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Old 04-22-2009, 05:04 AM   #1
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ISN'T IT TIME TO REVISIT STEAM POWER; ABNER DOBLE

I have seen on this forum discussion so of gas, diesel, propane and "hydrogen power" the feasibility of which seems particularly convoluted. I'm old school to a certain extent. And what I propose here, I'm sure will receive it's fair share of ridicule: I suspect it will come from quarters who aren't fully aware, of to what extent steam technology had evolved by the 1930's. Let's understand one incontrovertible reality: This country, this world, moved into the industrial age, principally under power of steam. Locomotives, Steam ships, automobiles, yes, there were even steam powered aircraft. o Let's not forget also, that the generators that light this nation are fueled by steam, that powers Dynamos, generators.

There are principally two types of engines: Internal combustion, external combustion; steam is of the latter class. In 1929 Abner Doble, who built his first steam car, while still in high school. I could go on without pause on this subject. However, I really want the forum take this to the next level. I will leave you with this thought, this Reality. In 1929 Abner Doble, had in that time, perfected the Steam automobile. Some statistical data to tweak your imagination. Abner's 1929 Model, had a range of 800 miles, on 80 gallons of water, and 5 gallons of Kerosene: He pushes a La Salle type vehicle, that appeared conventionally like any of the touring vehicles of the time. Oh by the way, the range of 800 miles, would be traversed at about 80 mph. Incidentally, this vehicle could start, be on the road and running in sub-zero temperatures, in about 45 seconds. So destroy the myths right away. You did not have to put the car on the "boil" before you could use it; and it did not look like the minds eye Stanley Steamer, which constituted, rails and a pot. In fact, I digress, Doble approached the brothers at Stanley, and told them if they would use a condenser type of boiler, in other words, if they would continue in a closed system to allow the "Steam" to circulate, and once again become water to be reheated; it wouldn't be needed to stop every 60 miles, to refill the Boilers: Stanly turned Abner away, saying his system would not work. Abner, and his brothers, perfected this "closed system", had orders for thousands of vehicles in 1929 from the Worlds Fair in New York. There the story takes a rather twisted and macabre turn: The Depression, the Exchange and Securities Commission in California, and the indictment of Company (Doble) officials, coupled with Doble's own "perfectionism" led to the untimely demise of this perfected technology.

If there are "codgers" out there with first hand knowledge let's hear it: for those who are skeptical and would like to contribute you can learn a great deal by "googling" Abner Doble...........One further thing before I close, and this pertains to buses. The torque curve for steam powered vehicles is off the charts.
Can you say Locomotive............? Far superior to diesel..........and of course.............Gas I have my theories as to why we have danced around all the "alternative" methods of power.......I'll save them for later. I will leave it at this: There is something insidious about the absence of steam power in our current debate in search of alternative "fuels". Read about Abner, a lot of you are Brighter than I, there may be writing on the wall, that speaks with a clearer voice to you.......express it here. I truly feel this debate needs to be aired. I truly believe that we have the wear with all to utilize this fuel source which is plentiful, safe, and friendly to the ozone and the Planet.........Read Abner, research Steam, educate us with your thoughts.......Mokibra
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Old 04-22-2009, 10:20 AM   #2
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Re: ISN'T IT TIME TO REVISIT STEAM POWER; ABNER DOBLE

First off you have to remember steam is NOT and alternative energy source, its an alternative means of converting an energy source into kinetic energy, as you say Doble's car required kerosene (which is diesel for all intents and purposes) calling his car a steam driven vehicle is like calling our current propulsion sources air driven vehicles, the energy source (diesel or kerosene) provides heat to the working fluid (steam or air) and creates movement. There are some real advantages to steam number one in my mind is flexibility of fuel, as you look to the future not knowing what fuels may be available or affordable its nice to have the ability to easily switch to whatever is available and makes heat. Control of combustion efficiency is also easier, though its easy to lose that gain in the transfer to the working fluid without careful design. The biggest strike steam has against it is the impression of it being heavy and cumbersome, which should be easy enough to overcome with today's material's technology but steam power went by the wayside before any of that could be applied to it so to do so today is essentially starting from scratch, and while I'd love a steam powered bus, I cannot afford what it would cost to build an efficient one
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Old 04-22-2009, 10:46 AM   #3
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Re: ISN'T IT TIME TO REVISIT STEAM POWER; ABNER DOBLE

steam power is alive and well at all of the utility owned power plants, the options are coal,gas or atomic powered boilers making steam to turn turbines to mage electricity all very efficient uses of energy, the down side is the size of the combined powerplant is to large to be mobile.
steam locomotives are very high maintainence with a voracious appetite for fuel and water on a regular basis, to say nothing about the dangers of steam under pressure in a vibration rich enviroment.
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Old 04-22-2009, 05:45 PM   #4
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Re: ISN'T IT TIME TO REVISIT STEAM POWER; ABNER DOBLE

