In and Out of the Shop in Two Weeks

| January/February 1996

  • Nichols-Shepard flue-sheet
    Nichols-Shepard flue-sheet. In smokebox end.

  • Nichols-Shepard flue-sheet

R. R. #13, Box 209, Brazil, Indiana 47834

We would like to believe that the boiler on Granddad's engine is as good as the day it left the factory, but rust and corrosion have taken their toll. Many of our boilers are now 70 or more years in age. Some of the needed repairs may be minor but few boiler repairs are 'quick fixes.'

Many of us do not have the facilities for boiler repairs or to do hot riveting. I would like fellow steam hobbyists to know that there are a few boiler shops around that still make repairs. Some of you may think this article is going to be an advertisement, but that is not really my intention. My intent is let everyone know that there is no reason to operate an unsafe boiler!

The boiler shop I am most familiar with is B&B Steam Restoration Shop at Greensburg, Indiana. The owners are Berry Moorman and Bob Gold; (hence the name B&B). Brian Vaughn and Sam Ertel work along with Bob and Berry in the shop.

My story begins in October, 1994. My father and I planned to steam up our 20-75 Nichols & Shepard double rear-mount, to pull it on the Baker fan and put it into the shed for the winter. At 135 lbs. of steam pressure we heard a steam leak in the smokebox. We were not lucky enough to have blown a hand hole gasket; instead we had a leak in the front flue sheet. The hole was large enough to stick a baling wire in and was in the bend of the flue sheet below and to the side of the front hand hole plate.

I borrowed an ultrasonic tester from work and after a series of test spots I discovered that the front flue sheet was less than 1/16 inch thickness in a few places. This meant that you could not build up around the leak with weld, as it would likely start leaking somewhere else shortly. The proper repair would be to patch the front flue sheet.


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