Runabout blog

topic posted Wed, March 22, 2006 - 7:24 PM by  Kimric
Liam and i worked till about 12:30AM on the steam engine for the runabout. The intake and exhaust valves are finished. The head has to be madeand the valves attached.
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SF Bay Area
  • Re: Runabout blog

    Fri, March 24, 2006 - 1:16 PM
    --You said the magic words "Steam engine" and got my attention! Got any further details? Links to photos??
    • Re: Runabout blog

      Sat, March 25, 2006 - 11:49 AM
      The engine is being assembled at this point. it may be running by next week. I will post pics when it is done.
      Do you live around berkeley.
      • Re: Runabout blog

        Mon, March 27, 2006 - 10:01 PM
        --Don't live in Berkeley but I suppose it's within striking distance; I'm in Santa Rosa. As for steam stuff, well, I've got a steam launch with a Stuart Swan engine; boiler's a Yarrow and I'm firing with Madrone when I can get it. Holler if you all need some steam related links; I've got loads, heh.
      • Re: Runabout blog

        Mon, March 27, 2006 - 10:24 PM
        What's the bore and stroke on that thing?
        What sort of boiler are you using?

        Yet another steamboater

        - Bart
        • Re: Runabout blog

          Wed, March 29, 2006 - 12:09 AM
          The engine has a 1 3/4 inch bore and about the same stroke. I like the sound of these but can't find prices on line. "" It seems like they could be adapted, they have ones that they say can stand 250 degrees. About a third the air use of a vane motor.
          • Re: Runabout blog

            Sat, April 1, 2006 - 9:48 AM
            250 F is pretty cool; 120 PSI steam is about 350F if I remember right.
            Those things look expensive as well, and they're on the wrong continent :-).

            If you've got some machining skills, converting an existing small gas engine
            or air compressor is pretty straightforward. A small 2"x2.5" 2 cylinder single
            acting refrigeration compressor has run my steamboat for 15 years now.

            See for some pictures/details.

            The cool thing about this approach is that there are a lot of potential engines
            available in a wide range of sizes, and if things go wrong you're not out a lot
            of cash.

            Generally, the biggest problem that steamboat folks have is getting a boiler up
            and running. What are your plans there, or do you already have something

            - Bart
            • Re: Runabout blog

              Sat, April 1, 2006 - 12:08 PM
              I think the limitation on the radial air engines is the type of seals. Viton can stand 350 ok so it may be a issue of repacking it. any plastic parts would have to be replaced with metal.
              I like your engine have you had any problems with the uniflow design? or does it have a conventional exhaust?
              • Re: Runabout blog

                Tue, April 11, 2006 - 10:20 PM
                Whoops - didn't check tribe for a while....

                It's a regular exhaust; conventional D valve.

                The only prob. I have w/ a converted engines is the water build-up
                in the crankcase but a little draining every so often seems to take
                care of the problem. Single acting steam engines are pretty easy on their bearings
                since forces are all in one direction and there's no violent burn.

                Regular uniflow needs good exhaust vacuum or a _lot_ of clearance
                (in a gas engine, low compression) to keep from running roughly or
                even stalling.

                - Bart
  • Re: Runabout blog

    Sun, March 26, 2006 - 11:22 AM
    that tiny antique single acting cylinder Shannon got is going to power the runabout? I got some golf cart parts that can be put to use for the Runabout. One front end and two rear ends. Also some more front end parts probably enough to make two small runabouts. One of the rear ends has a FWD REV transmission in the rear end making the valve timing simpler to deal with.
    • Re: Runabout blog

      Tue, April 4, 2006 - 12:35 AM
      We have decided (with a lot of hand wringing on my part) to go with a 2 1/2 in double acting engine. We are using a balanced "D" valve. The old air compressor will act as a cross head.
      I took a old power steering pump and made a sort of air motor out of it. Not a lot of power but it RIPS! It sounds like a siren (LOUD) when going and it must be doing more than 5K RPM. Might be a good way to power a kinetic art piece. Smog pumps have more power but suck steam like nobodys biz.
      • Re: Runabout blog

        Tue, April 4, 2006 - 10:43 AM
        The front forks are together needs some metal trimming here and there to make room for the flywheel and to look nice. I'm waiting on that engine to continue. Liam was working late last night on it hopefully it will be done wednesday? Liam also mentioned you got the parts for the boiler yesterday is that going together wednesday?
      • Re: Runabout blog

        Tue, April 11, 2006 - 10:30 PM
        Plenty of power for a small vehicle; our boat engine is 2 x 2.5"
        two cylinder single acting.

