A Firefighter’s Steamer
(Page 5 of 10)
Boilers and fittings
While the engine and other parts were at Corky’s there were dozens of other things to do, but foremost in my mind was a careful inspection of the boiler and related steam fittings. A savvy buyer would have this kind of thing checked before the purchase, but George Miller, the previous owner, assured me everything was good, and I believed him. The boiler inspector, however, wanted more assurance and so it was onto the next step.
First a careful visual inspection, which had me removing the fire pan so the interior of the firebox could be checked. The fire pan literally fell apart when it was removed, so this was my first fabrication project. Removing the fire pan to get access to the firebox was important, because if there was any evidence of an overheated crown sheet it would show as a warped plate and possibly damaged stay bolts. George described how the engine was parked near a spring and how it always had a plentiful supply of water, so I wasn’t too worried.
I also removed all the hand hole covers so the stay bolts and water legs could be inspected. An interesting note is that the original fusible plug was still installed. I took this as a good sign, and other than a considerable build-up of scale the boiler and related parts visually checked out OK. I spent considerable time cleaning the scale deposits, and found a vacuum and a long pipe were pretty handy. Next was the more intensive ultrasonic inspection, which involves smoothing spots on the boiler so a device can be attached that measures the thickness of the steel.
Dozens of places were checked and compared to the factory drawings to determine any loss of thickness. Once again the water legs and crown sheet around the firebox were of major concern, but when it was all completed I was relieved that George had been correct: The boiler was fine. I was told to replace all the steam pipes and valves with modern schedule 80 fittings and was cautioned to replace a half dozen rivets where the flue sheet connected to the smokebox, as the heads had become badly corroded. This was to be my next project.
I contacted a suggested boiler repairman who specialized in this type of work and was astonished to get a price of more than $3,000 for this small job; something about “liability and old engines.” I felt this wasn’t the appropriate price or attitude and decided I would do it myself. I work as a helicopter pilot and have an airframe repairman license. I figured if I could rivet together an airplane safely, I could certainly perform this work on the Case. A quick call to Corky for the necessary tools, rivets and “how tos” and I began the work. I’m happy to report, it really is a pretty simple procedure, and in short order the needed rivets were removed, and the replacements were heated and set.
It was during this time I noticed issues with some of the flues. Some just didn’t feel right as I worked the flue brush in and out of them. I made an air pressure tool and found a number of the flues had holes. It seemed only right that I was going to get some hands-on experience at replacing flues as well. I figured modern boilers had flues, so a look in the Yellow Pages turned up a local shop that said they would take a look. When the repairman showed up he was all smiles, and said compared to swimming pool boilers and the like, this job looked like fun. With that kind of attitude, he was hired.
Page: << Previous 1
| 5 | 6
| Next >>