An important and essential component of the steam engine hobby in the U.S. experienced significant disruption in 2020, when steam schools across the country were cancelled by the spread of the Covid-19 virus. In the new year, organizers are optimistic that the events will go forward as planned.
In some cases, the 2021 classes were filled by late summer 2020. “Our 2020 class, which we postponed to 2021, was already overbooked,” says John Johnson, spokesman for the Rough & Tumble Engineers Historical Assn. Steam School, early last October. “All those students want to take the 2021 class, so our steam school is full and we have a waiting list.”
Prospective students are advised to register early, and in these particularly uncertain times, check websites and verify dates before travelling.
Whether you’re a veteran engineer or a novice, steam schools provide invaluable instruction on steam basics, maintenance, safety precautions and emergency procedures, all conducted by qualified professionals. Some steam school programs offer credit toward licensing.
Central States Threshermen’s Reunion
When: June 5-6
Where: Threshermen’s Park, Pontiac
Tuition: $60 ($50 for each additional family member)
The Central States Threshermen’s steam school is designed for beginning and intermediate engineers, with an emphasis on safe engine operation. Tuition includes camping space, refreshments, lunch both days and class materials.
The morning schedule consists of classroom presentations covering the properties of steam, boiler basics, running the engine, lubrication, injector operation, boiler maintenance and restoration, belting up and emergency procedures. Afternoon sessions focus on hands-on firing and operation.
Heritage Park of North Iowa Steam Engineer School
When: May 15-16
Where: Heritage Park of North Iowa, Forest City
The Heritage Park steam school offers two classes: one for beginners, and one for advanced students. As part of the course, attendees help prepare one or more steam traction engines for steam-up. Those who complete the class will receive 16 hours credit toward the 50 hours required for a Minnesota Hobby Engineer’s license. Class size is limited to 50 beginners and 20 advanced students. Materials, lunch and refreshments are included.
Midwest Old Threshers Reunion Steam School
When: May 1-2
Where: Midwest Old Threshers grounds, Mount Pleasant
The class begins at 8 a.m. on the first day; a short lunch break is held at noon. On the second day, participants will operate working engines for a hands-on experience. The session ends at 2 p.m. on the second day, following a noon meal (which is included). Students must be age 14 or older.
Kansas Antique Engine Show Safety Assn. (KAESSA) Steam School
When: April 17-18
Where: 1221 East Murdock, Wichita
Tuition covers handouts, breakfast and lunch both days. Those who attend both days will earn 16 hours toward a Kansas operator’s license. Two to three engines will be fired up for use during the school.
Topics covered include boiler system components, feed systems, safety appliances, lubrication, terminology, types of engines, start-up from cold, and safety. Additional information will be posted as it becomes available on the KAESSA website and Facebook page.
Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion University of Rollag Steam School
When: June 19-20
Where: Steam Hill, Rollag
The two-day course offers classroom instruction and hands-on experience using a wide range of steam equipment, including stationary, traction, miniature and railroad engines. The class is certified for Minnesota, North Dakota and Ohio steam hobby license. WMSTR is the only training approved by the state of Minnesota not provided by a state-run entity. Materials and two meals are included.
Class size is limited to 70. Because those enrolled in the 2020 class, which was cancelled by the pandemic, were given first opportunity to enroll in the 2021 class, the 2021 class is already filled to capacity.
For more information: Tom Hall, University of Rollag, P.O. Box 999, Moorhead, MN 56561; (218) 233-1771;Rollag.
Rough & Tumble Engineers Historical Assn. Steam School
When: May 15-16 (beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. Sunday)
Where: Rough & Tumble grounds, Kinzers
Because those enrolled in the 2020 class, which was cancelled by the pandemic, were given first opportunity to enroll in the 2021 class, the 2021 class is already filled to capacity. To be placed on the waiting list, contact John Johnson (details below).
Enrollment is limited to Rough & Tumble members. New members must join prior to school in order to operate equipment on the R&T grounds. Class is limited to the first 22 applicants (age 14 and over). Steam School tuition includes all materials.
Emphasis is placed on safety, maintenance, operation and hands-on experience. Class time is limited to half of the first day, with remaining time dedicated to practical, hands-on operation, including cleaning, inspection, maintenance and operation of numerous steam traction engines. Conditions permitting, students also may operate two railroad engines (The Shay and Little Toot) as well as custom engines and a large variety of steam traction equipment. This gives students the widest experience available to operate steam equipment, an experience unique to Rough & Tumble Engineers Historical Assn. in Pennsylvania.
Somerset Steam & Gas Engine Assn. Somerset Steam School
When: April 10-11
Where: Fairfield View Dairy Farm, Somerset
The course is divided into classroom and hands-on sessions with qualified and experienced instructors focusing on education, familiarization and safety in the operation and maintenance of steam engines and boilers. All course materials and two lunches are provided. Class size is limited to 20 students. Applications may be downloaded from the Somerset Steam & Gas Assn. website (see below).
Wisconsin Historical Steam Engine Assn. Steam School
When: Sept. 24-26
Where: North Central Wisconsin Antique Steam & Gas Engine Club show grounds, 223755 Steam Hill Dr., Edgar, WI 54426
Topics covered include stream theory; steam engine components; boiler construction; operation and maintenance; piping, valves and accessories; firing under various loads; handling an engine; boiler water treatment; and emergency procedures. Registration is at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. Class is held from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Materials provided include a textbook, Steam Traction Engineer’s Checklist, and Case Steam Engine Manual. Breakfast and lunch both days, and dinner Saturday night, are included. Free primitive camping is available on the show grounds. Class size is limited to 40; preregistration is required. Completion counts for 16 hours toward the required number to obtain a state operator’s license in Minnesota and Ohio. Youth scholarships are available.
Did we miss your group’s steam school? Contact us at email@example.com or call (800) 678-5779 to get your program listed on our website and in future listings.