Steam powered truck

topic posted Sun, September 2, 2007 - 9:06 AM by  James
I have been doing some research ,and am cosidering converting my old Ford Pick-up to be steam powered.They say you should use a liquid fuel,but my idea is to use a self-feeding stove pellet boiler,(my own design).

Any ideas or insights would be most helpful and appreciated.
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  • Unsu...
    hang on a second..... steam powered as in a boiler producing steam that drives a turbine or piston? Like the old-school stanley steamer cars?

    Maximum torque at 0rpm is great for starting super heavy loads, or being wicked quick off the starting line.... but the faster you go, the less power you have...not to mention how long it takes to build up a good enough head of steam to go anywhere... or the cool-down time after you get there, when you have to leave your steam-valve open and your car whistling away it's extra energy in the parking lot like a quarter-ton tea pot.

    Or is there a better way of utilizing steam that I didn't know about?
    • Indeed, not so much like a tea pot but more like a giant pressure cooker,lol. I am unsure but it seems I have heard rumours of having to have a permit to operate larger steam engines as they can explode pretty violently.Not that it can't be done, mind you, but there are better ways to convert a standard pick up truck to alternative renewable fuels.If the exisiting engine is gasoline I would suggest converting it to burn alcohol,if it diesel you can burn corn oil in it.I remeber reading about something the Germans did back in WW II, having to do with what was called wood gas.In occupied France no gasoline was available for fire trucks and ambulances due to the war.They used some form of a fire box and burned wood to operate autos in place of gasoline, I am sure though it was a fairly dirty fuel source as you don't hear much about it today.
      • Unsu...
        I remember the same story...but I was speaking to a man who had been a boy in Germany during the war. His memory of it was vague, but he remembered his father and mother picking up wood and filling a hopper attached to a truck. They were attempting to flee the Russians and get to an area that would be under American control. He remembered that the system did not run on steam. Once taken into custody their truck was confiscated and never seen again.
        • Unsu...
          I'm trying to wrap my mind around getting motor-energy from firewood, thats not a steamer. All I can think of is a stirling engine, in which each power producing portion of the engine is a set of by the heat source, one by a cooling source. the gas circulates between the two. As the gas heats in the 'hot' piston, it expands, pushing the piston down. A valve opens up at bottom-stroke timing, and on the upstroke all the gas is forced into the cooling piston, which is timed inversely and so is in the process of it's own down-stroke when the 'hot' piston is up-stroking.... The heated, expanded gas is pushed into the 'cold' cylinder where it is cooled quickly and condensed....the momentum of the engine pushes that 'cold' piston up, forcing all the condensed air back into the 'hot' cylinder...where it is heated, expands, and provides for another power stroke. You can link up and time-together several of these piston-sets, possibly get enough power to push a car around. The only element missing in the account of the german refugee-child.... would be the needs a constant stockpile of ice just like the 'hot' side needs fire. I suppose, if the weather were cool enough, that would suffice on the cold side, if it had wicked-mad cooling fins, and a motor-driven fan to blow icy winter air through those fins. If the 'cold' cylinder ever gets warmed up by the constant exchange of heat, then you have a dead engine, because there's no energy to be produced if heat is not being moved. it's just like pumping warm air from one tank to another at that point.
  • These where all issues that I considered,This project is more of a "See if I can do it" project.The truck will only be used on the farm right now so I am not conserned with the laws or regs.I am trying to adapt a Lamont style flash steam generator,which is much more effecient for what I am doing,and with a few modern additions,much safer.
    as far as better choices for alternative fuels,I really don't think there is one,I am not completely set as to what I am going to use as fuel yet,my research continues.
    The modern steam power is much better than it was in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
    The boiler systems are not as dangerous as people think,not anymore,when on a land speed trial a steam car crashed at over 90 miles an hour and the boiler did not crack or explode.
    I will keep you informed to my progress.
    • Unsu...
      well, I suppose now that I think of it, isn't a nuclear power plant essentially a steam-powered generator? Personally I would feel safer running a steam turbine than a steam piston. It can operate at lower pressures and is not subject to mechanical lock-up due to too heavy of a stress load...which could quickly turn into a dangerous pressure buildup situation. Logistically though, a steam-powered electric car loses alot of energy in each energy conversion...not to mention the extra weight.

      I'm assuming the boiler goes in the truck bed and the piston(s) go under the hood?

      Are you using a severe stepdown gearbox and linking up to the normal transmission, or gutting the tranny and running connecting rods to a crank on the rear axle (or transverse connecting rods running a crank attached to a modified flywheel sans engine.. I suppose that would be better as it allows for a clutch still, rather than or in conjunction with a manually controlled steam waste-gate) Every steam powered engine I've ever seen is just geared 1:1. I'm really interested what your plans are for a drivetrain?
      • James, that is one bold plan. You are way cool man!

        ATGI had some good points about the loss of energy in a piston engine. I'm no mechanic but I wonder is it might be possible to take something like the Mazda rotary engine and steam power that?
        • Unsu...
          haha....ATGI... I like that. I am a bit of a mechanic, and Yes it's possible to make a rotary style steam driven engine. It would be more of a steam turbine, as there is no need for a compression area within the engine, so you can do away with the funky eliptical rotation axle. In fact, that 'rotary' idea MAY be more feasible due to the higher RPM rate possible (as opposed to the slow-pump-cranking of a steam piston), you could hook it straight to the existing transmission with much less gearing-down. It would need to be one hell of a turbine though. You couldn't really retrofit a turbo charger as they are built for super high RPM and very low torque. Something closer to a hydraulic motor would retain more of the raw torque power of the steam pressure. and THOSE suckers can really hold the pressure! some up to 50,000 psi.
          • Yes , the steam wankle engine would be the ideal choice for what I am doing,however I have a steam piston engine ,so I will use what I have.Even with this engine I am adapting it to attach to my transmision,simply to have a reverse gear and neutral,the clutch however is no longer needed.Even with the transmission attached I will only use the 4th gear(direct drive), there is no need for the others with a steam engine.

            The steam wankle engine is almost identical to the mazda rotary engine,and could probably be adapted.
  • Came up with a more controlable heat source for the boiler, pellet stove pellets,i rigged a feed mechanism very similar to the powder dispenser on my reloader, can feed pellets as needed and it works pretty well.
    • Unsu...
      Cool. Got any pictures?
      • Unsu...
        yea I'm really interested to see what you've got! this is a really bold project!

        Offhand, are you using one larger boiler or two smaller boilers ammounting to the same volume? common sense tells me smaller boilers could build a steam-head quicker and have a better mechanical advantage (or less of a disadvantage I should say) in forcing steam into the much smaller piston cylinder. Kinda like how a hydraulic jack has a big mechanical advantage because of how much smaller the actuating piston is to the 'lifting' or slave-piston, It would seem to me that a huge cylinder of steam trying to force pressure into a smal cylinder of steam would suffer the same mathematical equation to the inverse? eh?