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back to article British steam car completes final testing

The British Steam Car Challenge - which aims to break the 127mph record for a steam-powered car - has finished its final public tests before being shipped to the US for the record attempt. The British team successfully hit 80mph and deployed the braking parachute. The kettle car will now be packed up before being shipped out …

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Wow - not

No doubt a fun project to be involved in, but 80mph?? What sort of test is that? Pretty much every single car on the road can do that speed easily and above all safely (if they were on a race track). A large number will also do 126mph – it is nothing special. The speed record for a human powered bicycle is 81 MPH for gods sake. Apart from the simple joy or building a vehicle and divining in it, where is the challenge? It’s got a high tech LPG powered engine, with the slight difficulty that the power is transmitted through steam. If you are going to spend all that time and money, surly you can beat the guy on a bike on your first test run?

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Coat

Dullest website I have visited in a long time

Truly stuck in the steam age and totally killed my enthusiasm. Now then, about that steam car website as well...

Mine's the one with the Casey Jones hat in the pocket...

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Speed

So what speed is this designed to reach?

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Go

Bravo

And to think we all watched out for the 'Leccy Tech stories.

Bring on the steam-powered Lambo.....

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Steampunk

What the hell is that? If it is not made of brass and nicely polished hardwood what is the point building a steam car?

No sense of style!

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Nice, but....

Not really going to be suitable for use on the roads. Fine for you if your at the front of a que of traffic, but the car(s) behind you wont be able to see a thing (would be nice and clean tho)

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mmmm

i like the britsh racing green colour :)

much better than being festooned with ads

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Bit out with the speeds

Thats may well be what the official record stands at but Stanley did a successful run of over 160mph and had a little accident at 190mph which the driver survived but suffered from the injuries for the rest of his life.

127mph for steam is not a big deal, it's recovering the water that causes problems. A friend used to have a 1940's foden steam truck and was once pulled up for speeding on a motorway while doing over 80mph, a brave man. The summons was proudly displayed on the drivers door after that.

Good luck to them anyway, its nice to see steam power getting some attention again as it is still a viable option and in many ways superior to the infernal combustion engine.

cheers.

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Go

best of british

good luck lads. lets show the world what men in sheds can do!

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It might become a record-breaker...

but it is horribly inefficient. From the vehicle details page:

Horsepower 268 kw 360 hp

Burners 3 Megawatts of heat

I make that 8.9% efficient. :-(

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Strange reference?

"......speedboat driver Donald Campbell."

Cars as well, I think you'll find, which is slightly more relevant given the context. Look up "Bluebird Proteus" (it's the sort of teardrop-shaped blue one in the National Motor museum).

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A title is required.

El Reg said: "The three ton car..."

Driver said: "The car really did handle beautifully..."

Well, one of you is lying.

LPG burner for obvious reasons

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MJI
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I like our current steam record

126mph in 1938 with around 3000hp

Got to aim for 200mph 71 years later.

Inside the firebox

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IT Angle

Only the English...

... would take a fuel that works well in an efficient internal combustion engine, and use it to generate steam to propel a car.

Now if they could achieve that speed using heavy fuel oil, or even better, powdered coal, then it may have some merit!

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Previous attempt?

I remember seeing a modified Metisse with a large steam tank in the middle. It didn't have a boiler but was precharged with superheated steam. Whatever happened to it?

The rail steam record still stands at 126mph, until Tornado has a go at it!

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Hit 80 before deploying a braking parachute?

Simplify! - You might as well use basic off-the-shelf car brakes at the speed this thing goes. Fan as I am of record-breaking engineering projects I've got to say I find this an underwhelming endeavour that seems to use a lot of technology to achieve very little. The car *looks* like it would do 500mph. What do you need giant twin tails & parachutes for if the height of your ambition is to go slower than many fairly normal-looking petrol-powered sportscars?

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Next step?

All that remains is to figure out how to get the man with the red flag to stay ahead of it.

