Tag: Jay Leno

Why Jay Leno’s steam car caused a gasoline fire – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

Why Jay Leno’s steam car caused a gasoline fire – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings


Yes, steamers (sometimes) run on gas. And kerosene, and naphtha, and many other combustibles

As we’ve all learned this week, following Jay Leno’s widely reported incident with a steam car that left part of his face burned, steam cars often use gasoline to fire the boilers that produce the motivating steam. However, that wasn’t always the case, with gasoline coming and going out of fashion for steam car operators over the years and with some steam cars even fitted for burning multiple types of fuel.

Multiple outlets reported early this week that Leno, the former “The Tonight Show” host who currently showcases his and others’ cars via his CNBC show “Jay Leno’s Garage,” suffered burns to his face on Saturday while clearing a clogged fuel line on a White steam car, one of several steamers in Leno’s collection. Leno has told Variety that he is fine and “just need a week or two to get back on my feet.”

The reports raised a number of questions among enthusiasts about the fuels used in steam cars. Even though steam cars are considered external combustion, do they still require gasoline? Weren’t kerosene and other fuels also used to fire the boilers?

Yes and yes, according to Stanley Museum Archivist Jim Merrick, who noted that prior to 1910, Stanley cars used gasoline as both main fuel and fuel for the pilot burner. The Stanley twins, in fact, had pioneered not only the commercially viable steam car but also the use of liquid fuel – in their case, gasoline, at the time a byproduct of kerosene distillation that was widely available at drugstores for use in lighting lamps – in a steam car’s operation. Prior to the Stanleys, steam automobiles used wood, as seen in the operation of the 1769 Cugnot fardier a vapeurfardier a vapeur, or more commonly coal, as was the case with Sylvester Roper’s Boston-based experiments in steam power.

That’s not to say the Stanleys’ decision to use gasoline was universally adopted thereafter. Leon Serpollet, the French steam-car pioneer, discarded coal for a fuel source in favor of kerosene – also known in many parts of the world as paraffin. While gasoline remained relatively inexpensive at the turn of the twentieth century and was known to vaporize easily, making it suitable for use in a steam car, kerosene was even cheaper and perhaps more widely available and offered higher BTU output, though it was known for an unpleasant odor and for incomplete burning, leading to sooty deposits that could clog the burner’s jets.

That said, as Lord Montagu of Beaulieu and Anthony Build wrote in their 1971 book on steam cars, gasoline had one major drawback over kerosene as a fuel for steam cars: the potential for blow-backs and flare-ups.

This not infrequently happened when running downhill using no steam with the main fire shut off so that when the diaphragm valve re-opened, the fire did not re-light and the vapor liquefied in the cooled burner and flooded the fire-box with petrol, which then flared up when the driver tried to relight the burner. Paraffin burners were prime to similar misbehaviour, it is true, but the risk of a serious blaze was less great.

Experienced Stanley owners soon became accustomed to the routine of shutting off the fuel lines to main and pilot burners, throwing open the bonnet and just waiting for the flames to die down; but there is no denying that the spectacle was thoroughly disconcerting to the ordinary bystander.

In fact, as they later expanded, the gasoline-fired type of steam car “did not sell in France where there was official objection to it because of the fire risk (which was probably exaggerated) and where, in some departments, it was illegal to operate.” Similarly, “this propensity to flare up in public… led many ferries and most public garages to insist that steam cars must be manhandled with their fires extinguished.”

Read on

Arguably the world’s toughest & most beautiful truck ever created. – Legacy Classic Trucks


Welcome to the Legacy Power Wagon Conversion.
The Gentleman’s Choice.

Handcrafted by artisan auto mechanics at Legacy Classic Trucks in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the Legacy Power Wagon Conversion is the truck for the serious collector looking to recreate the ruggedness and integrity of the American West.

With each Legacy Power Wagon Conversion requiring well over 1,000 hours, the Legacy Power Wagon Conversion has become one of the most coveted and sought-after trucks of today.

Take a look at these amazing trucks here

Listen to Winslow Bent founder of  Legacy Classic Trucks on the Truck Show Podcast with Lightning and Holman here

If you are commuting in your truck, be warned, you have met the ire of a Mazda 2-driving “journalist” who thinks your truck should be banned. Lightning and Holman discuss the ridiculous article written by Elizabeth Werth, as well as talk to Legacy Classic Trucks founder Winslow Bent, who makes adult Hot Wheels for people with a quarter million dollars to spare. Rick Péwé also checks in to talk about his start with David Freiburger in the off-road magazine world.

