1910 Stanley Steamer – How to operate

Right, Here is a 1910 Stanley Steam Car It used to belong to Doctor in Southern Ashfield Whos maid Ethel used to get up steam for him in the morning, which was rather interesting The Doctor used it until about 1928 when it was laid up and it was found by my Father Ralph Nevell and purchased for the enormous sum of 30 Bob And it has been in my family ever since Modified, tweaked And here it is today in very good working order and I shall demonstrate as long as it behaves itself how to start the beast First thing to do is to make sure the tire pressures are correct, which I’ve done 60 pounds, front and back because they are beaded edge tires If the tire pressure gets too low the tires come off which is rather interesting Not to be encourged Now the first thing we do is to make sure there is enough pressure in the air bottles at the back of the car which are pumped up to 120PSI to force fuel through the vaporizer core for the burner so the first thing I shall do is to make sure the pressure is up I do this by using a foot pump on the side Down here and there is already 125 pounds, sorry, 115 pounds, so a few strokes of the pedal will bring it up to 120 Without this pressure, the fire won’t lite properly Lets just keep pumping furiously until we get to there Rather laborious but rather important otherwise problems occur another Ten pumps and we’ll be there There we are, that’s it 120 PSI Come out! Right, the next thing to do is to turn on the Pilot Light This takes 7 minutes to warm up so we open the valve here press the ignitor on the steering column and that lights the pilot light it’s registering 20 lbs which is uneccesarily high so we now turn this down to 10 which is spot on and then we keep an eye on the pyrometer here that shows that is now lit and it’s going in the sort of green sector and we have to leave this for seven minutes Right, I’ve got a clock on it Now the next thing we do is to open the throttle wide we open the cylinder drain wide and we open the paraffin isolating valve wide, that means that the pumps, when the car is on the road can maintain pressure in the air bottles when the car is standing, I use the lever here to do it The next thing involves me getting into the car So I should come around to the front The next thing is to wind up the clock It’s fairly important otherwise as you go you don’t know how long you’ve been out so a few winds on that and set the clock to anthe correct time.o the correct time and that can pop back in there Now, here comes a fairly crucial part of the operation when the car is parked after a run and it cools down a vacuum is formed in the boiler which then fills itself Now we’ve got to get rid of of quite a lot of water before we fire up otherwise you get hydralic lock and abort safety valve there so we turn on the light that indicates the boiler water level which is down on the floor we open the whistle isolating valve about ten turns we then open the boiler drain valve on the floor and we then depress the whistle the water level can be seen dropping now, this allows water to drain out the bottom of the boiler hence the bloody noises there’s the water level there when I shut the valve, you can see the water level come back again there it is, surging up the gauge So I’m leaving this open to drain the surface water off we now have to twiddle, sit ands for the next four minutes while I’m doing that, I give a few strokes of the pump to maintain the air pressure in the bottles at the back to 120 that’s the noise of water draining out of the boiler If you don’t open the whistle there is no air coming in to replace the water that is draining out so it’s very difficult to drain without this This is when it starts to smell bad I might briefly explain the controls that is the throttle or accelerator there’s no gearbox or clutch on the car and that is the that lets steam in and out I’m opening it now so, that when steam’s got up a bit of steam can drift through the engine to keep it warm water pump isolating valve two pumps up hill which it means everything is closed one pump on the level which it envolves opening that one and no pumps downhill very important this is the control

