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Publication numberUS3771419 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 13, 1973
Filing dateDec 14, 1970
Priority dateDec 14, 1970
Also published asDE2161518A1
Publication numberUS 3771419 A, US 3771419A, US-A-3771419, US3771419 A, US3771419A
InventorsHyde R
Original AssigneeHyde R
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Steam driven vehicle and steam engine therefor
US 3771419 A
Abstract
A swash plate type steam engine having its block fixed to a vehicle wheel for rotation therewith and a plurality of pistons extending generally parallel to the axle of the wheel, the cylinders being supplied with steam from a normally fixed distribution plate which is urged into engagement with the rotating block by the steam under pressure.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1191 Hyde 1 Nov. 13, 1973 1 STEAM DRIVEN VEHICLE AND STEAM 2,353,730 7/1944 Joy 180/66 F EN THEREFOR 2,512,098 6/1950 Gratzmuller 92/250 2,814,540 11/1957 Southerwick... 92/250 Inventor: Robert y l Pulter 2,956,845 10/1960 Wahlmark 92/110 Crystal River, Fla. 32629 2,984,187 5/1961 Prasse et al.. 417/283 3,092,036 6/1963 Crei hton.... 91/487 [22] 1970 3,124,079 3/1964 Boye r 1 91/505 [21] APPL N 97 7 0 3,272,079 9/1966 Bent 91/499 3,289,604 12/1966 Wahlmark 91/507 3,415,160 12/1968 Stein 91/474 [52] US. Cl 9l/6.5, 91/478, 91/485 3,613,511 10/1971 Eddington 91/503 [51] Int. Cl. F01b l/00, FOlb 3/00 Of Search Primary Examiner-William Freeh 50; 180/66 Assistant Examiner-Gregory LaPointe 74/60 Attorney-Stein and Orman [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS [57] ABSTRAFT 3,611,876 10/1971 Day 91/484 A swashPlate type Steam eQgme block fixed 3,257,855 6,1966 Dangauthier I U 74/60 to a vehlcle wheel for rotation therew1th and a plural- 3,232,056 2/1966 Heinrich et'a1.;.... 9l/6.5- ity of Pistons extending generally Parallel to the axle 3,392,631 7/19 3 B k 91 432 of the wheel, the cy1inders being supplied with steam 3,327,642 6/1967 Budzich 91/482 from a noi mally fixed distribution plate which is urged 3,362,342 H1968 F int t al- 1/482 into engagement with the rotating block by the steam 760,318 CUCCOtIi under pressure 788,390 4/1905 Bardenwerper 91/65 1,475,509 11/1923 Ragot 91/65 11 Claims, 21 Drawing Figures PATFNIEDHUV 13 mm 3.771.419

ig BY M PATENTEDNUY 13 ms SHEET t [1F 8 INVENTOR.

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PATENTED NEW 1 3 I975 3.771. 419 SHEET 5 UF 8 INVENTOR.

STEAM DRIVEN VEHICLE AND STEAM ENGINE THEREFOR This invention relates to a steam engine and more particularly, the invention is directed to a steam engine for road vehicles.

Steam driven automobiles rose to prominence in the early part of the century. Prominent inventors of those automobiles were Doble and the Stanley Brothers. The most successful of the steam cars employed an engine located centrally of the vehicle in somewhat conventional fashion with a transmission system to convey the power of the steam engine to the wheels. The most sophisticated of the engines employed two long stroke, double acting pistons using relatively high pressure steam, that is, steam of about 450 to 600 psi at a temperature of approximately 700 Fahrenheit.

In the l920s, the steam car was supplanted by the car using an internal combustion engine. There are probably a variety of reasons which do not need to be detailed here for the popularity of the internal combustion engine over the steam engine. The rise of the popularity of the internal combustion engine has created its own problems, the principal one being its contribution to the pollution of the atmosphere. Because of these pollution problems, many new approaches are being explored for producing an engine, preferably having the performance of the internal combustion engine, which do not make the contribution to the pollution problem. Among the approaches being explored is the steam engine. An advantage of the steam engine is that its burner, which heats the water to steam, is capable of a far more complete combustion of its fuel than is possible with an internal combustion engine and hence it can produce the power of an internal combustion engine with a contribution toward pollution well below the maximum permissable limits.

But the conventional steam engine does not satisfy today's automotive requirements. One major reason is that its requirements of a high temperature, high pressure engine create difficult engineering problems and are unacceptable to the purchasing public. Another is that for satisfactory travel of any distance, a closed system permitting the recirculation and reuse of the steam is necessary and that in turn requires a condenser. Further, a lubricant for the cylinders has been required to be introduced into the steam and the lubricant breaks down under high temperature and coats the condenser requiring frequent replacement or repair. The multiple problems connected with the use of steam in automotive vehicles has not only blocked its immediate and widespread adoption but it does not appear to be being given very serious consideration as the answer to the pollution problem.

An objective of the present invention has been to provide a steam engine for use on automotive vehicles which departs in many fundamental respects from conventional approaches to steam engines themselves and which departs from conventional approaches for supplying power to automotive engines.

Another objective of the invention has been to provide a steam engine for an automotive vehicle which not only eliminates the pollutants of the internal combustion engine but which is more desirable in many respects and eliminates many of the disadvantages of the internal combustion engine.

