Boiler Tests in Illinois

The Reeves boiler

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The Reeves boiler shown in this picture was one of those being denied testing in Illinois prior to the change in Illinois law. Senator Rigney is shown with the owner of the Reeves boiler that was purchased in the state of Minnesota.

Boiler safety is a concern which we have addressed in past issues. In our September/October 1983 issue, we discussed a 'Boiler Safety Move Underway' in the state of Pennsylvania; in our January/February 1984 issue, we featured some 'Montana Boiler Wisdom.' Because of our interest in boiler inspections and their effect on steam traction engine owners and exhibitors, we recently received a letter from Harlan Rigney, an Illinois State Senator from the 35th legislative district. The text of his letter follows.

I want to thank you for your interest in the legislation that I sponsored last year that, in effect, forced the Illinois Fire Marshall to test old boilers that up until that time they had refused to consider.

The Fire Marshall, by his own regulation, arbitrarily decided that unless an engine bears the stamp of ASME, the engine was too old and unsafe to be tested. I felt that this was nonsense and that those individuals owning the old boilers should be entitled to have their machines tested. We did not ask for a lesser standard, only that they be considered on the same basis as machines bearing the stamp.

This legislation was passed over the strenuous objection of the Fire Marshall, but once it was signed into law he really had no choice other than to inspect the old engines throughout the State.

My interest in the bill came about as a result of a neighbor who had purchased an old Reeves boiler in Minnesota and, after having paid approximately $5,000 for the machine, found out that he could not get it tested in the State of Illinois. This same boiler had been tested and shown throughout Minnesota.

In Stephenson County, my home county, we have a large antique engine show every summer. Last year was the first year that many of these old boilers were finally allowed to enter. I know there was a lot of pride and satisfaction on the part of these owners that they were finally able to exhibit their equipment.

I believe that our bill was a good bill and in no way poses any hazard to the people attending one of these events. I am not sure what is done nation wide in terms of boiler testing, but if departmental regulations, rather than law, are keeping the old boilers off the show circuit, legislative action would prove to be very helpful.

Again, I thank you for your interest in the new Illinois Law and invite friends from throughout the Nation to attend our steam shows here in Illinois.