|'Whistling Billy' The Racing 'White' Steam Car.
Whistling Billy History Part 1
Dr Robert R. Dyke
Whistling Billy must have been a sight to see in its heyday travelling throughout the country racing on the dirt trotting–horse tracks. Here Whistling Billy is seen with the original driver Webb Jay seated in it in 1905.
In winter 1904/05 the White company built a steam works sprint car for the popular new motor racing on the dirt trotting horse tracks throughout North America. Many of these were one mile ovals so owners could compare any trotting horse across America on time over one mile.
The car was called The White Flyer but soon it was renamed by the crowds “Whistling Billy” because of the howl that it made from its burners going down the straights. (The names and most of the pictures come from newspaper reports of the time –Whistling Billy is known sometimes during its racing career as “The White Flyer” but usually the former).
The engine was a 1905 compound 15hp White steam car engine with Stephenson’s link motion but was soon modified to have a piston valve instead of a slide vale on the high pressure side because the slide valve could not be effectively oiled under the extra steam pressure required for racing which was initially 800psi. All Whites after 1907 had this modification. The cylinders were the same size but the standard cars were now termed 20hp for the 1907 and 1908 seasons. The steam generator for Billy was a 30hp mono-tube as used later in the 30hp cars of 1907 onwards. It basically has eight coils of half inch ID steel piping like the 20hp cars but has an extra circle of piping on each coil.
The White company tell us in their advertising literature that most other parts were stock parts from the production cars. The length was 14ft and the weight 19cwt unladen (2128 lbs).
The fuel was gasoline or kerosene. I am using 80% gasoline with 20% diesel at present as this mimics the early very low octane gasoline. I find that three 0.060inch jets is as large as I can use at present but I have heard that much larger ones were used.
This car soon started winning races; on July 4th 1905 it took nearly 4 seconds off the World track record for the mile with a time of 48.35seconds (about 74 mph). Webb Jay was the driver and he believed that he was driving the fastest car in the World. These came from the White Bulletin;
Next page - Part 2