Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve
Maryland Eastern Shore Steam Car Tour
July 2013

Each year the Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve (FAHP) likes to provide those learning to operate Stanley steam cars the opportunity to operate a steamcarriage for an extended period of several days.  The intent is to rely solely on a steam car for transportation thus having to deal with any mechanical issues that arise.  Sometimes one of the steam car groups forms a steam car tour somewhere in the country where several of the FAHP cars can participate after being trailered to the event.  

In 2013 FAHP chose to hold a private three day trip to Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Six Marshall cars would leave Auburn Heights on Friday, July 12th and drive 60 miles to Chestertown, Maryland.  On Saturday the cars would travel an additional 30 miles (60 round trip) south to Easton, Maryland to attend the Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Association's annual show.  On Sunday, July 14th the cars would return the 60 miles to Auburn Heights stopping for a group dinner at Schaefer's Canal House in Chesapeake City, Maryland.  Total mileage for the trip would be a little over 200 miles.

From the Marshall Collection six cars participated on the tour; 1910 Model 71, 1912 Model 87, 1913 Model 76, 1916 Model 725, 1918 Model 735, and 1922 Model 740.  Taking turns operating and riding in the FAHP cars were 20 FAHP volunteers.  The group consisted of original experienced "Steam Team" members as well as individuals with various levels of steam car experience. 

In addition FAHP charter member Robert Wilhelm joined the tour with his 1918 Model 735.  Bob's passengers were Richie & Sam Gregg as student drivers.  All seven vehicles successfully made the complete tour although all cars displayed operating problems not uncommon to Stanley steam cars of the early 20th century.

All photos courtesy of Richie and Sandra Gregg unless noted otherwise.
Taking a Stanley steam car on a few hours trip within 10 miles of home base doesn't require a lot of planning.  Taking a 20th Century Stanley out for a 3-day, 200-mile plus trip in the 21st Century requires advance planning including insuring the steamcarriage can complete the trip.

FAHP participates or plans steam car tours to provide a means for their student drivers to gain operating experience.  FAHP members Richie and Sam Gregg have been learning the technical aspects of a Stanley and how to operate the car with FAHP member Bob Wilhelm using his 1918 Model 735.

Pictured is Sam Gregg behind the steering wheel with Bob Wilhelm as instructor as Sam prepares to take the Model 735 out for a driving lesson in early 2013.
With the back of the car packed with tools and spare parts the cars left Delaware for Chestertown, Maryland in a light drizzle that was supposed to stop shortly after noontime.

Approximately 20 miles into the trip the Model 735 suffered its first mechanical incident.  A "pop" followed by constant "hiss-hiss" was heard.  Finding a nearby development street to pull into the problem was quickly diagnosed ~ cylinder packing.

Bob Wilhelm moves tool bags and parts bins to the rear seat to gain access through to floorboards to the engine.  The left cylinder's piston rod packing gland nut had backed off allowing the graphite packing to blow out.  The problem was easily corrected but took about 45 minutes to accomplish. 

In a more steady rain Richie worked from under the car while Bob worked from the top to install new rounds of graphite packing.  A curious neighbor was happy to supply the team a couple of coat hangers that could be fashioned into a "keeper" to prevent the packing nut from backing off during the rest of the trip.
After the repair we were on our way again and we passed several of the FAHP cars at Chesapeake City were they had stopped to take on water.

Condensing cars recycle the water and thus are capable of traveling more miles before needing a fill-up.  The four condensing cars were easily able to make the complete trip from Auburn Heights to Chestertown, Maryland on a single 25-gallon tank of water.  The non-condensing cars would require a single water stop at the half way point.

As the tour headed south over the Chesapeake Canal Bridge at Chesapeake City, Maryland the rain had turned steady and grown stronger.  There are no windshield wiper(s) on the Model 735 but since the car was generally driven at 20-30 MPH in the rain it wasn't that big a deal.  Rain-X will be used if there's ever another cause to drive in the rain.

