Last week I took out the 1908 White for a longer run and visited Chris Relf on the way around. He is busy reassembling his 1909 White rear axle. Lucy was really going quite well as far as the flowmotor control was concerned but I think that I need a little more heat in the fuel so I will try increasing the kerosene a little. I am in fact running it on some very old fuel of dubious mixture.
All was going well until I was nearing St Just after a long run through the lanes at low speed in top gear and had lost the coil water and pressure although the temperature was still OK. I stopped and ran the engine in neutral to pump water through but there was a nasty “crack” so I shut everything off and looked around. There was nothing wrong under the bonnet or floorboards. I then spotted a bit of metal by the rear left wheel. It was part of the pin of the rear universal joint. A nearby mower repairer and vintage motorcycle enthusiast gave me lift for the 2 miles home and I fetched the trailer for the rescue.
The UJ was bent and twisted on the end of the propshaft and the pin in two parts but the rest was alright. The cover which should have been leather but was a modern vinyl type material had also cracked letting the pin escape. The pin is held in by a screw cap locked with another screw. This little screw must have come loose and escaped letting the cover unscrew. The pin had broken against the very strong axle movement damper. My brother had a similar problem three years ago in the Cotswolds but caused more damage as he was on a steep hill.
I found that I still had four propshaft ends as castings, so set about machining one. This is quite involved as they were threaded on and then brazed. First the bent one had to be machined off the 6ft long propshaft by jamming a slightly tapered steel plug in the end and holding it in my lathe by that and using a fixed steady half way along the tube.
I tried threading the casting and silver soldering it but to be sure I welded the end as well. I have never had one that I have put on like this come off although I did have the original brazed end give up when the car was only 80 years old. I had done about 110 miles that day and had to be rescued by the AA as I was still about 50 miles from home.
Before fixing the end onto the shaft, the next job was to drill the hole for the pin and then with a threaded bar through this hole, machine the threads for the caps (an odd sized 20 t.p.i. thread just under 1 1/8 inch diameter) and drill and tap the locking screw holes which were originally 7/32 inch Whitworth but are now M3.
I next made the pin out of EN24T. This looks like a simple 5 inch long bar but it has milled slots down the side, a hole up the centre and grease holes which I stagger on each side. It needs to be accurate and I ended up polishing it for the final fit. I had a couple of spare caps that I made when making Billy’s propshaft so that saved a job. On assembly I put lock washers on the locking screws so hopefully I will not have this problem again.
Once assembled, I fitted it on to the car and painted it. I have now fitted a new leather gaiter made by David Gibbons to keep the dirt out, the grease in and hopefully retain the cap if ever one comes off in the future.
I have now loaded Whistling Billy into my trailer and am off to Redruth early tomorrow morning for Murdock Day which I think the town would like to be as big an event as their neighbor and rival Camborne Trevithick Day. It is growing!
I had a good day at Murdock Day in Redruth with Whistling Billy. We were tucked up in a car park behind The Red Lion with a steam roller largely blocking the entrance but we still had a constant crowd looking at the car and wondering from where it came. I pushed it out of the trailer as the rain stopped at about 11am but it then rained more heavily so it went back in for another hour before coming out again. I steamed it up and drove it around the car park but soon ran out of fuel. I have been idle and not checked it while doing my testing over the last week or two. That suited me quite well as the working area was not large enough to get the speed up to bring in the burners. I had to stop and run the engine up every few laps.
The noise, smell and appearance of the car seemed to excite many. I ended up with four more events to go to rather than just completing one!
It turned out that I had not run out of fuel at the last event but had failed to tighten the fuel tank cap tightly enough.
Why that did just not show a low fuel pressure on the gauge?
I assume that I did not have the valve between the two tanks fully open! That is an odd combination of problems I can only put down to senility! I must do better next time!
Last Sunday I had another good day with Whistling Billy down on the Seafront at Penzance for charity run by Rotary. Again we had a constant crowd all day and I steamed Billy from about 11 am until after 2 pm when it got too hot for me and the car. Packing had burnt out on the pilot fuel start up valve because of not enough air flow through that area with the heat from the burner. This does not happen when the car is more active or the weather cooler. Also a joint on the oil to steam line running the pressure regulator started to leak and I was then overheating the pressure regulator. One needs this bronze part to remain at a temperature where one can put a hand on it but this time it got hot enough to start discoloring the bronze.
But still, three hours steaming in those conditions was good work for a sprint racing car and she pottered up and down the promenade a few time.
