Boiler testing

Yesterday was a busy one in Alan’s garden. Not only did we have a second (partially successful) attempt to get Lady Doreen into steam, but we were also visited by the boiler tester from SMEE, who came to do boiler tests on the various Mamod models we own, ahead of their debut at SMEE’s Abbeydale Miniature Railway in a couple of weeks.

Dave & Josh sent over five models for testing, while I took my two TE1A traction engines. On the seven, five passed their tests, one failed due to a steam leak on the piston assembly and one was unable to be tested as it required a different fitting for the hydraulic test that we didn’t have available at the time. We still have Harry and Alan’s engines to test, plus a re-test for the one that failed and the other that couldn’t be hydraulic tested once the correct size fitting is found.

For anyone who doesn’t already know, a steam engine boiler test comes in three stages. the first stage is a visual inspection to make sure the engine appears sound and won’t obviously fail. The next stage in the hydraulic test. This involves filling the boiler to the top with water, which is pumped in using a special hand pump. By pumping beyond the point of being full, water pressure is built up inside the boiler and any leaks can easily be seen. Finally the exces water is emptied, the boiler filled to it’s normal level and the engine is steamed, again checking for leaks and correct operation of things such as the safety valve. If all the stages are passed satisfactorily then a boiler certificate is issued by the inspector.

There is some debate as to weather engines as small as a Mamod, which is a mass-produced toy, actualy needs a boiler certificate. The answer seems to depend on who you talk to and they were certainly used in schools without one. However insurance companies love paper-work and they are the ones who decided even the smallest engines need testing before they can operate publicly at Abbeydale. Don’t panic though! Those of you steaming a Mamod or Wilesco toy engine in your own back garden still don’t need a test.

Check out our Calendar of events here to see when we are next at Abbeydale Miniature Railway or Heeley City Farm.

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