Project execution

There will be three quite separate stages to the development of our steam powered trike project:

Phase one

Firstly we will be buying a second hand recumbent trike suitable for adaptation. The first job will be to cut and extend the rear part of the frame to accommodate the fitting of our MK7 expansion motor, which will chain drive the geared rear wheel. We will also be purchasing a second hand diving cylinder and temporarily mounting this on the trike. This will allow us to check the vehicle with just compressed air and will enable us to optimise the gearing. When this is done we will have a ‘benchmark’ performance to aim for with steam.

Phase two

We will now start the construction of the other engine sub-components, which will include a gasification-combustion chamber, a mono-tube boiler and a condenser. Each of these will be tested statically before fitting to the trike. We will also be purchasing a new 12v high pressure water pump and a few other minor parts. When all the engine sub-components are ready we will then begin to work out how and where best to fit them to the trike. Once this is done we will conduct workshop tests with the rear wheel lifted to check that the engine is working correctly. When we are happy with this we will fit a temporary brake to check the engine under partial load.

Phase three

The final stage will be extensive road testing, which should quickly show up any unanticipated design flaws. We expect this stage to be one of continual trialling and modification – hopefully any modifications required will only be minor ones. We will also be able to assess the engine and vehicle performance; discover what the operational quirks are and how best to handle them. (Operational quirks are perhaps our biggest ‘fear’ and monotube boiler regulation is notoriously difficult to get just right.)

At the end of this stage we will have either:

1. An excellent working steam powered trike, fuelled by wood.

2. Something that doesn’t work at all (hopefully highly unlikely), or,

3. Something that ‘sort of’ works.

Obviously we are hoping for and expecting outcome 1!

One of the chief difficulties we expect to face is that of component ‘scaling’, i.e. making sure each engine sub-component is of the correct size. This can only be achieved by combining informed estimation with a rigorous process of trial and error.