Locomotive and Boiler Inspector's Handbook

Larry G. Creed
March/April 1997


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The following information and rules were taken from Locomotive and Boiler Inspector's Handbook, compiled by A. J. O'Neil, copyright 1929. I have gleaned facts from the book which hopefully will cause us to think about the way we repair, operate and maintain our own steam boilers. A second part to this article will follow, consisting of Inspector's Examination Questions and Answers.

Rule 4:When the tensile strength for wrought iron shell plates is not known, it shall be taken at 50,000 pounds for steel and 45,000 pounds for wrought iron.

Rule 5: Shearing Strength of Rivets
Iron rivets in single shear...................38,000 pounds
Iron rivets in double shear.................76,000 pounds
Steel rivets in single shear..................44,000 pounds
Steel rivets in double shear................88,000 pounds

Rule 9: Inspection of Interior of Boiler
Time of inspection - The interior of every boiler shall be thoroughly inspected before the boiler is put into service and whenever a sufficient number of flues are removed to allow examination.

Rule 10:Flues to be removed - All flues of locomotive boilers in service, except as otherwise provided, shall be removed at least once every four years for the purpose of making a thorough examination of the entire interior of the boiler and its bracing. After the flues are taken out, the inside of the boilers must have the scale removed and be thoroughly cleaned and inspected. The removal of flues will be due after 48 calendar months' service, provided such service is performed within five consecutive years. Portions of calendar months out of service will not be counted.

Rule 11:Method of inspection - The entire interior of the boiler must be examined for cracks, pitting, grooving or indications of overheating and for damage where mud has collected or heavy scale formed. The edge of plates, all laps, seams and points where cracks and defects are likely to develop or which an exterior examination may have indicated, must be given an especially minute examination. It must be seen that braces and stays are taunt, that pins are properly secured in place and that each is in condition to support its proportion of the load.

Rule 12:Repairs - Any boiler developing cracks in the barrel shall be taken out of service at once, thoroughly repaired, and reported to be in satisfactory condition before it is returned to service.

Rule 13:Lap-joint seams - Every boiler having lap-joint longitudinal seams without reinforcing plates shall be examined with special care to detect grooving or cracks at the edges of the seams.

Rule 14:Fusible plugs - If boilers are equipped with fusible plugs they shall be removed and cleaned of scale at least once every month. Their removal must be noted on the report of inspection.

Rule 17:Firebox, smokebox, and uptake of Titusville boiler. Time of testing - Every boiler, before being put into service and at least once every 12 months thereafter, shall be subjected to hydrostatic pressure 25 percent above the working steam pressure.

Rule 19:Witness of the test - When the test is being made by the railroad company's inspector, an authorized representative of the company, thoroughly familiar with boiler construction, must personally witness the test and thoroughly examine the boiler while under hydrostatic pressure.

Rule 20:Repairs and steam test - When all necessary repairs have been completed, the boiler shall be fired up and the steam pressure raised to not less than allowed working pressure and the boiler and appurtenances carefully examined. All cocks, valves, seams, bolts and rivets must be tight under this pressure and all defects disclosed must be repaired.

Rule 21:Time of testing rigid staybolts - All staybolts shall be tested at least once a month. Staybolts shall also be tested immediately after every hydrostatic test.

Rule 22:Method of testing rigid staybolts - The inspector must tap each bolt and determine the broken bolts from the sound or the vibration of the sheet. If staybolt tests are made when the boiler is filled with water, there must not be less than 50 pounds pressure on the boiler. Should the boiler not be under pressure, the test may be made after draining all water from the boiler, in which case the vibration of the sheet will indicate any unsoundness. The latter test is preferable.

Rule 25
Broken staybolts - No boiler shall be allowed to remain in service when there are two adjacent staybolts broken or plugged in any part of the firebox or combustion chamber, nor when three or more are broken or plugged in a circle four feet in diameter, nor when five or more are broken or plugged in the entire boiler.