Still another objective of the invention has been to provide a valving system for the steam engine to provide for a maximum utilization of the steam energy, with an exhaust system which has no compression of the steam after it has done its work, thus providing no resistance to rotation in the desired direction, forward or reverse.

Another objective of the invention has been to provide a steam engine system employing low pressure, low temperature steam, preferably about 200 psi at 400 Fahrenheit, and to provide an engine capable of utilizing such low pressure steam to effectively produce the power to drive an automobile.

Another objective of the invention has been to pro vide a steam engine and recirculation system therefor which requires no lubricant in the steam and hence no possibility of contaminating the condenser and other elements of the system. The system however, admits of the possibility of the use of anti-freeze so as to maintain a free flow of the fluid even in freezing conditions.

Another objective of the invention has been to em ploy as the motive power for a vehicle, a steam engine mounted on at least one wheel of the vehicle, the engine forming a driving force between the fixed axle and the rotating wheel. Many advantages are derived from this concept alone, principal among which are the elimination of the cost and weight of a clutch, transmission and differential.

Another objective of the invention has been to provide a steam engine for the wheel of a vehicle in which the engine block is fixed to the wheel for rotation therewith and has its cylinders lying in axes parallel to the axis of the axle, the cylinders being tightly clustered about the axle. One advantage of rotating the engine block is that it greatly simplifies the valving of the steam to the cylinders and it provides a structure upon which to mount a vehicle wheel without requiring any additional moving parts.

Still a further objective of the invention is to provide a steam distribution system for the rotating block comprising a distribution plate normally fixed to the axle. The invention further contemplates the use of the pressure of the steam coming into the engine to energize or force the distribution plate into a pressure engagement with the rotating block. There are a number of advantages to this system as will appear, but foremost among them are the simplicity of the distribution system coupled with the fact that it is self-compensating as to wear, that is, as the bearing surfaces between the distribution plate and the block become worn, the steam continues to press the plate into engagement with the block.

The invention further contemplates providing for the angular adjustment of the distribution plate so as to provide for an advance or retardation of the timing of the introduction of the steam into the respective cylinders. This feature of the invention permits the driver to employ the steam in such a way as to provide greater torque or alternatively, to operate the steam engine so as to provide greater economy of operation.

The distribution plate has provision for a minor axial movement, as for example, a 30 second of an inch so that when the steam is cut off, the cylinders may exhaust to atmosphere thereby creating a free-wheeling condition to further improve the economy of the engine.

Another objective of the invention has been to provide a distribution plate having multiple inlet ports for operation in the forward direction and at least one exhaust port for operation in the forward direction with means for reversing the flow of steam to direct it into the exhaust port and out of the inlet ports to effect reversal of the engine and vehicle. The invention further includes the provision of one-way check valves admitting steam into an area on the reverse side of said distribution plate which efi'ects the pressing of the plate against the block during conditions of forward and reverse operations.

Another objective of the invention has been to provide a steam engine adapted to have its cylinder block mounted on a vehicle wheel for rotation therewith, the engine having a plurality of pistons reciprocable on axes relatively parallel to the axis of the vehicle, the piston heads being very thin and preferably fixed to the piston rod. The opposite end of the piston is connected to the swash plate by a ball and socket joint. The invention further contemplates the use of a flexible plastic cup to form the seal between the piston and the cylinder wall, the cup having a circular flange opening in the direction of the steam pressure. A number of advantages flow from the piston structure. The manufacturing tolerances are very open and actually require a sloppy fit between piston and cylinder because of the need of the-piston to angulate slightly with respect to the axis of the cylinder. The cup seals the piston in the cylinder and, because of the rotation of the piston within the cylinder normally attendant the operation of the engine, the cup wears uniformly. The sealing cup is very advantageous in that it produces only the pressure on the walls that is required by the pressure of the steam being introduced into the cylinders.

A primary advantage of this piston head structure is the elimination of the great mass normally found in a piston head, this being very important when it is considered that the engine is rotated with the wheel and heavy pistons, tending to be thrown radially outwardly, would cause very considerable wear. I

Another feature of the invention resides in the adaptability of the engine to the front wheels of an automobile to provide front wheel drive, front wheel drive being obviously a superior form of drive for an automobile in the stability that it, produces in pulling the car rather than pushing the car from the rear wheels.

Another objective of the invention has been to provide a ball joint structure for connecting the piston rods to the swash plate, and a method of forming the ball joints whereby lubrication is provided for the joint and whereby the joint is capable of being made with minimum attention to tolerances.

Another objective of the invention has been to provide, in a steam engine of the type described above, a system for braking without the use of conventional friction brakes, the braking being effected by closing off the reversing ports or even reversing the flow of steam to the engine. While provision for braking the car utilizing the steam is contemplated as a part of the invention, the invention also admits of the mounting of a disc on the rotating block and providing for disc brakes.

