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Model T Ford Steamer & the Planet Engine
Posted by: Donald Cook (
Date: February 22, 2014 12:02PM

Model T Ford Steamer & the Planet Engine

Those of you that are SCCGB members may have read Richard Pinkís article on his Model T Ford Steamer in the Steam Car magazine No.60 & 61. I would like to congratulate Richard on what he has achieved, having very little engineering experience and even less workshop equipment!

During 2012 Richard made the decision to part with this project so following the Teesdale Tour my son Andrew was successful in purchasing the T from Richard.

The T is fit with a Planet 4 cylinder single acting radial steam engine made in 1950. We think there may have been less than a dozen made and this one could well be the only one left. To understand the engine better we took the decision to dismantle it - I will write more about this latter.

One thing that has us baffled is the pipe work that joins the four cylinders to the sump Ė please see attached photo. The connections on the cylinder walls have a small hole which is just uncovered when the piston is at bottom dead centre; this must allow a small amount of steam to blow into the sump, below the oil level, not a good idea!
Can anyone out there hazard a guess what this pipe work is for?


Attachments: planet 02.jpg (254kB)  
Re: Model T Ford Steamer & the Planet Engine
Posted by: Old timer (86.112.62.---)
Date: February 22, 2014 01:55PM

Hi Don,
Is it a form displacement lubricator? George

Re: Model T Ford Steamer & the Planet Engine
Posted by: Donald Cook (
Date: February 23, 2014 12:34PM

I donít think so George as it has a mechanical lubricator that feeds oil into the steam line to lubricate the valves and the top of the pistons same as a Stanley.


Re: Model T Ford Steamer & the Planet Engine
Posted by: Mike L Clark (
Date: February 23, 2014 04:10PM

Could it be oil going the other way to lubricate the bores?

Steam from the cylinder approaching bottom dead centre provides a bit of pressure in the pipe to the tank while the piston going up has less pressure, may be even suction to pull oil up to lubricate the piston skirt. The motion of the four pistons obviously balances out so that doesn't change crankcase or sump pressure but there may be an imbalance between the pressure in the pipes which pumps oil to the bores. The fact that the pipes to/from the bottom of the cylinders are quite large suggests that the designer was thinking there might be fluid friction holding back the flow of oil. Rapid change of oil flow direction would need big pipes.

Beautiful engine Don and I recall how nicely it ran in the Model T. As you said Richard's work on the concept of the whole system was a remarkable effort. I like the use of pressure pumps and a pressure switch to operate the burner instead of a Stanley steam automatic - that idea worked brilliantly, just on or off, no half burning modulation, pops or bangs.


Re: Model T Ford Steamer & the Planet Engine
Posted by: (
Date: February 23, 2014 05:46PM

It probably injects oil in a small groove around the circumference of the piston below the piston rings at BDC. Entry point is lower than the piston face. A long skirt on the piston keeps it covered through the stroke. It could work like that, but I don't know how that particular engine worked.


Re: Model T Ford Steamer & the Planet Engine
Posted by: Donald Cook (
Date: February 24, 2014 06:38AM

Richard Pink did suggest that it may be to lubricate the little ends of adjacent pistons, when one piston is at BDC, two others are at 90deg. to it. But the gudgeon pins are hollow and any oil going in here would just go down the centre of the pin. There are no none return valves in this pipe work at all, I think for this idea to work it should have a none return valve where the pipe work connects to the sump, which I could fit and would allow oil to be lifted from the sump and stop any condensate going into the sump, which is my biggest worry.

I donít think lubricating the bores is a problem as the oil level when the engine is stationary is above the bottom two pistons Ė i.e. the inside of these pistons are full of oil and when the engine is running the oil is thrown around allover the place.


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