The fuel regulation system was working fine with the flowmotor, the temperature by-pass and the burner cycling on and off. I did get a couple of blowbacks but these were cured by parking facing the slight breeze off the sea. A breeze from behind tends to blow down the chimney and cause the fire to light back along the venturi. They cured this on the car in about 1908 by having a rectangular cover over the chimney instead of the angled cap but I copied the earlier design and am reluctant to change it.
After this event I serviced the car as usual. It needs much more attention than the road cars as everything gets stressed with the power and the very fast firing with the 30hp steam generator and burner and 20hp engine. I have written out a servicing sheet in case anyone else has to do the job. I will copy it as an extra. Someone might use some of it in servicing a White.
Servicing Whistling Billy between Events
1) Remove bonnet
2) Remove exhaust pipe and after unscrewing water blow-off cock
3) Repair any leaks in steam, oil or water lines noted in last running
4) Drain water out of two taps under sump
5) Clean filter by Finnegan pin
6) Check piston and valve rods packing glands tight on engine
7) Check nuts and packing glands tight on water pump at both ends
8) Check packing glands on two simpling valves and the nut in the centre of the yolk are just tight
9) Check oil is through the pressure regulator to the steam line by opening the gland at the bottom of the dash and the nut onto the steam line. Pump steam oil to the steam line and then CLOSE THE VALVE
10) Look at the flowmotor and check the two packing glands on the fuel needle are just finger tight
11) Clean the engine with WD40 or similar
12) Replace the exhaust pipe and water blow-off cock
13) Remove and clean the three fuel nozzles and the filter in the 2 inch extension for the nozzle
14) Check the packing glands on the pilot light, its filter and the firing up valve as their packing can overheat
15) Replace bonnet
16) Check the drivers compartment for loose nuts or screws on steering wheel or instruments
17) Fill oilers
18) Fill pilot light fuel tank with Hexane almost to top (enough for one days steaming)
19) Fill main fuel tank and check that its mountings are tight
20) Fill water tank to top of baffles
21) Pressurize fuel tanks to 50psi
22) Check tyres at 55psi
23) Tighten a little all grease glands
24) Wipe car over with WD40 rag
25)Occasionally lightly oil the wood in the wheels with boiled linseed oil /turps
Edited 1 times. Last edit at 07/08/18 04:10AM by Steamcarbob.
Last Sunday Chris Relf and I took Whistling Billy to “Wadebridge Wheels”. There were about a thousand cars there on the showground site. It is good to have good smooth tarmac and toilets etc.
We were the oldest car and as usual Billy created a lot of interest in steam for over three hour. All seemed to go well. I got back and went into my usual servicing routine on Tuesday and found that the HP crosshead which is like a piston about 3 inches long and the same in diameter had lost its liner which had ridden up to meet the packing gland. It still went up and down a bit with the crosshead. It really should not have a liner but be one item but it was worn on this engine and I sleeved it. The sleeve had split. It will be made from EN8 the next time with no liner.
I made a new crosshead some years ago for my 1908 White which would be the same. I consulted a university professor in metallurgy and he advised me to use Meonite –a fine cast iron. That went with a bang on a tour soon afterwards and I was lucky that the block was not destroyed as the Meonite crosshead had broken in half. Talking to him afterwards, he said that he had forgotten to tell me that it was good in compression but useless stretched but it would wear well! He had not realized that these early old engines were double acting.
I took the engine apart, taking the block off and the pistons and valve gear. I then reassembled the engine using my second crankcase which is all assembled ready for action when I machine the new blocks (White engine H 383 of 1907). I last used this engine a couple of years ago when I cracked its block again. It is a great help having a spare engine especially when things are rather over stressed when in use. All the parts are interchangeable to such a degree that I am not always certain which bits were off which engine.
I now have the engine back in the car but it has several fittings to go on before I can light up again so this Sunday I am taking out the 1908 White to a Rotary Show in Hayle. It has not had an outing at a show outing for about four years.
The ongoing alterations to the fuel are really upsetting the White function down here. Some areas such as The Isle of Man still get no ethanol in the fuel - How lucky they are! Last year on tour there, my 1902 White loved their fuel when I changed back to it after the first couple of days using the fuel that I had taken from here with which I had struggled on the hills.
We are about to get a second alteration in the fuel this year from what I am told by a supplier. Ethanol makes a big difference on the specific gravity of the fuel and thus the heat produced. I want to escape totally from this bun-fight and use different fuel. It is much easier on the later cars which use a separate pilot light tank.