As to the first point we have a semantic difference: which does not undermine the viable reality of steam TODAY. Yes the locomotive had a voracious appetite for both water and fuel. However, with Dobles' "closed system" this would not be the case. As the steam was recaptured, through condensers, was returned from vapor to water and reused within the system. It is also true that size of boiler, when juxtaposed to the size of actual engine, was not cumbersome in the least. Please view, and read what Doble had accomplished shortly before the Great depression. Keep the mind open. As for the "Safety" of steam and the expectations of boiler explosions..........this is yet another myth associated with, and used to debunk steam as viable. The early days of steam, had their fair share of "accidents"....These preceded the ability to "weld". Early boilers were ostensibly held together by cable tethers, that wrapped round the boiler. As for the prospect of the "expense" associated with the manufacture of a steam engine.........I don't buy that at all.

The greatest obstacle to steam seems to be the accepted thinking, that if it were viable, we would be doing it. Please remember this. We are in America. Please look around at the incongruity that we stare into a every step. Drug companies that hold cures to various sundry illnesses, that can't be patented, or protected, or exploited. Therefore, are secreted away. I could cite specific instances of this...........I would hope that you would accept it that we could stay on point.

There is a thought, that it was the advent of convenience and cheap fuel (gas) that lead to the Steam Vehicles' demise. There is some truth, however, this is a rather "cheap" explanation.

I will put forth my theory as to why, today, in real time. It is not because it can't be done. It is not because it isn't safe and viable. It is not because there isn't the money. It is not because it would be too expensive. After all, if you were designing, a one off gas engine, and hoping to introduce it into a steam engine dominated market.....the same argument could be made: My belief is that this "technology" could never be proprietary. Whose interest would it serve? Certainly none to the Current auto manufacturers. What happens to radiators? Gone. What happens to fan belts? gone. What happens to distributors and spark plugs? gone. to valves? Gone. All components for "cooling"? gone. What happens to Large corporate entities that hold us hostage with their "fuel elixir"? Diminished. The very notion of a successful steam vehicle stomps on the head of the corporate snake, so many, so very many entities risk extinction, if an already close to perfected technology were to be actualized. This is not hyperbole nor is it hope. This is Fact.

If the will existed, If those with the money were prepared, to cut the line on business as usual, retool and revamp with steam..........we would all enjoy the advantages of a useful plentiful fuel source............The Arabs would be relegated to using their oils for lamps, we would not be, as a people, as an Army or a government, off in distant places attempting to have a minor foot hold, to secure some strategic advantage, should the "life blood" of this Nation be threatened. (oil)

Steam is Real. Don't believe for a moment that a Steam Vehicle is some kind of fantastical notion of Alchemy that really wouldn't cut it in the Real World.
If we had the technology in the 30's, which we did, Imagine the sophisticated vehicle we could design and run today. That there is no technology is a flat out lie. It is really more about the "will" of those whom we have trusted to do what's right. Well, isn't about time we gave up on that notion, that there is a thread of altruistic concern for us.............? Get Real Folks...The last thing the Fortune 500 want is a rocking of the Boat..or the restructuring of their protected power base........Please, take the time, read the story of Abner Doble...........There is a guy in California who drives his Doble every day, it has more than 2,000,000 miles on it. He has replaced the Brakes and Tires. Doble, when designing the brake drums for his vehicle, did not cast them. Each drum was "carved" from 120lb billets of the finest steel of the time. The leaf springs were manufactured in stainless. The reason his vehicle was delayed until 1929 is that he continued to perfect and perfect it, even as early models came of the assembly line, he would pull them, make further modifications. It was the 29 Doble that exemplified "his", not ours, but "his" masterpiece........and even by today's standards it was not an eyesore, it was not inconvenient or time consuming to run or maintain.....in other words it worked...........
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Old 04-22-2009, 06:16 PM   #5
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Re: ISN'T IT TIME TO REVISIT STEAM POWER; ABNER DOBLE

Here is a 29 Doble
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File Type: jpg doble phaeton 1929.jpg (4.1 KB, 576 views)
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Old 04-22-2009, 11:09 PM   #6
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Re: ISN'T IT TIME TO REVISIT STEAM POWER; ABNER DOBLE

I read a recent link online "Is steam power in your future" http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles/goebel43.html It's an interesting read.

My own thoughts are along the lines of a vehicle with a "battery-buffered electric transmission." I use the term "electric transmission" loosely. I'm talking about something similar to a diesel locomotive. Electric motor drive with an on-board generator. I've thought about steam as a possible power source for the generator when thinking outside the box.

