703 Co. Rd. 2 So. St. Stephen, Minnesota 56375
In the spring of 1975 a group of steam engine enthusiasts gathered in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota to organize what became known as the Minnesota Steam Engine Association. Probably the main reason for these men and women getting together was to unite in a body to better protect the steam hobbyist from undue harassment from state officials in charge of inspection of steam engines and boilers of the type used at the various steam shows throughout the state. Prior to this organization's founding, a small group of men (who eventually became founders of this organization) were successful in get-ting the rule changed on hydro-static testing of boilers. In years past the hydro pressure was pumped up to one and one-half times the working pressure. Somewhere along the line it was changed to twice the working pressure. It was apparent that this put undue strain on these old boilers, so this group of men succeeded in get-ting this rule changed to the benefit of all owners of old hobby boilers.
During 1989 this organization was incorporated as a non-profit corporation under the laws of the state of Minnesota. The purpose of the organization as stated in the by-laws is as follows:
To foster and perpetuate interest in the steam engine hobby, to assist in the education of new engineers in the safe and responsible operation of steam engines and their boilers, and to serve as a voice to represent steam engine enthusiasts throughout the state of Minnesota in regard to regulations and legislation affecting the steam engine hobby.
One of the first things accomplished by the Association was establishment of a life-time steam engineer's license for hobbyists. This was done to avoid the need to renew a license every year, when it is used for just a few days during a show or similar activity. A hobbyist does not have to buy this license, however. Any licensed engineer can operate hobby engines and/or boilers according to the stipulations set forth in the license held. This action was accomplished, changing state legislation.
Another legislative change was the frequency of inspection of hobby, show engines and boilers from annual to biennial. This means any owner of a steam engine or boiler used at a show or for hobby purposes saves half the money previously spent on inspections.
Over the years, the Association has established a good working relationship with the Department of Labor and Industry, Boiler Division. By working together with the people in this division, the rules were clarified regarding allowable working pressure on large-diameter, lap-seam boilers. Previously we were told that any lap-seam boiler larger than 36 inches was limited to 15 pounds of pressure. Now these boilers are being inspected and granted specific working pressure according to their own merits, without a flat rule. Also, lap-seam boilers of 36 inches diameter or less were previously limited to 100 pounds. Now they are also being inspected on their own merits.
Also, by working with the Boiler Division, the Association headed off the disallowance into the state of boilers not ASME coded with the cloverleaf stamp. Obviously, many of the hobby engines were built before this code was in force. The Association also helped write the rules on leaving a boiler unattended.
Regarding current and future actions of the Association, we have a committee working on several new projects. Among these is the matter of reciprocity between our state and neighboring states. We have the assurance of the chief boiler inspector that his department will be working with us to make it easier to bring engines and boilers into Minnesota from other states and Canada. Another thing this committee is working on is a way to allow hobbyists to do some of their own repair, as long as a certified welder is employed. The way the law is now written, the cost of repair is prohibitive for most hobbyists. We are also working to eliminate the requirement of having the seam x-rayed before issuing a certificate on any boiler that does not have a current certificate.
In the area of education, the Association has made educational materials available to members interested in learning to operate a steam engine. In the spring of the year, we also conduct at least one steam-up where those interested can get some hands-on experience running an engine. At these steam-ups we have also had lectures on various subjects, such as 'Getting An Engine Ready To Fire,' and 'How To Prepare An Engine For Winter Storage,' etc.
There are many other matters that the Association is interested in pursuing in the future, but this outline gives a general picture of what the Minnesota Steam Engine Association is all about. As stated earlier, we do have a good relationship with the Boiler Division and this is what we need if the steam engine hobby is going to survive in the state of Minnesota. That question brings me back to the first point stated in our purpose: perpetuation of this hobby. In numbers there is strength, so I would like to invite all people interested in steam power to join this Association. If you are such a person, you have already benefited from the work of this Association, so I invite you to become a member. Dues are just $5.00 per year. Meetings are held the first Saturday of the month, beginning in October or November through April. They are usually held in Rice, Minnesota (which is centrally located), but occasionally they are held in other areas. Some of the meetings are held in conjunction with a tour of various companies, industries or other places of interest to the members. The Steam-up is usually held in May or June.
We also have a handsome patch which shows a Minnesota-Giant steam engine super-imposed over an outline of the state of Minnesota. These can be purchased for $3.50. To become a member send name, address, etc. with $5.00 dues to: Becky Mock, 1608 Golf Course Rd., Grand Rapids, MN 55744.