The History of Owen Magnetic – The Car of A Thousand Speeds – @uniquecarsandparts.com


Ray M. Owen

Before the days of the automatic gearbox, the petrol-electric transmission enjoyed a certain vogue, particularly as it was invented in the era of the non-synchromesh or ‘crash’ gearbox. However although the petrol-electric was easy to use, it was also expensive to build, bulky and heavy, which made it more suitable for commercial vehicles (such as the Tilling- Stevens) than for the private car.

There were one or two notable exceptions to this general rule, however, and one of the more ingenious electric transmissions was conceived just before World War 1 by Ray M. Owen of the Baker, Rauch & Lang company of Cleveland, Ohio, who were renowned for their Baker and Raulang battery electric cars.

The Entz Transmission

Owen adapted the Entz transmission, which was designed for use in the new generation of oil-engined battleships (such as the 1919 New Mexico), for automotive use, and began production of a luxury car with this form of drive in 1914. Under its original name of Owen Magnetic, the ‘Car of a Thousand Speeds’ was not very successful, but by 1920 J. L. Crown had taken over the design rights, and was producing cars in a factory at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Read the rest of this excellent article here


Abstract: The Art of Design Ralph Gilles: Automotive Design on Netflix


Really inpiring and interesting documentary on Ralph Gilles FCA Global Head of Design and his philosophies around design and life in general. As you would expect from a design documentary it’s beautifully shot and well worth a look. here


The Buick Y Job, The First Concept Car


A few years ago I was lucky enough to visit the limted access GM Heritage Collection in Sterling Heights Michigan as a Birthday present.

Trip post here

A recent edition of Jay Leno’s Garage featuring the Buick Y Job reminded of how lucky it was to have been up close to this ground breaking car.

The Buick Y-Job was the auto industry’s first concept car, produced by Buick in 1938. Designed by Harley J. Earl, the car had power-operated hidden headlamps, a “gunsight” hood ornament, electric windows, wraparound bumpers, flush door handles, and prefigured styling cues used by Buick until the 1950s and the vertical waterfall grille design still used by Buick today. It used a Buick Super chassis, indicated by the word “Super” located above the rear license plate. (read the full article here at Wikipedia)

The Y Job is one of the few cars that I have on display at home.

The Duesenberg Hot Rod


Whilst watching a recent edition of Jay Leno’s Garage on YouTube I was reminded of  what a cool car  “The Duesenberg Hot Rod”  actually is!

I saw some pictures of the car years ago and with the mainstream coverage of the old car hobby these days it was nice to see it up close via Jay’s channel.

The car was built back in the 40’s by Hal & Bill Ulrich.

Dave Blake shares an important piece of hot rod history the car won the first nationally sanctioned SCCA drag race!

The Blake family has owned the car since the mid 70’s, Mr Blake’s Father saved the car from being sold and broken up for parts, Mr Blake couldn’t afford to buy the car but traded it for a Cadillac.

Watch the video to hear about the history and the modifications to this piece of Hot Rod history.


The car pictured in 2011 via The Hot Rod Disorder blog is I believe based off a 1934 Ford body and Duesy chassis and running gear.

Here’s another shot from Howard Gribble on Flickr with some background on the car.

There is also a really interesting thread on the car from the ACD Club forum here

Steve McQueen’s Granddaughter Meets the Original Bullitt Mustang


As a follow up to my recent article on the Bullitt Mustang rediscovery, here’s a nice film where the owner Sean Kiernan introduces the car to Molly McQueen.

Here’s a video from Jay Leno featuring  the original Bullitt Mustang and the 2019 version




The Hemi in the Barn by Tom Cotter – More Great Stories of Automotive Archaeology


Another excellent book by Tom Cotter

It’s every car lover’s fantasy: the perfectly preserved classic automobile discovered under a blanket in some great-granny’s garage. And as author Tom Cotter has discovered time and again, it’s a fantasy that can come true. The Hemi in the Barn offers more than forty stories of amazing finds and automotive resurrections. Avid collectors big and small recall the thrills of the hunt, the tips and hunches followed, clues pursued, the heart-stopping payoff. There’s the forgotten Duesenberg—probably one of the last unrestored ones around—that Jay Leno found in a Burbank garage. Unbelievably, Leno found another Duesenberg in a parking garage in New York City—a car that was parked in 1933 and never moved. There’s a Plymouth Superbird found buried in a hedge in Alabama. There’s the rescue of the first 1955 Corvette ever built. As entertaining as these tales, are they’re also full of tantalizing hints and suggestions for readers setting off on their own adventures in automotive archaeology.