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic top plan view of a steam driven vehicle illustrating the location of the steam engines and system for supplying the steam engines,

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a right hand vehicle wheel viewed from the front of the wheel showing the steam engine mounted to the wheel axle,

FIGS. 3 and 4 are longitudinal section views through the steam engine illustrating two positions of the steam engine mechanism 180 apart,

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view taken along lines 5-5 of FIG. 3,

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken along lines 6-6 of FIG. 3,

FIG. 7 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view through the center of the engine illustrating the mounting of the distribution plate to the engine block,

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view taken along lines 88 of FIG. 3,

FIG. 9 is a disassembled perspective view of the distribution plate and the face of the engine block to which it is connected,

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view taken along lines l0-10 of FIG. 3,

FIG. 11 is a developed cross-sectional view taken along lines 1111 of FIG. 10,

FIG. 12 is a disassembled perspective view of the piston construction,

FIG. 13 is a diagrammatic illustration of the engine operation for forward speed,

FIG. 14 is a view similar to FIG. 13 illustrating the operation for a high torque condition,

FIG. 15 is a view similar to view 13 illustrating reverse operation,

FIGS. 16 and 17 are diagrammatic views illustrating the braking operation,

FIG. 18 is a diagrammatic view of an alternative distribution plate structure,

FIGS. 19 and 20 are diagrammatic views illustrating advance and retard timing changes, and

FIG. 21 is an elevational view, partly in section of an alternative piston structure.

GENERAL ORGANIZATION Referring to FIG. 1, a four-wheeled vehicle is illustrated having two steam engines 20 and 21 mounted on the axles of the front wheels 22 of the vehicle. A very basic steam generating and recirculating system is illustrated and includes a boiler 23 feeding steam at about 200 psi and 400F. to a valve system 25. The valve mechanism is mechanically connected to an accelerator pedal 26 and a brake pedal 27 and a shift lever 28 for operation as will appear below. A timing control lever 29-is connected through suitable linkage 30 to a distribution valve 31 on each engine to provide adjustment of the timing of the introduction of steam into each engine to provide more torque for acceleration and less torque for economy running. The steam is distributed from the valve 25 through multiple flexible lines 32 to the steam engines 20 and 21. Four lines are connected to the distribution valve 31 of each steam engine 20, 21 as will be explained in more detail below. The exhaust from each steam engine is returned to the valve system 25 and fed from there through a line 33 to a condenser 34. The condenser is connected through a line 35 to a water tank 36, the water tank being connected through a line 37 to a water pump 38, the water pump feeding the boiler 23 through a line 39. The water pump is shown as being driven by one of the rear wheels 40 of the vehicle.

It should be understood that while the invention is shown as employed in a four-wheel vehicle, it is ideally suited for mounting on the single wheel of a threewheeled vehicle, or alternatively, four engines could be used to drive four wheels of a four-wheeled vehicle.

The multiple lines 32 connecting the valve system 25 to the respective engines and 21 are preferably of a flexible material, as for example a plastic or corrugated stainless steel, which will permit the wheels to move in their suspensions with respect to the vehicle chassis without fatiguing the lines.

A fuel supply 41 such as a tank of propane gas or kerosene is connected through a line 42 to the boiler 23. An ignition system including a battery 43 and a starter such as an ignition key 44 is connected to the boiler to ignite the fuel from the supply 41.

In the operation of the invention, the ignition switch 44 is turned on to ignite the fuel and within less than ten seconds, the steam will have been generated and brought up to that pressure required to operatetha automobile. Nothing more is required other than to operate the shift lever 28 to place the vehicle in forward, high torque forward or reverse and to operate the accelerator pedal 26 controlling the amount of steam to the engines thereby determining the speed of the vehicle.

Referring to FIG. 2 the steam engine 21 is shown mounted directly on the main axle 50 of a right front wheel of a vehicle. The engine 21 fits conveniently and compactly into the space normally occupied by the drum brakes of the vehicle. Thus, the engine of the invention requires only a conventional wheel suspension and is adapted as a replacement for the engine on existing automobiles.

It should be observed further that the engine, being mounted directly between the wheel axle and the wheel, eliminates entirely all of the clutch and transmission and differential system conventionally used in automobiles.

As illustrated in phantom lines in FIG. 2, a disc 51 may be fixed to the engine block and brake caliper 52 mounted on the suspension to cooperate with the disc to provide supplementary braking, if desired, to that provided by the engine.

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, the engine includes the distribution valve or port plate 31 mounted to the main axle 50 for slight axial and angular movement, a cylinder head 53 rotatably mounted with respect to the valve plate 31 and a cylinder block 54 secured to the cylinder head. As best seen in FIG. 8, the distribution plate 31 has four steam connections 55, 56, 57, and 58 projecting radially for the introduction of steam from the boiler and exhaust of the steam to the condenser. Axial movement of the distribution plate 31 is limited in one direction by a shoulder 60 on the axle 50 and in the other direction by the cylinder head 53 and block whose axial position on the axle is fixed. Rotary or angular movement of the distribution plate is normally fixed by an arm 61 connected to the timing control lever 29 through linkage 30. Actuation of the control lever will permit about 30 of angular movement of the distribution plate 31.

The cylinder block 54 is a casting having five cylinders 62. While five cylinders are illustrated, it will be apparent that the engine could be designed with greater or fewer. Four cylinders is probably the least number for efficient operation and six cylinders is probably the most for compact clustering about the vehicle axle. The five cylinders have their axes parallel to the axle 51 and are clustered tightly about it. The cylinders could be angulated but for reasons of economy of space and manufacture, the illustrated configuration is preferred. The cylinder block is enclosed by a housing means in the form of a hub cap 63, which has a flange 64 mounted on a flange 65 of the cylinder block. The flanges have five holes to receive wheel bolts 66, the bolts being threaded into the block flange. Within each cylinder 62 is a piston mounted on a connecting rod 71 having a ball 72 fixed to the end opposite the piston head. Each ball is mounted in a socket 73 formed integrally with a swash plate 74.