        A balanced D valve will help with starting smoothly... you'll
        need cylinder lube, so you're exhausting up the stack, right?
        This will probably double the output of your boiler, so it
        will really help maintain speed against those pesky headwinds.

        If you don't have a shade (and spatter :-)) cover over the seating
        area, consider a crude cyclone inside the firebox to separate the condensate and
        oil and let it drip on the fire - the "clean" steam can be run up the stack
        w/o showering participants w/ goo.

        You'll need at least 2 ways of getting water into the boiler; I'd use a engine
        driven piston pump (either cobbled together from 2 check valves and
        some 5/8" stainless rod w/ o-ring running in 1/2" brass pipe, or something
        like a hypro pump) and a big hand pump. If you've got juice (say for night
        running, ahhh :-)) a irrigation sprayer pump works well for emergencies...

        Piston engines are really better for slogging a heavy load at low speed...
        all the vane-type steam engines I've seen sucked steam, big time.

        - Bart
  • Re: Runabout blog

    Tue, April 11, 2006 - 10:31 PM
    So what are you using for a boiler on this beast?

    - Bart
    • Re: Runabout blog

      Wed, April 12, 2006 - 11:21 AM
      The boiler will be a "lamont" type. The pump was the hard part, but it appears that I found somthing off the shelf that will work. The boiler will be a steam cleaner we got. It had a operating pressure of 125 off the shelf, and that is about the top end pressure of what we are looking for.
      We tested the pump yesterday and it has the right amount of flow. The next step is to assemble everything and do a hydrostatic test.
      • Re: Runabout blog

        Thu, April 13, 2006 - 12:29 PM
        We static tested the Lamont boiler to 200 lb last night, a couple of leaks at some pipe fittings so we tightened them up and tried it again to 240 and no leaks!
        We then hooked up the burner and started up the circulating pump. It took about 7 min to start to steam. about 15 to get up a head of 90 lb steam where we held it. The steam seemed to pick up water from the splashing in the accumulator. I am going to see what changing the water level in the accumulator wil do. We were able to blow a good cloud of steam constantly and still keep up the pressure. the engine is being finished and should be ready for trial in a few days.
        • Re: Runabout blog

          Thu, April 13, 2006 - 5:05 PM
          Awesome Kymric!
          Hopefully you saw the rolling chassis in the shop. I'd like to get the boiler fitted to the chassis this weekend so If you could let me know as well as the brake and steering linkages.
          • Re: Runabout blog

            Sat, April 22, 2006 - 2:10 PM
            We got the engine assembled in the wee hours of this morning. The car will be at the "" event in San Mateo this weekend.I have ordered a couple of different pumps for thr boiler as the one we have may not be able to deal with the heat for extended spells.We should be able to do a running test this week.

            • Re: Runabout blog

              Sun, April 23, 2006 - 5:09 AM
              This is all very very sexy..... I cannot wait to see the whole thing in action, my song should be done soon.
              • Re: Runabout blog

                Tue, June 27, 2006 - 10:59 PM
                I have been wandering around for the last week , unable to get much of anything done.
                Today I made some heaadway with the new steering system on the steam car (now named Kristie's Flyer) bacause of the boiler I have decided on a cable steering system. This allows me to rout around the hardware. It will most likely be steered with a crank.
                • Re: Runabout blog

                  Thu, June 29, 2006 - 11:02 AM
                  --Re: cable steering: many steamboats (mine included) work this way and we tend to put the wheels somewhere other than on the centerline. This way we've got room for a proper ship's wheel, mounted on one side or the other of the hull. There's something about a real ship's wheel that's just sooo appropriate for a steam powered vehicle; just a thought, heh.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.