I am looking for White 6 inch vaporizers with three sections and six 1/4 inch rods. If anyone has cast some in recent years, let me know. If not I will make a pattern and have some cast.
The vaporizer in Billy at present is one of these which are used for Kerosene. I am testing the fuel now with a specific gravity tester like that used for alcohol brewing but covering a different range. I found some on the internet and the cheaper ones are better than the first expensive one that I found.
By using a certain specific gravity of fuel it seems that it will vaporize reasonably well with certain vaporizers. The jets will have to be altered too. Whites advised using Kerosene on their later cars (jets go down from 54 thou, marked 3-54 Gas, to 46 thou, marked 3-56 Ker which is a drill number). And a card should live in the toolbox telling one what to do when changing fuels. I do have some of these if they are needed.
The pilot light needs to be quite good and sometimes one needs to have it at a different height. I had to turn down Billy’s at the weekend with the hot short vaporizer to stop it blowing back. Once set right it was no problem for the rest of the time in steam. I am setting things up to change Billy over to Kerosene as the main fuel.
Chris Relf and I took Lucy, my 1908 White Model “L”, to Hayle Rotary Day last Sunday. I had first to clean the main jet as I steamed up when I noticed that the outside was messy. The main jets were really dirty and carbon ridden inside, outside and partially blocking the jets probably from dirty fuel. That was my fault for using up old fuel! We were soon in steam and the car worked well until I turned it off about three hours later.
This car had not been out in public for four years apart from my odd trip on test and I am always amazed to see how many people still have not seen my steam cars or often even were not aware of the existence of steam cars.
We had a good day but it became very hot and tiring by about 2 pm so we sheltered in the trailer. We packed up and loaded for home at 3.30pm. I usually would drive the 10 miles that we were from home but the problem would be getting back with my health only slowly improving, the heat and the dreadful traffic.
I am including three pictures of the car at this rally. Unfortunately I did little brass cleaning before the event (in fact this year at all on the car). The buckets on the back are what we use when touring. One usually has some water in it for emergencies but also for such jobs as cooling jets if we have problems. The second bucket has a 30ft climber’s rope inside attached with a climber’s clip which acts as a sinking weight so that we can pick up water off a bridge etc. In the bucket also is a metal sieve bent to the shape of the oval water filler so any larger bits (moss etc. off the bridge) are filtered out. It is always good fun and entertainment filling up somewhere in rural France etc. this way and the great advantage with water is that it is in the valleys, so one usually has enough steam remaining to run down off the hills and find it. The car takes about eight buckets full.
This weekend I was going to the lovely estate of Boconnoc in East Cornwall for their rally but with the hot weather and the traffic I have been persuaded to look after my health and not to go. Instead I will as usual go to our local St Buryan Rally which is Saturday and Sunday. I might make the second day but I will see how I am.
Billy is ready for action so I will take that car. I am gradually increasing the amount of Kerosene in the fuel and reducing the jet size. I hope to be on 100% Kerosene soon with the right vaporizer (the short 6 inch one), ¼ inch vaporizer rods and jets to give full power all the time and keep the fuel well vaporized.
I am not doing any testing at home as my fields are too tinder dry with the hot weather. I would hate to start a fire here! I usually have a track around one of the fields just to make sure all is working well as taking the car on the main roads is a bit of a challenge with no rear suspension on uneven Cornish roads with high over-grown hedges. Billy also has a very long nose to get out of blind junctions.
The trailer is a carefully set up system but getting old now after about 15 years of going around Europe. It needs a good internal clean. Our sponsors do not want to design and supply a new trailer cover for us but the old one will probably only survive another couple of years. Really it all wants taking apart and some of the metal joints re-welded, the frame painted etc.
As well as transport and a pits for the cars, it has been a great social centre on rallies, auto-jumbles etc but I struggle now as it does. As well as my resting place, it has been good this year both as a rain shelter and an escape from the sun for me and some of the public, especially mothers and babies escaping the heat.
The other point about it was that it actually cost about a third of a complete purpose built commercial trailer and I could not find any set up as I wanted them. I purchased a new Bateson tilt-bed 3.5 ton trailer ordering full length mudguards and it took me two days to make the over-frame hinged as I wanted it fully opening on the left side and rear. The weight is taken on the side and on the rear door with hydraulic car door openers from the scrap yard. An electric winch loads the car in it. The extra weight of the frame was 220 lbs. It now weighs about one ton. It had to be tall enough (6 ft 6 ins top to floor) to take the 1908 White which is 6 ft to the top of the seats.