The swash plate is rotatably mounted on an eccentric angulated axle 75, fixed to the main axle 51, by bearings 76 on its inner end and bearing 77 on its outer end. The swash plate serves as an interconnecting means between pistons 70 and a drive assembly. More particularly, the swash plate a drive assembly comprising a rotatable bearing 80 which is confined between opposing walls 81 and 82 of a channel member 83 which serves as a rider member of the roller and which is bolted as at 84 to the hub cap 63. A slight clearance is provided between the roller 80 and the walls 81-82 to permit the roller to ride freely against one of the walls when moving in a forward direction and against the other wall when moving in a reverse direction. The engagement of the roller 80 with one or the other of the walls 81-82 provides the drive connection between the swash plate 74 and the wheel. The roller and channel assembly are counterbalanced on the opposite side by weights fixed to the radial arms 85 which are in turn fixed to the swash plate 74 (FIG. 5).

The swash plate axle 75 has, at its inner end, a sleeve which has keyways 91 to receive splines 92 on the fixed axle 51 of the vehicle. The sleeve 90 is slidably mounted on the fixed axle 51 and is secured thereto by a nut 93 threaded onto the threaded end 94 of the axle 51.

The cylinder block 54 is rotatably mounted on the axle 51 by roller bearings 95 and 96, these bearings being located at approximately the same position as are the bearings normally employed to mount a wheel to the axle. A rubber ring 97 having a lip 98 bearing against a bushing 99 fixed to the axle forms a seal to prevent escape of steam from the inlet and exhaust ports into the bearings.

In general, the operation of a swash plate engine is known and the basic approach to that type of engine is applied here. In the position illustrated in FIG. 3, one of the pistons 70 is at top dead center. When steam is applied to the inner end of the piston, the steam expands and drives the piston toward the left as viewed in FIG. 4. The ball connection of the piston rod to the swash plate translates that thrust into a component of motion at right angles to the angulated axle 75 thereby causing the swash plate to rotate with respect to the axle 95. As the swash plate rotates, the roller 80 bears against either wall 81 or 82 depending upon the direction of the rotation causing the rotation of the hub which carries with it the rim of the wheel as well as the cylinder block and head. When the illustrated piston and cylinder has rotated through the assembly assumes the attitude illustrated in FIG. 4.

PISTON CONSTRUCTION Each piston 70 is connected to the piston rod 71, the piston rod having a ball 72 at its end opposite the piston. As shown in FIGS. 3, 4 and 12 the piston head has a disc 101 fixed to the end of the rod 71, the disc having a diameter substantially less than the diameter of the cylinder 62. A Rulon (low friction tetrafluorethylene type product of the Dixon Company of Providence, Rhode Island or other materials such as Graphitar, a self-lubricating graphite material which is inert to temperature) cup-forming disc 102 serves a sealing means is mounted on the disc 101 by a washer 103, the washer being clamped to the disc 101 by bolts 104. The Rulon disc 102 has a diameter greater than the diameter of the washer 103 and greater than the diameter of the cylinder 62 so that when the piston head 70 is assembled and inserted into the cylinder, the marginal portion 105 or flange of the Rulon disc 102 is formed around the washer 103 in the form of a cup, with the flange opening toward the head end of the cylinder. When the steam under pressure is introduced into the cylinder, it will tend to press the cup-forming flange 105 outwardly against the cylinder walls thereby providing a seal against the cylinder walls. The pressure of the flange 105 against the cylinder walls will be directly proportional to the pressure of the steam introduced, and hence will provide a greater pressure seal as needed for greater steam pressure. p

The ball 72 is mounted in the swash plate socket or cup 73 as shown in FIGS. 3, 4 and 12. The cup 73 is lined with an anti-friction material 110 such as Rulin to form a bearing. The bearing is initially formed in three flat sectors as shown at 111 in FIG. 12 and is molded into a hemispherical shape having ears 112. The socket 73 has an epoxy applied to it and the bearing material 110 is inserted into the socket and held there by the ball 72 until the epoxy sets. Thus, without forming the surface of the socket with precise tolerances, the combination of the bearing 110 and the epoxy form a precise bearing surface for the ball 72. I

The ball 72 is clamped in the socket 73 by a ring 113 having a Rulon bearing material 114 interposed between the ring 113 and the ball 72. Three bolts 115 hold the assembly together.

It can be observed that a number of advantages flow from the design of the piston. In making a 360 excursion, the piston will oscillate through an angle of about 6 within the cylinder as it reciprocates through its power and exhaust strokes. The very flat or thin piston head 70 permits the oscillatory action without the requirement of a universal joint interposed between the piston head and the ball joint. The piston cup 102, 105 seals the piston 70 in the cylinder 62 with a pressure required, in accordance with the demands of incoming pressure of the steam. Thus, the piston has a low surface friction, that surface friction increasing only as required. The construction admits of open tolerances, that is, a sloppy fit since it is the Rulon cup that forms the seal and provides the function of piston rings. No oil is required to lubricate the piston and hence no problem of eliminating oil from the steam is created. The piston head has a low mass which contributes to a low wear of the elements which rub together. In this respect it should be understood that as the engine rotates, the centrifugal force on the piston tends to throw them outwardly with some force against the radially outward surfaces of the cylinders. By maintaining a low mass of the piston head, the friction or centrifugal force is minimized.

