1906 Stanley Steamer: 127.659 mph

trismegistus

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In 1906 a steam powered rocket car broke the land speed record at 121mph. Apparently that steam record wasn't broken until 100 years later.

Stanley_Steamer_Fred_Marriot_LSR_Car_1906.jpg


The Stanley brothers created a car that had extremely low drag, incorporating as much inside the cigar shaped body shell as possible including the suspension springs. The engine was a twin piston double acting type with a displacement of 184 cubic inches or 3.1 litres. This corresponds roughly to an internal combustion 4 stroke V8 with a displacement of 735 cubic inches or 12.25 litres. The working pressure claimed to be either 275 or 1000 psi depending on the report with a temperature of 700 degrees F. With the power required to drive the vehicle at the recorded speeds the 1000 psi is most likely the correct figure. The car was 16 feet long and 3 ft wide at its widest part with a total frontal area of 9 sq. ft including
  • The total vehicle weight was 1675 lbs.
This is some serious engineering for an industry that was basically brand new (automobiles, specifically). Steam power seems to have been quite advanced by the time the 1904 expo rolled around. How long it took to develop that is, I suppose, the big question. Wonder how people had the time to develop such advanced tech when they should have been busy digging their cities out of rubble...
 
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trismegistus

trismegistus

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There are folks out there that still maintain and drive Stanley Steamers to this day. I had the pleasure of seeing one in person at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, as the Stanley name is the same steam family as mentioned. Here is some info from a FAQ page on a Steamer enthusiast site, specifically for the average steamer car not these insane rockets.
  • Steamers burn hexane, or white gasoline, their burners consume kerosene
  • 8-10 MPG on average
  • 35mph reasonably, could reach higher speeds but brakes and suspension weren't really built for it
  • 10-12 minutes to start up from a cold engine
  • Maximum power from rest (instant full torque)
  • No transmissions (crankshaft attached directly to the differential gear)
  • More power per pound than gasoline engines
  • Lower RPM (revolutions per minute) than gasoline engines, meaning they last longer
Another good resource is this page I found on the engineering behind the technology.


Really the biggest issue with this tech was that the boilers were fairly heavy, however if the tech managed to evolve into the next few decades there assuredly would have been improvements to this.

I don't think this is a matter of the tech not being what is advertised - - there are plenty of folks that have managed to keep these things running after 120 years. Hell, you can buy a fully operational restored one right here, a steampunk enthusiast's wet dream to be sure!

Mark this under a similar category to the Hindenburg, which is solid old world technology that was purposefully made obsolete to make way for the Oil Oligarchy putting the slaves into dirty inefficient combustion engines. Technically, there were still steam car companies making vehicles well into the 20s, but they were only affordable to the ultra wealthy of the time.
 

Onijunbei

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There was an old steam car on TV I saw awhile back and the owner said he could burn pretty much anything to power it, but back in the day the main source of fuel for steam cars was coal.
We have to understand that the steam engine was around in the 1700s and was basically the main engine used for industrial purposes. Our ancestors had over a hundred years to tinker with these machines and refine them.
 

KorbenDallas

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Judging by the below 1906 San Francisco footage, 100+ years of the steam engine development history, augmented by 2 industrial revolutions, somehow managed to overlook segments of public and private transportation.

 

Onijunbei

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There was something that Rockefeller and General Moters couldn't touch... New York City, it runs on steam...
 

KorbenDallas

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I’m not saying that stuff was not used. It’s just what we are being shown for the most part is not that stuff. We can see more advanced solutions in 1860s.

1911 NYC
 

wizz33

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it probably was alcohol in that time every rural village had a pure alcohol distillery, and Germany in ww1 and ww2 tried to run as much a possible on alcohol. it could even be that the Hindenburg ran on alcohol, then you would have dubble the HP numbers form 1320 to 2600.
 
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trismegistus

trismegistus

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I think the main point to make about steam power is that it truly was the "people's energy" in that you could use pretty much anything that burned as a source. Imagine being able to power your home or your vehicle by burning yard waste or your leftover bacon grease. Nuclear reactors are, in a sense, steam engines because it is water being boiled off into steam that actually produces energy to spin turbines.

This method of power was purposefully suppressed, the advanced nature of the tech in the early 1900s is proof. This is one of the last big moves of TPTB to slam the door on real human progress on our current civilization. I don't think the steam powered rocket car is an anachronism to its time - - it is symbolic of the beginning of the end of energy independence.
 

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