Stationary Engine List

Contending with Cooling

| October/November 2003

  • Stationary Engine

  • Abenaque's cooling tank
    Abenaque's cooling tank design eliminated any risk of steam impeding coolant flow.

  • Stationary Engine
  • Abenaque's cooling tank

Greetings from sunny England to the readers of GEM. As I write it's August, and as we've had several days of hot sunny weather the media is full of hysteria about 'record temperatures,' 'global warming' and 'drought.' Actually, in the UK it only takes three consecutive days of any particular kind of weather to bring the nation almost to a grinding halt. How the rest of the world manages to cope with their various extreme conditions doesn't seem to register!

In the world of engine restorations, the answer is to ask the advice of friends on the Stationary Engine Mailing List who may have encountered similar problems. In this case, a query came from someone in the Australian state of Victoria in the bottom right hand corner of the country (I know - I looked it up!), which is in its seventh year of drought.

And so on to the discussion that attracted my attention this month on the Stationary Engine Mailing List. As ever, the following comments reflect a variety of opinions that surfaced during this discussion.

Currently, we have largely voluntary water restrictions in and around Melbourne. As such, filling engine cooling tanks, while not banned, is a bit of a waste. My Southern Cross P has a 110-liter tank on it. The water in the top is usually hot enough to steam, but the water in the bottom never gets hot. I'm considering putting a much smaller 40-liter tank on it. The engine uses an endothermic cooling system -i.e., it's not pumped - the water siphons when it gets hot enough. I know the top pipe will have to be level with, or slightly above, the head inlet pipe so that water will always cover the combustion space. Usually, I have the lower pipe lower than the engine outlet - this is the bit that I'm not sure matters. To use the smaller tank I have to build up its height so its top pipe matches the engine top pipe. This means that the water from the bottom outlet will have to flow horizontally rather than downwards - will this matter? I think probably not as the system depends on heat not gravity but I do not want to find out the hard way. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Sure! 110 liters is an awful lot. You could go to quarts instead of liters, because they're considerably smaller.

If you only have metric water available, you could put a secondary tank inside the original. The original would only be to maintain the original look. The secondary will be nearly the same height, but smaller cross section. A large pipe might work well for the secondary.


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