Some Photos of Robert E. Wilhelm, Jr's

Model 735 Stanley Steam Car

undergoing restoration


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This photo shows the steam engine, rear axle, brake drums and wire wheels. The two steam engine cylinders are at the top center of the photo and don't have their copper jacket installed. The oval copper enclosure in the center of the photo is where the rods, linkages, and valve gear are similar to what you see on the side of a steam locomotive. The engine is a two-cylinder, double acting (steam pushes on both sides of the piston alternately), 4" bore, 5" stroke design. This engine can produce around 115 horsepower with a 600-pound steam supply. There is no transmission in a Stanley and power is transmitted from a gear on the crankshaft directly to the ring gear of the differential. The car's brakes are only on the rear and were originally bands that contract around the outside of the brake drums seen in the photo. The parking brake was an internal expanding design similar to today's modern brakes. I've converted the braking system such that the internal brake is now hydraulic and operated by the foot pedal while the external band brake serves as the parking brake. The two "rods" from either side of the rear axle to the top of the photo are called "perch poles" and are wooden poles interconnecting the rear axle to the front axle. The car has full elliptical rear springs and the perch poles are required to keep the axles parallel. The small rod immediately to the left of the copper enclosure is the pump rod and it serves to drive the water, oil, and fuel pumps when the car is in motion.

This is the underside of the boiler and shows the burner. The burner is of vaporizing design (like a Coleman Camp Stove) which means the heat of the burner fire is used to vaporize the liquid fuel prior to it being mixed with air for burning. Kerosene from the main fuel tank is pumped to 140 pounds pressure for delivery to the burner. It is fed into a vaporizing coil located just above the burner grate where the liquid changes to vapor. The vapor is then directed through a nozzle and into a venturi mixing tube where it eventually makes its way to the underside of the burner grate. Passing through holes in the grate the air-fuel mixture burns on the surface of the grate. A small pilot continuously burns to serve as the ignition source for the main burner. The pilot is also a vaporizing design like the main burner but it uses white gas at 25 pounds pressure as its fuel source. The main burner is automatically fired depending on the steam pressure in the boiler. As you've probably guessed, there is no ignition key for a Stanley but rather a Blow Torch serves as the "key" to starting a Stanley! Once the pilot is lit a Stanley is always ready to drive.

This photo shows the left side of the boiler. Normally there would be a smokebox installed over the top of the boiler and you would not see the top of the boiler. The Stanley boiler's nominal operating steam pressure is 600 pounds. The boiler is 23 inches in diameter and 14 inches high and is a fire-tube design. There are 636 half-inch tubes mounted into the 3/8-inch thick steel flue sheets. The boiler drum is 5/16-inch boiler steel but it is wrapped with three layers of 0.056-inch diameter 300,000-pound tensile strength piano wire which provides amazing strength for the weight. Insulation covers the wire and a metal protective jacket is what is seen in the photo. The hydrostatic pressure test on this boiler was 1200 pounds for 10 minutes. The maze of tubing and valves associated with a typical Stanley is obvious in this photo. The brass device mounted at an angle to the side of the boiler is the throttle. Moving a lever on the steering column operates the throttle and controls the amount of steam going to the engine and thus the speed of the vehicle. The white device is the boiler water level indicator. Above and to the right of the water indicator is the steam automatic which is responsible for controlling the firing rate of the main burner based on the steam pressure. This car is a 20-horsepower car meaning that this boiler will steam at a 20-boiler horsepower rate. A 20-horsepower Stanley can run along at 30 to 35 miles per hour on a level road and maintain 550 pounds of boiler pressure. However, just like the storage battery in a modern car can deliver huge amounts of amperage for very short periods of time, this boiler's reserve capacity of hot water and steam allows the car to make sprints of 50 miles per hour or more. The white "U-shaped" tube behind the boiler in this picture is the main steam line from the boiler to the engine. The steam line going to the front of the boiler from the throttle connects to a circular wrap of tubing (called a superheater) located above the burner. The steam leaving the throttle is heated in the superheater to provide more energy to the steam and results is greater efficiency of the steam engine. The various valves shown in the photo are for the steam siphon which uses steam to draw water from a trough or creek into the main water tank; steam enema which cleans the carbon build-up from the main vaporizer coil; and to blow-down the boiler at the end of a day's use.


