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My first thought on converting auto engines to run on steam was lets just whack some steam in the inlet manifold. But then I thought about the camshafts turning at half engine revs and also the fact that its only going to blow once every 2 engine turns and discarded the idea immediately. But wait, what if I use the inlet and exhaust valves to supply steam? (Silly boy where's it going to go when its done its job, and who is going to have the equipment available to modify a camshaft, so that's out the window.) In fact the whole camshaft is out of the window if we will remove it and leave all of the valves closed, so what we have now is 4 pistons in 4 closed cylinders with a single open port (spark plug hole) each. Now we could supply steam to the plug holes and control it by using a series of solenoids, but that will require some tricky work with modifying the distributor once again. Most people won’t have the facilities for doing that, and electricity isn't always available. The general purpose is to get us around and to generate electricity, so we need to feed steam to the plug hole
and back again by mechanical means.

Valves and timing are the answer to the problem, simple valves and simple timing. I will try to explain all this. For maximum efficiency we need to supply steam to each cylinder once every crankshaft revolution. There are only 2 places that we can do this on a stock auto engine without pulleys and belts, (which unless toothed are totally unreliable). The 2 places are at the front crankshaft pulley and at the rear of the engine at the flywheel.

Front crank pulley advantages:
The peripheral speed is lower than at the flywheel so less wear on contacting parts (think of a record; the middle goes round at the same number of times as the edge but covers a much smaller distance).
Easy to get at, as it at the front of the engine not rear (not so on a transverse engine auto).
Front crank pulley disadvantages:
Damn, the front crossmember or radiator is in the way.
Smaller diameter cam, therefore much more difficult to set timing accurately.
Flywheel disadvantages:
Peripheral speed is much higher so wear is greater (but we are going to make the parts anyway so we can always make some more).
Totally enclosed in a metal case requires removal of engine to fit cams.
Flywheel advantages:
Much larger diameter therefore much easier to set the timing accurately now the engine is removed its much easier to mount cams and the valves.
Every thing can be fitted, adjusted and tested before it goes back in if you are auto savvy this is the way to go.

So for me it’s flywheel all the way. (You will need the ability to drill holes in metal and make pipe threads).

Offered by Ian.