Lear’s Deltic Steam Engine

Here is a quote that I found in the 1969 Vol. 3 No. 4 Steam Power Quarterly and Lloyd Lanterman voiced an opinion.  Lanterman was rich because his father had obtained water for some hill he owned above Pasadena in LaCanada and he had a Stanley and a patent on a new boiler design and he was in the state legislature as Chairman of the California Assembly Ways and Means Committee.  California, being California, had something called the Petris Bill that was going to outlaw internal combustion engines by 1975.  It was at a hearing on that bill that Lanterman made the following quote:

“Mr. Lear was totally unequipped to enter into the design or development of a steam engine … The Delta engine that was designed, that had to be abandoned, was designed by a man who had no background or competence in the design of a steam engine.  The very basic design of that Delta engine had absolutely … shall we say, was contrary to all principles in the valid flow of steam, was violated in every direction.  Now that is what happens when amateurs who are not competent in the field of steam design and steam engineering start to mess around with the intricacies of steam engineering.  Now I happen to know the background of this.  He (M. Lear) may be of great competence in making the Lear jet, but he didn’t know virtually basic design problems of steam engines.  All I have to say is it is a great pity that he wasted all that time and energy on it.”   It was Ken Wallis who came up with the Delta design and it was Richard Moser who did the drawings and actual working design of the engine.  Moser was given the basic design and so he is not to fault.  Moser had a good I.C. engine background.  When Moser was hired by Lear and he went to the Stead airbase he saw Lear and Wallis on their hands and knees on the floor with a full size drawing of the Delta engine, with its basic dimensions and the three crankshafts and he was given that to work with.


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