Flame Licker

The little flame licker that I bought on Ebay recently has arrived and I have managed to find a lamp part that now fits perfectly (after a few modifications)

I have not tried to run it yet even though I have had a very useful email from Nick Highfield and a conversation with Dave Croft by telephone.

I feel that before I run it I should strip it down and give it a good clean and lightly oil the few working parts.

Any input would be helpful now. Do I have to let the cylinder get warm before I try to run it or should it run from cold? How big a flame does it need?

It has been suggested that a mixture of petrol and paraffin may produce a different heat of flame rather than just plain paraffin....... any suggestions as to what the ratio might be?

The power output of this little devil must be extremely low and any kind of friction will probably prevent it from running. On the net it is suggested that graphite should be the preferred lubricant for the piston. Any ideas?

This should bring us nicely on topic.

Reply to
George Hendry
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I built a flame licker, based on "Poppin" in Live Steam of about 20 years ago. She will not run until the cylinder has warmed up, then starts and runs perfectly every time. Sometimes goes into an interesting oscillation first.

I cannot understand this need for pre-warming - I would have expected that the larger temperature differential between the hot gas and cold cylinder walls would be beneficial, but not so.

I've lived dangerously in my time - still ride my Velocette on the Freeway and have even been known to contradict SHMBO (sotto voce), but I would NEVER use petrol in the burner. I use a metho burner (with a wick made from the tail end of my pyjama cord). A nice clean flame.

I find that the flame must completely envelope the inlet port - must not be any cold air entering here.

Best regards

Jack Watson


Reply to
Jack Watson

In my (rather limited) experience with one of Bruce Engineering's flame lickers, the margin of power over friction is so small that even the drag of a bit of condensate in the cylinder can bring proceedings to a halt. I believe this is why pre heating (in this case filling hopper with hot water) seems to help.

I think paraffin would tend to soot things up in fairly short order. Petrol? - well I wouldn't fancy it, even those blow lamps specially designed for the stuff make me nervous! Stick with meths.

Lubrication; only the thinnest of non-gumming oil - clock or sewing machine - and not much of that. Never tried graphite or other dry lubes (unless you count model stirling engines with graphite pistons), but could be worth a try if the piston fit is good enough to seal well without oil.

Reply to
Nick Highfield

Hello George. The engine sounds interesting but I don't recognise it. Are any details available anywhere? Mixing petrol with paraffin would make it easier to light but be very careful about the quantity of petrol added. I have used a mixture in the past just for lighting purposes. I simply pour a little petrol onto the surface of the paraffin and light it. The petrol warms up the paraffin which then lights and continues burning. This is especially useful outside on a cold day. For lubricant, you could try diesel fuel. It's very low viscosity and red diesel only costs a few pence per litre if you buy a gallon at a time. Yes, I know I'm mixing my units there. There, a reply on topic. I only hope that we don't loose contributors or postings over the O/T argument.


Reply to
John Manders

Bob Sier's book "Hot Air, Caloric and Stirling Engines" covers the principles of these so called 'vacuum' engines well and details a few examples. Larger models just about qualified as practical (very) small power sources, but the majority were novelties to amaze and entertain your dinner party guests or set fire to your children's nursery.

Most of the stuff on the web seems to be aimed at current model makers who wish to try their hand at something different.

Reply to
Nick Highfield

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