                    Re: Runabout blog

                    Fri, June 30, 2006 - 10:58 PM

                    I've been unhappy w/ cable steering or brakes on most vehicles; the cables always had
                    too much friction if there was any real deflection or effort involved in the steering/brakes.

                    I went w/ hydraulic brakes (go-kart) on RoboShaw as it does nearly 30 mph and
                    weighs 900+ lbs w/ 3 persons aboard; they're adequate but certainly not excessive.

                    I'd go w/ a worm gear box (vw's are good) and multiple U-joints in the drive shaft...
                    low friction, no likely failure modes (cables going slack, going off pulleys, etc) and
                    easy to install.

                    - Bart
                    • Re: Runabout blog

                      Mon, July 3, 2006 - 3:21 PM
                      I was going to go with a worm drive and universal joints , but there was so much stuff to go around it was going to be a nightmare. I did a continous loop cable with a large pully over the steering head. I finished it last night and it seems to work well. Very low friction. I have a gear box on the steering wheel so I have a good advantage over the front wheel.
                      This is nice too in that I can lean in when I am turning, before with the tiller I had to lean out and this felt really dicey.
                      Now i can have a chiminey on the boiler so I dont get baked by the exhaust, also it will draft better as the wind would blow the flame around a bit. I am using steam for the brakes.
                      • Re: Runabout blog

                        Wed, April 11, 2007 - 1:40 PM
                        We spent about five weekends doing modifications on the flyer. I changed the throttle so it is operateed like a gas pedal. We built a steam powered piston boiler feed pump, I shortened up a lot of exposed pipe to cut down on heat loss, Will lagged the acumulator to cut down on heat loss. A better stack mount was made. New tested pressure relief valve added. New burner control with better adjustment features. New wagon wheels are being made and will arrive in a few weeks.
                        I changed the cutoff on the engine, this made a dramatic difference in steam use, made the engine more responsive and it climbs hills better. After looking at the old setting we realized that the cutoff was at about 90% I reduced it to about 68%. Liam is working on a V twin steam engine that will replace the existing engine so it will not have dead spots that make starting and stopping such a pain. the old engine may get hooked to a dynamo.
                        • Re: Runabout blog

                          Tue, May 22, 2007 - 9:14 PM
                          The flyer went to the makers fair. Some problems with the circulation pump prevented us from getting up any boiler pressure on Saturday. I was allready fried regarding the Shipyard fight, and the lack of power causing me to have to rebuild the leaky pump by may have been part of the problem. I apolgise to anyone who had to deal with me saturday morning.
                          Matt, Peter and I brought Kristies Flyer back to the darkened Shipyard Saturday night, and replaced the pump with a different one.
                          We got done around midnight, and did most of the work using Kerosene lanterns ( thanks Berkeley).
                          Sunday was much better as we were able to get up steam ,and we won a race against a robotic Chariot. I ran the Uniflow engine and the steam siren and Matt took the Flyer for a ride around the fair....glad we have that deafening steam whistle.
                          The engine has developed a knock that I have to investigate.
                          • Re: Runabout blog

                            Mon, May 28, 2007 - 10:41 AM
                            --Knocks tend to be wrist pins; didja harden them?
                            • Re: Runabout blog

                              Mon, May 28, 2007 - 11:31 AM
                              Wrist pins are difficult because they rotate over a very small angle. This prevents
                              the oil from forming a proper film, and so they often have metal-to-metal contact,
                              resulting in rapid wear. Double acting team engines are well known for being
                              hard on cross-heads. Some common solutions:

                              * really hard wrist pins, softer bearing metal
                              * maximize bearing area to reduce lbs/sq inch loading... make sure pin cannot
                              rotate in con rod, but rotates in cross-head instead for 2 x bearing area
                              * needle bearings; even w/ small angular con rod deflections needles should
                              still rotate at least one revolution.
                              * use lubes w/ good extreme pressure additives; moly disulfide works very well
                              if galling/fretting wear is occuring.
                              • Re: Runabout blog

                                Wed, June 29, 2016 - 6:49 AM
                                Update nearly 10 yrs later. The steam car has undergone continous modification. It has a much heaver flywheel and the general design of the engine has held up well.

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