Author Topic: Boiler standards  (Read 2448 times)

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Offline jamiepage

Boiler standards
« on: Aug 22 2017 20:19 »
 Two years ago, this was my last post on this subject, and the point where I left G3S in frustration that they were making unnecessary complications to the testing of SMALL boilers, and for no intelligible reason. They rejected the idea of using the experience and expertise that had been built up by 16mm Assoc and G1MRA, and preferred to insist on an MELG- type regime more suitable for larger boilers.

You're right, it didn't come from you, it was an official response from the G3S. It quite clearly shut down the possibility for change by re- affirming their intention to continue treating Small boilers the same as Large.
Again, I was grateful for your communications, but I took the society message as the statement of policy.

My frustration was in not having been given a valid reason to reject my proposal- by valid, I mean I had variously been told it's illegal (it's not),the insurers wouldn't allow it (wrong), it's dangerous (really?). Still haven't.
I would have been very happy to address those points of view and present a more fleshed out report, (which could have been rejected I accept) but as you see from the response, and the clamour on here, there was clearly no appetite for any change.

I have to say that sort of attitude ( and I am not pointing the finger at you here, you have stood up and debated), is likely to do G3 a lot more harm than the witterings of a solitary old fool.

G3 should be capitalising on its unique position sat as it is between smaller scale scenic railwaying and larger scale engineering. It will benefit immensely if it learns to look inquisitively in both directions and I firmly believe G1 and 16mm Assoc are doing Small boilers right. Look at the membership numbers.
For small locos, I believe the engineering norms of G1 and 16mm are probably more appropriate than Martin Evan's type norms. But G3S needs to provide the environment in which that sort of thing can prosper. (Nothing to stop the super detailed masterpiece as well, though of course).
I would love to see Ian's superb newsletter full of small articles on say an electric water gauge, a small boiler design, simplified reversible valve gear etc, just as G1MRA mag. does.

Finally, if there are any lurkers watching, don't be put off G3 by my ramblings. It comes from a great desire in seeing G3 develop and prosper because it really is an excellent scale. So stop lurking and dive in. Buy a wagon kit or something.'

It now seems that the combined  exerpertise and efforts of those two organisations will shortly result in MELG agreeing a new code for SMALL boilers- pretty much exactly what the two associations had been doing for years.
If this does come to pass, I hope (for the sake of G3 in general), that the Society who purports to encourage interest and participation in the building and running of scenic G3 model railways will now accept them as safe, legal, and exactly what the insurers have been happy with for years.

Offline John Candy

Re: Boiler standards
« Reply #1 on: Aug 22 2017 20:52 »
Hello Jamie,

Welcome have been away for far too long!

The G3S requirement seems illogical when there is no compelling reason for repeated testing <3 bar litre boilers .... it certainly deters me from bothering with live steam and is an inconvenience for those with GRS type of low pressure locos. I can understand testing of new boilers to ensure integrity of build but how many "small boiler" explosions have occurred over the past 30 years (in any scale, including stationary and road traction engines) and how many have been injured by them? Probably none!
If there were a real risk, you can bet that risk averse insurers would not be granting exemptions!


My fellow Members, ask not what your Society can do for you, ask what you can do for your Society.

Offline jamiepage

Re: Boiler standards
« Reply #2 on: Aug 22 2017 21:36 »
Thank you John.
It wasn't a two year sulk, honest!
I lost then couldn't find my password for most of that period.
I don't want to knock the G3S either, particularly. However, I do care about the furtherance of G3 and insisting on unnecessary checking, to be carried out by approved personnel only and with approved equipment only , seems to be parochial institutionalism (!) purely for the sake of it.
As you say, the regular popping of small boilers never has become one of those familiar sounds of summer, alongside bees, leather on willow, and sizzling sausages.
Anyway, let's hope it all works out.

Offline IanT

Re: Boiler standards
« Reply #3 on: Aug 22 2017 22:32 »
Hallo Jamie, welcome back.

I don't want to re-open this debate but the Society has been a member of the Southern Federation for many years and for many G3 members it is useful that their G3 Boiler Certificates are accepted by any MES track they visit.

A recent article (in ME) by Peter Squire, Secretary of the SFMES stated that the "new Boiler Test Code will have been published by November....[and that] The basic principles of boiler examination have not changed but there are bound to be some new 'do's and dont's' tucked in there somewhere".

However Keith Bucklitch (of 16mm/G1 fame) has suggested elsewhere that discussions have taken place with SFMES - so I guess we will have to wait and see whether anything in this area has been agreed.


Nothing's ever Easy - At least the first time around.