Interpretation -(a) 'plugged' staybolt means telltale hole has been plugged or riveted over or telltale hole missing.
(b) Telltale holes leaking, plugged, riveted over, or missing will be counted as broken staybolts.

Rule 26
Telltale holes - All staybolts shorter than eight inches applied after July 1,1911, except flexible bolts; shall have telltale holes three-sixteenth inch in diameter and not less than 1 inches deep in the outer end. These holes must be kept open at all times.

Rule 28: Steam Gages
Location of gages - Every boiler shall have at least one steam gage which will correctly indicate the working pressure. Care must be taken to locate the gage so that it will be kept reasonably cool and can be conveniently read by the engineman.

Rule 29
Siphon - Every gage shall have a siphon of ample capacity to prevent steam entering the gage. The pipe connection shall enter the boiler direct and shall be maintained steam tight between boiler and gage. The siphon pipe and its connections to the boiler must be cleaned each time the gage is tested.

Rule 34 Safety Valves
Number and Capacity - Every boiler shall be equipped with at least two safety valves, the capacity of which shall be sufficient to prevent under any conditions of service, an accumulation of pressure more than five percent above the allowed steam pressure.

Rule 35
Setting of safety valves - Safety valves shall be set to pop at pressures not exceeding six pounds above the working steam pressure. When setting safety valves two steam gages shall be used, one of which must be so located that it will be in full view of the person engaged in setting such valves; and if the pressure indicated by the gage varies more than three pounds they shall be removed from the boiler, tested and corrected before the safety valves are set or any change made in the setting. When setting safety valves the water level in the boiler shall not be above the highest gage cock.

Rule 36
Time of testing -Safety valves shall be tested under steam at least once every three months, and also when any irregularity is reported.

Rule 37: Water Glass and Gage Cocks
Number and location - Every boiler shall be equipped with at least one water glass and three gage cocks. The lowest gage cock and the lowest reading of the water glass shall be not less than three inches above the highest part of the crown sheet. Locomotives which are not now equipped with water glasses shall have them applied on or before July 1, 1912.

Rule 38
Water glass valves - All water glasses shall be supplied with two valves or shut off cocks, one at the upper and one at the lower connection to the boiler, and also a drain cock, so constructed and located that they can be easily opened and closed by hand.

Rule 39
Time of cleaning - The spindles of all gage cocks and water glass cocks shall be removed and cocks thoroughly cleaned of scale and sediment at least once each month.

Rule 40
All water glasses must be blown out and gage cocks tested before each trip and gage cocks must be maintained in such condition that they can be easily opened and closed without the aid of a wrench or other tool.

Rule 43: Injectors
Injectors must be kept in good condition, free from scale, and must be tested before each trip. Boiler checks, delivery pipes, feed water pipes, tank hose and tank valves must be kept in good condition, free from leaks and from foreign substances that would obstruct the flow of water.

Interpretation -(a) Injectors and long injector pipes should be securely braced as to avoid vibrations. Records show that many serious and fatal accidents have been caused by the failure of injector steam pipes and connections.

Rule 44: Flue Plugs
Flue plugs must be supplied with a hole through the center not less than three-fourths an inch in diameter. When one or more tubes are plugged at both ends the plugs must be tied together by means of a rod not less than five-eighths inch in diameter. Flue plugs must be removed and flues repaired at the first point where such repairs can properly be made.

Rule 45: Washing Boilers
Time of washing -All boilers shall be thoroughly washed as often as the water conditions require, but not less frequently than once each month.

Interpretation - All plugs must be removed each time the boiler is washed. Experience has demonstrated that it is just as important to get all the soluble matter out which causes foaming out of the boiler as it is to get out the encrusting solids.

Rule 50
Leaks in front of enginemen - All steam valves, cocks, and joints, studs, bolts and seams shall be kept in such repair that they will not emit steam in front of the enginemen, so as to obscure their vision.


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