factors. In my 1908 White I have had to replace the wood in the chassis twice since I have had the car and the flitch plate is much of the problem as it transmits the heat into the wood. These will not be my problems about a century on!

Saturday went surprisingly well with me lighting up the 1902 White and steaming up and down my yard really with no problems, not even a light-back on the burner!
Bessie was returned to her resting place this time with lots of oil in the cylinders. I have asked a friend to tow this car in my trailer up to near Camborne on Saturday and we will attend Trevithick Day. I usually drive my cars the 25 miles up there but driver failure could be a problem this year so we will only be a mile from the action at when unloaded!

Next I moved onto the 1903 White Model "C" with English body by Cann & Co but rebuilt by the last owner with all new woodwork. As I took the cover off it, I was surprised to see that the paint was peeling off the tapered cone brass parts at the top of the bonnet (not unlike the old Vauxhall shape). These should be polished brass but had been painted over at the previous owner’s restoration as he nickel plated all the fittings to avoid polishing work. Presumably this part was painted as it could not easily be plated. I cleaned off the remainder of the paint and polished it. Now they join the tool box lid as the two parts on the car which are not nickel plated. I suppose that I will gradually take the plating off the other parts. The condenser will be a problem as I think that he used stainless steel to replace the brass when he had it rebuilt. That will be a big job. I do have a lovely large pair of brass acetylene lights to go on the car but I need to find or make mounting brackets for them.

I am at present tackling the rear brakes. It originally had on each side at the rear a single brake shoe of bronze which was forced open one side by the lever. The lining was either copper or coppery bronze. It had two right side levers fitted to work these brakes so I have already sorted the left one so that it now comes on nearer the top of its movement and not way past it. It is still not good enough. The right one actually works quite well to the extent that the right wheel woodwork has twisted slightly as the brakes I hear had been used "in extremis" in the past with the left side hardly working.
The problem is that new brake shoes have been fabricated but they have been made ¼ inch too small even with a thick liner. This resulted in the previous owner adding braze on where the lever works. There is still not enough build up on it and the round center of the lever no longer centers the shoe. I think that the shoe can be made to work well if I cut out and remake thicker blocks that work the brake, this time properly shaped to locate the shoe. We shall see, otherwise I will have to make new shoes again. The modern liners are hardly worn.

Attachments: Brasswork on bonnet uncovered.jpg (221kB)   Replacement and original shoes.jpg (216kB)   Brake lever angle is now corrected.jpg (156kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: May 3, 2018 07:11AM

We had a very good day for Trevithick Day. The weather remained bright and sunny with a cold breeze in places. About thirty large traction engines is quite a sight in town where the old ploughing engines and showman’s engines are reaching the full two stories of the houses. There were as many smaller engines and the Trevithick engine steaming also. These and the bands, the stalls, the jugglers, stilt walkers and dancing folk in the streets, make quite a spectacle. The crowd was large but not too intense.
Having pulled the trailer out of winter storage and loaded the 1902 White in it on Friday, Claude towed the trailer up to Camborne where we parked about a mile from town and steamed in. Chris Everett was also with us. He had previously set up the St Just Steel Band which used to play opposite where we parked next to the doctor’s surgery. This spot is great as we were in a lovely sheltered patch of sunshine and the dancers and bands went by, coming from the road opposite.
We had a lot of interest in the car as usual, meeting up with many old friends and acquaintances. The last two years I took the 1903 White and before that Billy, so it was this car’s turn, next year probably that of the 1908 White.
As a friend who attended with his grandchildren said “this could hold its own with any great spectacle as a day out and it is free to attend”.
We went off at the start of the engine parade through the town and then off to the trailer as it makes hard work going very slowly behind engines. The pace is really too slow behind rollers to work the pumps so hand pumping is then required and at present I am avoiding any excess exercise. The little White behaved very well without a blowback or requiring me getting off her. I usually drive the cars that I am taking the 25 miles each way. It completes the day out as some of The Steam Car Club members have experienced in the past. Perhaps we will have another tour at this time of the year again soon as West Cornwall is very pretty now and not too crowded.

