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What Do Stanley and Tesla Drivers Have in Common?


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Waiting in line to add a few miles of range!  Joan and I just had our 1911 Stanley at a steam car tour in Massachusetts.  Great people, fun roads.  We even got to drive a few laps on a road race course, and climbed Dead Horse Hill in Worcester.  Daily runs were on the order of 45 to 80 miles.  Steam tours have designated water stops, where there's a hose available.  Most hoses don't put out huge flows of water, and most Stanleys' water consumption is about a mile a gallon.  So the waits started to look like those at electric car charging stations on a holiday weekend!  Fortunately, no one on the tour was in anything resembling a hurry.

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Posted (edited)

I was thinking the immediate torque range on steam and electric would have been faster and more than a 4 cycle gas engine when I read the title. Now I wonder. Is it cheaper to pump water than to charge an electric car? And with maybe a 100 plus year old hand pump you could even save the electric bill and provide some exercise at the same time . Dandy Dave! 

Edited by Dandy Dave (see edit history)
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Just curious how well a steam car tolerates well water or even city tap water?

 

With a powerplant background I'm big on using distilled or other highly purified water in batteries, cooling systems and even the clothes iron to minimize mineral deposits. Do steam car boilers and condensers see any ill effect from using plain water?

 

But on a tour I suppose you use any available water source.

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Dave - The water isn't the fuel; it's just a transfer mechanism to get the energy from the fuel (gasoline, kerosene, various mixtures of gasoline and diesel, depending on how your car is set up), via steam, to the engine where the energy is put to use.  It's a very inefficient use of fuel, even by the standards of the day.  My 1911 Stanley gets about 9 miles to a gallon of kerosene; my comparably-sized 1912 Buick gets about 15 miles to a gallon of gasoline.

 

Alsancle - Water tanks vary all over the place.  My 10-horse Stanley has a 28-gallon water tank; if I fill it to the brim, it'll be bone dry in 35 miles.  Most of the bigger 20-horse cars carried about 45 gallons, which gave them about 45 miles; the heavier cars used the water faster.  Most of the condensing cars carried 24 gallons.  The condensers really can't keep up with the amount of steam being used, especially in the 90+ degree weather we had early in the week.  Those cars used the water stops, too!

 

Glenn - Minerals and mosquito eggs in the water aren't a problem.  At the end of any but the shortest days of running, we blow down the boilers.  That is,we use the steam in the top of the boiler to blow the water in the bottom of the boiler, together with its accumulated crud that doesn't turn to steam and boil away, out into the open air.  We start the next day's run with a fresh supply of water.  If you steam-siphon water out of a river or lake, you must be careful not to suck up mud or sand into your water tank; if that stuff gets into your pumps and check valves, you're in for no end of grief.  I'm told that a bigger problem for condensing cars is oil.  The pistons and valves on a Stanley are lubricated by injecting steam-cylinder oil into the high pressure steam as it leaves the boiler on its way to the engine.  On a non-condensing car, the spent oil exhausts onto the road; back in the day, it helped to keep the dust down.  On a condensing car, it exhausts into the condenser, to no one's pleasure (or so I'm told). 

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4 minutes ago, oldcarfudd said:

Alsancle - Water tanks vary all over the place.  My 10-horse Stanley has a 28-gallon water tank; if I fill it to the brim, it'll be bone dry in 35 miles.  Most of the bigger 20-horse cars carried about 45 gallons, which gave them about 45 miles; the heavier cars used the water faster.  Most of the condensing cars carried 24 gallons.  The condensers really can't keep up with the amount of steam being used, especially in the 90+ degree weather we had early in the week.  Those cars used the water stops, too!

 

I think Dave Nergaard was running a steam powered fan on the condenser like a Doble?    I'm wondering how much that helps the condensing process.

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Alsancle - Dave Nergaard is sort of a mad scientist, and his car is atypical in every way.  He has spent years inventing gadgetry for it.  He drives it everywhere, but not necessarily dependably.  I believe his trouble on this trip was diesel fuel in his water, or the other way 'round.  He also runs straight diesel fuel, which most of us wouldn't think to try because the stuff is so hard to vaporize.  Several years ago I rode with him on one day of a steam tour, and it was a fun and interesting day, but it wasn't like any other day with a steam car.

 

Someone recently described a steam tour like this:  "25 functioning steam cars and their owners get together for a week.  At the end of the week, 5 of the cars still work.  All the cars get taken home and worked on.  A year later it happens again."

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, oldcarfudd said:

Dave - The water isn't the fuel; it's just a transfer mechanism to get the energy from the fuel (gasoline, kerosene, various mixtures of gasoline and diesel, depending on how your car is set up), via steam, to the engine where the energy is put to use.  It's a very inefficient use of fuel, even by the standards of the day.  My 1911 Stanley gets about 9 miles to a gallon of kerosene; my comparably-sized 1912 Buick gets about 15 miles to a gallon of gasoline.