After its 1998-2006 restoration the Model 735 had never been driven in the rain.  This trip changed all that.  Here Sam Gregg and Bob Wilhelm install the "curtains" on the car after reaching the Holiday Inn Express in Chestertown.  The curtains would remain  in place for the short drive to Uncle Charlie's Bistro in Chestertown for the evening's dinner.


(Photo courtesy Robert Hopkins)
Four of the FAHP cars and Bob Wilhelm's 735 would make it to Chestertown in the late afternoon.  The Model 87 and 735 suffered minor mechanical issues that were corrected on the road but delayed their arrival at the hotel.  As it had been raining all day the interiors of the cars were wet as were the passengers.  The weather forecast had called for the rain to stop at noon however it continued on until early evening.  With the forecast for the rain to cease before the cars left Auburn Heights, none of the side curtains were brought for the FAHP cars.

Several of the participants joined the group by modern car at Chestertown and it was decided that the FAHP cars would have their boilers blown down before dinner.  Modern cars would be used to ferry tour participants to our dinner reservation while Bob Wilhelm's car, with curtains installed would steam its way to dinner at Uncle Charlie's Bistro.

Pictured (L to R) are the Model 71, Model 725, Model 76, and Model 740 blowing down in the Holiday Inn Express rear parking lot after the 60-mile trip to Chestertown.


(Photo courtesy Robert Hopkins)
After dinner the tour group returned to the hotel.  For Bob's car  the water tank was filled and the pilot extinguished.  With the pilot having gone out the car was parked for the night and blown down.  Sam Gregg waits for the last of the water to exit the boiler before shutting off the remaining two blow-down valves.  The water exiting the boiler and flashing to steam and fog only added to the dark wet setting behind the Holiday Inn Express.

The 735 has six points that allow for the water to be blown out of the boiler.  Because the car is a condensing car, steam cylinder oil added to the steam going to the engine for lubrication finds its way into the water tank and boiler.  Even though there is a steam cylinder oil separator on the engine exhaust steam line and oil absorbing "socks" in the water tank, some oil still makes it way to the boiler.  Opening the blow-down valves allows the water and other impurities to be removed from the boiler so that they do not accumulate and diminish the boiler's ability to make steam.
Overnight the steady rain we experienced on Friday had moved out and we awoke to a dry but humid and cloudy Saturday for the trip to Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Association.  The day's activities started with the cars each being prepared for the day's drive.  If blown down correctly each car's boiler would have siphoned full of water and thus the car's water tank would need to be topped off.

As the drivers prepared their cars for the day's outing, hotel guests coming out to their modern vehicles were fascinated by the collection of steam cars.  "What kind of car is that?" "It is a Stanley Steamer." "What, that runs on steam?" "Yup - at 600 pounds pressure." "No $hi+!!, I've read about those and thought they were science fiction."

Pictured left to right is the 1916 Model 725 (having the water tank filled through the condenser cap), 1913 Model 76, and 1912 Model 87.  In preparation for our visit the Holiday Inn Express had put out their garden hose and provided us with a key to obtain water to fill each of the Stanley tanks.  Kerosene for the cars was available at a service station about a mile from the hotel.
After nearly 10 years the canvas top of the Model 735 had started to show signs of dust and dirt accumulation which gave it a somewhat dirty appearance.  It turned out that the day's driving in the steady rain scoured the top clean of dirt and material returning it to its original flat black canvas color.

Sam Gregg lies under the car making sure the pilot and burner fuel nozzles are clean.  For the last 10-miles or so of the trip on Friday afternoon the burner generated less heat than normal which is a sign of carbon buildup in the vaporizer and nozzle.  With the nozzles cleaned, Sam then proceeded to preheat the pilot vaporizer and then light the pilot.

Sitting in front of the car is a collapsible canvas bucket used to drain off several gallons of water from the boiler in order to have space to generate steam.  Once the pilot was lit and a gallon or so of water removed from the boiler, the burner could be lit to start making steam for the day's drive.
Left to right, FAHP's Model 76, Model 725, Model 87, Model 71 sit in front of one of the buildings.  After the space is Bob Wilhelm's 735 and at the far right is FAHP's Model 735.