This week I have completed repairing the brake shoes of the 1903 White. On each side, I cut out the area where the lever works on the shoe which had been built up with braze. Then I welded in a block of steel, drilled the correct size of hole for the centre of the lever to locate in and then milled the gap through the middle in which the levers operate. With adjustment of the rod lengths, this made everything work properly and I now have brakes that come on evenly and fully after about four clicks of the handbrake. The foot brake on this car is on the transmission behind the engine and is always covered in oil. It has a special lining to run in oil and is good for slowing the car but quick stopping is done with the hand brake lest damage is caused to the transmission.
I was chatting with a friend and his question was “how could they possibly use copper or brass for a brake lining”.
My answer was “This is the first year that they had proper brakes on each rear wheel and they knew no better at the time”. Whites from the cars that I have worked on continued to use metal linings until 1907. I am not sure when other cars started to use composite linings for brakes. Perhaps that was yet another development from racing cars such as Whistling Billy.

Attachments: 31400961_10155663395847058_7319644047943925760_n.jpg (10kB)   31408377_10155663396032058_8305297093430345728_n.jpg (9kB)   31494053_10155663395992058_3905211009731657728_n.jpg (10kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: May 27, 2018 04:30AM

18/05 2018
After having managed Trevithick Day with my improving health, I then sorted the 1903 White brake levers so that they were at least working evenly. The next problem was trying to sort out the increasing blowbacks that I had been having on this car.
I took the burner off and the slots needed some cleaning but there were no holes in it which is a common cause of problems in the later grates. This is one made at Ilmor by Paul in 300 series stainless steel. He sent me the drawings and I made one for my 1902 White, cutting it out of a 16 inch diameter billet of stainless one inch thick( the blank was over £300), quite a job with its ridges and furrows. The 1902 grate was identical to the 1903 one except that it was less raised in the centre sections but I did have my old broken one as a pattern. We also made the pans of stainless steel as they were made of tin and rusted through. The burners now weigh twice as much as the originals but should last a good 100 years. Both these two burners have remained just as they were made after about 25 years and the slots are still the correct size after a quick clean which is more than can be said for the originals where the cast iron crept in to make the slots smaller. They also easily cracked resulting in blowbacks before repair. A wire brush was enough to clean this one and this clearly was not the problem causing the blowbacks.
Next I cleaned the pilot light which was fine with only a little carbon in it.
This just left the vaporizer which is a casting about eight inches long in which the fuel travels up and down four times (six in the later cars) giving a 32 inch tube. The main channels were a little congested and soon drilled out with a long series drill but the crossing parts at each end with access through the side screws were virtually totally blocked with carbon. Here was the cause of the blowbacks. This could well be the result of my experimenting with fuels to get a clean burning one using the petrol with ethanol and diesel or heating oil. The present fuel mixture of unleaded petrol with ethanol and heating oil 10% seems to burn cleanly after the first couple of minutes.
I was recently given a Manual for the 1909 White steamer which was hard bound, done probably by the original Devon owner; I have not seen one like this before. In it was a newspaper article done by the car’s mechanic/driver in which he tells us that he managed 29,000 miles in under 2 years on their poor roads and had to clean out the vaporizer every 1000 miles unless he was doing a lot of town driving and then at 800 miles.
I have handed this book on to my brother as he does not have one for his 1910 White and he does live in Devon. I have been cleaning my vaporizers at the end of winter service each year; is it enough? .
I also blocked with fire cement the gap around where the thermostat comes out of the main burner casing. This is a small hole about 1 inch diameter in the early car but it has been made over 2 inches on this car to take the head of the thermostat within the casing, easier to fit but not to stop the flames from coming out and causing a light back at the main burner. Eventually I will make an inside plate for this but it will involve taking the steam generator and its case out of the car and I do not intend to do this heavier work at present.
This work resulted in almost no blowbacks and my eldest son came down for the weekend with eldest grand-daughter Polly. William had not driven this car before and we spent the first afternoon driving up and down my yard followed by a short trip around the lanes. The steering wheel with the throttle in the centre takes some getting used to and this car also has a small steering wheel which is quite sensitive especially when worked with one hand while the other is on the throttle.
He did very well and the next day we did a trip of over 20 miles to visit Chris Relf who is progressing with his 1909 White restoration. We then went on through Mousehole, back through Newlyn and Penzance and back home. The climb out of Penzance went particularly well with full steam temperature and the car making the hill out of town in fine style. William then took off a little too much steam halfway back and we went slower for the last section which is still a good climb. We are about 500 feet above sea level here three miles from Penzance (at sea level). One does have to keep a close eye on how much steam is used on this car and carefully keep enough for the next hill especially with second rate fuel. I have seen a report in the early days of one of these cars climbing a mountain almost as fast as the later cars but the fuel was then for what the system was made. Fitting a steam temperature gauge would make life easier as the first thing that is lost is the steam temperature dropping from 750 deg F often down perhaps to 400 deg F and then one is unable to generate steam fast enough for the next hill. White did not fit a pyrometer until 1907.
The 1903 White is now resting and I am trying to sort out the 1908 White which had a nasty fire from the fuel problems when I tried it out last year. It has not run since. It will probably take me two day’s work to polish the brass