The issue with drive engines is they must be big enough for the maximum power demanded. If we want short 0-60 times, or hill-climbing ability, we must have the horsepower to do it. Cruising along on the level with no wind requires much less power, but with the engine designed for the extra power, its efficiency in cruise may suffer. So use a big electric drive motor with a smaller fuel-driven generator to provide range, and use battery power for acceleration and some hill climbing.

The generator motor is sized for the average power usage, more than cruise power but less than acceleration demand. The generator would run constantly at it's most efficient RPM. It would charge the batteries at stops and while cruising, provide power for gradual hill climbs, and work together with the batteries to accelerate or sprint up short hills. If you combine grid-charging, you don't even start the generator for short trips. This is unlike today's hybrids, which are gas drive with electric boost. They don't run the engine at a constant maximum efficiency RPM. This would be more like a plug-in electric car with a take along charging station.

I haven't studied why steam went away, but personally suspected it was the delay some cars took to "get up a head of steam." With my system, you drive off right away on battery power while waiting for the steam generator to come on line. Imagine a wood-fired power plant for oil independence! Run low on fuel during a trip, and toss a couple of old scrounged pallets into the firebox!
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Old 04-23-2009, 12:46 AM   #7
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Re: ISN'T IT TIME TO REVISIT STEAM POWER; ABNER DOBLE

where did the free electric power from the grid come from, what about the polution from burning the wood?

just for the record I drive a tdi golf that averages 39 mpg for the first 100k miles and I agree that the reel answer is electric with a constant speed generater maintaining the batteries and helping when needed.
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Old 04-23-2009, 07:47 AM   #8
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Re: ISN'T IT TIME TO REVISIT STEAM POWER; ABNER DOBLE

As I stated earlier you have to read to understand. In subzero temperatures the Doble was on it's way in 45 seconds. The torque is ridiculous. There is no transmission to speak of, no running through gears; acceleration was controlled by a silver "spider" on the steering wheel. And here is an overlooked aspect.
Extremely Quiet. Now to the matter of Hybrids. Try the 1916 Owen Magnetic.""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" """""""""""""""The drive mechanism had no direct connection between the engine and the rear wheels. Instead of a flywheel, a generator and a horseshoe shaped magnet were attached to the rear of the engine's crank shaft. On the forward end of the car's drive shaft, was an electric motor with an armature fitted into an air space inside the whirling magnet. Electrical current, transmitted by the engine's generator and magnet attached to the armature of the electrical motor, providing the energy to turn the drive shaft and propel the engine's rear wheels. Speed for the car was controlled by a small lever adjacent to the steering wheel."""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""

For me it remains the enigma of Steam; It is powerful, quiet, and plentiful. There must be someone out there who knows far more than I do: That can give some insight into my proposal :
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File Type: jpg doble phaeton 1929.jpg (4.1 KB, 566 views)
File Type: jpg owen magnetic.jpg (32.7 KB, 567 views)
File Type: jpg 22 Owen magnetic.jpg (674.3 KB, 568 views)
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Old 04-23-2009, 09:47 AM   #9
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Re: ISN'T IT TIME TO REVISIT STEAM POWER; ABNER DOBLE

Quote:
My own thoughts are along the lines of a vehicle with a "battery-buffered electric transmission." I use the term "electric transmission" loosely. I'm talking about something similar to a diesel locomotive. Electric motor drive with an on-board generator. I've thought about steam as a possible power source for the generator when thinking outside the box.
It has been done. In the '90s, in Quebec, a physician named Pierre Couture, created a "wheel-motor", he installed two of them in the back wheels of a Chrysler Intrepid, a small super efficient generator he invented too, running on a small gas engine (I think it was a 12 HP Briggs & Stratton)... That Intrepid had more power to the wheel than stock, around 190 RWHP. I saw it in a video burning rubbers forward, backward, forward and on and on and on (I can't find the damn video ) . I can't remember what was the fuel consumption

A big company bought the patent and forgot it in a drawer... some kind of conspiracy happened and mostly anything related to this has been wiped from the internet!



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Old 04-23-2009, 01:20 PM   #10
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Re: ISN'T IT TIME TO REVISIT STEAM POWER; ABNER DOBLE

wheel motors have been around in industrial stuff for a long time, LeTourno/Westinghouse used them in 50's vintage earthmoving equipment, lots of material handleing equipment is electric for indoor use. Caterpillar has announced a new series of dozers that are electric drive with no transmissions, most of the return to electric drive is due to the efficiency of modern digital controlers and constant speed gensets. the other big actor in electric drive is that it develops max torque at 0 rpm
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