that ignites the pilot light which runs from the trembler coil under the floor that is the main fire control and that controls the fire Not to be opened until the pilots been on for another 3 minutes then the sound effects get interesting I’m just fiddling with the water level to make sure I’m not draining too much off Nope, we can take some more out on the floor we have a foot brake self-explanatory down there is an auxillary oiling device for going uphill a few pumps on that will pump extra oil into the engine critical control here Fully forward, that emits steam all the way up all the way down the stroke and all the way up full reverse down to the floor mid position what is known as notched up that emits steam for only half of a stroke the rest is done on expansion and that’s your normal cruising position that the starting off you always work on full admission of steam all the way through checking the water level No, still quite a bit to lose very critical this is essential that the water level is kept roughly level with the floorboard which means the boiler is 2/3 full of water the top third is clear of water for the purposes of drying the steam in the top of the tubes before it enters the vape uh, the super heater coil under the boiler another two minutes on the pilot light and then it should be warm enough checking this again now we’re slowly getting rid of the water that’s good, excellent I’ll sit and contemplate the view Instruments that is the pilot light in the green about 800 degrees 700, 800 proves it’s working O.K in other words the little pilot light is alive Speedometer that is the temperature of the feed water entering the boiler steam pressure which is very critical the fire cuts out automatically at 450 on the steam automatic the safety valve blows at 600 pressure of the air bottles in the air bottles at the back drive forcing fuel through to the burner oil tell-tale which blinks to tell you that the oil pump is working super heat temperature normally 2-400 on the gauge is actually, nearly 600 on the engine pressure of the burner of the fuel, actually entering the burner which should be about 80 pounds Pilot, Uhh, pilot light pressure 10 pounds and Clock This pump Excuse me while I just check the water level in the boiler a bit more Ahh, that’s better This pump is used pumping parafin water or whatever into the car while it’s stationary On the road the pumps that are driven off the engine cross head provide that service and now the water level is somewhere near Not it’s not have to keep draining a bit more right I think that’s enough for the moment so what I will do now is to lite the main burner Now the sound is, you have to listen to this, it’s very important the sound You crack this open a fraction if you open the burner to far you flood the vaporizer coil with wet parrafin the burner goes out so you have to feed it in very very gently so that the fire starts gently here we go about two notches is usually sufficient You will hear it there it is that’s the main burner cut in it just started to register on the burner gauge there at this point quiet a lot if the pressure has gone from the air bottles so I have to pump to keep it up still too much water so were going to let some out now you can hear the burner I don’t like to run the fire up more than 40 pounds to start with because otherwise it puts too much heat stress on everything so you are constantly fiddling with the fire control between one and one and a half notches just to keep the fire nicely in and dont forget that you got the boiler drain open at the same time no, put too much water, stop that’s nice, it’s settling down now I’m pumping to keep the pressure up on the air bottles there can you see that? it’s essential to keep twiddling the burner just gently the burner control to keep the fire spot on alright now it can take up to 20 minutes from scratch you can fire up in 10 minutes with the burner going flat out but it puts an unnecessary stress on everything so the best thing to do it very slowly like this always remembering

to keep pumping to keep the paraffin pressure in the boiler I’m turning the pumps off at this stage cause there is no need to pump water into the boiler a bit more water out Cool, it’s terribly complicated doesnt it ecstasy you may wonder at this stage why the pyrometer gauge for the pilot light showing zero quite often happens when the main burners going to start with not to be worried about what you do worry about is if the burner cuts out on the road on the steam automatic it’s essential that is in the green if you don’t when the fire cuts in again there is nothing to lite and you’ll get a good blow back it’s all about the noises that’s better Just a little bit more water out this is the point at which your maid is boiling your eggs for you before you go out on your first call of the day now the water level has reached the point it’s just on the top of the gauge which is about spot on for starting up you can just see it there Got a good shot of that? there it is and thats the water level that you’re trying to maintain on the road this light is left on permanent because that is probably the most critical gauge on the car to watch another little tweak on the fire notch one and a half nothces now that’s settling down nicely alright, this is going to take another 5 minutes before we have any steam this valve on the side here when this is open this allows steam to pass from the boiler, through the engine block which warms it up before you pull off so I open that a few turns and leave the throttle open so that steam can wash through the engine to keep it warm stop compensate at the moment the engine has got the water drains open which is a valve at the end of each cylinder that allows condensate to escape while the car is parked it is very important that there is no water in cylinders when you pull off otherwise you get a hydraulic lock and you can knock the end of the cylinders off more fiddling there we are there went the horn terrifying keep the pressure up on the the car is always parked with the back wheels jacked off the road, off the ground so that you can turn the wheel over occasionally move the pistons make sure there’s no water build up in there the whistle valve is wide open at the moment, we shalt be needing that just yet now the pyro gauge is coming back into the safety zone the fire is now running on two notches of the burner the control that is about spot on but it’s a little bit higher at 45 pounds so I’ll take it down to one and a half it’s a lovely noise, isn’t it? there we are it’s going very nicely now the tires settle down for about 45 tipped in were a little bit on the top side but that’s fine in a few moments we should get started a trickle of steam through bearing in mind that you’ve got alot of copper and steel to warm up in the shell of the boiler always keep an eye on this keep pressure 120 pounds on the air bottles otherwise the fire will snuff and the water would go out there, that’s the instrument there always keep an eye on that one and that one there if you make the mistake of opening the fire too wide this is what happens which is quite interesting when you do it on the road right, we’ll turn it down again when the fire is running