Attachments: Thermostat valve and venturi as I got it..JPG (174kB)   1903 White thermostat and generator.JPG (192kB)   1903 White burner and vaporizer.JPG (123kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: May 27, 2018 07:36AM

While I was waiting for some bronze for the 1908 White’s flowmotor, I had a look at Whistling Billy. A quick check and steam test showed a very leaky engine as it had done nothing since coming off Castle Combe race track on a demonstration speed run 18 months ago.
I next tested it on compressed air. I always fit a compressor connection on my blow-off valve. This makes it easy to see where the leaks are without burning ones fingers. It was soon obvious that the HP cylinder was leaking as well as the HP valve cap next to it and some packing glands. I took both cylinder heads off and found that about 1/5 of the HP one had gone. Using hot steam at up to 800psi does have its consequences!
A new gasket was soon made and the glands repacked or tightened. I was very happy that I could find no cracks in the block which is what I expected. I still have my new blocks on the bench ready for me to start machining which I think that I am now fit enough to do.
Retesting with compressed air showed all the leaks now cured and the engine ticked over well.
I then steamed the car and all seems well with the burner cycling on and off well and the temperature coming up to and holding at 750 deg F (400deg C). I have not yet done a road run. I need quiet roads to take this one out and I do not have a local track for testing.
There is a video that I made of the car running with its body off on Facebook. I will try to get it onto the club site.

Attachments: c993b129ed88392e37b0477c089452cf.jpg (209kB)   Small Castle Combe.jpg (149kB)   2011 at Dorset Yet to steam!.jpg (49kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: May 29, 2018 01:07PM

The next White to sort for it’s after winter service was the 1908 White. I started with a little polishing of the headlights, sidelights and a few other bits but not up to the standard of my old late friend Harold’s work. I find that while cleaning I pick up a few problems.
The burner, pilot and vaporizer have hardly been used on this car since the last service so I will leave them at present.
I soon got to checking oil, fuel and water and added four extra gallons of petrol as the last time out I had had a nasty fire probably caused by the ethanol in the petrol dissolving out the diesel and then burning it in the burner pan. This, my brother has found, is remedied by having less diesel in it and replacing the diesel with heating oil (a purer form of kerosene). I probably had a bit more than my usual 20% in it as I had been using up old fuel.
The car did steam alright but the flowmotor only came in at much too high revolutions of the engine demonstrating what I already realized, that the piston in it is too worn. I did manage a trip around the roads but it was hard work keeping enough steam in the lanes. Running on the quicker roads was not a problem.

I will go into the flowmotor in some detail for those wanting to do the job! It is an essential part of the running a White well on a steady steam temperature.

