R.R. 4, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.
I would like to ramble a bit about Boilers, and a few connections, if you will allow me. I have received quite a few letters asking my advice on various repairs and problems, that different steam men have had on their boilers. I am always glad to pass on any knowledge that I have.
I have been fairly busy with boilers myself, as it has been very cold up here until just recently, when the weather broke up and warmed a bit.
I received a phone call from a drilling company, asking my advice about bringing boilers into Alberta from Saskatchewan. I advised them to have someone competent to go down and look them over and make sure they were in very good shape as our inspectors are very rigid about condition. However, the drilling company decided to take a chance and they trucked the boilers up to my shop to have them put in good condition.
There was a 1912 J. I. Case 32 hp boiler, a 1911 Case 25 hp boiler, and a 1915 28 hp Case boiler. After they were unloaded I took a quick look at them and here is what I found. The 32 hp boiler had the smoke box rusted out at the bottom, plus all the rivets were corroded off by the hand hole, in the flue sheet, the skirt under the firebox was half rusted off. The firebox needed 23 stay bolts replaced and also two stay bolts were missing and in their place were pipe plugs screwed into the crown sheet and outer wrapper sheet. Needless to say, the flues were shot and most of the other stay bolts had been leaking. So it has the 'X' on it that means condemned. What a pity!
Next I checked the 28 hp boiler and on both left and right sides of the water legs was a beautiful bulge about 12 inches long and 6 inches wide, at the O.G. ring. By this I mean the curve at the bottom of the water leg where it bends over to be riveted on the outer shell. This had a nice bulge below the flues and also a bulge below the door and above it. I cut the side section out of the water leg and it was just like it had been poured full of cement and every bit as hard. When I cut the section from the O.G. ring it was only about 1/8 thick in that area. Another 'X' stamped on this boiler. What a pity!
The Case 25 hp was in the best shape of all, except someone had welded light weight 2 inch fittings into the boiler in 5 different places and whoever the welder was he did not have to feel proud of the amateurish mess he made of welding. This boiler had Alberta # stamped on it so it is also condemned in Alberta. I am sure that drilling company will be a little more cautious next time they buy up boilers as it can be very costly.
The only boiler worth fixing was the 28 hp Case, however, with the bottom of the water leg thinning out and the damage to the rest of the boiler made it impractical to repair plus the pressure allowance would have been very low.
Remember, to successfully repair a boiler, you must have something to work with on the boiler itself. There is little gained by welding a new plate to old thinned down plate that is about rusted out. Either replace it all or don't waste your time and maybe someone's life. There is one thing I have never seen explained in your magazine the proper way to test a water column and glass. I will try to explain it as simple as possible and take heed all engineers, young and old, whenever you take over an engine be sure to run this simple test and you may save a damaged boiler and someone's life. We will say this water column is on a Case steam engine and there is a valve at the top and bottom between the boiler and the column. The boiler is under steam.
Shut the top water column valve off. Also shut off the gauge glass valves. Open the bottom water column valve, then blow down the water column with the drain valve. Then reverse this procedure with the gauge glass valves still shut off. If there is both a good powerful flow from the drain valve, this will tell you the column pipes are clear. Then open both valves and your water column is under pressure. Now open the drain valve on the water column and open the top gauge glass valve and there should be a heavy flow of steam. Close that valve and open the bottom gauge glass valve and there should be a heavy flow of water and steam. Now close the drain valve and open both gauge glass valves and you know your column is in safe operating condition. However, if there is a blockage when any valve is opened then immediately determine what it is and have it fixed or shut the engine down unless it is equipped with tri cocks in this case and an experienced operator will have no trouble maintaining the water. Remember boilers will not explode by themselves. They need the help of someone careless or inexperienced and who will not ask. It is no crime to be inexperienced, but it is a pity if one will not ask and learn. Even the smartest man in the world, only came his intelligence thru watching, asking and learning. I will also say it is a pity if someone young wishes to learn and an older person will not take the time to help him. Let's keep boilers and operators as safe as possible.
I have had eight different traction engines and enjoyed repairing and rebuilding them. At present I own a 1920 J. I. Case, 40 hp s Ohio tested, butt strap boiler, 175 psi., Alberta government certificate. This engine is like new, even the water tender and coal breakers are original and have no leaks.
My wife owns a 16x48 hp Double Simple 1916 Rumel steamer. This has a butt strap Ohio std. boiler 175 psi., Alberta government certificate. This engine is also like new. It even has the straw chute for firing with straw. It is a lovely engine to operate.
Well, watch your water Fellows, and the best to all of you.