Monday, June 16, 2014

In the Shop: 1907 White Steam Car

by Willy Vinton
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

We recently had another interesting work session with our big White Steamer.  In 2012, we attempted to fire it up for the first time. We'd been told by numerous steam car enthusiasts that Ryan Thurber was the guy we needed, so we flew him up from California to educate us on the fine points of our car. Ryan has a long history of White steam car experience, and a great working knowledge of its systems.  On his first trip here we hand fired our car, built up the pressure and temperature, and ran the engine. But, the "newly rebuilt" flow motor would not operate. We spent a full day working with it, but discovered that the cylinder was machined out of round--even 125 lbs of air pressure would not move it!

Ryan returned home and I searched for a replacement flow motor. Two weeks ago Ryan and his son Christian again spent a few days with us working on the car, fitting the new rebuilt flow motor secured from Evan Price. We hand fired the car, but had trouble getting the pilot light to burn clean. When we fired the boiler with the flow motor, it backfired (I guess we don't need arm hair anyway). This caused us some concern so we built a set up that allowed us to fire up the pilot light remote from the car. This revealed the problem--the pilot housing had been rebuilt in a way that it would not burn properly, and would not direct the fuel flow to heat like it should.

Ryan took the pilot light back home with him, and with the help of a couple of great steam car guys he will get one rebuilt and tested, and then return this fall to see if we can bring this great car back to life. It's been a long process, but we will win!

Coming to Fairbanks to see the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum and other area attractions? Support the museum by staying right here at Wedgewood Resort. All guests receive half-price admission to the museum!

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