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Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: September 10, 2018 03:57AM

My workshop has been busy for the last couple of weeks. As well as a full service and repaint on my workshop’s compressor I am making ten short 6 inch vaporizers for the later Whites for use with kerosene. These short vaporizers sit directly over the pilot light where it is very hot but the longer eight inch ones have their end over the main burner and it is slightly cooler. For very cool fuel such as alcohol, the vaporizer was ten inches. One would think that these are all the wrong way around with the shorter vaporizers being the hotter ones….Wrong!
White vaporizers are cast and all have six passes in the casting after 1904, the earlier ones only having four passes. The jet sizes and the pilot light heat also need adjusting. I have never been able to get anywhere near enough heat from modern unleaded fuel and our diesel plus unleaded is becoming a problem with the increasing ethanol in the fuel; I am told that it is going up to 10% this month. Thus I am going to try using Kerosene on the later cars and at present sticking to unleaded with 10% kerosene in petrol (with ethanol) in the earlier cars which can manage on this.
These ten new vaporizers first needed a pattern which I made and the castings are now being cast in SG iron. They will have to be drilled (60 long holes and 50 short ones) and threaded.
The fifty short 5/16th screws for connecting pipes needed cutting short from my stock and fifty washers found for sealing them.
My brother is sorting the ninety 7/16th Whitworth end screws with washers which are drilled in the threaded end for the rods. We have not been able to find cheese-head stock for these.
I have completed the sixty ¼ inch rods which needed machining down to 1/16th inch for an inch and then tapering at each end.
We also need 20 reducers from ¼ to 1/16th inch NPT.
When this is all done, I hope to have vaporizers and spares for my two later Whites and for my brother’s car. There could be 4 available for others. People will have to make their own tubes into and out of the vaporizers suiting their cars.

Billy as usual after a weekend’s work at The West of England Rally at Stithians had to have a good service and the HP cylinder head gasket and the inlet manifold plate gaskets renewed. I checked the surfaces for flat with engineer’s blue and the inlet one needed some leveling where the plate had warped a little. I think that I am going to have to replace the machine screws with studs and nuts torqued down on this car which is running at twice the original designed pressure at 800 PSI, but that can wait until I fit my new blocks. I also had some packing to sort as usual and improved some pipes by replacing too straight runs with circles to allow for vibration. The car is now getting older and I have to look at more long term maintenance rather than straight track work keeping things as light as possible. I am also considering anything that I need to rebuild and possibly redesign during the winter.
The sort of thing to consider is the air pump which runs quite a heavy 2 inch diameter iron piston off the front crank. I could well remove the complete bronze casting and the pump rod and piston. This would get rid of a large lump running eccentrically off the crank and the front crank weight would then need reducing and rebalancing. This could be quite an improvement for revving faster at the cost of losing a hansom lump of bronze pump on the right side of the engine. I have not found or seen any pictures of the original Whistling Billy engine or chassis layout so I could not be sure what was originally done. I would then have to replace the fuel tank air pump with an electric air pump and small motorcycle battery which I have already done on the 1902 and 1903 Whites as it makes life much easier with the modern fuel where their tanks critically have to run at higher pressure. The early cars still keep their air pumps but they were always troublesome and they do not like the higher pressure.
Another thing to consider is replacing the rev-counter with a speedometer. I do have a lovely Jones 0-100 mph period speedometer and it would really suit Billy very well. The problems are the take-off but I could well make that neater than the present rev counter with some thought. Having one speed, the drive can come off the engine or the prop-shaft (the neutral gear is in the rear axle and it does not have a clutch as such) and does not have to come off the front wheel. It then acts as a rev counter as well as a speedometer but the milometer would over-read.
Last Saturday Whistling Billy went out for a pleasant afternoons work on show but not steaming with about half a dozen Ariel Motorcycles and a very smart Triumph Stag at a local tea party in Heamoor at Trengwainton Gardens Tea Rooms where £2000 was raised for a cancer charity. We were kept busy all the time. I hope to do longer events next year but these little jobs are easy for me as I recover my health.

