Useful Tips and Hints when Shopping for a New Boiler

| March/April 2004

Over the past nine years that my son, Steve, and I have taken our steam traction engines to shows, we have spoken with many people about the new boilers we've built and installed in our tractors.

The September/October 2003 issue of Steam Traction carried my article 'Steaming Through Life,' in which I discussed my history in steam and my current steam projects, including building new boilers. We have received some really great feedback from that article, including many questions about making new boilers.

Looking back at the most commonly asked questions, there appear to be some myths and misconceptions about boiler facts. Possibly this is a result of information being passed down through generations of collectors, and of course there's the fact that standards have changed since most of our boilers were originally built. Manufacturing methods and materials have evolved a great deal since the days when everyone drove Model Ts.

I am retired, and I no longer build boilers or have any affiliation with any boiler shop. Even so, I'm often asked to recommend a good boiler shop, a question whose answer I can certainly appreciate. I would instead, however, like to give some sound information and facts to help people make their own decisions about who they hire to build a boiler.

The following information is documented in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Power Boilers Manual, a publication every certified boiler shop has to follow. Additionally, much of this follows the normal manufacturing standards, practices and requirements imposed by New York State Board of Labor Boiler Inspectors. For many readers this will be a very dry article, but if you are thinking of having a new boiler made, the information could be very beneficial.

A 60 HP Reeves engine and gearing assembly mounted on a partially completed boiler shell. This initial fitting was done to ensure that necessary studs were properly located and capped on the inside and to ensure that all the major parts and gearing were properly located and meshing correctly.