In reading the Mar-April issue of the ALBUM, I read the very interesting article on Boiler Safety, written by O. H. Neiman of the Neiman Machine Works, Freeport, Illinois. I would like to hear more about this thing of Boiler Safety. We all know pretty well what would happen to our reunions after a fatal boiler mishap. I don't think we can over-emphasize the importance of being careful with 'our boilers.
I had the experience of taking out the hand holes of a boiler just a short time after it had passed a State Inspection Test. Prom the amount of scales in the bottom, I know this boiler had not been opened up and cleaned for at least two years. This boiler was in a public building. Let's open up those boilers at least once a year and clean them out. Of course, a lot depends on how much they are used and the kind of water. But, at least once a year, Fellows!
I went and looked at an engine last year, and one look was enough. The engine itself didn't look too bad, but that boiler was a mess. Those hand holes hadn't been out for at least 10 years. Maybe a lot of readers will say all that cleaning isn't necessary. But I think it's the least we can do for the safety of the crowds that patronize our reunions.
I have a set of encyclopedias that were written in the year 1875 and I would like to quote some of its writing on steam boiler explosions 'Steam boiler explosions occur as a consequence of ignorance or carelessness in design, in construction or in management. Experimental explosions have shown that even low pressures are sufficient to produce very violent explosions.
'The Explosion Experiments of Francis B. Stevens in 1871 were considered to indicate: 1. That a most violent explosion may occur in a boiler well supplied with water. 2. That what is generally considered a moderate steam pressure may produce a very violent explosion of a weak boiler containing a large body of water, and having all its flues well covered. It was reported that one of the boilers exploded by Mr. Stevens contained 40,000 lbs. of water; and that when the steam pressure was, as at the time of explosion, 53 lbs. to the square inch, the heat stored in the boiler amounted to 2,674,080 British Thermal Units, equivalent in mechanical energy to about 2,064,389,760 foot pounds, or, if wholly so expended, sufficient to raise the whole boiler, weighing 70,000 lbs. to a height of 24,491 ft. or more than five miles. , The conclusion reached was: 'That it is very certain that the energy of this explosion and all of its tremendous effects were principally suddenly liberated at a moderate pressure by the general disrupture of a steam boiler of very uniform but feeble strength.'
'When steam boilers are locally weak, explosions rarely occur. The steam pressure produces rupture at the weakest point and the strength of surrounding parts being sufficient to prevent extension of the break, no explosion occurs.
'Where the weakest portions of the boiler are more extended and more uniformly weak, the extent of the rupture which finally occurs becomes greater, and the accident is attended with greater violence of disruption, and the more serious results follow. Where considerable portions of the boiler are weak, or long lines of weakness exist uninterrupted by points much more defective, disastrous explosions are very likely to take place with old boilers and at moderate pressures.
'The most terrible explosions occur with good and uniformly strong boilers, in which, by accident or mismanagement, steam has been allowed to accumulate until a fatally high pressure produces rupture and drives the fragments of the boiler in all directions.'
So fellows, I say again, let's be very careful!
Careful and skillful inspection of a boiler will almost always detect all serious defects. Every sheet should be examined to discover blisters, lamination, fracture or corrosion. All stays and braces should be carefully examined and the boiler fittings, valves and gauges should be inspected and the last should be tested. I think a lot of us have reached up and tapped a steam gauge and saw it jump up from a couple of pounds to ten or more. Let's test those gauges once in a while and clean out those boilers!