LETTING OFF STEAM

Three years after the tragic events at Medina, Ohio, concern
over the safe operation of historic boilers remains high.
Fortunately, a generally saner atmosphere has replaced the paranoia
that was witnessed in the immediate aftermath of Medina, and states
appear to be taking pragmatic steps towards not only ensuring safe
and proper operation of historic boilers, but also ensuring the
ability for the continued operation of our old machinery.

In 2003, the state of Ohio created the Ohio Historical Boilers
Licensing Board to draft guidelines governing the operation of
historic boilers. Now, word comes that the National Board of Boiler
& Pressure Vessel Inspectors, the national organization that
drafts rules and specifications for the boiler and pressure vessel
industries, has activated a task group to study the Board’s
historic boiler codes.

From what we’ve learned, this task group will focus on a
review and possible revision of Appendix C of the National Board
Inspection Code, which deals specifically with inspection of
historic boilers

Several active owners and operators of steam traction engines
have been tapped for the task force, and it appears their primary
role will be reviewing comments made to the Board since the
adoption of Appendix C. We hope the planned review is a positive
sign the Board wants to keep abreast of prevailing opinion by
keeping its finger on the pulse of the hobby.

This comes on the heel of the Board’s 73rd general meeting,
May 10, 2004, in Nashville, Tenn., where one of the scheduled talks
given by Morris Snow, chairman of the Board’s historic boiler
committee, was titled ‘Potential for Disaster Historic
Boilers.’

Many of us wondered what the Board was attempting to accomplish
at its national meeting, so I called Donald E. Tanner, executive
director of the Board, to express concern over the tone of the
event.

In my discussion with Tanner, he assured me the Board has no
agenda to shut down historic boilers, and that the Board was
interested in getting feedback from owners and operators of
historic boilers to help craft its policies. I was not alone in
contacting Tanner, as I know steamers from around the country
contacted Tanner to vent their concerns over the Board’s stance
on historic boilers.

The task force appears to be a direct reaction to the concerns
expressed by members of the historic steam community, proving that
we do have a voice, but only if we actually use it. The task group
was scheduled to meet in August, and we’ll keep readers aware
as we learn more.

Contact Donald Tanner by writing to: The National Board of
Boiler & Pressure Vessel Inspectors,
1055 Crupper Ave., Columbus, OH 43229-1183; (614) 888-8320;
dtanner@nationalboard.org
www.nationalboard.org

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