Attachments: White 6 inch vaporizer.JPG (204kB)   6 inch Vaporizer parts.JPG (140kB)   Instructions from WHite for fuel change.JPG (236kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: September 23, 2018 06:47AM

We were all very sad to here of the passing of Arthur Thomson. He was a great White owner and runner of his 1904 Model “E” and 1910 Model “00” Whites. He was a very gentle driver and seldom if ever needed to work on the car after a day’s run. He and Pearl have been on several runs with us including following the rivers in Germany with their steamers.

I have decided that I do not use the 1903 White enough and I am going to sell it. If I need a veteran I usually take the 1902 White which has the same firing system and I do like the tiller steering. If I want a four seater for touring I will usually take the 1908 White and of course the racing car is quite a different kettle of fish altogether with no rear suspension making it anything but a touring car. That is my testing bed and great fun.
The result has been that the 1903 White has largely sat idle this year and that does not do the steamers any good. They are much better used a bit more and I need a bit less work to do at present although this car is now quite well sorted. I even move it around the workshop on compressed air as it copes easily this using 120 PSI of air. I have an airline connection on the blow-off valve, as I do with all of the steamers.
Little is known about the car before 1950 but it was an English bodied car by Cann & Co of London and had lost its correct rear seats. It was briefly owned by Dennis Blackford until he purchased the 1903 White saloon and concentrated on that car selling it on to Clifford Ewins for a year before it went to Alan Betteridge. It has a long history of London to Brighton Runs with Alan Betteridge doing them from the 1950’s to the time he sold it to Paul Morgan in 1993. With Alan the car was painted White, had a bench rear seat and was registered CR 13.
Paul had the proper body fully restored and it is now a four seater rear entrance Tonneau as it originally was. It is now painted blue. Paul also had the brass fittings Nickel plated to save polishing. The brass top angled parts of the bonnet he had sprayed blue but the paint peeled off the brass last winter while it was under covers. I have polished them as brass at present.
Paul did London to Brighton Runs from 1996 to 2000 before he was killed in an aircraft accident. His son Patrick I believe then did three more Brighton Runs before it was left in the garage.
I purchased the car in 2014 when the family decided to move it on. I found that there were a lot of problems. The block was cracked and the HP valve surface worn to a very strange curved surface rendering the block unusable.
Where to find another block?
It just so happened that I had a spare 1903 block on my garage shelf! I cannot be sure from where it came but I suspect that it was with a lot of parts that I picked up from Dennis Blackford’s workshop after he died in the 1980’s. The parts included the White engine H4 that is in Billy and the fittings for that engine with all its pumps, the dashboard with the instruments, the water tank and its fittings, the pedals and a couple of chassis members. Almost everything that I collected has now been used!
This block was in quite good condition needing very little work apart from the usual servicing. I have since had the old block repaired and it is almost ready for use as a spare.
I had many other problems with the car. I soon had to replace all the pipework and fittings between the steam generator and the engine back to the original design, they had been re-invented but with poor function. I took off the temperature gauge that had been fitted with inadequate fittings onto the steam-line. It was not working anyway! If someone wants to ref-fit it now they can use the proper steam testing well as originally fitted.This was never an original fitting on the early cars.
I found that the dog-clutch that had been fitted onto the prop-shaft, although a useful thing to get the engine warmed up, can easily cause engine damage. When one opens the throttle enough to get the engine turning over, it invariably revs away much too fast as there is no flywheel on the engine. It had also dented the fuel tank at some point when it had been over–stressed in the past. I took it off and made a new correct new prop-shaft. The one with the dog-clutch on it will go with the car if anyone wants to try it. The car is safer and easy to drive without it but one just needs to do a lap around the car-park or start slowly on the road on starting it up.
Now I think that the car is quite reliable. Although I have not done Brighton Runs with it, we have toured in Germany, followed the Midi Canal in the South of France and toured in the Cotswold’s and New Forest with good reliability. It drives at about 30 mph and climbs hills well but does need a bit of care looking after the steam.
I am running it at present on unleaded petrol with ethylene and 10% heating oil (kerosene). I am quite sure that with decent fuel (that is unleaded petrol without ethylene, ideally 70 octane) it would be even better. The answer could be to put in a second fuel tank under the rear seats with hexane to run the pilot light on and then use 100% kerosene. I am sure that then it would always have enough steam for anywhere. We found in Heidelberger that we could climb the switchback at the back of the town quite easily with four people up.
Over the last four years, as I have sorted this car, I have written what I have done in these pages where anyone can follow them. Now I feel that it is mechanically fairly sound. Somebody should have a lot of fun with it!
Contact me soon if you are interested, otherwise it will probably go into the pre London to Brighton Auction in early November.

