Ted Pritchards stream car runs on alcohol and never pollutes

This an article written describing the work of an Australian engineer and his dream to have a modern stream car.

The author of this article is unkown to me and what has happened to the car and the inventor is also unknown to me.

"web editor"

article begins.....

TED PRITCHARD has had his ups and downs since he first decided that steam cars had a future. That was back in the early 1960s, when nobody had heard of the energy crisis or the perils of pollution.

Now, there's great interest in his work. At its present stage of development, the Pritchard steam power unit is far ahead of most internal combustion engines in its fuel economy and its pollution-free emission.

So far, it's the only engine in the world capable of driving a motor car and meeting the standards that will apply ;In the United States in 1985, when a fuel economy of 32 miles per gallon and specified low emissions will be required.

Over the years Pritchard has had a steady stream of people who backed him by taking shares in Pritchard Steam Power Pty Ltd, though at times the money side of the operation has been touch and go. But, thanks mainly to the involvemerit of the Australian and Victorian Governments,which have put $150 000 into the project, Ted Pritchard is now able to get on with his work without having to worry too much about finance.

In the 1950s, when Pritchard was in his early twenties, he bought his first steam car. It was a Stanley Steamer, probably the best known of the many steam cars that were once on the market. He drove it for years and studied it carefully, learning much about the vagaries of steam cars.

Not the least of these was that it took twenty minutes to light the burners and get up steam!

He went over the whole system of steam cars, identifying their weaknesses, and gradually re-designing individual parts to eliminate problems. He and his father designed, built and installed a steam power unit in their three-tonne truck.

Then they built another and installed it in a Ford Falcon. This attracted such attention that some Americans who were backing the venture arranged in 1972 for the car to be flown to the United States.

Ted Pritchard (left with one of his assistants,Mike Edwards,the Pritchard stream engine and a protype of the Pritchard car

In a series of demonstrations near Los Angeles, Ted Pritchard showed off the steam powered Falcon to news media, representatives of the state and federal bodies interested in exhaust emissions, to motor car manufacturers including Ford, General Motors, American Motors, Leyland, Volkswagen, Mereedes-Benz,Nissan, Toyota and Alfa Romeo, to John Deere, Aerojet Liquid Rocket,

Sierra Club and the United Auto Workers Union.

Some of the comments from the technical people were: 'Boiler control is good'; 'Impressed with driveability'; 'You have a good littlecar there'; 'Impressed with the power,.

Ted Pritchard has put much of his development work into the control of the steam generator, an aspect on which many earlier steam car projects have come to grief. He has Australian and overseas patents on his arrangements for quick response of the thermostat which controls the boiler feedpump and injector.

Ted Pritchard's steam car is not at all choosy about the fuel it runs on. It will accept petrol, but it doesn't insist on it. Kerosene will do.

So will diesel. Or, what is more interesting, it will run quite happily on vegetable fuels such as alcohol, which can be made easily and in ,large quantities from sugar cane, or on vegetable oils.

Any fuel derived from crops is, of course. infinitely renewable.Another possible fuel is low-grade petrol of the kind that can be produced from coal.

The Pritchard engine has low pollution emissions for two reasons.

One is that it does not sufrer from the knocking problems of the internal combustion engine, so it does not need lead in its fuel.

The other is that it gives better combustion.In an internal combustion engine there is a wide range of temperatures inside the combustion chamber. Near the walls it is comparatively cool, so combustion is incomplete, and carbon monoxide forms. Closer to the centre of the combustion chamber it is relatively hot, and this results in the formation of various oxides of nitrogen, particularly as the combustion gases have already been heated by compression. Oxides of nitrogen in

car emissions are the major cause of photo-chemical smog. None of these conditions occur in the Pritchard engine.

The two litres of water used to generate steam in the Pritchard power unit are condensed in a radiator and used again. A 16 litre reserve tank is refilled only occasionally. Compare this with the 90 litres water tank of the Stanley Steamer, which had to be filled about every 300 kilometres.

The steam generator supplies steam to drive the engine proper, a two-cylinder 90' vee. Described as a one-stroke, it has steam inlets at both the top and bottom of the cylinders, so that the piston is driven on both the upstroke and downstroke. This particular cycle gives

the two-cylinder one-stroke engine just as many power strokes as a conventional eight-cylinder four-stroke engine.

A cutaway diagram of the Pritchard stream car

The Pritchard engine has electric ignition for its boiler fuel, which works in much the same way as a domestic oil heater. It takes about 45 seconds to operate from a dead cold start. This certainly is a lot better than the twenty minutes of the Stanley Steamer, but it still seems a long time in comparison with a petrol engine. Until, of course, you remember those times when it took a lot longer than 45 seconds to get started on a cold morning. Once the Pritchard engine

has its first warm up for the day, starting is quicker. Like all steam engines, the Pritchard car engine has high torque at slow speeds, so it does not need a gearbox or automatic transmission. It is easy to drive and manoeuvre.

The Pritchard engine is quiet, which Ted Pritchard says gives it a great advantage for trucks, buses, construction equipment and agricultural machinery. Many plant operators and farmers have their hearing affected by noisy machinery.

The Pritchard steam engine offers safety too. The steam generator consists of coiled tubing which in a heavy front-end collision acts as an impact absorbing crushable structure, unlike the heavy cast-iron block of an internal combustion engine. There are no pressure vessels to cause explosions. If the brakes fail, the driver can simply slip the engine into reverse and bring the car to a halt.

In 1978, Ted Pritchard was working on three prototype engines that were made at the Bendigo Ordnance Factor to test their long term durability. After six months of bench testing, one was to be installed in a specially designed aerodynamic body for twelve months of road testing.

A second would then go on the bench for testing, while the third was held as a spare.

Once the engines had been put through their test programmes,

Ted Pritchard did have plans for a small production run.

......article ends

Not sure whether this was actually carried out

P> FromHOWLETT,Stephen

Subject: Pritchard Steam car Then one sunny afternoon just minutes before an official presentation attended by the premier and the media was due to start Pritchard was offered an undisclosed amount of money by a syndicate for the sole manufacturing rights to the steam technology. I recall seeing this article on the news that night as I had been following the Pritchard technology, but I don't recall the date of the presentation.

The article you have published on the Pritchard steam car was printed in a book of Australian inventions and innovations and was compiled by one of the presenters of the former ABC television program "The Inventors" I think it was Theo Mckurn.

You might be able to obtain reprints from the ABC online book stores. The book also featured a variable crankshaft that converted more power at low revs and the Ralph Sarich orbitol engine which was claimed to produce a power to weight ratio 4 times better than a medium size V8 engine.

Stephen Howlett. Solaris home page


Geoff Egel 18 Sturt Street, Loxton ,5333, South Australia ,Australia