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Projects I'm building a steam powered Model A

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by wafflemaster, Mar 6, 2017.

  1. Beanscoot
    Joined: May 14, 2008
    Posts: 1,285

    Beanscoot
    Member

    "A quick trip to the local plumbing supply company resulted in some wallet shock and some beautiful 2" copper pipe."

    Try visiting your local scrap metal yard, I recently picked up a lot of 2" tubing and cast elbows etc. by weight. Those big "sweated" fittings cost a fortune new.

    I used to see a few of the old "AAR" pipe fittings at work when digging through our old material areas, if you are lucky maybe you can find an old salvage store that has those. We had one in my town with a lot of those old fittings, but one day I discovered they had finally junked them all to make room for new barbecues.
     
  2. bustedwrench
    Joined: Dec 22, 2009
    Posts: 131

    bustedwrench
    Member

    Very interesting project you have there. I hope everything works out the way you envision it.
     
    BurntOutOldMechanic likes this.
  3. Nailhead A-V8
    Joined: Jun 11, 2012
    Posts: 859

    Nailhead A-V8
    Member

    Ha ha ha you got me wafflemaster lol ;)...when I first envisioned your description I thought you were building an actual Model A Ford and trying to stuff the steam engine etc into the confines of the actual car. This is a "model A" only in the loosest definition. The fact that you chopped up a model A frame ostensibly for the frame numbers:confused: (someone could've used that frame for a hot rod build:eek:) doesn't make it a model A. You could've built your frame/suspension out of trailer parts from the Princess Auto catalog, dropped your driveline in and registered it as a u-built trailer:p...don't get me wrong I applaud your ingenuity and originality, your engineering skills are awesome and as a purely mechanical exercise it's super cool but it's neither a model A nor a hot rod....
     
    kiwijeff, WiredSpider and Chucky like this.
  4. nailhead terry
    Joined: Mar 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,453

    nailhead terry
    Member

    Wow I work for a company that builds process heater burners and large boiler burners and I do some inspection work a couple of things concern me to feed water pumps and galvanized fittings I see your going to do it regardless of safety concerns . The effect by which steam induces betters combustion of the gas is known as a venturi affect I don't know how you burners will be positioned but your inlet air ducting could cause issues with draft through the boiler too . Well keep posting the commercial steam guys are watching .The owner of the company I work for worked with Doctor Teller the father of the hydrogen bomb ! and the other old guy in the office retro fitted the steam locomotive boilers in the trains at six flags over Texas they have over a 100 years experience in this field real neat guys !Oh by the way I work for JLCC we have a web page . I just build hot rods for fun !
     
    BurntOutOldMechanic likes this.
  5. Johnboy34
    Joined: Jul 12, 2011
    Posts: 1,171

    Johnboy34
    Member
    from Seattle,Wa

    Steam power, kinda like taking your banger out and stuffing in a big block!
    upload_2017-3-9_20-31-53.jpeg
     
    LeoH likes this.
  6. mgtstumpy
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 7,773

    mgtstumpy
    Member

    Local rodder near me is going down the Tesla route and building an electric model 'A'. I've seen all manner of engine in them including a rotary Mazda but never steam. Jay Lenos garage had a steam powered 1925 Doble at one time and I was impressed.
     
  7. wafflemaster
    Joined: Jan 10, 2014
    Posts: 57

    wafflemaster
    Member
    from Reno, NV



    • Successful test around the building!
    • Operating pressure was about 40-50psi. Performance was better than expected.
    • Gearing may be too tall. Engine is turning about 40 rpm or less in the video.
    • Steering needs some tweaking to prevent contact with the driver's side tire
    • Seat is zip-tied in for prototyping. Should be resolved in the next update.
    • Permanent propane mount will be added in next update.
    • Throttle control needs geometry adjustment.
    • Firebox will be added soon, it should add significant efficiency. I am impressed that the system performed so well in open air.
    • Braking system needs consideration.
    • Left front tire is flat.
    • Installing armored sightglass in next update.
    • Feedwater system has been mocked up and ready to install.
     
    wheeldog57, slim38, mista and 14 others like this.
  8. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,605

    gnichols
    Member
    from Tampa, FL

    Very interesting! One big question I've been holding back - why is the "engine" located so far back in the chassis? And you've got a more robust plan for the chain drive, right? How about a sketch or two of the body / finished car? Keep up the good work there, Mr. Steamer! Gary
     
  9. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 2,063

    deathrowdave
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from NKy

    Great to see it working , the more times you heat and cool it the times you multiply failure rates . You are dealing with , around 300 degree steam now , that hitting you in the face isn't going to make you look as your ready for church . Maybe a church service , just a different type . Please , use caution , those effects do not have names to effect only the person responsible for generating them.
     