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Ed

To All The Nay Sayers

If its not such a big fucking deal lets see you make one......

5/5 from me good on em!!

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Pirate

about breaking the record."

Which I keep reading as "about breaking some bones."

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Best stat

From their site:

Burners: ~23 cups of tea per second

Just about enough to keep a team of brickies hydrated.

http://www.steamcar.co.uk/design/index.htm

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Re: To All The Nay Sayers....

"If its not such a big fucking deal lets see you make one......"

I think you may find the complete lack of Awe is a result the concept having what might amount to the largest conceivable amount of negative merit such that you would only be able to explain how useless it is by comparing it to itself.

Why not burn copious amounts of LPG to heat a boiler to generate steam to drive a turbine to turn a generator to make electricity to charge a battery to light some lights that shine on some solar cells to generate some electricity to drive a motor that turns the wheels?

"The team's director Lynne Angel burst into tears after......."

Oh good greif...

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Stop

Morons...

All your idiots..it was a TEST run.

Funnily enough when you do your TEST runs your don't go full speed and power. That is the difference between a TEST run and a live record breaking attempt. They were TESTING the car and TESTING the braking system...

Shhhheezzzz

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MJI
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Go

(re) Richard Porter

The National Railway Museum have hinted that the steam speed record is safe where it is, just that it would involve restoring Mallard again, and snatching it back.

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Coat

Umm... @Yorkshirepudding

"lets show the world what men in sheds can do!"

That's quite alright. Some things are best left behind closed doors.

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Bah!

*sniffs*

I trust this hyperkettle will be christened "Bluebird" in the great tradition of the Campbells?

Otherwise it doesn't count.

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You heard it here first

Steam will be the technology of the future.

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That's all well and good...

...but at 23 cups of tea per second, does this mean that we have finally achieved the true jet-propelled guided NAAFI, then...?

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Hinder & Stop bods will stop Tornado

There is no way the H&S people would allow Tornado ( or any Pressurised Water device) from attempting to break the Mallard record. They just wish that anything but the Infernal Combustion Engine would disappear into history. Tornado (and the other new build Steam Engines) just plainly takes them outside their comfot zone. When they get here, they are more likey to 'BAN' them outright and learn how to manage the risk properly.

Unless they take it to France where they don't care all that much about H&S

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Happy

OK the goal is bonkers

OK the goal is bonkers

However they have lined up a pretty serious group of sponsors and the web site runs smoothly.

There appears to be some fairly serious engineering going on here. Dumping this much energy into that amount of water over that time scale is challenging. Not sure what the Nexfor MDF is for though.

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@MJI :O)

took the words right outa me mouth, sounds about right to me ROFLMAO O_o

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Ben

Mallard

The problem with Mallard trying to break the record, again, is that the last time it set the record it ended up leaving nuts and bolts all over Lancashire as they tried to get the bloody thing to stop again. Not entirely sure the NRM would want to pick up the tab for AA recovery on that one...

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@ The elephant in the room

"Hit 80 before deploying a braking parachute? "

and "El Reg said: "The three ton car...""

Not only would I want better than off the shelf brakes, I would want a friggin huge parachute to slow down something that weighs 3 tons and is moving at 80 mph. Plus, you have to test everything before you take it up to speeds where the inertia is really going to be an issue, including yon parachute.

Unless there was *plenty* of room to roll gently to a stop, or a wall of Jello or something...

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It does seem rather pointless.

But I still can't wait to see it run ... we might even fly out to watch it live :-)

Naysayers: Ever hear of Rube Goldburg? (That'd be Heath Robinson to you brits.) If this kind of thing doesn't tickle your techie funny bone, you have no sense of humor. Kinda like the jet-engine powered beer cooler. The what, you ask? See here:

http://www.asciimation.co.nz/beer/

Shiny!

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Anonymous Coward

Has anyone noticed...

... the car somewhat resembles Thunderbird 2?

