Steam powered cycle Burner problems

For the last 8 years I have been working on a steam powered cycle off
and on. I bought plans and parts of it in a kit from Cole's power
models, It is called the Vesuvius and was designed in 1884. it has a
combination fire tube and water tube boiler.
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the original plans they called for a gasoline burner but I didn=92t
like the idea of that (too dangerous for something I=92m riding on) so I
built a propane burner. It=92s patterned after the Reil burner but has a
closed end and hundreds of 1/16=94 holes in the 1=94 dia 6=94 burner tube.
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When operating it on the street I found I could only go about 200
yards without running out of pressure.
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I cranked the fuel supply up too much flames would come out of the
stack but not much benefit. I tried all sorts of ideas, remaking the
burner tube with more and smaller holes, feeding compressed air into
the burner, adding a feed water heating system and a tank to store
It helped a little but still the same problem. I thought that if I
used a fuel with more heat value it might help.
I tried MAPP gas which is a liquefiable gas with many more BTU=92s than
propane. I was able to get steam up a lot faster but I found that once
I got going the flame had a tendency to start burning inside the tube.
I can=92t explain the process but I notice that the heat output suffers
I sometimes had that problem with propane so I made a bypass to the
control valve so I could blast the inburning flame out with a shot of
higher pressure gas.
Now I find that MAPP gas with its higher heat content turns my burner
tube red hot almost immediately and so I can=92t blow out the inburning
I tried acetylene but it had the same problem.
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Interesting problem. I understand your wish to go for safety, however can I suggest you go back to basics. You dont need to ride the bike to test it, it would be worth building a test rig to support ther bike with a contact wheel on the tyre turning a fan to simulate the riding/ traction load. then build the burner as per the original design using gasoline. Then run it under load on propane as your base line, then run it on gasoline to see wether it does what its supposed to do. If you get a towering inferno you can have an extinwisher handy. ;let us know how you get on. ted In dorset Uk.
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Ted Frater
It may be that your boiler just has too little surface area. There were more than one steam locomotives built that earned the name "poor steamer".
The other thing is that storing steam will not help. You really want to get the live steam into the engine as quickly and as hot as possible. You might even want to try a superheater.
Reply to
Jim Stewart
Apologies for coming back so soon, forgot to mention something important. Now both you and i know that propane has a high calorific value, but it also has a serious disadvantage, That is its flame rate is very much slower than say acetylene or gasoline. this is best illustrated by thefact that you can weld with acetylene and oxygen but you cant weld with propane and oxygen. thesame limitation applies to mappgas and butane. The reason the flame started to burn insideof the tube is its slow flame rate. What counts with these gas mixtures is the BTU's per second you can generate. If you tried propane and oxygen it would be much better. acetylene and oxygen as per a cutting torch, youll find youll probably have too much steam!!. hope this helps. Ted.
Reply to
Ted Frater
--I remember Vesivius! Have seen a couple of 'em. Yagotta get the gasoline burner working or you won't have enough BTUs to make it work. That's because the boiler's not the greatest design in the world: VFT yes? Two ideas: build a flash boiler instead and maybe make a spinning cup burner. For more info on that contact the guys at SACA West in So Calif; they've worked on these burners for some time; maybe it's possible to build one small enough for your application? Dunno.
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=A0When operating it on the street I found I could only go about 200
There are any number of books telling how to relate boiler surface area, efficiency and amount of steam per unit time. You probably don't have enough surface area or it isn't used efficiently. Back issues of The Model Engineer would have some of the answers, much of the modeling that was done was small locomotives, boats and traction engines. There were any number of articles on building efficient small boilers. I have a small Brit book on flash steam for models, probably 25 years old now, might still be in print, though. That might be a way to get enough surface area to run your engine.
As far as choice of fuels, propane is roughly equal to gasoline/ kerosene/diesel in heat content per unit weight. Burning characteristics are something else, though.
Are you piping the exhaust steam up the stack to get a better draft, ala locomotive?
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I would get away from a tube burner. Go more for a stove burner type. You may have to change the boiler a little, but most likely only the contact areas.
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