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Old Oct 21, 2013, 09:19 PM
Steamy laser dude.
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What to do with this old boiler?

Here's a large boiler that recently came into my possession. I am unsure what to do with it, to be honest.

I don't have a lot of faith in its safety, and would obviously pressure test it before ever considering building steam in it. The joints are messy looking, but it is hard to judge the strength of them visually.

I'm not sure what kind of solder was used, but much of it is on mechanical fixtures (threaded stays and rivets) so perhaps it isn't so much there for strength as for filling gaps. The fire tube and cross tubes appear to be brazed in place.

After cleaning it up a little, it seems like the end caps are not copper. They appear to be bronze.

Just under where a burner would fit, there is a small threaded piece fitted in. I am not sure what it could be other than a plug to fill a hole.


It holds approximately 4.5 liters of water. The significant size and weight of this boiler, combined with a fairly low heating area makes me question if it is at all practical to put in a boat. For reference, it is 8" long and 7" across.

Assuming it was safe to run, would the (presumably) inefficient steam generation be worth the weight (about 12 lbs full)?
I'm thinking not.


As I said, I'm really not sure what to do with it.
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Old Oct 21, 2013, 09:36 PM
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It has cross tubes in the flue, it will steam very well.

Steve
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Old Oct 21, 2013, 10:04 PM
Grumpa Tom
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Interested in selling it?
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Old Oct 21, 2013, 11:17 PM
Steamy laser dude.
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Originally Posted by Kmot View Post
Interested in selling it?
I have not quite determined that as of yet. It was given to me with the condition that if I don't use it, I should pass it along to someone who will.

If it is found safe and can generate a decent amount of steam, I imagine it would have a significant run time.
I believe the original intention was for it to power a large tug boat model.

I suppose the first thing to do is figure out the threads of the bushings so I can stop them up and do a pressure test.
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Old Oct 22, 2013, 05:38 AM
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Bradford West Yorkshire, UK
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The screwed plug under the burner tube is a boiler drain plug.

Although the design looks to be a Marine firetube type boiler, it could well be someone s "Design" representation of one. Assuming (something one should never do when applying to steam safety), the 4 stays go through both end plates, (the hex nuts "Caulked" to the face) and judging by the thread diameter, the stays don't seem big enough.

If you go through the design exercise in the K.N. Harris book that you can download from the site, you should be able to work backwards from how the boiler is constructed and the material thicknesses used to find a "Safeish" working pressure.

Be careful, can't see it being safe at above 30psi.

Regards Ian.

Quote:
It was given to me with the condition that if I don't use it, I should pass it along to someone who will
But warn whoever, if you go down that route, the limitations, given that it may be a bomb if overstressed.

Not going to get into any arguments over this, but at club or in general public use, you couldn't use it without a Boiler Test Certificate in the mother country.
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Old Oct 22, 2013, 08:56 AM
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I guess the old country (Gt. Britain) does not credit the Australians with any sense. The Aussies proved, to my satisfaction, that the failure mode of a model boiler is to throw a hissy fit, not throw shrapnel. A seam will open, and the pressure will dissapate with no dangerous ruptures and fragmentation. There is simply not enough stored energy in a football-sized, model boiler to cause an explosion like seen with real locos or steamships. Putting the words "model boiler" and "bomb" in the same sentence (implying the failure mode) is irresponsible fear-mongering.

Pressure testing the boiler is a good idea. Be aware that a cold water test, the usual method, won't reveal the ability of the solder to seal joints when the solder is hot. If the boilermaker used lead solder, for example, the tensile strength of that solder is cut in half at boiling water temperatures. So, even if the solder was just used to "stop leaks" (as opposed to "adding strength to a joint"), it still might result in a leaky boiler, with hissing and spitting of boiling water. It will depend on the size of the leak that was "fixed" - if small enough that the solder does not need to bridge a gap, then the lead may hold. I had a commercially manufactured toy steamer as a kid whose boiler was simply a juice can (not good practice by today's standards, by any means). But if the gap is large, the only way to fix it is with stronger material, ie silver solder.

Hope this helps.
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Old Oct 22, 2013, 11:06 AM
Steamy laser dude.
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Originally Posted by Circlip View Post
Be careful, can't see it being safe at above 30psi...

...But warn whoever, if you go down that route, the limitations, given that it may be a bomb if overstressed.
I am inclined to agree with both points. 30 psi is as high as I can really imagine it going.

If it does turn out to be unsafe, I'll be sure to put it into the hands of someone with enough common sense and steam know-how to not feel stressed about them injuring themselves or others.