I paid the local sale maker for the first cover but after five years we got this cover supplied by Brittany Ferries and have advertised for them getting subsidized travel over the sea to Europe. It becomes sleeping accommodation easily, with mattresses stored on the side and a toilet if required. Cooking and washing-up are up at the front and fuels etc are stored on the far side. We had some great evenings at the Dorset Steam Fair with the trailer as a kitchen and then band stand for our jazz group. For auto-jumbles it is ideal. Returning from Europe the bottom layer under the car is usually full of wine!
The only downside of the trailer are the low profile tyres which are too fragile and we always damage at least one when abroad. Bouncing into a French drain will cut a hole in the sidewall and clipping any bit of concrete will damage the tyre. I have never had problems with trailer tyres before these ones but we now carry two spares all the time.
Whistling Billy and I did a day at St Buryan Show but the second day I did not go as the weather was very poor and one day is enough for my health at present.
The following Sunday Billy and I went to Ruin Minor down on the Lizard peninsular. They have a very enjoyable little rally and Billy won a salver for “Best in Show”! We did a few laps around the ring and steaming went well but we were not going fast enough for the burners to come in. I had to keep stopping to rebuild the steam. This was probably caused by the bottom water pump leaking.
The following Tuesday was “Morvah Pasty Day”. Morvah is a very small village about 5 miles from us. This is a delightful little day out where pasties, tea, scones etc. are sold in the old church. There is live music staged on an old horse trailer and quite a few stalls.
I have a place reserved for me to park a steam car in the centre of the action. Last year I took the 1903 White. This year I hoped to take the 1908 White but I am trying to get it running on kerosene. I have about 80% kerosene in petrol at present but I still have an 8 inch vaporizer with rods in the car as I do not have a second 6 inch one (Billy has that one) which is what it needs. I have made a pattern and am going to have some cast. The car steamed quickly but I could not stop it blowing back. This is not very logical and I am going to take another look at the flowmotor and its fuel needle as it was not cutting off sharply enough.
Anyway, I put it away and got out the 1903 White Model “C”. It steamed easily but as I was warming it up there was a "bang and a woosh” from the generator area; something in it had let go. I have not done anything inside the generator since I had the car but have spent many hours on the engine and the pipework from the generator to the engine. I think that a pipe has just cracked but stainless steel was used and not the proper steel.
I put this car away and steamed the 1902 White Model “B” Surrey. It steamed as easily as ever and Claude, Joseph and I went off, climbing our hill for the first quarter mile quite slowly but as soon as it was up on the more level ground and warmed up we went along to the usual 30 mph. She really behaved very well with no problems and grand-daughter Emma rode on the rear seat for the return trip.
After the trip my son Michael came over to collect Joe and Emma. He looked into the engine compartment and spotted a silver plated half-pint mug in the pipework. The next day I took it out. I had evidently put it in there with a bit of wire on the handle to keep it steady, to hold in the insulation on the pipe while some fire cement hardened--- and forgot to remove it. This must have been there for a long time and put there when I was not in the workshop but in my trailer, perhaps in the Isle of Man last year. It could not escape from its position. It has now been removed and polished up again. My wife’s father won the cup for runner-up at the Wimbledon Open Squash Tournament 1946 – 47 and it has done many years of service as a drinking vessel in the trailer where it will no doubt continue its function.
I hope that I have now sorted the 1908 White blowback problem. I found that the thread on the fuel needle (0.094 inch) was not clean inside its tubular fitting and I had not threaded it into its proper position. I think that it will be alright now as the needle seals the fuel completely hopefully making blowbacks impossible.
Yesterday I took Whistling Billy to The West of England Steam and Vintage Rally at Stithians. The car worked alright but I still have a problem with the bottom water pump not working properly. The hemp water pump packing in what looks like a mustard source that I used is too old and hard with the “source” dried. I need to get some fresh packing. This packing was too hard when I purchased it! Billy running at up to 800 psi will not tolerate poor packing anywhere.
I would like to find some steam packing like I had from my father’s kit which had copper within it. That worked well on the valve stems which are always difficult to keep in on this car. I have never seen it for sale and only had a short length. Has anyone seen it for sale?
The West of England Rally is a three day show. I left Billy up there where it will be on display today and I will be back up there tomorrow steaming. I will have to clean out the pilot light as it was getting very congested with carbon after sitting still for too long and using the kerosene which is still a bit smoky while I am adjusting the parts for this fuel which is new to the car. Billy has always suffered from sitting around too long and is much happier going around a track where there is more cooling to the pilot light area.