  10. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,605

    gnichols
    Member
    from Tampa, FL

    wraymen likes this.
  11. Jerrybigbird
    Joined: Oct 10, 2015
    Posts: 178

    Jerrybigbird
    Member
    from Montana

    I built a forge once for a guy with some help from google. It had 2 reil burners in it, not sure if your familiar with them or not but they are cheap to build and i was amazed by the heat... kinda brought me back to my boilermaker days. But you may want to check them out
     
  12. Jerrybigbird
    Joined: Oct 10, 2015
    Posts: 178

    Jerrybigbird
    Member
    from Montana

  13. I'll bet your grinning so hard your face hurts!
     
  14. Jerrybigbird
    Joined: Oct 10, 2015
    Posts: 178

    Jerrybigbird
    Member
    from Montana

    Right!!! Wish mine would go around the block!!
     
  15. 48stude
    Joined: Jul 31, 2004
    Posts: 1,031

    48stude
    Member

    This event is exactly what came to mind when I started reading this thread. Bill
     
    banjeaux bob likes this.
  16. wafflemaster
    Joined: Jan 10, 2014
    Posts: 57

    wafflemaster
    Member
    from Reno, NV

    I'm familiar with that story, very tragic. Stories like that one are why I used my current boiler system and not a firetube boiler.
     
    davweed34 likes this.
  17. toxic waste
    Joined: Dec 18, 2011
    Posts: 374

    toxic waste
    Member
    from Iowa

    It's not the boiler that blows up. It's the operator that blows the boiler up.
    90% of boiler failure is from no water and stupidity on the operation.
     
  18. Well - I think it is cool as Hell that you're doing it . . . but I also know that I don't know squat about steam powered anything and I respect those who do. With that said, there isn't a chance in Hell I'd want to be around that boiler - not even in the same room. I'm pretty dang good at TIG welding, but I would not trust my skills for an application like this - as I do not have the education, certification and equipment to validate my work properly. With that said, I'll be happy to watch - from AFAR!
     
    WiredSpider and Nailhead A-V8 like this.
  19. John C. Kovalo
    Joined: Mar 12, 2017
    Posts: 6

    John C. Kovalo

     
  20. John C. Kovalo
    Joined: Mar 12, 2017
    Posts: 6

    John C. Kovalo

    Having done steam work, [and knowing how dangerous even low pressure steam can be], I find der wafflemaster's design scary, at the least. While the high-pressure vessels are probably safe enough, the copper appurtenances are particularly disturbing; when he mentioned a 150 psi operating pressure, my immediate reaction was that it should be hydrostatically tested to a MINIMUM of 400psi, and that, off the top of my head, I think the ASME standard is FOUR times operating pressure. The ASME [American Society of Mechanical Engineers] has VERY CLEAR AND LONG-ESTABLISHED STANDARDS on construction and testing, and If he's concerned that his pumping the hydro up to 400 psi gives him apprehension, what's he gonna do when one of those copper loops embrittles [which copper can do, which is why copper tubing is illegal for brake tubing] and blows off, punching through the car's sheet metal and killing a bystander? Something like that, along with the State Boiler Inspector's showing up [in court] and wanting to see your documentation, ASME approval stamps, what Mechanical Engineer signed off on your blueprints, etc. will definitely be a LIFE-ALTERING experience. If you can actually avoid time in the pokey, at least be prepared to part with your house, bank account, material possessions and [I'm guessing] Wife and Family.