This composite set of photos is from a milestone day in the restoration of my Stanley. After a year and a half of work my Stanley made steam for the first time. The upper right close-up is of the gauges on the dash. The left gauge is the steam pressure. 600 PSI is the nominal operating pressure for the car and as you can see I had 400 PSI on the gauge at the time of the photo. To the left of the steam gauge is the valve handle controlling the kerosene flow to the main burner. From its position of 2-o'clock the burner is under fire (5-o'clock is off). The right gauge is actually a double-needle gauge and displays the fuel pressures. For those with good eyes the black needle is the main burner kerosene pressure of slightly over 100 pounds while the red needle is the pilot gasoline pressure of approximately 25 pounds. A dash light separates the two gauges. Directly below the dash light is a small circular brown disk called the "winker". This indicator alternately blinks dark and then light brown to signal oil is being pumped to the engine. Injecting steam oil in the main steam line feeding the engine lubricates a steam engine. A pump driven from the rear wheels provides the oil and the "winking" of this indicator during driving shows proper lubrication of the engine. To the lower left of the winker is the boiler water level indicator. This indicator is actually not on the dash but located on the firewall. It indicates the boiler is full of water. The photo to the left is a close-up shot of the pilot. The small "U-tube" that the flame is impinging upon is the vaporization tube for the pilot. This tube is heated with a torch when starting a Stanley. The fuel valve is then opened while the flame is held on the tube until the pilot lights. Once the pilot is lit it serves to heat the vaporizing coil for the main burner. After the pilot remains lit for a short period of time the main fuel valve may be opened to lit the main burner. To the top right of the pilot is the main fuel line going to the main burner-vaporizing coil. The block above the lit pilot is the discharge end of the vaporizing coil that feeds off to the right of the pilot. To the lower right of the pilot is a vertical cylindrical tube that is the nozzle for the main burner. Kerosene vapor shoots out of the nozzle and mixes with air in the venturi tube on its way to burning. The lower right picture of the group is the front of the car showing the burner. This Stanley is a condensing car meaning that the exhaust steam from the engine is passed through a condenser to turn it back into water for eventual reuse. The condenser is really nothing more than a conventional radiator located at the front of the car. It is not installed in this picture and the steam from the exhaust pipe can be seen to the left of the boiler.

This is the front seat and dash of the Model 735. The speedometer, ammeter, and pilot temperature gauges are to the right of the main steam and fuel pressure gauges. The throttle is the lever behind the steering wheel to the right. The green box with the brass lever to behind and to the left of the steering wheel is for the turn signals (an addition to the car by a previous owner). There is obviously no gas pedal on the floor but there are two foot pedals. The right one is the brake pedal. The left pedal is called the "hook-up". In the fully released position the hook-up pedal allows steam to enter the engine cylinder for 80 percent of the piston's stroke in the cylinder (4 of the 5 inches). However, at around 15 to 20 miles per hour the cylinders can't exhaust the steam fast enough and increased speed is not attainable. By depressing the hook-up pedal to a recess position steam is only admitted for 20 percent of the piston's stroke in the cylinder. When "hooked-up" the expansive power of the steam is used allowing the car to not only travel faster but also to do so using far less steam. The car is put into reverse by pressing the hook-up pedal all the way to the floorboard and holding it while admitting steam to the engine. Another unique feature of the Stanley is that it will travel in reverse as fast as it will go forward! The Stanley does have an electrical system. A generator is driven from the rear differential and powers the headlights, tail and brake lights, and the dash light. Not seen in this photo are several more cotnrol valves located under the dash.


Current Status of the Car -- May 2002

During the late summer and early fall of 1999 the car was road-worthy and driven about 350 miles. It was stored for the winter of 1999 when the next major phase of the restoration was started -- repainting, new leather seats, and a new top. At this point the aluminum body has been primed. Final alignments of the doors, hood, and other parts are in progress. The top color coat should be applied in June and July with the car coming "home" in late July. The leather seats are sewn and waiting for the painting to be complete so that they may be attached to the wooden body. It is hoped that the car will be back on the road sometime before the end of 2002.


Two photos of the car in primer. The doors on the left side have been fitted and aligned while those on the right are the next to do. The car will be painted with DuPont Imron in two shades of red. I've been lucky enough to obtain original paint chip samples of Valentine's Valspar Enamel that Stanley used in painting their cars. Two shades of red have been chosen and color matched to the Imron paint system. Note that the body of this car is composed of aluminum panels hand-fitted to a wooden body frame. Only the doors, hood, and wheel fenders are made of steel. The wooden body rests on a steel undercarriage. The wire wheels have been respoked and re-nickel plating of the bright work is in progress.