Instead of the configuration illustrated in FIG. 12, the piston head as shown in FIG. 21, could have a diameter substantially equal to that of the cylinder walls with a bearing and sealing material 102A locked in place around the circumference of the piston head by a clamping washer 103A fixed to the head. The assembly is spherically ground around the circumference to permit it to oscillate within the cylinder as required by its interengagement with the swash plate and without any blowby of steam.

Instead of the illustrated ball and socket connection to the swash plate, the socket could be lined with ball bearings 111A for anti-friction contact with the ball, the assembly being sealed and greased for the life of the engine.

THE DISTRIBUTION PLATE STRUCTURE The distribution plate structure 31 is best illustrated by referring to FIGS. 3, 4, 8 and 9.

The cylinder head 53 has a circular Rulon bearing 120 mounted in an annular groove 121, within the confines of which are five arcuate cylinder ports 122 connected to the respective cylinders 62 by radial passageways 123. The Rulon ring forms an anti-friction seal between the stationary valve plate 31 and the cylinder head 53, the sealing pressure for which is determined by the steam pressure as will appear below.

The stationary distribution plate 31 has a bearing surface 124 which bears against the bearing 120. Within the confines of the bearing surface are the several distribution ports 125, 126, 127 and 128 by which the cylinders are connected either to inlet steam or exhaust. These ports are preferably a primary port 125 (FIG. 8) communicating with the connection 55, a high torque port 126 communicating with the connection 56, a reverse exhaust port 127 communicating with connection 57 and an elongated exhaust port 128 communicating with connection 58.

Each cylinder port 122 has an arcuate portion which extends through an arc of approximately 45. Cylinder head ports 125, 126 and 127 extend through arcs of approximately 35 and exhaust port 128 extends through an arc of approximately 1 10. The cylinder head ports 125-128 are on the same circumference as the valve plate ports 122 so as to communicate with them during the rotation of the cylinder head with respect to the fixed valve plate.

' The connections to 58 and their respective ports 125 to 128 are connected to steam or to exhaust or are blocked off by the valve system 25 as determined by the desired operations of forward, reverse and braking.

The distribution plate has the distribution ports 125 to 128 formed on the surface which faces the engine block to permit their communication with the cylinder ports 123. The distribution ports 125 to 128 are connected through passageways in the radial connections 55 to 58 to the valve 25. The opposite side of the distribution plate has an annular groove 130 in which a channel-shaped ring 131 is seated. A bearing ring 132 overlies the channel-shaped ring and is also disposed in the annular groove 130, the bearing ring engaging the shoulder on the axle 50. The annular groove is connected to incoming steam by a first hole 133 located at the port and a second hole 134 located at the exahust port 128. As shown in FIGS. 10 and 11, a leaf spring check valve 135 is fastened in the annular channel and eas ends overlying each of the communication holes 133, 134.

When the engine is operated to move the vehicle forward, steam introduced into the cylinders through the port 125 will also pass through the opening 133 then to the annular groove 130 and will be blocked from exiting from the annular groove through the opening 134 communicating with the exhaust port by the other end of the check valve 135. When the engine is operated in reverse, the reverse conditions obtained in that steam flowing into the engine through the normally exhaust port 128 also flows through the check valve into the annular groove but is blocked from exiting into the forward port 125 by the check valve. Thus, under all conditions of power operation, that is when steam pressure is introduced into the engine, the steam under pressure is also introduced into the annular groove. That steam under pressure forces the channel-shaped ring 131 away from the block causing the distribution plate to be forced into a sealing engagement with the rotating engine block. To be effective, the width of the annular groove 130 should be chosen so that the pressure forcing the distribution plate into engagement with the rotating cylinder block is always greater than the pressure on the opposite side of the plate tending to force it away.

The distribution plate 31 is permitted an axial movement of approximately one thirty-second of an inch. As indicated above, when the engine is subjected to steam for a power operation, the distribution plate is forced tightly against the engine block. When no steam is introduced however, the residual steam in the cylinders will force the distribution plate away from the cylinder block thereby permitting all cylinders to exhaust freely to atmosphere to create a free-wheeling condition. A resilient wave washer or the like may be located in the annular groove 130 to assure contact under minimal pressure, of the distribution plate with the cylinder head.

The distribution plate is also adapted to have a slight angular movement of approximately 30 to shift its position relative to the axis of the angulated swash plate axle. That movement is effected by applying a force to the lever arm 61 depending from the distribution plate. The effect of slight angular rotation of the distribution plate is to change the timing of the, introduction of steam into the cylinders in relation to the top dead center position of the pistons. An advance of the timing of introduction of steam will improve the economy characteristics of the engine and a retarding of the timing of the introduction of the steam will reduce the efficiency but improve the torque characteristics of the engine.

In the illustrated configuration of the distribution plate, the surface which engages the cylinder head has been shown as being substantially flat. That is the preferred construction largely because of the economy of finishing a flat surface. It should be understood however, that the interengaging surfaces of the distribution plate and cylinder head respectively, could be conical or spherical without departing from the concept of axially energized pressure engagement of the distributionplate with the cylinder head.

The connections to steam and exhaust admit of modification. As shown in FIG. 18, for example, the reverse exhaust connection described as element 57 above, could be connected directly to the high torque inlet connection 56 as indicated at 57A. A one-way check valve is connected in the line 57A to permit steam to flow only out of the port 127 to exhaust during the reverse operation. During the forward operation, the connection 57A and port 127 are inoperative.

