Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A very old world speed record is challenged

A British team is about to mount an assault on a 103-year-old speed record.

A plucky band of British enthusiasts are gearing up to break a 100-year-old land speed record in a 21st century steam-powered supercar.

They are aiming to break the existing 127mph record in a 25-foot-long vehicle they have already dubbed 'the fastest kettle in the world'.

Designed to top 200mph, the supercar is attempting a record which has stood since 1906.

Back then, daredevil driver Fred Marriott drove a 'steamer' built by two enterprising brothers called Francis and Freelan Stanley.

Their water-powered supercar - called the Stanley Rocket - achieved an astonishing record speed of 127.659mph in Florida.

It made it the fastest car in the world at the time, beating rivals with internal combustion engines that were soon to become the norm.

The new British 21st century challenger is a sleek, streamlined car weighing just over three tons.

The vehicle is a mixture of lightweight carbon-fibre composite and aluminium wrapped around a steel space frame chassis.

It is fitted with 12 boilers containing nearly two miles of tubing.

. . .

Like a giant kettle on a camper stove, Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) held in on-board tanks in the supercar is ignited to fire up burners producing three megawatts of heat - equivalent to 1,500 domestic kettles and capable producing 9,000 cups of tea.

This is used to heat 140 litres of distilled water which produces steam under pressure.

The distilled water is pumped into the boilers at the rate of 50 litres a minute, where steam is superheated to 400C and injected into the vehicles turbine at more than twice the speed of sound.

The sheer force produces the thrust that will propel it from rest to more than 200mph - pouring a jet of white condensed steam out of the back like an angry kettle.

The vehicle even incorporates the elements from two real kettles, used to warm up the liquid petroleum gas used to fire up the boilers.

Massive Goodyear tyres and disc brakes bring it back to a stop - with a parachute system just in case.

The actual record attempt is to take place on a dry lake bed on land at Edward's Airforce Base in California's Mojave desert in June, the scene of space shuttle flights and the base for countless military operations.

. . .

The British Steam Car team are based in Lymington, New Forest in Hampshire and, with minimum funds by maximum British ingenuity and pluck , they have constructed the car in farm outbuildings belonging to Mr Burnett.

'It is a 'garden shed' enterprise operation,' admitted their spokeswoman.

'The project has a fraction of the funding of some world speed record attempts. But we still aim to bring the steam powered world record back to Britain.'

. . .

Project manager Mr Candy said: 'We are doing it on a shoe-string and have been donated parts and paint which has kept the show on a road.

'We've even called referred to the car as being "essence of E-Bay." It's a real garden shed enterprise.'

He added:'There are two real kettle elements at the hear to the car, so if all else fails we can at least make a cuppa.'

However when they did approach tea giant PG Tips for sponsorship, they weren't offered any help.

'I thought that showed a bit of a lack of imagination. Imagine the fun they could have had,' Mr Candy said.

'A giant knitted tea cosy to cover the car or staging the biggest brew up in the world using the car. Maybe we should try the Tetley tea folk next?'

There's more (including many more photographs) at the link.

Full marks for enthusiasm and ingenuity to the team. May they attain success!



Crucis said...

If they need sponsors, perhaps they could seek out Lipton and the distributors of Earl Grey tea?

Christina LMT said...

I'd be too scared to ride in that thing...not adventurous enough, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I see a real problem here: a British car propelled by steam heated by LPG.

How the heck will it leak oil???