 

Well yes. On the farm here we would have burned wood in a steam powered something as it is a readily available resource that is already here. A steam engine model I built years ago I fire on propane because I did not want the mess that came with other fuels. 9 miles to the gallon. That's about all the old GMC cattle truck we had years ago got with a load of cows. And we did not have to mess with water stops. The cows could wait until we got home. The local diner had a sign on the wall years ago. Cows may come, and cows may go. But the Bull around here goes on forever. 😉 Dandy Dave!  

Edited by Dandy Dave (see edit history)
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4 minutes ago, Dandy Dave said:

Well yes. On the farm here we would have burned wood in a steam powered something as it is a readily available resource that is already here. A steam engine model I built years ago I fire on propane because I did not want the mess that came with other fuels. 9 miles to the gallon. That's about all the old GMC cattle truck we had years ago got the a load of cows. And we did not have to mess with water stops. The cows could wait until we got home. The local diner had a sign on the wall years ago. Cows may come, and cows may go. But the Bull around here goes on forever. 😉 Dandy Dave!  

 

This month's SCCA bulletin had at least two setups for sale capable of generating home electricity.  One was used by a gentleman to power the grid in his house and the released steam was used to heat the house.   Brilliant if you can use something reusable on your property to power the burner,  like wood.  

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12 hours ago, oldcarfudd said:

Alsancle - Dave Nergaard is sort of a mad scientist, and his car is atypical in every way.  He has spent years inventing gadgetry for it.  He drives it everywhere, but not necessarily dependably.  I believe his trouble on this trip was diesel fuel in his water, or the other way 'round.  He also runs straight diesel fuel, which most of us wouldn't think to try because the stuff is so hard to vaporize.  Several years ago I rode with him on one day of a steam tour, and it was a fun and interesting day, but it wasn't like any other day with a steam car.

 

Someone recently described a steam tour like this:  "25 functioning steam cars and their owners get together for a week.  At the end of the week, 5 of the cars still work.  All the cars get taken home and worked on.  A year later it happens again."

 

Thanks.   Dave lives 25 minutes away from me and I really need to visit him one of these days.  I think he was an engineer at Kodak or one of the large companies on 128.   Have many guys had luck with his piston valved block?   Supposedly the car FE was driving when he died was running an experimental version of it.

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13 hours ago, oldcarfudd said:

Alsancle - Dave Nergaard is sort of a mad scientist, and his car is atypical in every way.  He has spent years inventing gadgetry for it.  He drives it everywhere, but not necessarily dependably.  I believe his trouble on this trip was diesel fuel in his water, or the other way 'round.  He also runs straight diesel fuel, which most of us wouldn't think to try because the stuff is so hard to vaporize.  Several years ago I rode with him on one day of a steam tour, and it was a fun and interesting day, but it wasn't like any other day with a steam car.

 

Someone recently described a steam tour like this:  "25 functioning steam cars and their owners get together for a week.  At the end of the week, 5 of the cars still work.  All the cars get taken home and worked on.  A year later it happens again."

I could see why he would run Diesel which is basically furnace oil. We ran furnace oil in our diesel farm tractors for years. This was before low sulfur fuel was implemented. There is more BTU's in a gallon of diesel than in gasoline. Therefore you should get further on a gallon of diesel. Vaporizing diesel and fuel oil is done reliably every day in millions oil furnaces and diesel engines. Why not in a vintage steam automobile? 

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Alsancle - While Dave has had (I believe) good service from his piston valves, I don't know of anyone else who has attempted the conversion.  That said, most of us like to drive steam (and gasoline) cars mostly as they were.  Dave is more like an old-time speedster or hotrod builder who uses a steam car as his platform rather than, for instance, a '32 Ford.  He has the skill to do it.  But he pays homage to the source of his inspiration; his MA license plate is FE FO.

 

Dave - I also have wondered why diesel isn't used more.  It would certainly be easier to find than good kerosene (at least in northern NJ), and more convenient than trekking 5-gallon jugs to a friendly airport for Jet A (as I do), or mixing gas and diesel (as many do).  One of my neighbors is a home heating oil distributor; I asked him about it, and he very emphatically said not to use diesel.  Again, Dave Nergaard is the consummate tinkerer; most of us want something that works without having to reinvent the wheel.

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, oldcarfudd said:

Dave - I also have wondered why diesel isn't used more.  It would certainly be easier to find than good kerosene (at least in northern NJ), and more convenient than trekking 5-gallon jugs to a friendly airport for Jet A (as I do), or mixing gas and diesel (as many do).


I looked it up but you can get 53 gallon drums (200l) of kero for about US$370 delivered (including $90 of tax). No added sulphur or dye. Works out to about a 30% premium over petrol

 

 so what I’m saying is it makes sense for a steam car to be donated to me, you know because the fuel is easily available 😜

Edited by hidden_hunter (see edit history)
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