A modification of the exhaust port is also illustrated in FIG. 18. There, instead of the elongated arcuate port 122, the port is divided into two ports 122A and 1228. The port 122B is connected to exhaust connection 58A by a connection 588 having a one-way check valve which permits gas to flow in the exhaust direction only. This configuration permits normal exhaust of the engine through long arcuate porting but provides more efficient reverse operation in that the steam for reverse operation is introduced through only a single short port.

OPERATION OF THE DISTRIBUTION VALVE OR PLATE The operation of the distribution plate can best be understood by reference to FIGS. 8 and 13. For this initial description, let it be assumed that the engine is running in forward direction with the block moving in the direction of the arrow in FIG. 13. Under normal running conditions, the valve opens connection 55 to steam and connection 58 to exhaust. Connections 56 and 57 are closed.

With the engine running, steam is introduced through the port 125 into the cylinder which has reached position A, (FIG. 8), the piston there being at top dead center. The cylinder continues to receive steam until it reaches position B at which its acceptance port 123 passes beyond the inlet port 125. The steam thus received will continue to expand as the piston moves through the remaining excursion until it reaches a point approximately half way between positions C and D. That position is then indicated in FIG. 132, and at that position, its acceptance port 123 is connected to the long arcuate exhaust port 128 so that the steam can flow through that port and out connection 58 and into the condenser. The elongated exhaust port 128 permits the cylinder to exhaust steam while its piston moves through almost 180 until it almost achieves the top dead center position A.

With the valves set in the condition illustrated in FIG. 13, the engine can be operated in a higher torque condition or a higher economy condition by angular adjustment of the distribution plate with respect to the top dead center position of the piston. For example, as viewed in FIG. 19 a high economy condition, the timing has been advanced by 15 so that the steam is introduced 15 earlier than under the normal operating conditions of FIG. 13. From this it can be seen that the steam will be introduced before the piston achieved top dead center. Thus the steam will have a much longer period in which to expand while the piston is moving toward its bottom position, that is, in its power stroke.

The opposite effect is achieved by moving the distribution plate angularly in a counterclockwise direction through an angle of approximately 15 as illustrated in FIG. 20. In this condition, it can be seen that the steam is introduced when the piston has a much more favorable vectorial engagement of the swash plate so that a much higher torque can be created upon the introduction of the steam where, compared to the top dead center position for introducing steam, the piston can apply no force in the forward direction to the swash plate. However, although force vector at the time of introduction of the steam in the retarded condition is move favorable, the steam has a much shorter time to expand before the piston reaches the end of its power stroke and hence is less economical. The retarded position is more desirable when moving from a standing start or moving up a hill or the like. The advance position on the other hand, is more desirable for running on turnpike conditions.

A forward high torque condition of the engine is illustrated in FIG. 14. There the valve to connections 55 and 56 are both opened to inlet steam, the exhaust connection 58 is open and the connection 57 is closed. Under this condition, the steam is introduced to a cylinder at position A, (FIG. 8) top dead center as well as' to a cylinder at position just prior to position B which is approximately 60 past top dead center. The introduction of steam at position just prior to position B, as discussed above, is a high torque position. By introducing steam at the two positions, the engine has an advantage of a long full pressure stroke to produce continuous high torque. This is obviously not the most economical situation since the amount of steam being introduced is almost doubled for each revolution of the engine. In the high torque condition, the cylinders ex haust the steam in the same manner as first described in connection with FIG. 13.

The reverse operation of the engine is illustrated in FIG. 15. Coordinating those figures with FIG. 8, it can be seen that the connection 57 has been employed primarily to provide ports for the exhaust of the cylinders over a substantially full 180. Therefore, for the reverse condition, the normally exhaust connection 58 is valved for fresh steam and all remaining connections 55, 56, 57 are valved to exhaust to the condenser. Visualizing the engine block moving in a clockwise direction or reverse direction, steam enters cylinders at E position and D position (FIG. 8) which are at a high torque-low economy orientation. As the block continues to move, the cylinder in E position will move to bottom dead center at which point it will begin'to exhaust through connection 57. At about that time, the piston in A position will have advanced until its cylinder port overlies the normally exhaust port 128 to begin to receive live steam. As the cylinders move from bottom dead center through C and 13 positions until reaching top dead center, they will exhaust successively through the connectiong 57, 56 and 55.

To brake the vehicle under running conditions, the brake pedal is connected to valves which will permit a closing of the exhaust connection 58. Normally connections 56 and 57 would be closed during the running of the vehicle leaving only connection 55 open to fresh steam. By closing the exhaust connection, the pistons cannot exhaust the spent steam but rather will recompress it during the upward stroke of the pistons as they move toward topdead center through positions D and E (FIG. 8). The degree of braking can be regulated by regulating the degree of closing the exhaust connection 58.

An even greater braking condition can be effected by closing the valves to connections 55, 56 and 57 while connecting the normally exhaust connections 58 to live steam. In' this condition, the pistons would be attempting to compress the incoming live steam at 200 psi.

OPERATION To begin the operation of the vehicle the driver turns the ignition key 44. This operation fires the burner and begins to heat the residual water in the burner coils to create sufficient steam to drive the engines 21, 22. In about ten seconds sufficient steam will be generated and the vehicle is ready to move.

