| January/February 1968

Newnan, Georgia 30263

The first time I ever saw a stay bolt was probably in 1924 when we kids used to play Buck on the R.R. water tank at Moreland, Georgia. They used to run several trains an hour back in those days. We saw pop valves stuck, whistles stuck, cylinders so bad they had to side track the passenger engine and put on a Mike 2-4-2 freight engine and pull the limited on in to Atlanta.

One day an old small passenger engine came in for water and all of the train crew and some of the dressed up passengers all started to crowd around the fire box on the left side. Water was leaking pretty bad around the side and coming out what I thought was rivets.

The rivets were funny though as they had holes drilled in the center and the water was seeping out but it was mostly steam. Everyone was talking about stay bolts, and I soon learned that the stay bolts were what held the fire box together and the tell-tale holes were drilled at each end on the outside so if they ever gave way or broke, it would do just as it was doing. Only this time, there were too many leaking and there soon was talk about the thing blowing up. If I remember right, the train fellows were not too concerned about the ones leaking as they were about two that were leaking around the rivet-like side. One man said if she blows these rivet-like bolts were good but the others giving away caused too much strain on the others and they were afraid it would strip out and really shoot out his water or blow on up. After much debating and talking and I expect wiring in telegrams to the dispatcher, they all agreed to take her in with it leaking like it was. Ever since that day I have always had an ear for stay bolts or be on the look out for them around a boiler.

About 1950 I watched the insurance inspector supervise the welders cut several patches on a boiler so he could examine the water leg on a loco type boiler. They would cut out pieces about the size of cigar boxes and cut around the stay bolts. Later they would cut out the stay bolts and ream out the threads and bevel the hole from the inside and also bevel the holes on the outside patch. The Hartford man would take one good look and say it was good for another 25 years. He would peck on a lot of the bolts and if he was in doubt about one, they would burn the stay bolt out and replace by welding. All of the stay bolts were welded back in.

Boy, but these were the best of welders. Ole Bo Blair had been welding code vessels even then 25 years, every day. And of course taking the test as often as the insurance company required. This boy can really weld. He has been all over the country welding Butane tanks that had insurance on them and all kinds of stainless and monel vessels inside food processing plants.