Bomb, perhaps not, but a gallon of boiler water hissing out could make a fair amount of nasty burns. I think this has dangerous potential if it goes awry; whatever the form may be.
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Old Oct 22, 2013, 12:48 PM
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Quote:
I guess the old country (Gt. Britain) does not credit the Australians with any sense.
A colleague of mine ordered and paid for a boiler for a 5" gauge loco from Australia's largest supplier of steam requisites for the princely sum of $2500.

They didn't actually make it but it was made by a "Boilermaker" and arrived fully tested and certified to 120psi test for 60psi working.

When he started to fill the boiler with cold water, NOT for a steam test, imagine his "Surprise" to see water running out as fast as he was pouring it in.

Opposite end of the scale Brooks, no fear of shrapnel from that one but on a test in which a 2" diameter boiler was allowed to boil dry and jammed safety valves DID chuck bits of metal about.

As a further piece of advise although you probably know already SenorNeekers, Once copper has had soft solder applied to a joint, no matter how clean the surface seems to be free from colouring, it won't be possible to Silver Solder (English type) it.

Regards Ian.
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Old Oct 22, 2013, 06:42 PM
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Circlip, thanks for clarifying the lead/Ag solder incompatibility. I thought I'd heard that. Solder actually dissolves into the structural metal, so it makes sense that once a joint is lead contaminated, Ag solder is precluded.

Re steam burns: I've read about, and experienced, steam rushing from a G-gauge loco. Steam cools very rapidly once it hits the atmosphere. While I'd never recommend someone stick his hand in spurting steam, I was not burned when a glass sight gauge gave way under pressure in an Accucraft K-27. My hand was in the cab at the time. Luckily, no glass hit me either. I've read similar benign results for other small scale RR'ers exposed to steam leaks. I'm sure somewhere there are sadder tales.

I don't mean to minimize steam burns. But my experience with model steamers is that they don't injure one like the deadly burns, even amputation, you would get from a full size, high pressure boiler leak. The startle factor when steam unexpectedly spurts is probably the biggest danger, to my mind.

One bad apple (boiler) from Australia is very sad, and I feel for your friend who got gyped. I would not condemn the whole Aussie steam research program on that basis, however.
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Old Oct 23, 2013, 06:40 AM
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In all the years that I have been making and testing model copper boilers I have never witnessed a boiler exploding, other than the brass boiler shown on You-Tube by the scientist in the Southern Atlantic nor have I seen a seam giving way and a jet of steam coming from the joint, I have seen a sight glass breaking in a 5" gauge loco under steam which isn't a pretty sight but other than the shattering glass and great volumes of steam no damage was done but I would think that if a hand was withing 6" of the sight glass fittings it would be very hot.

If this boiler was presented to me for testing I would hydraulic test it but would not issue a certificate for insurance.

1- there is no history of the boiler materials or design so thickness of metals are unknown.
2- The end plate is of an unknown material and it looks pretty bashed about all over with hammer marks.
3- There appears to be only 4- stays shown and the spacing of them is far to far apart, I have always gone on the design criteria that there should be no more than 3/4" unsupported area, so there are more stays required and the dia of the stays are unknown.
4- There is considerable blue verdigris showing on the blow down valve below the fire tube which indicates to me that there is an underlying problem there.
5- The boiler shell has been flanged over and it would appear that soft solder was used and the flanging over was to possibly stop leaks.
6- The capacity of the boiler at 12.5L takes it into the loco regs in that it has to have 2- independent means of replenishing water into the boiler and 2- safety valves and at 30 p.s.i. it's now 25 bar litres.

I think that the boiler was made way back in time when no regulations to design and safety were in place and by the design of the sight glass fittings I would suggest that the fittings early Stuart Turner.

Now I have no desire to offend and it's not intended but my suggestion as to what to do with the boiler is to strip the sight glass fittings from the boiler , sit the boiler on some cinder blocks and hit it with a big hammer and then take it to the local scrap metal yard and get the scrap value for it.

My thoughts are that this boiler should not be passed on but destroyed but the decision is yours, I do think that the boiler has potential for damage.

George
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Old Oct 23, 2013, 09:10 AM
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Oh dear Brooks, now look what you've done. Woken Nessie up

Hi George, you really must state without ambiguity what actions you would take as nowhere do you state what weight of big 'ammer to be used as one too light would only probably dent the boiler, allowing the possibility of someone else trying to steam it.

Both our observations seem to tally and fortunately we are far enough away from it for an "Occurrence" not to matter.