Removing and taking apart the flowmotor showed the piston, which should be 1 7/8 inch, to be almost 2 inches in diameter as its cylinder had been re-bored a few times. The bush needs to be 3 inches long. I ordered some hard bronze for this and found the jigs for doing the boring as well as the original piston. I am not certain with what the piston was originally coated. I am not really happy with using bronze again because of the scratching from dirt. I wonder if nickel plating or even hard chroming might be more satisfactory but mine only ever had bronze running in bronze for the 30 years that I have had it, and that was the first time it was run since 1915.
I took the original piston and finally got a decent surface on it at 1.840 inch (it should be 1.875inch). This should make little odds and will allow for extra re-bores. My bronze sleeve had ample spare inside and outside so I bored the inside of the flowmotor to 2 inches and made the insert an easy press fit as I did not want to strain the old outer casing. Old repaired bronze is quite fragile although it will have a pressure of up to 600psi in it!
I next carefully machined the inside of my bronze sleeve to fit the piston, finished it to a fit with fine emery and then polished it so that the piston just fell through with fine oil, as old friend Dick Hempel said it should. It required much cleaning to get all the grit and fine dirt out for this fit which should be measured in 1/10 of a thou.
The next job was to cut a V slot in it 1/16 inch deep at one end and tapering to almost nothing. This lets a set amount of water pass, varying with the speed of the water pumps and the engine. I started this with a hacksaw and then used a hand file. This took some while. It probably should have been machined but setting up the delicate tube would have been a problem. I expected to have to take more out later and if too much is taken out one fills the groove with soft solder and scrapes that out to get it right. The main groove needed to be shaped however while the bush was out of the flowmotor body.
Next I coated the cylinder in Araldite and pushed it in with a bit of old broomstick, a good fit.
When all was dry, after reassembling it, I tested it on my rig. This sends the mains water into the usual end where the water pumps will pump the water. My rig has a useful little clamp on it as it originally was a thread tapping machine. I use this to clamp the hose and adjust the water flow; pressure does not matter as long as there is enough to overcome the spring loading the piston. The jig also has a vice in which I hold the flowmotor by its flat plate designed for holding it; one must never grip a flowmotor by its body or one is likely to ruin it forever. I also have a pipe that goes on the exit where I collect the flowed water going usually to the steam generator. The water volume passed is what one measures.
Opening the tap allowing the water to flow through it, pushes the piston down and opens the fuel needle. One lets enough water through so that when the fuel needle has gone 1 inch, the 20hp cars should pass 1 gallon of water in 1minute 40 seconds (the 30hp cars 1 gallon in 1 minute 10 seconds). Please note; these are American gallons – forgetting this caused me problems when I first set the car up!). Having the tap on the hose allows one to adjust the flow accurately. The needle movement is measured by the movement of the nut at the joint to the rod going to the piston.
Just after 1 inch of fuel needle travel, the bypass at the rear of the flowmotor starts to open. This prevents the steam generator from flooding when the car is running fast. I found that the hole in this was too large and I made a new bush in it with a hole at the correct 73 thou (it was about 110 thou). I wonder if I got this part swapped with Billy’s by mistake when I made up that cars flowmotor. Again, Dick Hempel considered this bypass size to need to be correct to maintain the White’s working steam temperature.
On testing I was passing about half the required amount of water to the generator and had to enlarge the groove several times until I had it right. Each time the flowmotor has to come apart and the groove enlarged. This work should allow the car to run much better and on temperature which it had ceased to do well.
While on the flowmotor, I should mention that I have added a small modification that I am sure that White would have done now. I have fitted a very small nitrile “O” ring under the head of the flowmotor needle (0.093 inch diameter). This is only just compressed because the needle has a tapered head and that restricts the compression. What it does do is shut off the needle so that it is right off and holds a vacuum if sucked on when off the car. Originally it relies on the neck of the needle being 1 thou tighter in its bush near the neck but this will wear to give a slight leak. I have found that this is affective at stopping blowbacks due to whisping fuel at the burner nozzle.
This work left me ready to test steam the car. I found that the burner was on too long and I had some overheating. Think that this is a fuel problem. Fuel that is not burning hot enough strangely causes overheating as the burner has to stay on for too long to bring up the settings on the by-passes for temperature and pressure. Then one gets into the land of burner blowbacks with local excess heating.
The quick answer to this is to increase the fuel tank pressure and make the burner more powerful. This helped a bit.
The second string to the bow is to enlarge the jets until the car starts howling and then drop back one size.
The third way and really the best is to adjust the fuel to get the right mixture while the fuel tanks are at 50 to 55 PSI. This takes longer.

All these this time are complicated by the problem of trying to set up the flowmotor and thermostat correctly with poor fuel. It will take a while! Oh, to have fuel available here with no ethylene in it!
I still have more testing to do with the car and what it really needs is a relatively flat long road to get it sorted. We do not have many of those around here and when we do the holiday traffic is very fast!

Attachments: flowmotor ready for taking apart.jpg (162kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: May 29, 2018 01:19PM

For some reason two of the pictures did not transfer. THey were of the flowmotor apart and my jig for testing flowmotors. I will try again

Attachments: Flowmotor apart.jpg (190kB)   Air pump under floorboard.jpg (212kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: May 29, 2018 01:23PM

This time the wrong picture was attached - I cannot even find from where the last one came. Here is the jig---hopefully

(I have now found my problem with the pictures. When I have resized a picture smaller to fit in the maximum size, I have to close the program and reopen it again before the computer readjusts the size - other people could have the same problem).

Edited 2 times. Last edit at 06/08/18 04:38AM by Steamcarbob.

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