    Wafflemaster, I don't think you have a CLUE as to what the HELL kinda trouble you can get into, here. Not so many years ago five people were killed [including the operator] when a steam tractor exploded at a fairgrounds here in Ohio; the root cause was lack of proper inspection and maintenance and general ignorance on the part of the owner.

    Again, not to nitpick, but one of your illustrations shows black iron pipe with galvanized iron elbows - a definite no-no that an Inspector would flunk were this a commercial boiler job; is the pipe schedule 40 or schedule 80? Has someone calculated the btu/hr potential of the boiler, and matched it with your safety valve? Is a redundant safety valve required? Do you also have a pressure control that will shut off the fuel source if the maximum operating pressure is exceeded?? What sort of LWCO [low water cut-off] are you using? These are commonly asked questions in commercial jobs; modern boilers have so many operating controls on them that it's a wonder they work at all!


    I'm sorry to see you put so much work in what I strongly feel is a flawed design [why didn't you at least use STEEL instead of copper for the loops? Doesn't McMaster-Carr or some other supplier have something like that available?] but it's ASTOUNDING how much potential energy is stored in a steam boiler; like a giant spring waiting to uncoil, it can release chaos in the blink of an eye with unimaginably serious consequences.
     
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  21. wafflemaster
    Joined: Jan 10, 2014
    Posts: 57

    wafflemaster
    Member
    from Reno, NV

    I honestly appreciate your advice and concern, the HAMB never fails to deliver a wealth of knowledge from some very experienced and intelligent people. I do not have a death wish, and I would never attempt to build a traditional boiler as described.

    The basic design principle of this boiler is to have many points of intentional failure, in order to prevent catastrophic failure, as in the case of the tractor explosion. With an antique fire tube boiler there are only a couple openings to allow pressure to escape. Once those openings have reached critical capacity the vessel itself will fail, potentially releasing shrapnel and steam like a bomb. In my design, the copper coils and the brazed connections act as "safety" valves. I am using copper because it will fail before the main steel nitrogen cylinders, my shitty galvanized pipe, or anything else. Think about like having a two birthday balloons: the first one is normal and the second has a bunch of perforations in it. If you over fill the first one, it'll pop. If you overfill the second, it releases pressure from many different points. The boiler will be encased in a firebox to retain heat and to limit damage if there should be a failure to any or all of the copper coils. I would much rather have materials fail at say, 500 psi vs. holding on until 10,000 psi and blowing.

    Another difference between this build and antique steam tractors is the fuel. With solid fuel (wood, coal) it's virtually impossible to "shut down" the boiler in a low water situation. I can turn off the propane and kill the heat immediately. As another member commented, boiler operators usually cause explosions, not the boilers. Adding water to an hot boiler is a good way to make a big boom, and if for whatever freak reason that happens in my design, the copper connections should fail vs. a lot of cast iron shrapnel. I am much more wary about a Case 110 tractor and the forces involved than with my design.

    This is a prototype, and I'm enjoying finding problems and coming up with solutions along the way. I don't expect to get it right the first time, so I'm operating within confines that I am comfortable with. I have a massive amount of respect for steam power and am well aware of the risks involved and precautions that need to be taken.
     
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  22. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 2,063

    deathrowdave
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from NKy

    The A model boiler is a water tube design , unlike a tractor or locomotive which are fire tube design . Still has major potential for injury . It has not been built by code requirements . If it hurts the operator , he knows it isn't correct . The innocent bystanders that get hurt do not know the difference in code and dangers . I have represented victims in court over injuries from code violations in construction . It is an expensive lesson , but education is always expensive . Would you attempt to fly an airplane and not be licensed ? Why would you operate a boiler with out a license and not build to code ? I'm lost as to why try it .


    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
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  23. Pete
    Joined: Mar 8, 2001
    Posts: 4,520

    Pete
    Member


    So damn true!!! This is theeee best thread.

    I'm thinking you should put a tilt column, radials, disc brakes and a small block...than it'll be traditional,,,,by some of new standards being upheld here.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  24. 54stude
    Joined: Feb 23, 2008
    Posts: 60

    54stude
    Member

    When you have a
    Failure at any temp over 212f, and your 1 gallon of water expands instantly to 2,200 times its original volume, I hope you are the only person within 500 feet of that thing so that no innocent people get hurt. But what do I know, I am only a licensed boiler engineer.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  25. wafflemaster
    Joined: Jan 10, 2014
    Posts: 57

    wafflemaster
    Member
    from Reno, NV

    I put the engine as far back as I could to keep the chain drive as short as possible. Yes, the chain is a little weak at this point but I intend to double it up, running chains from both ends of the crankshaft.

