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An antique steel boiler

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Here is an antique (model ?)  boiler received as a gift, undoubtedly rather old and rusted, made entirely out of steel, a very crude construction, of which I do not manage to trace the origin… nor the use.
It is large, about 3.3 litre (3.5 quart) and heavily built, almost 10 kg.
A thick steel tube of 160 mm dia, with bottom and top ends flanged and riveted by a line of large rivets, and crossed by 4 small flue tubes grouped in the middle of the end plates, obviously too small for an efficient boiler.
This boiler is simply inserted on a base made of steel too, posed on 4 nice forged feet, with a furnace’s door (broken, but that I have just repaired), with ample place for any kind of burner able to heat all this mass of metal.
Tapped holes in the tube and top end plate are well positioned to receive all necessary equipment for a “sterling” boiler.
What intrigues me, it looks crude and made by an amateur, able to pose large steel rivets (I had to change a rivet on the fire door, really a physical job).
I do not see how the sealing is carried out, apart from the rivets.

It is certainly not the boiler which I was dreaming about, but now I have it, and if recoverable, this piece could be appropriate for a large vertical steam engine I made 10 years ago, witch, up to now run only on air.

steam guy willy:
Interesting item and a nice project  love it .........

That 'is' interesting.

It's really too bad that it's history is lost.

Zephyrin....this is a very interesting old boiler...[the design however :old: may not really be all that crude] .........I am pretty sure I understand the method of construction however offer....

Underside View of Boiler with the lower base insert ring & disc to the boiler shell
a. 4 x vertical fire tubes - expanded or flared sealing
b. 4 x vertical boiler stays  - riveted or expanded sealing
c. the lower base insert disc is double riveted with every second rivet blind or countersunk externally to the boiler shell
d. the lower base insert disc ring is double riveted to the boiler shell

e. Supporting base shell confirms 3 of [4?] longer rivets that would support a fire grate
f. the boiler top plate to outer shell construction appears to be the double riveted construction
g. you have identified M8x1 and M10x1 tapping's etc
h. the water tightness integrity from original construction would have been by mechanical metal to metal chalking between the boiler top & bottom plates to the shell

To test the boiler opens Pandora's box

Any engineer engaged to check & certify the boiler would need to
i. ultrasonic determination of the boiler shell wall thickness, together with the 4 x fire tube wall integrity so also the determination of the tube thickness. The boiler top plate & bottom plate thickness would also need to be confirmed
j. from this, boiler hoop strength calculations could be made.....[without material Grade nomination, a derated calculation would be applied] thus to confirm firstly a working pressure, then nominate a test pressure

If the boiler were for your own personal use and not for public exhibition, you could consider the following simple test
k. add a steam safety valve pre set to say 2 Bar to the boiler top plate + a filling port, a calibrated 6 Bar burden type pressure  gauge + a water gauge to the boiler shell

l. fill the boiler to ~~ 75% of the shell volume with water, and gradually apply heat [pancake ceramic burner] to the underside of boiler base ....... [see reference from Paul Gough Reply #9 on: Today at 11:28:00 PM]

l. To perform the hydrostatic test, fill the  boiler to 100% and bleed all air, then gradually apply heat to expand the volume of water.....thus easier to detect any leakage than with a small displacement hand pump which may not be capable of attaining  a pressure increase due to internal leakage

m. having a $20.00 digital pyrometer would be an asset in the constant temperature increase accompanied with the viewing of the pressure gauge

:Director: Stand back & see what happens................

Good luck.......... Derek  ..... :cheers:

NB...the above is only an assessment and not a recommendation in any form of boiler pressure testing procedure. Testing of any pressure vessel must be made in accordance with your Local  State or Government requirements 


--- Quote ---It's really too bad that it's history is lost.
--- End quote ---

Zee : I feel exactly the same each time I have an old and rusted tool in hands, simply getting older?

Anyway, I guess that it is not too much to ask to this piece just a few steam up as a retirement !

Derek: Thank you for this detailed answer, you are right on all the points raised!
Indeed, the base plate seems to be riveted to an angle bent in circle, (I cannot do that, with 3mm steel , I’m not strong enough !) and then riveted to the boiler shell. The rivets appear to be hammered by hand  - this fellow was really beefy -   the force required (about 8 mm for the rounded head and 5mm stem) must be absolutely huge, considering the effort I did to replace an hinge and a rivet on the fire door…

As regard the burner, yes a coal grate and an ashes tray are easy to install, and I would like to have a go, but for now, a short run with a butane gas burner would be certainly an easier goal.…


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