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Steam Cars on the way to Australia (copyright image)

1925 Doble E22 (copyright image)

1909 Stanley

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by Chris Goodsell

9th December, 2010

The The Council of Heritage Motor Clubs (colloquially known as the Bush Council) conducts an annual Easter Rally. In 2011 it's being hosted by the Great Lakes Historic Automobile Club in the Forster/Tuncurry area on the NSW mid-north coast. The event is part of the club's 20th anniversary celebrations.

A couple of unique cars, visiting Australia at the time, will be participating in the rally. There will be the 1909 Stanley Steam car and the ex-Howard Hughes 1925 Doble Steam car.

Howard Hughes (the aviator) bought the Doble E22 steam car direct from the Doble Factory in April, 1925. It was the fastest car available, and Howard, an oil millionaire then aged 19, was reputedly 'clocked' in the car by the Texas police at 213 km/h.

The car went to the UK in 1999 and a body-off restoration to its present condition has taken 10 years to complete. It is now as Howard Hughes had it in 1928, following a Doble factory upgrade.

The car has a Woolf four cylinder, double-acting, balanced compound steam engine and operates at 900 psi.

Control of the firing is fully automatic by means of electric solenoids, etc , and it uses petrol as it's fuel, and is fully condensing. From cold the car can be driven off in a minute or so and it cruises at 90/100 km/h, very quietly, using either the wheel or foot throttle. Fuel consumption is around 31 litres/100 kms and enough water is carried to last around 200 kilometres in cool weather, less in hot conditions.

The car is extremely rare, there are only 15 cars worldwide out of 46 made by the factory.

The other steam car coming out from the UK is a Stanley Model R. It was first produced in 1909, it came in two versions; 3 or 4 seater. This car, which is owned by Basil Craske from Norwich, is equipped with headlamps, acetylene generator, windscreen, speedometer, horn and hood all classified as extras when the car was manufactured.

It is propelled by a 2 cylinder double acting engine and operates at 600 psi. The car has no gearbox, with the engine directly coupled to the rear axle. It can cruise at 66 km/h to 80 km/h. From cold it takes around 20 minutes before it can be driven, once running it can then be used in the normal manner as the steam is stored in a boiler and thus is ready for use at anytime. The engine is classified at 20 horse power but this is steam horse power (in conventional terms it's more likely to be 60+ kilowatts) with incredible torque.

Both cars will be travelling the streets of the Great Lakes and Manning in Easter 2011.

Those wanting to know more about the Bush Council Easter rally are invited to contact the Rally Director, David Kelvin, by telephone on (02)6559.2242 or (0407)106.616. Rally entries are open until the end of February 2011.


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