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It's November as I write this, and as we move into the off-season I want to remind everyone to make sure their engines and boilers are properly prepared for another long winter hibernation.

At the very least, make sure you've drained your boiler, followed by a good flush and a proper drying to get all the moisture out. And if you didn't replace your hand hole gaskets last year, do it this time around: It's cheap insurance against leakage. And think about replacing that old fusible plug the likelihood of an old plug failing to melt is high.

It's all about having fun safely, and ensuring that the equipment we operate is safe for display and public operation should be a top priority for everyone in the steam community.

In that vein, we need to alert the steam community about some problems experienced in Ohio with a handful of Kunkle safety valves assembled by Allied Valve Industries.

The issue came up when a valve distributor received complaints about some new Kunkle valves it had sold. The distributor, in turn, sent the valves to Dean Jagger, chief boiler inspector for the state of Ohio.

Jagger sent the valves to the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors for testing. An official safety notice issued by Jagger's office said the valves in question were tested and found not to be in compliance. The notice states: 'The tests indicated that the valves blow down and set pressure settings were out of tolerance as established by Section 1 of the ASME Boiler Code.'

When contacted by Steam Traction the National Board said it wouldn't comment on an investigation in progress. If the National Board deems it necessary, it will post information on its Web site (www.nationalboard.com). Matt Mulligan, a spokesman for Allied Valve Industries, told us the problem appeared to be limited to only five or six valves.

Even so, Jagger's office is recommending that anyone who has recently bought a safety valve from Allied Valve Industries return their valve for recalibration. Ohio steamers should also note that the safety notice issued from Jagger's office states: 'It should be noted that in light of these findings, the State Boiler Inspectors will be scrutinizing the operation of all safety valves during their required operational inspection.'

If you have a valve that could be suspect, contact Allied Valve Industries directly at (312) 226-1506, extension 3117, or fax at (312) 226-1197.