Attachments: 1903 White Model C(s).jpg (136kB)   1903 White.jpg (148kB)   Rear of 1903 White.JPG (99kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Peter Turvey (
Date: September 28, 2018 05:25AM

Bob can you pm me about the 1903 White


Peter Turvey

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: October 1, 2018 03:53AM

Hello Peter,,,,, and anyone wanting to know more about this sale ---

Please telephone me on 01736 366195
or possibly mobile on 0755 3458354 but this is not reliable at our house with intermittent reception.
There is some urgency at present as there is some competition.
Incidentally, the registration number will go with the car and the price is well below the last one like this sold at the upcoming auction.

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 10/01/18 04:15AM by Steamcarbob.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: October 4, 2018 03:36AM

The 1903 White Model "C" is sold and should appear on events next year in England.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: October 15, 2018 06:56AM

The little 1903 White should be off this week to its new home. The purchaser had already booked a holiday and will be back soon. I have found many parts, some old and some unused, that came with the car and will leave with it. Many of these I would never use as they were unnecessary modifications but among them are treasures such as a spare cylinder block, the prop-shaft with a dog-clutch on it (which I would also not use again!), a temperature gauge which could be of use but never originally fitted and an oil separator which is not much use and in the way when getting at the engines packing glands. White abandoned the latter very quickly. Drizit is much simpler and more efficient at removing the oil from the condensed steam or water but just flushing the tank out White considered adequate.

I have now moved on to getting the 1908 White sorted again. It has not been performing well since its last total rebuild over four years while I rebuilt the chassis with new wood and had the upholstery restored at great cost. The latter has all come apart with the very little use that the car has had as clearly the glue used in the repairs was not fit for purpose if the car was going to be used. I think that the university leather repairer was just used to repairing articles to sit in a museum.
The problems with the car’s function largely come with the fuel problems. It is very difficult to set the system up with varying fuel. I have learnt from my son who runs a garage that unleaded petrol that is supplied by the tankers can very between 0 and 7.5% ethanol and even the suppliers don’t know what they will get. What hope have we of getting supply of consistent fuel? My only answer is either to go to kerosene if we can find it at good quality or to test each batch. I had almost come to the latter conclusion. I was interested to see in longtime American White runner Dick Hempel's letters, which have a huge amount of information for White owners, that they had similar problems back in 1983. Many ended up using aircraft kerosene but be careful that it does not have lead in it or it will block the jets very quickly.
It could be that with an exact amount of diesel at precisely 20%, the car could cope with the varying ethanol. My brother’s car is going well on that at present but what percentage of ethanol was in the petrol that he is using this time? It could have been 0%.
I am finding that my car is not maintaining the temperature of the steam and seems to lack water as it warms up.
I have had another go at setting up the flowmotor. I put it on my test rig and found that the bypass was not opening quite early enough so I shortened its valve rod by nearly 1/8 inch and now it is spot on. This adjustment in turn reduced the flow of water through the flowmotor to the steam generator. One checks the water flow as the bypass starts to open. I corrected this by deepening the water groove which took three goes of testing and then taking apart and removing a bit more before reassembly and retesting. This work took a full day.
Have I now done enough? These are all very small adjustments but the White system can be quite difficult to set up correctly to give constant temperature and pressure of the steam. The varying fuel almost over-rides all this set up. The ethanol in the fuel can just slow one up so much on hills that climbing them is an embarrassment. I also have a problem in this locality as there is hardly a flat road around here and one is told “to run three miles of flat road before checking the settings”. Not a chance!
Here I will say that the Stanley does have quite an advantage. White set up a system that needs to be spot on to get really good performance and economy. The Stanley is considerably cruder but much easier to sort out, if less economical with fuel and water.
I have also converted a vaporizer nearer to the correct kerosene one as I now have a full set of rods in it. It is however the 8 inch one and not the correct shorter 6 inch one and the passages and rods are smaller. This gives a similar vaporizing volume however which Dick Hempel rated as very important. My new proper vaporizers for kerosene are being cast and should be back by the end of the month. I have now made all the fittings ready for ten of them apart from a pipe reducer for which I have just obtained the metal to make 20 off.
The vaporizer as now fitted I have steamed with once. It definitely improved the firing with only an occasional blow-back and that seemed due to the pilot light going low. I am using kerosene with 20% unleaded petrol in it at present. I would like to use pure kerosene but the little extra petrol seems to help at present. I am judging the suitability using the specific gravity of the fuel. What a variation there is of the S.G. testing the unleaded fuel! The last lot of unleaded petrol went to the bottom of the scale on the measuring S.G. machine.
I will as the weather improves again have another road run to see if I have made progress. Some of the pictures I have put on before but they are the flowmotor ones where the set up is very impotent to White owners.

