Guide to Operation, Care, Maintenance and Exhibition

The following are a few guidelines to consider in the operation, care, maintenance and exhibition of historical boilers. These guidelines are not all inclusive, and should not be considered the minimum requirements for these activities. There are many different types of historical boilers, and it should be the duty of the boiler owner to fully research and implement proper techniques specific to their boiler;

Exhibition and Operation

  • All boilers should have, as a minimum;
    1. An accurate, properly installed pressure gauge
    2. ASME/NB certified, properly installed pressure relieving device(s)An ASME fusible plug, if originally manufactured with one
    3. Try cocks, properly located to indicate safe water levels
    4. An operational water gage glass with guards and a drain
    5. Two means of boiler water feed

  • Boilers should not be exhibited unless;
    1. Two qualified operators, or one operator and one apprentice are attending the boiler at all times
    2. The operators and apprentices are familiar with that particular boilers fire-up, steam-down and emergency procedure
    3. Stationary engines with large belts should be cordoned to prevent spectator injury should the belt slip off
    4. Extra care should be taken when moving traction engines and rollers, such as a third person, to ensure spectators do not wander too closely to the engine
  • Boilers should not be left unattended unless;
    1. There is at least 1/3 of the water gage glass containing water
    2. Main steam (dome) valve is closed
    3. Draft openings are closed
    4. Fire is removed or extinguished
    5. 15 psi reading on the gauge and falling


  • Proper lubrication
  • Maintaining a clean firebox and flues
  • Cleaning and maintaining injectors
  • Maintaining good boiler water quality
  • Keep a log book, to include;
    1. Any maintenance or repairs, dates and what was performed
    2. Any failures and the corrections made
    3. Inspections, dates and findings
    4. Event dates and locations of exhibitions
    5. Boiler identifications, markings, heating surface, etc.


  • Conduct proper inspections, prior to and after each use, and those required by the BSB
  • Use proper lay-up and winterization procedures, such as;
    1. Clean all soot and ash from fire side surfaces
    2. Power washing all fire side surfaces
    3. Clean all water side surfaces and removing any scale and debris
    4. Open all drains, port, valves, hand holes, etc., removing and further preventing moisture from accumulating inside the boiler
    5. Remove grates and ash pans
    6. Store boiler indoors or under cover