The Model 740 did not make the trip to Tuckahoe due to burner problems.  Given the time needed to complete repairs, it was decided that the car would remain at the hotel for the day.  Upon returning from Tuckahoe mid-afternoon the repairs were completed and the car was fired up and made the trip to dinner that evening.

On the trip back to the hotel from Tuckahoe we stopped for 15 gallons of kerosene for Bob's Model 725.  The 735 was obtaining about 8 miles per gallon of kerosene and 6 miles per gallon of water.
Sam Gregg poses in front of Bob Wilhelm's 735 at Waterman's Crab House in Rock Hall, Maryland.  To the left if the Model 740 and to the right is the Model 71.

While Bob Wilhelm drove the Stanley to Chestertown in the rain, Sam would take up operating responsibility for the car during the rest of the tour.  With the trip to Waterman's Sam had now put more miles on the Stanley for this tour than its owner!
After a great meal at Waterman's the group returned to the hotel to fill each car's water tank and to park and blow down the boilers after a day of driving.

One of the fun things to do when blowing down a boiler is to "wash" one's hands in the steam venting from the car.  The water in the boiler is around 500 PSIG and 475 Fahrenheit.  However when the water exits the blow-down pipe it immediately changes to atmospheric pressure and cools by the laws of thermodynamics.  A mere foot from the end of the blow-down pipe the steam and water spray is a modest  90 Fahrenheit..  Folks are startled by the fact that one can put their hands in the steam and not become burned.  Of course the trick is to say at least 6 inches or more from the end of the blow-down pipe or the scalding water exiting at high pressure would cut through one's skin like a hot knife through butter!
On Sunday morning the day's Stanley drivers were up and preparing the cars for the trip home.  All the cars were watered and packed with luggage.  The tour group headed north on Maryland Route 213, to south Chesapeake City.  FAHP member Ed Lee arranged for the non-condensing cars to take on water at the half-way point of the trip back to Yorklyn.

Ed owns a collection of bicycles and had several of his more unique bicycles available for tour members to ride.  Pictured, Sam Gregg rides on of Ed's antique bicycles.

With all cars accounted for and those needing water topped off, the group left South Chesapeake City, crossed the Chesapeake City Bridge, and headed to Schaefer's Canal House in North Chesapeake City for an afternoon meal.
Sam pulls into the parking lot at Schaefer's Canal House with his father Richie Gregg as navigator.  Car owner Bob Wilhelm enjoys being chauffeured.

At Schaefer's our group would be joined by FAHP Executive Director Susan Randolph, Ed Lee and his wife, and Richie's wife as well as his mother.  
FAHP President Steve Bryce assists Ruth Marshall out of the rear of the Model 76 as Tom Marshall exits the front passenger seat.  Stanley steam car owner Kelly Williams had driven the Model 76 to Schaefer's. The front passenger corner of the Model 87 is to the right.
Sam Gregg poses for his mom to snap a photograph alongside the 1918 Stanley.  At 18, Sam is one of the youngest Stanley drivers in the United States if not actually the youngest at the time this photo was taken. 
The Model 725, Model 740, Model 71, and Model 735 parked together in the Schaefer's Canal House parking lot.

With our group fed, and Richie's mom joining us for the ride back to Yorklyn, the cars steamed up and departed Schaefer's Canal House Restaurant.
About to cross US Route 40, Sandra Gregg snapped this photo of the Model 735 on Route 213 North.  The trip lasted three days and covered slightly more than 200 miles.  The car consumed an estimated 35 gallons of water (approximately 6+ miles per gallon) and burned an estimated 25 gallons of kerosene (approximately 8-1/2 miles per gallon).

The packing nut backing off and allowing the left cylinder's piston rod packing to blow out was the worst mechanical issue that had to be dealt with (in the rain no less).  The burner's heat output was reduced on occasion (until serviced) by carbon flakes partially obstructing the nozzle as a result of the vaporization process (a common problem with Stanley steam car burners).  On the final day home we listened to a "Windex Squeaky Clean" sound under maximum throttle which was found to be one of the cylinder caps having its packing blow out. 

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