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Steam Stationary Engines, Traction Engines Antique steam engines, their boilers, pumps, gauges, whistles and other related things that make them run.

Steam Stationary Engines, Traction Engines

Engine conversion to steam


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  #1  
Old 03-28-2002, 09:08:57 PM
Lester
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Default Engine conversion to steam

At present, I have in "my mind" an electric generating system powered by a solar/steam engine. I have a small shop that I can build from scratch all most anything.However, I can't find blue prints for a steam engine (1 to 4 hp) I live in the subburbs of Dallas TX, so it would have to be a compact size. Prefer low spead,high torque w/a converted gas/disel,four piston or what ever.

Thanks for any help,

lesterbee @ bigfoot.com
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  #2  
Old 03-29-2002, 05:20:29 AM
Allen at CHT
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Default Re: Engine conversion to steam

Converting the engine isn't that hard....BUT

I question your reason for wanting to do this thing. To prove it CAN be done? OK. To produce a prototype of a system for export to third world countries or camps out in the boonies? Maybe. Because the end of all civilization as we know it is near? Your call, I won't go there. To save a few shekels from the electric company? Don't waste your time. I don't mean to be insulting, but stop and think about it. Solar power to steam? Run the calculations, and look at the vast amount of water you'd need to evaporate to operate a "1-4HP" engine. A flash boiler requires a delicate balance between all the inpust and output, so once you have built a system large enough to evaporate all that water how are you going to control the inputs (heat, watyer, etc)? Also, where is the water coming from? Ground water, and city water has a lot of crap innit that doesn't evaporate. It is left behind to coat your heating surfaces. Each time energy changes forms there are (sometimes very significant) losses. If you want to generate electricity from sunlight, eliminate a few transitions and use solar/electric panels.

What about a regular power boiler? Noooo problem, except...WHO is going to monitor it while it is operating? 24/7/365? Much as I love steam engines, I would not want to be slave to one. A lot of people have put a lot of money, sweat, and blood into the steam hobby. A hobby that could easily be brought to a grinding halt because ONE more idiot killed himself in a spectacular fashion with a homebrewed bomb.

After you've pondered all that. If you still want to do it, BUY a boiler, a well designed, well built 4HP horizontal water tube from a marine supplier won't set you back more than $10K or so. A decent feedwater treatment system? Probably another grand or two. Boy that's purty! Do you REALLY want to hook it to that ugly half-a$$ed engine? No? Here's a casting set for a twin 3x4, only $1500.00, plus 300-400 hours labor ,and maybe $250 in stock andfasteners....Grand total spent? Really? WOW, and to think. if you run it 24/7 for only 50 years with no breakdowns you'll be even!
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  #3  
Old 03-30-2002, 12:35:59 AM
Lester
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Default Re: Engine conversion to steam

Allen at CHT,

Thanks for your response,

At present, I am retired and I have some free time and little cash, so I try to "use the junk yard" as a material/resource. I am making solar panel water heaters from "Salvaged" patio glass doors for my patio/green house. With the knowledge gained, I may include the house hot water and house heating,but only after much experience is gained.

As far as solar steam generation with electrical out put, I am only studying it at this time and putting it on paper. I realize there are many pro's and con's which I have not considered and I certainly do not wish to become a boiler explosion casualty. However, I wish to have the experience and knowledge of such a "back up" system, even though it may never "fly". Our gasoline/oil supply is not a forever sure thing. The next few years may prove to be very difficult for the US.

And "Yes", I would like to put together a system to augment and even do "net metering". Screwing the utility "grid" would be very satisfying, if I could do it economically on my part. Air-conditioning bills during the summer here in Texas are very high and with plenty of free sun power, maybe I could offset that cost some.

Bottom line, living in the city, the water, and grid system is cheap, but in five years I plan to move to the country. Such services as water and electrical may not be readily available, depending on my building site, so I'm looking for experienced people like yourself for input.

Thanks,!!

Les
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  #4  
Old 03-30-2002, 05:32:19 AM
Allen at CHT
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Default Re: Engine conversion to steam

Before giving advise on how to do something inherently dangerous, it is usually good to try to separate the fruits and the nuts. There were a LOT of those in the two years prior to the y2K fizzle. (I'm a minor supplier of model engines, and I was getting 4 calls a month, places with larger engines and ads (like Sensible Steam, and Beckmann's Boatshop) were getting 3 or 4 calls a DAY... then came that fiasco in Ohio to remind us again that safety ALWAYS comes first. So if I come across as an old grouch, tough. )

Do I think solar generation of steam is practical? Nope, but then it doesn't really interest me enough to be "up to the minute" onnit either. You probably need to talk to some pros about that end. Try one of the universities down there, or out on the left coast, see if they can point you in the right direction.

As for turning an infernal combusted engine into a steam engine, my question is how (in)efficient do you want to be, and how much fabrication do you want to do? You could do a quick down and dirty conversion turning the cylinders themselves into a single acting steam cylinder using the old heads... very inefficient, and above certain pressures the intake valves will float. You can make a new head/valve system (slide, piston, poppet?) to address the shortcomings of the first. but with any of these you'll still need to address the water mixing in the oil problem.... OR you can use the pistons simply as crossheads and fabricate double acting cylinders that mount ABOVE where the old head was...at which point (in my mind at least) you might as well have constructed an entire new engine from scratch.

If you know which style you plan on, I could give you better hints on how to proceed.
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  #5  
Old 03-30-2002, 05:44:07 AM
Allen at CHT
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Default Solar Refrigeration?

If air conditioning is your primary concern, you might consider another route. Many travel trailers have/had refrigerators that use a reaction of, I believe, ammonia salts of some sort to turn the heat of a flame into cooling. I don't know the exact process, or if there is a size limitation on it, but it might be worth investigating.
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  #6  
Old 03-30-2002, 05:29:48 PM
Lester
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Default Re: Solar Refrigeration?

Allen at CHT,

Yes, I am farmilier with the natural gas or propane as a fuel for running a refrigrater. Quite common in the mid 20's and early 30's. One of the brand names was Serval. I'll check into it also. The target market was the farm households, if I remember correctly.

Again, I was trying to use the solar energy as fuel and get away from a fossil fuel. I'll research it and see what temp's and mech's are involved.

As for as you being an "ole grouch and a na-sayer", I would rather you say you mind and also for me to be safe. Sometimes I become so focased, I can't see the dangerous "what if's".

Do you have a web site for you small engines. I find them very insteresting.

Again, Thanks for your advise,

Lester
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  #7  
Old 03-30-2002, 08:56:35 PM
Allen at CHT
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Default Website

Catfish Hollow Toys
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  #8  
Old 04-01-2002, 05:56:18 PM
Jim Mackessy
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Default Re: Solar Power

There is a solar powered plant out in the Southwest that uses an array of mirrors focused on a boiler. It's huge, and I guess it isn't that efficient, but how about a gas type refrigeration system powered by magnified sunlight? The sunnier it is the stronger it gets. It's too cloudy where I am, but Texas may have a shot at making it practical. JM
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