Farm Collector

MINNESOTA Steam Engine Association

703 Co. Rd. 2 So. St. Stephen, Minnesota 56375

In the spring of 1975 a group of steam engine enthusiasts
gathered in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota to organize what became known as
the Minnesota Steam Engine Association. Probably the main reason
for these men and women getting together was to unite in a body to
better protect the steam hobbyist from undue harassment from state
officials in charge of inspection of steam engines and boilers of
the type used at the various steam shows throughout the state.
Prior to this organization’s founding, a small group of men
(who eventually became founders of this organization) were
successful in get-ting the rule changed on hydro-static testing of
boilers. In years past the hydro pressure was pumped up to one and
one-half times the working pressure. Somewhere along the line it
was changed to twice the working pressure. It was apparent that
this put undue strain on these old boilers, so this group of men
succeeded in get-ting this rule changed to the benefit of all
owners of old hobby boilers.

During 1989 this organization was incorporated as a non-profit
corporation under the laws of the state of Minnesota. The purpose
of the organization as stated in the by-laws is as follows:

To foster and perpetuate interest in the steam engine hobby, to
assist in the education of new engineers in the safe and
responsible operation of steam engines and their boilers, and to
serve as a voice to represent steam engine enthusiasts throughout
the state of Minnesota in regard to regulations and legislation
affecting the steam engine hobby.

One of the first things accomplished by the Association was
establishment of a life-time steam engineer’s license for
hobbyists. This was done to avoid the need to renew a license every
year, when it is used for just a few days during a show or similar
activity. A hobbyist does not have to buy this license, however.
Any licensed engineer can operate hobby engines and/or boilers
according to the stipulations set forth in the license held. This
action was accomplished, changing state legislation.

Another legislative change was the frequency of inspection of
hobby, show engines and boilers from annual to biennial. This means
any owner of a steam engine or boiler used at a show or for hobby
purposes saves half the money previously spent on inspections.

Over the years, the Association has established a good working
relationship with the Department of Labor and Industry, Boiler
Division. By working together with the people in this division, the
rules were clarified regarding allowable working pressure on
large-diameter, lap-seam boilers. Previously we were told that any
lap-seam boiler larger than 36 inches was limited to 15 pounds of
pressure. Now these boilers are being inspected and granted
specific working pressure according to their own merits, without a
flat rule. Also, lap-seam boilers of 36 inches diameter or less
were previously limited to 100 pounds. Now they are also being
inspected on their own merits.

Also, by working with the Boiler Division, the Association
headed off the disallowance into the state of boilers not ASME
coded with the cloverleaf stamp. Obviously, many of the hobby
engines were built before this code was in force. The Association
also helped write the rules on leaving a boiler unattended.

Regarding current and future actions of the Association, we have
a committee working on several new projects. Among these is the
matter of reciprocity between our state and neighboring states. We
have the assurance of the chief boiler inspector that his
department will be working with us to make it easier to bring
engines and boilers into Minnesota from other states and Canada.
Another thing this committee is working on is a way to allow
hobbyists to do some of their own repair, as long as a certified
welder is employed. The way the law is now written, the cost of
repair is prohibitive for most hobbyists. We are also working to
eliminate the requirement of having the seam x-rayed before issuing
a certificate on any boiler that does not have a current

In the area of education, the Association has made educational
materials available to members interested in learning to operate a
steam engine. In the spring of the year, we also conduct at least
one steam-up where those interested can get some hands-on
experience running an engine. At these steam-ups we have also had
lectures on various subjects, such as ‘Getting An Engine Ready
To Fire,’ and ‘How To Prepare An Engine For Winter
Storage,’ etc.

There are many other matters that the Association is interested
in pursuing in the future, but this outline gives a general picture
of what the Minnesota Steam Engine Association is all about. As
stated earlier, we do have a good relationship with the Boiler
Division and this is what we need if the steam engine hobby is
going to survive in the state of Minnesota. That question brings me
back to the first point stated in our purpose: perpetuation of this
hobby. In numbers there is strength, so I would like to invite all
people interested in steam power to join this Association. If you
are such a person, you have already benefited from the work of this
Association, so I invite you to become a member. Dues are just
$5.00 per year. Meetings are held the first Saturday of the month,
beginning in October or November through April. They are usually
held in Rice, Minnesota (which is centrally located), but
occasionally they are held in other areas. Some of the meetings are
held in conjunction with a tour of various companies, industries or
other places of interest to the members. The Steam-up is usually
held in May or June.

We also have a handsome patch which shows a Minnesota-Giant
steam engine super-imposed over an outline of the state of
Minnesota. These can be purchased for $3.50. To become a member
send name, address, etc. with $5.00 dues to: Becky Mock, 1608 Golf
Course Rd., Grand Rapids, MN 55744.

  • Published on Nov 1, 1990
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