Steam dreams

Sunday, August 23 2009


The British Steam Car undergoing proving trials in Thorney Island, Hampshire. Photo The British Steam Car Challenge.

(Click on photo to go to The British Steam Car Challenge website.)

Dyspozytor salutes the brave men of The British Steam Car Challenge toiling away in scorching temperatures at Rogers Dry Lake inside the U.S. Edwards Air Force Base in California. The task they have set themselves is to exceed the previous record by achieving an average speed of 145.6 mph over two runs across a measured mile in opposite directions within 60 minutes of each other. If they manage this in the presence of FIA officials they will have established a new world record for a steam powered land vehicle.

The vehicle weighs 3 tons in working order. It is 25 ft long, 5 ft 6 in wide, and utilises a flash boiler delivering steam at 580 lb per sq in into a two stage turbine driving the rear wheels through a direct gear train. There is no gearbox. Steering is through a conventional rack and pinion and the designed top speed is 170 mph.

This is an admirable vehicle – it is painted green and driven by steam utilising state of the art technology. Although not actually built in Eastleigh Works it was built and developed in Hampshire. One feels that there are many details that Bulleid would have approved of. However, it runs on Goodyear Speed Eagle rubber tires on a dried lake roadbed. Although this is a major mistake, it could easily be put right. All proper steam vehicles run on steel tires over steel rails. If the BSCC team would like some help in arranging the facilities to crack the world steam powered rail record (currently 126 mph and held by Gresley A4 pacific Mallard) they need only to ask.


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