From a starting position, the driver may wish to retard the time of the steam into the cylinders 62 to create the more favorable torque condition. In that event, he shifts the timing control lever 29 to rotate the distribution plate 31 counterclockwise as viewed in FIGS. 8 and 20. By pressing on the accelerator pedal 26, a desired quantity of steam under a pressure of approximately 200 psi and a temperature of 400 is introduced into the engine via line 32 and through the primary connection 55. That steam will flow into the distribution plate 31 for introduction into each cylinder 62 as its cylinder port 122 passes into a communicative relationship with the distribution port 125. A small fraction of the steam will pass through the hole 133 in the primary port 125 through the one-way check valve 135 and into the annular groove 130 on the reverse side of the distribution plate 31. The pressure of that fraction of steam will thrust the channel-shaped ring 131 outwardly toward the axle shoulder 60 and cause the distribution plate 31 to be forced into tight engagement with the Rulon sealing ring 120 on the cylinder head 53. Thus, the escape of steam between the cylinder head 53 and distribution plate 31 is blocked. The pressure of the distribution plate 31 upon the rotating cylinder head 53 will vary according to the demands of the system; that is, where greater pressures of steam are directed to the engine for greater torque or greater speed, the pressure in the annular groove 130 will be correspondingly greater, thereby pressing the distribution plate 31 more tightly against the rotating cylinder head 53.

' As the steam is introduced into each cylinder 62, it drives the piston from its top dead center position (FIG. 3 and A position of FIG. 8) toward a bottom dead center position, (midway between positions C and D of FIG. 8) toward the left as viewed in FIGS. 3 and 4. The pressure on the piston head 70 is transmitted through the piston rod 71 to the ball and socket joint 72, 73 between the piston rod 71 and the swash plate 74. The vectorial relationship between the axial thrust vector of the rod 71 and the angulated swash plate 74 is translated into a rotary component of motion in theswash plate 74 and rotation of the swash plate is transmitted to the engine block 54 by the engagement of the roller bearing carried by the swash plate with the channel-shaped track 53 on the engine hub 63.

The steam expands in the cylinder 62, driving the piston toward bottom dead center. When the piston reaches bottom dead center, its cylinder port moves into communication with the exhaust port 128 in the distribution plate 31. As the piston 62 continues to move toward top dead center, during the rotation of the block 54, the piston exhausts the steam out the ex haust port 128 through the exhaust connection 58 to the condenser 34. In the condenser the steam is converted to water and is repumped into the boiler by the pump 38 and is ready for recycling.

When the vehicle is running freely the driver may wish to shift the timing of the distribution plate 31 to a position more favorable to the economy of the operation of the engine. The timing control lever 29 can be operated to vary the angular position of the distribution plate 31 to any location within the 30 limits of the distribution plate, thereby permitting the driver to accommodate the vehicle to any driving condition. This can also be made automatic through speed sensing or steam flow device.

When pressure on the accelerator pedal 26 is relieved and no steam is directed to the engine, the pressure in the annular groove 130 which forces the distribution plate 31 against the cylinder head 53 is relieved. The pistons are, under this condition, able to drive the gas within the cylinder 62 directly to atmosphere, thereby creating a free-wheeling condition in the vehicle.

As the driver encounters a situation requiring a greater torque than that which is available with the distribution plate set to its most retarded position, the driver can switch into high torque connection so as to introduce steam through both the primary 55 and high torque 56 connections (FIG. 14)

The vehicle is capable of being braked by closing down the connection 58 to the exhaust port 128 to the degree necessary to brake the vehicle. When the exhaust port 128 is closed completely, the pistons 62, having no possibility of exhausting the steam or air from the cylinders, will compress the steam or air in the cylinders and thus will apply a considerable braking force to the vehicle. The vehicle can also be braked by a conventional disc brake system as illustrated in FIG.

2 and combinations of this braking and engine branking can be employed. The non-powered wheels of the vehicle would have conventional friction brakes.

An even greater degree of engine braking can be achieved by closing ports 125, 126 and 127 and connecting the exhaust port 128 to steam (FIG. 18).

When the driver wishes to shift into reverse, all of the connections on the power side of the engine are connected to exhaust, that is connections 55, 56 and 57, and the normal exhaust connection 58 is connected to input steam (FIG. 15). The steam entering the distribution port 128 is always connected to at least two cylinders at a favorable torque angle, thereby providing a high torque reverse operating condition. As the cylinders move past bottom dead center, they are connected successively to the ports associated with connections 127, 126 and 125 to permit the exhaust of the spent steam as the pistons move toward top dead center position.

During all running operations of the invention, the engine block 54 rotates about the main axle 50, thereby tending to throw the pistons 62 radially outward by centrifugal force. The low mass of the cylinder heads minimizes any extraordinary wear created by the centrifugal force. Further, the pistons 70 themselves all rotate within each cylinder 62 so as to bring a continuously differing surface against the radially outward portion of the cylinder wall, to maintain a very uniform wear of the sealing cups 105 carried by the piston head 70. Because of slight variation of the angular relationship of each piston rod 71, due to its engagement with the swash plate 74 as it travels through 360, the piston rod 71 will oscillate slightly within the cylinder. This oscillation is permitted by the loose fit of the metallic portion of the piston head 70 within the cylinder 62 and permits a fixed connection of the piston head to the piston rod.

