I broke a reach pole on the Model H. These came from the US when I bought the car in 1992. I assume they were hickory but were not particularly good specimens and the one which broke was made with the grain lying horizontally, rather than vertical which would have been stronger. I replaced then with seamless steel tube and had no further problems.
I wanted to keep the wood poles on this car as they are a strong part of its personality. They do flex a bit and the ones coming off have a slight permanent bend. I expect that steel would have worked alright. We used ash on Billy's wheels as well as on these poles as we found that the quality of hickory was just not available -I think the Americans must sell it all to China for pickaxe handles!
I now have the new poles fitted and am linseed oiling them to darken them in a bit and show the grain as well as treat the wood as per a cricket bat. I took the opportunity to remake the steering joint pins which always wear and give play as they were almost cycle sized on this car and pivoted from one end rather than each side which gives a large mechanical disadvantage.
We have just had a grand run from my brother’s house in Lifton to Bridestowe on the almost deserted old A30 road which is now replaced by near motorway roads. This is an easy distance of about ten miles each way and a few hills as it is on the edge of Dartmoor. It would be a good spot to base a tour if there was better accommodation in the area.
My brother was in his 1910 White “Medicann” –i.e. A doctor’s coupe bodied by Cann & Co. of North London as were almost all the English imported Whites. This car is now going much better with the steam temperature being kept nearer the 750 deg F mark with a better mixture of fuel and slightly raised pressure from 50 psi to 60 psi although it can start to howl at this pressure. A few more runs and it should be spot on. It is certainly climbing the local Devon hills much better.
I took my 1902 White as the 1908 one is still awaiting its new pinion gear. This went well and climbed the hills in good style. Most of the time it was a case of holding it back with steam in reserve but I still need to do a little extra hand pumping of water on steep hills. This car only has a single acting water pump and although I have enlarged it by about 1/16 inch it is still not quite enough.
We had a good lunch and then returned in the afternoon. We use this run most years to make sure that the cars are ready for action. His time a journalist wanted to do an article on John’s car.
Nick Howell came with us as he has done this before too with his Toledo but it is awaiting parts still for its burner.
Chris Relf also came for the day out. His 1909 White Model “O” is at present having the upholstery remade. The body is almost finished on this car and the chassis is nearly ready for it after a full strip down. This was Francois de Backer’s car from the South of France. He had found the remains in Ecuador and rebuilt it with his own style of body. We have paid many visits to Francois and Colette over the years and the car was going reasonably well on the last visit but age was catching up with him and he was finding it too hard to keep it working. Last week Chris rebuilt the pressure regulator on this car. I supplied a new spring for it as the spring hardly had any movement remaining in it being about 0.3 inch too short after being compressed for over 100 years. Together with re-bushing and re-pinning the lever and making a new Finnegan pin, this should help it to maintain the pressure more accurately.
Last weekend my brother John took his 1910 White and I the 1902 White to a country house called Coombe Trenchard which is near comedian Jethro’s home on the old A30. We had a pleasant couple of days mainly avoiding the rain which was about. The event was very low key with expensive stalls on the lawns, good food and a saxophone band amongst other attractions. There were about fifty cars on show but we were the only pre-WW1 ones.
John found on the second day that his car would not bring in the fire when he turned from pilot fuel to main fuel on light-up. This was clearly a water problem but on checking there was water in the tank. He then took the filter out from the bottom of the water tank. This has been remade with a fine mesh looking like it should really be for fuel but the steam oil with a little dirt was blocking it. This is only a low pressure filter and the water is sucked through it from the tank by the pumps. He cleaned it with detergent from the kitchen and we then steam cleaned it using my car’s blow-off valve. All then worked properly and his car went very well on return up some quite steep hills. I think that this has been a problem for some time and may explain why he has not been able to start easily on steep hills and has intermittent performance. It clearly needs a coarser mesh on the filter to allow free water flow from the water tank. The oil in the water tank is very glutinous and one can see how it easily obstructs a fine filter.
I have been busy lately rebuilding Billy’s main engine. I have a new block and now have the pistons ready riveted onto the new hard chromed rods with new Clupet rings fitted.
I have just made new valve rods out of EN24T steel with highly polished stems. I am trying this instead of the usual hard–chromed rods which have had the hard chrome peeling off the rods on the 5/16th diameter where the half inch piston roads are alright. It seems that White used a steel like this in the early days. I am not sure if hard-chroming was then available.
I have been able to use the old HP piston valve as the diameter is now about 20 thou below what they were after the surfaces on the old blocks from had been honed out and these fitted oversized. It just needed a careful skim and polish to fit.
The LP flat valve Chris Wedgewood kindly sent me from the Isle of Man as my one had a fine crack through it which I only found when I started to lap it flat. That was a lucky find as it breaking the valve in half could have caused serious damage.
My next job is making a new packing gland for the HP piston valve as the threads are poor on the old one. These also need to be more accurate as they soon leak if they are not when running the engine at 800 psi. They are made of bronze and presumably shrink a little within the cast iron block with the heat when steaming and so eventually the thread is a little looser.
I am replacing the machine screws that Whites used which hold the block and its fittings on. They may be adequate for the standard cars on normal pressure but I am going to use studs and nuts torqued up to try to avoid the burning out of the copper gaskets which Billy seems good at.
I will also be making blow-off valves set at about 1000psi to go on each cylinder. I have the casting lugs ready tapped and drilled.
I now need to make some new copper gaskets and remake the studs which are too long. I can then start assembly. I have already sorted the bottom half of the engine making a new crosshead and that all seems very smooth and free.
Most of this work I am preparing before final assembly. All needs to be together, tested and run in for Chateau Impney on July 13th and 14th .