    I added the headlight and it really helped set the shape of the car. I love the cyclops look. I'm planing on using a small camping lantern or something in the housing to light it since I have a rule of no electricity on this build :)

    [​IMG]

    The body design will probably evolve like the rest of the car, but here's my current inspiration:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
    jerseyboy, marioD, chukazap and 5 others like this.
  26. Pics not working. :(
     
  27. toxic waste
    Joined: Dec 18, 2011
    Posts: 374

    toxic waste
    Member
    from Iowa

  28. wafflemaster
    Joined: Jan 10, 2014
    Posts: 57

    wafflemaster
    Member
    from Reno, NV

    Fixed, I think. Thank you!
     
    pat59 likes this.
  29. steinauge
    Joined: Feb 28, 2014
    Posts: 1,507

    steinauge
    Member
    from 1960

    This is a great thread! The videos of you driving the car are wonderful. The first time I flew an aircraft it was a device I had built myself and I was definitely not licensed!
     
  30. John C. Kovalo
    Joined: Mar 12, 2017
    Posts: 6

    John C. Kovalo

    I NEED TO MAKE THREE POINTS, HERE:
    1. ] My old Physics professor used to make the distinction between "rigorous" arguments, based on math and the laws of physics, and "hand-waving arguments", whereas the person had an idea that he was SURE had validity but couldn't back up rigorously. I DO NOT feel that your "intentional points of failure" philosophy will fly, here, and very likely may bite you in the ass in UNEXPECTED ways. I would totally agree with your supposition, however, that the copper will fail first, as not only does it lack the tensile strength of steel but you've already weakened it considerably by the brazing process; had you used Shiny-brite or some other SOLDER you would have actually had a stronger joint, which would have not melted as long as the tubes remained water-filled. This may seem counterintuitive to some, but that's the difference between trusting an imperfect intuition vs. relying on scientific fact. But the bottom line is that you NEED to start running your ideas past a boiler inspector or someone familiar with ASME codes - the residential inspectors in the area may prove more approachable than you realize. If not, you might seek out your local NRHS [National Rail Historical Society] chapter and see if they can hook you up with some old geezer who used to work on steam locomotives Way Back When. And please, PLEASE re-read the advice given by those who speak of traceable materials, certifications needed for welding [or brazing] and, above all, TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS relating to controls and devices needed, as well as basic design.
    2. ] My second comment brings up a serious design flaw in your system which may not possibly be curable - SEE-SAWING of water levels between the two boiler vessels. I have first-hand experience with this phenomenon, having installed modular steam boilers where this was a problem. I remember one installation in particular, where the water levels of two 500 mbtu boilers seesawed back and forth so much I had a helluva time keeping the gauge glass in one from dropping out of sight, while the other one went dead full! Fifteen minutes later, the situation would reverse, and all this on a level surface! What do you think will happen with two tandem vessels in a bucking, lurching car?
    3. ] As to your statement that "I would never attempt to build a traditional boiler as described": Actually, that is PRECISELY the type of boiler you SHOULD be building! Utilizing the simplest possible construction, the mechanics have been worked out for nearly two hundred years, the materials are easy to procure, and, MOST IMPORTANT of all, fire-tube boilers are regularly built by hobbyists all over the world, mostly for back-yard live steam railroads. Boiler inspectors are familiar with them, there are books, websites and clubs available, and even specialty manufacturers for appurtenances and controls or outsourcing the trickier work. All you would need to do would be to upsize an existing design to match your desired horsepower and you're on your way! Best of all, ask any boiler inspector, they are PERFECTLY SAFE if regularly tested and inspected.
    But I suppose you're going to do what you're going to do, and there's no confusing you with the facts. What else can I say? I just hope that if someone gets injured or scalded from this contraption it isn't an innocent bystander. - JCK
     

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