Because of an accident in which a boy was run over by a steam roller and killed at a rally in Great Britain last June, the National Traction Engine Club has stepped up its safety rules and enforcement.
The organization, which has about 50 affiliated clubs, has published the rules as part of its Code of Practice.
We were given a copy of the Code by Denis W. Brandt, Esq., 27 Tregunter Road, London, public relations officer for the NTEC, when we visited England in No vember.
Included in the provisions are directions for placement of barriers, spectator control, information and advice to be given engine owners, and notices to be posted.
The notice to be posted at a rally says:
'Traction engine movement can be dangerous. Admission to the rally field is on condition that any person or persons agree and undertake to absolve and hold harmless the promoters and organizers of the rally and every other person taking part in or connected with the management or conduct of the rally, from all liability for any injury to person or damage of property howsoever caused.'
The NTEC supplies a steward to see that safety rules are observed; the rally cannot proceed unless the steward approves.
Brandt also informed us that the number of NTEC rallies has shown a steady upward trend, even though the oil crisis in 1974 caused a slight setback. In 1971, there were 60 rallies, by 1973, the total was up to 90; then came the 1974 decline, to 75 or 80, but in 1975, the trend was upward.
Attendance this past year was better than expected, surprising everyone. Costs were up, as they were everywhere else. The cost of good steam coal was up to 40 pounds a ton (that's over $80), about doubling the price of 1970-71. Brandt felt that in America, coal was comparatively cheap.
It is not unusual to attract 15,000 persons to an event that covers two days. But attendance can reach 100,000 in three days, at a major event such as a 'Great Working of Steam Engines.'
Interest in steam engines in Great Britain is becoming so marked that two steam driven Savage engines have been built, brand new, of the same kind that the Savage Company produced in the 1860s.
The selling price is 17,000 pounds (about $37,000), and the company will have to sell 12 to break even, but it appears to be on the way to doing so. At least, one has already been sold.
The engines are built to the original specifications.
An article in The World's Fair, a weekly British publication, said that David Bretten, owner of the St. German engineering firm of Belmec, was the man who started the chain of events leading to the modern-day manufacture of these century-old engines.
He got together with Bill Mc-Alpine, who had bought the patterns and drawings when the original Savage works closed, and David Brathwaite, an authority on the Savage family. The Savage name has been re-registered.
The engine is steered from the front, with the equivalent of a ship's wheel.