Motor Sport News - - Historics - Cur­rent owner: Quat­tro is a show­stop­per, be­low

Steam-pow­ered rac­ing car Bob Dyke

It’s a fa­mous steam car ‘Whistling Billy’ was one of the lead­ing cars in Amer­i­can dirt track races in the 1900s, but was badly dam­aged in an accident in 1912 and left to rust on a farm.

It was very suc­cess­ful The car was built specif­i­cally for rac­ing by the White Sew­ing Ma­chine Com­pany in 1905. Orig­i­nally called the ‘White Rocket’, the car was chris­tened ‘Whistling Billy’ due to the noise from its burn­ers. It won many races and in 1905 took nearly four sec­onds off the world track record for a mile-long dirt track.

Bob Dyke recre­ated it In 2004 Bob Dyke be­gan the long jour­ney to recre­ate the car. On a trip to Amer­ica, he bought a 1906 White steamer. As well as the parts he ac­quired in Amer­ica, he took many parts for the recre­ation from a 1907 20hp White tourer. Bob has been pas­sion­ate about steam cars since his youth, in­spired by his fa­ther who owned many steam trac­tion en­gines and steam cars.

It was a huge project Dyke says: “It’s a faith­ful, ac­cu­rate re­build us­ing mainly cor­rect, orig­i­nal parts from White steam­ers. I had nine or 10 pho­to­graphs of ‘Whistling Billy’ at the time, which were very help­ful in fig­ur­ing out how to put it all to­gether, and al­lowed me to get the ex­act di­men­sions.”

It has been run­ning for four years The project was fi­nally com­pleted in 2012, and has been demon­strated at a range of events. The car is based six miles west of Land’s End, near Pen­zance in Corn­wall.

Now it is al­lowed to race Dyke says: “The re­cent Chateau Imp­ney hill­climb was the first time in com­pe­ti­tion for ‘Whistling Billy’. It’s bril­liant to be out com­pet­ing. The MSA stopped us from do­ing it for many years and it is some­where around 100 years ago that a steam-pow­ered car last com­peted in the UK.”

There is more work to be done too Dyke says: “The car wasn’t go­ing ter­ri­bly well at Chateau Imp­ney as I was run­ning at 600psi in­stead of 800psi be­cause I’ve got two en­gines and both of the blocks are cracked at the mo­ment. I cut off the top third of the throt­tle and I couldn’t open it out prop­erly on the straights, which was very frus­trat­ing. I’m hav­ing new blocks made to cure that though.”

Whistling Billy is run­ning

JULY 20 2016

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