I’ve written about Chuk Williams and his Cyclone engine before, as he seeks to bring the land speed record for steam powered cars back to America. The streamliner is complete, and could make a record run as soon as August.
I always get giddy when someone goes after a land speed record, and the current record for steam-powered vehicles rests with the British and their “kettle” racer. But whereas that vehicle features a one-off engine, Chuk’s streamliner will be powered by a Cyclone motor, a Rankine Cycle heat regenerative external (yes, external) combustion engine. It’s kind of hard to explain how it works, but basically the explosion from the fuel combustion spins around heating coils that turn water into steam in as little as five seconds. The water, which doubles as the engine lubricant, becomes steam, pushing down the six-cylinders in sequence, producing efficient power with far fewer pollutants in an engine that can run on almost any fuel.
The Cyclone motor will make its maiden voyage in Chuk’s streamliner, as they aim to beat the 148 mph record set by the British kettle. Last year at this time, Chuk was still looking for sponsors; he has obviously cleared that hurdle, and I look forward to seeing what the steam-powered streamliner can do. Will they reach their 160 mph goal? Is this the engine of the futre? Can’t wait to find out.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.