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Joke

Parachute

"The British team successfully hit 80mph and deployed the braking parachute" and

afterwards the parachute was well pressed and wrinkle free.

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Speaking of jet engine...

I would rather ride on the jet engine bike Y2K any day, than waiting for this contraption to heat up and boil any amount of water in a cold morning...

...Or ride the military version of a KTM bike that runs on jet fuel (for logistical reasons it runs on the same fuel as the Abrahams tanks and F-18s, sure...)

By the way, I think Jay Leno has both: a steam car and a Y2K bike.

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Anonymous Coward

Stop faffing about ...

... and let it rip.

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...efficiency?

i'm still trying to work out if this is 'good' or not? I know its not 'green' (so many people think its green because of the steam - but you're still burning fossil fuel!).

to the point - its burning petrol to make steam...which then powers the engine - is this more

efficient than just burning the petrol directly to drive the engine - ie internal combustion?

3 tonnes (or 3 tons?) ouch. thats a heavy beasty.

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@Stan

80mph in a Foden steam lorry? Not a chance - they had barely 25hp and even with special gearing couldn't do much more than 25mph. Someone has been pulling your leg, I'm afraid.

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Anonymous Coward

The Technology of Boiling Water

Come on, Stu, we all know it was a test run! But it left us less than REALLY impressed. After 10 years of development. They hope to hit a top of 170 mph. That's a whopping 43 mph increase after 100 years! And they didn't need a parachute back then (well, maybe they should have). Talk about HIGH achievers... what could they possibly be inhaling? Ha, Ha, Ha! Steam - that's some really good shit!

So, what's so special here? It's about boiling water to make a 3-ton vehicle go faster than 127.66 mph, that's what. Do I care? For 100 years, did ANYBODY care? No, they did not. Maybe, just maybe...if we hadn't already been to the moon and back; or if I didn't have a digital picture on my desktop of a sun setting on the planet Mars; or that the ThrustSSC hadn't already eclipsed the sound barrier...naah...I still wouldn't care. The reason the record for steam-powered vehicles held up for an entire century is that... NOBODY CARED enough to break it! Until now. I read it brought tears to one man's eyes seeing the results of the current tests. For myself - just hand me the Visine. -Walter

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Boffin

Point of Order

There appears to be no mention of the cup-of-tea-per-second in the Reg Standard Soviet declaration of Units of Measure http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/24/vulture_central_standards/

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@ D@v3

I don't mind following them down the road for a bit -- my car needs a good steam cleaning.

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Parachutes and things

I've got a couple of friends who are into land speed records, motorcycle style. One has a 400hp turbo bike that he wants to hit 400km/h (250mph).

The parachutes are required by the organisers for a few reasons: as a failsafe, so wheels don't lock up on the salt and tear up the surface under breaking, and as a means for correcting a vehicle if it starts to get out of control.

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Laundry.

The chute is mostly for braking. The NHRA requires one for speeds in excess of 150MPH, or faster than 9.9 seconds in the quarter mile (from memory, and the rules may have changed since I last went racing). The various land speed organizations require chutes for other speeds and classes of vehicle.

Yes, it'll help stop digging up the salt at Bonneville, in that even tapping the brakes will lock the wheels at high speeds.

Yes, if you get into trouble at high speed the chute can help straighten the car ... IF you have the reflexes & presence of mind to deploy it in time.

The braking power is surprisingly high, and gets stronger the faster you go ... my 165MPH Cougar's Stroud chute provides about 1.6 Gs of braking power. The faster cars, Top Fuel & Funny Car, provide so much negative G at ~320MPH that the drivers sometimes are forced to retire because of detached retinas. c.f. Don Garlits.

I can't remember what speed I first tested my chute, but it was probably somewhere between 70 and 90 MPH ... I remember WHERE, though ... Was early Saturday morning, on Fabian Way in Palo Alto. I pulled it right at the cross walk (zebra crossing to you Brits) in front of the old Ford Aerospace building 3. The security guard freaked out :-)

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