flat out, it is prone to howling Stanleys howl can terrify horses most of the time you can kept it under some semblance of control but when you try to generate a lot of steam for a steep hillclimb or something you do cause the burner to howl All Stanley’s howl most of the time Some people start of course if the car has been on the road all day it’s only a 5 minute job to get steam it’s very quick because it’s got it hot already that’s nice see it’s steady 1/4 pound fire I’m going to have too hop on Ahhhh we have steam very slowly we are starting to have steam so I’m going to close the throttle, otherwise it would fog the place out your camera lens is gonna get steamed up pressure is to close the steam drain valve at the back there are four drain valves underneath that have to be closed at this stickle we will make sure there is no water in it, nope that’s fine close those that’s important and now check there’s no residual water in the cylinders which is very good as soon as you have a little bit steam pressure I’m going to run, slowly run, run the engine to blow out residual water out of the system but we’re not there yet this is just steam hot into the engine to keep it warm I think we can open that other door now Ahh, right, if you come here there’s something I want to show you Ah! There you are Right we are getting to the point now where we are almost showing steam pressure on the clock what I’m going to do is I’ll shut off the cylinder drain open the throttle and there’s probably just enough wet steam to turn the engine over yeah there we are now there boil tell tale blinking, that shows that oil is circulating which is excellent Now I’m running the engine Just rotating it slowly to warm it up while it’s on the jack Now while I’m doing this, also observe the behavior of the pump handle I’ve got both pumps on it’s gradually pulling forwards that means the pumps are working Oil consumption at the moment is excessive, its doing 90 miles to the gallon if you happen to be following the car, pull back otherwise you get covered in oil that working great I’ve just over water that right O.K we can now shut the throttle open the cylinder drain and take the car apply the hand brake take the car off the jack throw the jack in the boot because we might need it later need a handle forgotten this often close the boot lid remove the block from the tire remove the brick that is controlling the front wheel and wait until we have got

120 pounds of steam at which point the car becomes mobile on the road, the idea is to keep the pressure 300 to 350 pounds we’ll have to pump the paraffin pressure up considerably we’re now turning 50 pounds on the spot it is just enough it’ll actually move the car so I try full reverse hand brake off cylinder drain closed finally getting a good amount of steam There, Daylight How’s that? park the car close the throttle open the cylinder drain if you don’t open the cylinder drain the car will creep off the caon its ownep off on its own Anybody fancy a ride? no vibration at all I’m not pumping any water into the boiler at the moment because it’s quite full there is your 80 pound fire Ahhh right interesting 3 point manuever here see the water level has dropped in the boiler now So I’m going to close the bypass and we’ll run on just one pump which should be quite sufficient And you’ll notice that the paraffin pressure has been maintained now by the pumps on their own that’s full reverse Notch up, full forward here we are now we’re beginning to settle down a bit oil pump is blinking nicely driving slowly so as not to use too much steam 300 pounds of steam now that’s better Ahh, look, a terrified motorist real happy there Ahh, well look at the road test the suspension to it’s limits are you alright back there “Yup” 350 pounds of steam now which means we’re actually making steam faster than we are using it which is a jolly good idea kick on full bore so that we got lots of steam going through the cylinders to pull away the steam pressure’s rising now up to 400

at 450 pounds the burner will cut out but it will refire automatically as soon as we pull away running the burner on there now the water level is about spot on there on the floor it’s just level with the top of the floor boards now, see the fire cutting out? there it’s cut out on the automatic at 450 pounds which is exactly as it should do the pilot light is still a light so that when the fire cuts back in again the pilot light will reignite it are you frozen to death, or are you alright? where do you want to go, bisen? yeah Ahhhh, we’re now at the mercy of the traffic HA Ha Ha Ha steam! there we are Ah frozen, yeah, thank you it’s notched up again right, the fire is back on full bore again now so we can go well thanks everything’s working alright fire water over O.K pilot is alright 350 P.S.I one pump is just maintaining the water level where it should be we apply the foot brake we have a little howl now listen to the change in exhaust note when I go from half to full it’s like putting on reading music, great fun we may just wait for our friend Josey that’s down here and I always blow the whistle when we go out that’s it on the right side now boiler gauge light is lit water level is maintaining nicely on one pump 25 Miles Per Hour going up a slight incline this is what you do when you come back when the pressure’s down about 250 is to close the gauge filler down in other words pass steam nicely through the water gauge blow the rubbish out of it do this you raise the bonnet lean down close the tap that allows water into the bottom of the gauge so that when you open it what it does is blow steam through from the top of the gauge thus

good Now it’s blown most of the rubbish out of the gauge you then open the isolating valve there we go sorry when you peer over at the gauge it’s back in again I’m just going to give it another blast, alright right in theory I just open this tap again Awww, that’s it open the bottles tap that allows the water back into the gauge now come the exciting bits blow all the water off the boiler Loads of form on the top of the water gauge to stop steam flowing the watew through the gauge out which is what you want to do to let water wash out the bottom of the boiler which we will now do you ready for this? great fun a bloody waste of energy I’ll just see gas it wants to put in