Hot old cars! The Stanley Steamer.

The local rag (West Australian) had a story in it today about a rather “hot” old car they use to keep their engineering students up to scratch on the latest in pressure vessel tech such as that used on Nuclear power facilities and some shipping.

The high tech power plant...

The high tech power plant...


I hadn’t heard of these particular vehicles before and they seem way cool, considering when they were built.  And the sheer terror of the thought of a 1920’s vehicle being able to reach speeds of up to 160kph is enough to send your hair white.

The down to earth description of the tech does demystify it a little though.

“It is a great big Bunsen burner under a kettle,” he said. “Understanding steam is essential because around one-third of shipping involves steam power and nuclear power plants are also steam-driven.


More below the fold, I love the sound of these old things…

Heres an interview about an enthusiasts convention.


And finally, get a load of the sound of one as it drives away…

Needless to say when my plans for world domination  …erm becoming moderately wealthy  come to pass I will be sending out my minions in a fleet of these babies. All will live in fear of the “chuff chuff” in the night…

Actually I could see Detective Paco (or at least wronright) owning one of these…

Posted in Temp. 14 Comments »

14 Responses to “Hot old cars! The Stanley Steamer.”

  1. bingbing Says:

    There was a think on Discovery Channel’s Planet Green show (know thy enemy) about all different kinds of eco cars for the future. One bloke was developinng a modern steam car.

    I wonder if he knows water vapour is a far more potent GHG than CO2.

    • thefrollickingmole Says:

      It does mention its quite inneficent as you are burning kero/oil to heat the water anyway. Still if the greenies can just find a way to violate the laws of physics they might pull it off.

      Id like a brown coal fired one, just to make the baby Gaia cry…

    • bingbing Says:

      Baby Gaia? Wouldn’t that be the moon?

  2. Angus Dei Says:

    Wouldn’t a nuclear-powered steam-turbine automobile be the ultimate nightmare for ecotards? Shouldn’t we therefore build them?

  3. SAGE Says:

    bing bing & angus dei, did you never learn that it’s far better to have others think you stupid and ignorant than actually open your mouth [or in this case, post a comment] and prove it.

    Stanley Steamers and other steam cars were and are far more advanced forms of technology than a so called “conventional” petrol engine could ever be. 70% of the power a Petrol engines produces goes out of the exhaust as waste heat whereas the Stanley Steamers used 99% of the energy they produced and unlike a petrol engine, Stanley Steamers produced full power immediately nor did they need such heavy energy zapping devices as a gearbox either. As for adding to Greenhouse gas effect via water vapor, if a closed loop system is used, then water vapor is never emitted in to the atmosphere. And in fact so efficient were steam engines of the Stanley Steamer type that several were used to power light aircraft in the 1930s

    As the old saying goes “Only the foolish and ignorant open their mouths before thinking”

    • bingbing Says:

      Sage, did you know that 95% of greenhouse gas/gases is water vapour?


      Not that we give a flying fuck. We’re not against steam engines. In fact, quite the opposite (as you’d if know if you’d actually properly read the post and comments). Understand, steam engines are one of the great inventions of all time (my opinion, but feel free to differ).

      So don’t give us this implicative shit that somehow steam engines in cars would somehow be saving the planet from catastrophic global warming because they’re not using evil CO2 belching petroleum… man-made CO2 being 20ppm of the total atmosphere.

      Not when the main GHG is water vapour itself.

      Climate change has always happened, and naturally, of course, is happening now, just as it always has. And a little more warmth, as has been historically proven, would actually be a good thing, as has, historically, the reverse applied to the opposite.

    • Angus Dei Says:

      The inability to detect a joke in print – without benefit of vocal inflections and physical gestures – is one sign of a low IQ. I don’t use /sarc tags for this very reason.

      Since my mechanical and abstract reasoning scores are in the top 1%, I have no problem understanding the technicalities of steam engines… or muons and bosons.

  4. SAGE Says:

    oh dear, can see why there isn’t a great number of replies on this forum, if this is the manner in which you reply to others who apparently don’t get the irony, sacasim, whatever in your posts. Oh well, like everyone else,I’ll leave you two immature gits to carry on posting between yourselves, because I’m pretty sure, given the way you reply, no one is going to all that interested in posting to your site which is already bourn out by the lack posters here already

    • bingbing Says:

      Did you read the “About” page?

      Whilst sometimes tackling the serious issues, the blog is probably better described as a place to relax and chill – a refuge, if you will – but definitely for those with Right-leaning political persuasions.

      Either way, this probably isn’t the best place for a left winger to hang out and if it’s serious debate or more comprehensive posts you want, you’re best to take it up at with Tim Blair or Andrew Bolt.

      There’s no advertising, nor any tip jar. This isn’t meant to be a big blog. It’s just a little corner of the Internet where I can say what the fuck I like.

    • bingbing Says:


      “As for adding to Greenhouse gas effect via water vapor, if a closed loop system is used, then water vapor is never emitted in to the atmosphere.”

      Shit. No-one here is against steam engines. In fact, the post is PRO-steam engines.

      They’re cool. Just that they ain’t gonna do shit to ‘save the planet’, whatever that means.

      No one here likes giving money to Saudi Arabia or Venezuela. ‘Renewable’ energy sources, in time, might be good, but certainly not now (and there’s nuclear, too, you know). And there’s no way I wanna be paying so much more for inefficient technologies that don’t work so good… especially when, sorry, what we have already isn’t actually heating the world to hell in a hand basket.

      Jeez, man.

      PPS Did you read Mole’s post? Enlighten us. How do we heat the water to make the steam? Solar power? Hmm, maybe.

      So why isn’t Honda doing that?

  5. Kelly Williams Says:

    Sage, I’d like to see the documentation behind the figures you mention. I drive Stanley Steamers. They are a huge amount of fun but they are horribly inefficient. They get about 10 miles to a gallon of fuel. You would not want to put your hand in the flue – the amount of energy which is escaping and not moving the car is creating that much heat. Even with insulation all over the system, there are many many spots which will burn you because they are leaking away heat that you burned your fuel to generate. An 1950s article stated 35% efficiency for internal combustion and 90% for a steam engine. It’s hard to know just which steam engine that author was thinking of, but those figures have been quoted ever since, and even stretched, as this current thread shows. A study done at the University of Colorado in 1915, of an actual Stanley on actual roads, showed an overall efficiency of 6.44%. Thank goodness there wasn’t an energy zapping gearbox.

    These cars did have some advantages over their peers, up through the early 1910s. No transmission meant that they were easy to drive. No crank meant that you didn’t have to be strong to start them (or worry about a broken arm). They were quieter and smoother than similarly powered gas cars. They could be made to run on kerosene, which was significantly less expensive than gasoline at that time.

    But the self-starter, among other things, caused the market to heartily ignore steam cars by the’ teens, and they quietly went away. Just under 11,000 Stanleys were built in 26 years. For comparison, 15 million Model T Fords were built in 18 years.

    By the way, there was exactly one (1) steam airplane in the 1930s, and it flew exactly one (1) time. Since its engine was a compound with piston valves, in a V configuration, it’s another stretch to say that it was of the “Stanley Steamer type”.

    Visit my website, , for the best available listing of existing Stanley Steam Cars, 1901 – 1926.

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