Starting a Cold Boiler

Important points to consider when bringing a cold boiler up to pressure


| July 2012



Bringing a cold boiler up to pressure? Plan on a process that takes about 2-1/2 hours. “You want to normally get it up to 90 pounds pressure before you think about moving it at all, because it’s a drier steam,” Dave Haala says. “If you try to run it down at 40 to 50 pounds pressure, there’s a real saturation of water in it that’s not good for it.”

Choice of fuel is an important factor. A nice, dry hardwood will get the fire going a lot quicker. “I’ve also run the steam engine with coal, which is nice to use,” Dave says. “You don’t have to throw as much in as wood, because coal lasts longer.” Then there’s the water. “It’s easy to use 300 to 400 gallons of water, like when I run it at our farm place here,” he says. “It’s very critical to keep the water level up.”

The Case has two water pumps in case one fails: a piston pump and a steam injector pump to push water into the boiler. “Both have to be operating, and it’s very critical to keep them in good repair,” Dave says. “I try to use both of them because then I know that both are working, but I generally use the injector pump more often.”

Both pumps have to operate at higher pressures than in the boiler to force water inside. “You control starting and stopping the pumping,” Dave explains. “For threshing, the operator figures out the level needed and sets the pump to maintain that level.” The excess bypasses into the water hopper, a 100-gallon tank that provides a platform for the operator.

Read about Dave Haala's 1913 Case 40 hp single-cylinder steam traction engine in Side Trip for a Case Steam Traction Engine Pays Off.