Ruscombe Gentleman’s Steam Bicycle
Back from vacation, getting into the groove of work again, and this Ruscombe Gentleman’s Steam Bicycle popped up in my newsfeed.
What’s most remarkable about the design, is it combines an antiquated method of propulsion with modern electronics. In other words, this isn’t a steampunk fetish bike, but a work of solid retro engineering. Not sure why I’m seeing it now, the story is from 2018, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
How Ruscombe Gentleman’s Steam Bicycle Works
Mark Drake, the builder, uses petrol as a fuel source. That’s forced to the vaporizing burner via air pressure. The fuel is heated by the burner itself to form a vapor before entering the combustion chamber and igniting. The steam generator is a hybrid design, using both mono tube steam generator coils and a small fire tube boiler. This produces superheated steam at over 300 °C, which is key to the bike’s performance.
Mineral oil can’t handle the high temperature, so modern synthetic oil is used for lubrication. The steam generator is certified to industrial standards. For safety, it features both a pressure release valve, and a system that automatically shuts of the fuel supply when the steam exceeds a certain pressure.
130 W of power is provided to the wheels by a single cylinder slide valve engine via modern toothed belt. The belt drives the air pump to pressurize the fuel system and an adjustable water pump to feed the boiler. The range of the bike is limited to 16 miles by the water supply
Still that’s 16 miles of steam-powered fun.