Art Rah visited Voss Park last Thursday and got a view of a steam engine nobody gets.
He stuck his head in the fire boxes of five steam engines, a messy job to say the least. But that is Art's job, and Thursday was the day he, as state boiler inspector -made his annual inspection of the Threshing Bee's antique steamers.
Happily, he found them all to be safe and ready for another show.
State law requires all boilers be inspected yearly - whether they be antiques or the modern type which heats the Butterfield school. In Art's 10-county district there are about 20 steam engines plus the numerous steam heating plants and it takes him an entire year to inspect each one in his area.
On the steam engines he tested the thickness of the boiler plate -that's why he had his head inside the engine - plus the safety devices such as the pop valves. Next year he will apply a hydrostatic test to each, filling the engines with water and pumping them up with air pressure to see how they hold up. That's a test he gives them every two years.
Art started in the boiler business in his native Janesville, Minn, where he helped his father tend the school boiler. He followed that career through the Air Force, then joined the Hartford Insurance Co. as a boiler inspector.
Three years ago he started working for the state and was recently assigned the south central Minnesota area. He now lives at Madison Lake.
Since Art's a steam man who's never seen the Butterfield Threshing Bee, it was natural to ask if he'd be here during the August 17-18 show. 'You bet,' he answered, 'I'll be here both days.' But as a spectator.