Preserving the Past, Securing the Future

Antique riveted boilers are time pieces of an era gone by. Steam locomotives, tractors, rollers and stationary engines, all of which are capable of producing the kind of force that today’s power steam boilers possess. This means that these boilers are not only equally as dangerous if an explosion were to occur, but can be more hazardous due to the age of the metal and the destructive power of corrosion. For these reasons, training in the care, maintenance, operation and inspection if these boilers is so important.

Operating these historical boilers can be very challenging, and dangerous if not done so correctly. It takes a skilled and properly trained operator to run them safely. Antique historical boilers do not have many of the modern safety devices, and an operator must be constantly aware of the pressure and water level in the boiler to prevent an explosion. These boilers are hand fired with wood or coal. There is no switch to turn off the power if something should go wrong.

Maintaining and repairing these historical boilers is another vital component for their safe operation. Some of these boilers are more than 100 years old. Over time, corrosion can take its effect on the metals, sometimes reducing their original thickness to a mere fraction of what it was when first built. The cycling action of heating and cooling can also have weakening effects of the metal over time.  Careful inspections and the use of proper materials and repair procedures help to ensure that the boiler will be safe to operate in the future.

In 2013, The Boiler Safety Bureau, working with the devoted owners of these historical boilers, adopted the National Boiler Inspection Code for Historical Boilers. This allowed standardized procedures for the inspection and repairs of these boilers.
North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 95 Article 7B states that the Bureau will create and conduct a safety program to provide instruction on how to properly care, maintain, operate, and exhibit historical boilers. The program will also include instruction on how to train an apprentice.

The only thing that remains the same is change. New knowledge, materials, and inspection and repair techniques are always being presented. The Boiler Safety Bureau will utilize whatever technology that may come along to help ensure the safe operation of boilers in the State of North Carolina, for those who operate them, and for those who come to enjoy watching them.

Suggested reference materials for this section

  1. Southeast Antique Machinery Society Inc., Basic Operating Knowledge of Steam Traction and Stationary Engines
  2. Jim Nowell, Steam Traction Engineers Checklist, 2003 Revision, Nowell Communications 3709 Batchelor Ave. Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada R3R OP3. Tel-204-837-1562
  3. J.I. Case Company, Case Steam Engine Manual, J.I. Case Company, Racine Wisconsin
  4. Prof. P.S. Rose. Steam Engine Guide, Nation Builder Books, PO Box 470 Mebane, NC 27302
  5. UNIFORM BOILER AND PRESSURE VESSEL ACT OF NORTH CAROLINA, North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 95, Article 7A & 7B and ADMINISTRATIVE RULES, North Carolina Administrative Code Title 13, Chapter 13
  6. Current Editions of NBIC Sections 2 & 3