Thus my suggestion to reverse ingineer the existing lump. Many "refinements" to the basic constructions have appeared over the years but the basic formulae for the safe construction and operation of boilers still apply.

It doesn't matter who writes rules and regulations, if the construction isn't carried out properly, even in the same country that wrote them, it's not worth in the aforementioned case, the paper the "Certification" was printed on. Never ceases to amuse how many quote "Aussie rules, OK?" as the be all and end all. We seemed to bumble on in the UK working to the "Old" system and latterly the "Blue" book.

Model boiler and Bomb in the same sentence is "implying irresponsible fear mongering". No Brooks, it's just pointing out the potential results. Back in the early days of the Model engineer it was reported that a model boiler in a steam boat had exploded, as I stated, a 2" boiler was destroyed a club level with a bang and I was near enough, unknowingly, to a sealed container that some numpty had thrown onto a fire. It did make a bang and ejected itself from the fire at a rate of knots. In accepting that, to quote an Americanism "The potential of a Catastrophic failure" is a possibility, we should treat safety matters with respect and not in a blasť manner.

On another forum I was brought to task for not "Cutting the Kid some slack" pertaining to an accident that was caused by his own stupidity.

Incident was in Central park in which the Nineteen year old "Kid" managed to decapitate himself with a toy helicopter. No innocent person was involved luckily, apart from those who picked the bits of him up.

Slack I should have cut was that probably no one told him "If your neck is too bl**dy close to a spinning carbon fibre circular saw blade, by putting yourself in harms way, you could chop your head off.

Regards Ian.

And just to further clarify Brooks, I used the word MAY.
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Old Oct 23, 2013, 10:30 AM
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Hi George, you really must state without ambiguity what actions you would take as nowhere do you state what weight of big 'ammer to be used as one too light would only probably dent the boiler, allowing the possibility of someone else trying to steam it.

Ian,
Being just an old Clydeside hammer and chisel man a 14 lb hammer is a big hammer.

George.
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Old Oct 23, 2013, 06:19 PM
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To us Sassenachs a lump (7lb) is a big hammer so it would still be detrimental to the cosmetic appearance of the said Copper construction.

On your Photo, I wonder how far the solder has leached inside the shell?

Regards Ian.
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Old Oct 23, 2013, 08:56 PM
Steamy laser dude.
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Canada, BC, Victoria
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ooyah View Post
If this boiler was presented to me for testing I would hydraulic test it but would not issue a certificate for insurance.

1- there is no history of the boiler materials or design so thickness of metals are unknown.
2- The end plate is of an unknown material and it looks pretty bashed about all over with hammer marks.
3- There appears to be only 4- stays shown and the spacing of them is far to far apart, I have always gone on the design criteria that there should be no more than 3/4" unsupported area, so there are more stays required and the dia of the stays are unknown.
4- There is considerable blue verdigris showing on the blow down valve below the fire tube which indicates to me that there is an underlying problem there.
5- The boiler shell has been flanged over and it would appear that soft solder was used and the flanging over was to possibly stop leaks.
6- The capacity of the boiler at 12.5L takes it into the loco regs in that it has to have 2- independent means of replenishing water into the boiler and 2- safety valves and at 30 p.s.i. it's now 25 bar litres.
1. Yes, for the most part. One can get an idea of the thickness of the firetube and boiler shell material by looking at the end though. I'll have to refer to Harris for recommended thicknesses.

2. Definitely not the smoothest piece or material around, that's for sure. It really looks like bronze upon cleaning it up, though. The caps have approximately half an inch of material continuing inside the shell, where they are riveted and either brazed or hard soldered.

3. Looking through one of the holes at the top (with illumination coming from the other hole) I was able to see the stays. They appear to be roughly 1/8" or 3/16". Obviously this is a rough measurement. Again, I'll be looking into suggested thickness of stays and spacing for a boiler of this size. The stays are threaded into nuts, which then appear to have soft solder holding them in place.

4. The verdigris came off very easily. I am unsure as to what would have caused it other than long term exposure to the damp, salty air.

5. The rim of the boiler shell isn't soft solder. A file doesn't make much of a mark, and it appears as a dull yellowish-silver when scraped. I think the flanging may have been purely aesthetic, as I really can't see the fairly minor bending of metal there stopping anything from leaking.

6. The capacity is 4.5 litres, not 12.5. Not sure where you got that number, George.


Thank you for the run-down of what seems wrong with it from a pair of experienced eyes. It is good to see that my concerns are echoed by someone with more experience.
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