It can be observed that the cylinder walls have direct contact only with the cups attached to the piston heads. Since the cups attached to the piston heads are of a low friction Rulon material which is selflubricating, there is no requirement for the steam to carry a lubricant into the steam engine. Further, the engine design is such as to avoid direct contact of the steam with the bearings, which preferably are lubricated with the lubricant sealed in for the life of the engine.

Having described my invention, what I desire to claim and protect by Letters Patent is:

1. A steam engine comprising: a cylinder block rotatably mounted on the main support axle, a plurality of cylinders arranged in predetermined spaced relation to one another within said block, cylinder head means mounted on said block and disposed to close off corresponding ends of said plurality of cylinders, a plurality of cylinder ports formed in said head, each being arranged in communicating relation with at least one of said plurality of cylinders; a plurality of pistons each being mounted in a separate cylinder, a drive assembly mounted within said block in driving relation to a load, interconnecting means movably connecting said piston to said drive assembly whereby activation of said piston causes driving of the load; distribution plate means movably mounted on the exterior of andadjacent to said cylinder head and rotatable relative thereto, a plurality of distribution ports formed in said plate in corresponding interconnecting relation to said plurality of said cylinder ports, a plurality of steam connection means mounted on said plate in interconnecting relation to said plurality of distribution ports; plate biasing means comprising an annular groove formed in said distribution plate in communicating relation with a least one of said distribution ports, annular ring means movably mounted within said groove, said ring disposed in the opposite surface of said plate relative to said cylinder head and positioned to bear against a fixed surface whereby steam entering said groove causes movement of said ring against the fixed surface and biasing movement of said plate into sealing engagement with said cylinder head.

2. A steam engine as in claim 1 wherein said interconnecting means comprises a swash plate means; and said driving assembly included roller means movably mounted on said swash plate, a rider member fixedly attached to the load being driven, said rider member comprising at least two roller engaging surfaces disposed adjacent said swash plate in engagement with said roller irrespective of direction of rotation of said swash plate.

3. A steam engine as in claim 2 wherein said rider member comprises channel means, said two surfaces formed in respective side walls defining said channel member, said walls arranged in spaced, substantially parallel relation to one another, the distance between said walls being greater than the diameter of said roller whereby said roller is allowed to freely, movably engage one of said surfaces independent of the other.

4. A steam engine as in claim 2 wherein said surfaces are arranged in spaced, substantially parallel relation to one another and transversely to the path of travel of said roller, whereby the load may be driven in forward or reverse direction depending upon direction of rotation of said engine.

5. A steam engine as in claim 1 wherein each of said pistons comprise a head and a sealing means attached thereto, said head having a thickness dimensioned sufficient to allow oscillation of said piston head within said respective chamber as the piston travels through its power and exhaust strokes.

6. A steam engine as in claim 5 wherein the amount of oscillation of said piston head is in the range of approximately 60 as said piston travels through approximately 360 of excursion defined by the power and exhaust strokes.

7. A steam engine as in claim 5 wherein said piston sealingmeans is in the form of a flexible disk, said disk having a diameter larger than the diameter of said piston head so as to define outwardly extending flanges disposed into sealing engagement with theinternal wall of the cylinder in which the pistons are located, said disk being sufficiently flexible and disposed relative to said piston head such that a cup is defined by said flange as it engages the cylinder wall.

8. A steam engine as in claim 1 wherein said groove is arranged in communicatingrelation with two distribution ports, said two ports comprising an inlet and an exhaust port, valve means positioned in intercommunicating relation between each of said distribution ports and said grooves so as to regulate flow of steam to and from said groove.

9. A steam engine as in claim 8 wherein said valve means comprises a one way check valve, a plurality of holes in each of said two distribution ports communicating with said groove, said check valve arranged in flow regulating position relative to said holes, said check valve comprising an arcuate leaf spring fixed at its center in said groove having each of its ends overlying one of said holes. v

10. A steam engine as in claim 1 wherein each of said distribution ports and inlet means attached thereto are configured and disposed in movable cooperative relation to said cylinder ports such that the rotation of said palte relative to said cylinder head brings predetermined distribution ports in communicating relation to said cylinder ports such that the rotation of said plate relative to said cylinder head brings predetermined distribution ports in communicating relation with predetermined cylinder ports, whereby the timing of the introduction of steam into said cylinders may be varied.

11. A steam engine as in claim 1 wherein said groove is disposed in communicating relation with both said plurality of said cylinders and said distribution ports and steam inlets attached thereto, said plate movably mounted a spaced distance from said cylinder head or the fixed surface which said ring engages, such that axial movement of said plate occurs upon communication of said groove with steam from said cylinder or said distribution port.

UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Patent No. 3,77 -l- 9 Dated NQVembel" 3, 973

Inventor(s) ert W. Hyde It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:

Column 9, line 3, delete "eas" and insert has Column 11 line 50 delete "connection and insert connections v Signed and sealed this L th day of June 197R.

(SEAL) Attest:

EDWARD M.FLETCIIER,JR. c. MARSHALL DANN Attesting Officer Commissioner of Patents F ORM P0-105O (10-69) uscoMM-oc seen-bee i U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE l9, 0-36-8 4.

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Referenced by
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Classifications
U.S. Classification91/6.5, 91/485, 91/478
International ClassificationF01B3/00, F01B3/02
Cooperative ClassificationF01B3/02, F01B3/0055
European ClassificationF01B3/00B4D, F01B3/02