Attachments: White 6 inch vaporizer.JPG (204kB)   Flowmotor apart.jpg (190kB)   Flowmotor testing rig.jpg (234kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: October 17, 2018 06:51AM

Well, progress at last!
Having lit the pilot light and warmed the car up, I maneuvered around my yard and went off down my drive. I went down the road 50 yards before going up a lane below our property. About 300 yards up the hill I came to a gradual halt with no steam. I stopped and got the steam up to pressure and set off again. She went like a train in bottom gear up the next quarter mile to where I could put her into top and cruise on. I then had a great run out around St Just and back.
Why had it stopped on setting off with no steam?
It is simple really. My drive has steep slopes and maneuvering around had used up the water in the coil without getting the revs up to work the pumps to replace it, aggravated by the fact that the car was not properly warmed up and using more water than usual. I should have run the engine up again before setting off. It may need a little more water going through the flowmotor on slower speed as well but I will do a few runs out to see how things are when the car is fully warmed up which takes a good three miles on the road.
I did get some over-heat of the steam at one stage which this car has always done just after setting off and I will check that the thermostat is fine and I plan to improve my clack valves with adjustable tops. This is a modification that White seems not to have thought about but it makes life easier by having the clack valves quickly checkable for clearance which is critical. It involves making new valve tops with a bronze rod threaded at 32 tpi with a lock-nut in it to adjust the clearance. One turn of the screw from tight on the ball upwards is then the correct clearance. That is much easier and more accurate than squashing lead over the ball or trying to use measuring instruments. Billy will get these too.
I am much happier now that this car is at least ready to go out on trips. It could still need some fine adjustment on the fuel and water supply but first of all I have to make sure that there are absolutely no water leeks anywhere. I do have several problems to sort such as it is tending to jump out of top gear on occasions and the upholstery has to be resorted.
The fuel problem is an ongoing issue and I am going to try some “steam car fuel” which seems to be quite pure kerosene. I will also soon be getting my proper kerosene vaporizer castings which I will drill and tap. I have already made most of the fittings for them.

Attachments: Lucy in St just (2s).jpg (93kB)   Lucy in St Just(s).jpg (146kB)   Lucy in 1908.JPG (134kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: October 21, 2018 05:34AM

Yesterday I was out again with the 1908 White. I went out to Marazion and had a look at St Michael's Mount much to many people’s amusement, many of whom had never seen a steam car.
The car went quite well but still tended to slip into overheat mode much too easily. I found that I had to hand pump water into the steam generator on several occasions. This never usually happens on this car.
I am using about 90% kerosene as heating oil with unleaded petrol (probably with 7.5% ethanol) at present giving an SG of .775. I have an eight inch vaporizer with 5/16 inch passages and six small rods fitted. The jet size is three X 0.050 inch.
I have reset the flowmotor groove a bit deeper and, on the test rig, it just passes an American gallon of water in 1 minute 40 seconds as it should as the bypass opens.
We will try again today. I may have to reduce the jet size to 48 thou (which I will have to make) as 46 thou seemed too small and was not giving enough power on the hills.
I also need to recheck the clack valves in case one is slightly out of adjustment.
The White system takes considerable work to set up correctly but once there it should maintain the steam temperature and pressure up hill and down dale and this car is a very capable tourer when set up correctly using reliable fuel.
I will now set out again while the weather holds.

Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: October 22, 2018 06:57AM

Not such a good day's steaming but on hillier ground! I found that the temperature control was poor and I kept running into over-heat up to 900 degrees F and even a bit higher. One needs to stop the car at this stage to save damage to the rings and valves.
Setting the thermostat lower, I was unable to get up to temperature and then resetting it up, it would go too high again.
Thermostat fiddling does no good on Whites. Once set and working it should be left alone and other problems searched out.
I will take the thermostat off and put in new packing, checking that the rod is alright. The rod that I have fitted at present on this car has a stainless steel casing with a divided steel centre. It is possible that the riveting inside has broken as I have had that before. Perhaps it is not opening the water by-pass valve properly, but I could be wrong. This design is a modification from about the 1980’s and does usually work well. It is unlikely to bend.
The original grooved copper rod also works very well until it jams in the packing and seizes up bending into a banana shape. This is especially a problem when the car is used less often when the packing can seize around the neck of the copper rod. So many people now have the new design as they are not using the cars every week.
I will also make the new clack valve tops with adjustment on them as these must be right. I did check them all with pressing a lead disc but that can give some inaccuracy.
The other problems possibly causing poor steam temperature control are still the fuel and the possibility of water leaks. I think that I now have these sorted well enough to be able to ignore them at present but one malfunctioning clack valve can be enough to cause trouble.
I recall a day in Wales when we suddenly developed 1000 deg F on the steam and about 1000 PSI pressure as we approached a cottage by a river. I switched off the fuel and stopped. The problem was the tiniest of leaks in the flowmotor’s bronze casing which I repaired, with the help of a model engineer whose house we had stopped beside, by soldering on a penny. It just shows how sensitive the system is!

Attachments: Lucy with St. Michael's Mount.jpg (133kB)   Thermostat with old copper and stainless rods.jpg (213kB)   The water bypass on the end of the thermostat.jpg (150kB)  
Re: Whistling Billy Replica
Posted by: Steamcarbob (
Date: October 26, 2018 06:13AM

Yesterday I modified my clack valves on the 1908 White “Lucy”. I am not usually in favor of modifications but some are good and Whites could well have used them if they had been around 110 years ago. This is one of them which I will describe in detail for others who want to do it. My brother has done it on his 1910 White “OO” and it seemed to make a marked improvement.
The clack valves were bronze capped with a surface that had to be filed back until the clearance was 32 thou over the ball. The ball would slowly take the seat down from almost a square edge, which is the best, to where it sits in a seat that was about a 45 degree angle and this was much less effective. The gap would have either increased under the cap so either the end needed drilling out and a longer plug silver soldered in, the seat turned over to use the bottom edge, or a new seat made. Most of mine on this car had silver soldered plugs in them. I was going to make new caps but I thought that I would use the old caps as a shortcut as they were nearing the end of their life as they were.
First I took some 0.5 inch A/F brass and made bolts with 1.5 inch of 5/16 X 32 tpi thread with the end 1/8 inch denude of thread to stop it being bumped flat and jamming. These had a groove milled across the top so one can see the place for adjustment. I made lock-nuts from the same brass. Next I drilled and threaded the caps down through the centre, opening the threaded end a little with a large centre drill so as I had clearance around the tip of my bolts. I then made nuts to fit, tapering off the edges. The taps and dies used were Model Engineer 32 tpi. This gives 32 thou clearance for one turn.
Now they were assembled and put each in its place on the car. Each cap was screwed down tight and then the centre screw tightened down gently. It was then backed off one full turn and locked in place with the lock-nut. Now the clacks are all set fairly accurately set at 32 thou and can be easily checked and reset.
Next I am going to do the same job on Whistling Billy. There are eight of these to do on the car and possibly two more on the condenser return pump (not on Billy and less important to be absolutely right).
I have put in a couple of pictures to illustrate these clack valves but some of the stems on them may be shortened for neatness later after I have completed Billy’s ones. I have also added a picture that happened to be on my camera of the driving seat of a model steam car that I made in my digs with the simplest of tools when I was a medical student. It went well!

Attachments: Adjustable clack valves.jpg (159kB)   1908 engine with new clack valves.jpg (196kB)   Model steam car.jpg (188kB)  
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