Offline jamiepage

Re: Boiler standards
« Reply #4 on: Aug 22 2017 22:47 »
Thank you Ian, and hello again.
Likewise let's not go over old ground- except to point out, in response to your point (!),  that many G1MRA and 16mm loco owners are also members of ME clubs.
Those members have to, and do, have their boilers tested to the blanket MELG regs. Not a problem, nor a change, for those that need or want it.
Importantly however, all other members who have no association with a local ME club do not have unnecessary testing imposed on them just because some need or want it.
Those members are also fully insured for society activity, including holding their own GTGs, without the need to satisfy unnecessary regs. It's called flexibility. (And safe, legal and insurable).

It's a shame G3S never saw the potential advantages; perhaps soon it will be overtaken by events.


Offline cabbage

Re: Boiler standards
« Reply #5 on: Aug 23 2017 11:33 »

Speaking as the newest Boiler Tester for the the G3S I have studied the "Green Book" long and hard. It is very much biased to "classical" boiler designs such as HG and LBSC. As such I can find no problem with this although the more modern boiler types are omitted, I would like a section on water and firetube boilers -as used in the "Project" "Venture" and my own preference for the "Brotan" style. There are no entries for gas burner regulators as fed from boiler pressure steam. This is I feel a serious omission given the rising use of gas powered locos. Nor is there a section for pressure testing and construction of Gas tanks -another omission.

The "Three BAR Litre" rule is I believe useless at our scale.

Most G3 steam locos of classical design use a 6 BAR working pressure which would give them a boiler size of 0.5Litres. Using the HG mantra then 0.016litres would have to be evaporated within the 0.5litre volume with 645cm2 of heating surface... The only boiler design which could remotely approach that would be a "Pumped Monotube".

I look forward to sitting down in my sofa with the new release of the "Green Book"!



Offline jamiepage

Re: Boiler standards
« Reply #6 on: Aug 23 2017 12:23 »

'The "Three BAR Litre" rule is I believe useless at our scale.'

That is an interesting perspective from G3S. One I utterly, utterly dispute, and find rather depressing, although I guess I'm not surprised.

Some of my pre- grouping locos have/ will have boilers far smaller than many G1/ 16mm locos. (Most will have a Project or Forsyth type boiler.)
Tell them the rule is useless.
Or have I misunderstood? Does 'useless' refer to an inability of such boilers to pull a driver and passenger around a raised ME track? If so, then I have indeed misunderstood what G3S was supposed to be about.

However, what G3 does is it's business not mine, just so long as it doesn't actually make it difficult for the rest of us to self- insure G3 models, or have them insured via membership of other Societies.

Will it hold out for the 'old ways' if MELG actually does  accept Small Boiler regs along the lines of well established G1MRA/ 16mm?
Or will it eventually accept those rules are indeed quite safe, legal, and insurable? Perhaps it might recognise a Project boiler, or similar, is not actually 'useless' in a toy train after all,  even if the gauge is 2 1/2in rather than 1 3/4.
It doesn't sound likely though!

In the meantime, I will continue to buy G1 type boilers from commercial manufacturers with a hyd certificate, and thereafter record an annual safety inspection. I will still not be annually driving to a Society inspector to have it pumped up on approved equipment just to receive an unnecessary piece of paper, and my boilers will continue to be  completely insured.
I cannot however, were I a member, participate in a G3S GTG. Does that promote G3?


ps I really do not want to argue again (4 locked threads is enough!); let me just flag up that there MAY be a change coming with MELG regs looking more like G1MRA/ 16mm for Small Boilers.
IF that happens, perhaps G3S will rethink its opposition to them.

Offline Andy B

Re: Boiler standards
« Reply #7 on: Aug 23 2017 14:19 »
I share your frustration, Jamie.
To contradict the opinion that 'The "Three BAR Litre" rule is useless at our scale' -
It is just as reasonable to state that a boiler of >3 bar litres is overkill  for small locos in our scale.
For scenic use, > 80psi (5.5 bar) is uneccessary - and 60 psi (4 bar) as perfectly adequate.

For those wanting to passenger haul, build to 'classical' designs which were intended for passenger hauling, or build larger locos - then there is no choice; you have a boiler that is >3 bar-litres and/or want to run at a ME club track, it must be tested accordingly.
But why tar all builders with the same brush?

Like Jamie, I struggle to understand why it seems to be so difficult to accept the two schemes within G3. But let's see what the new MELG release brings! Maybe there will be a new world waiting by the time I actually get a live steam loco in a running state.....


Offline jamiepage

Re: Boiler standards
« Reply #8 on: Aug 23 2017 14:41 »
Thanks Andy. How are you, by the way?

Forgive me if this doesn't work but I hope I've uploaded a photo of a current G3 loco under construction

This next photo should show it's boiler, a G1 Project type. It was difficult to arrange it to prove a point, but I hope this photo shows the boiler 'fits like a glove'.

(The paper wrapped around it is the manufacturer's hyd cert.)

I will not be taking it to a local ME track to attempt to sit behind it, but I will use it for scenic railwaying, for which its 60 psi will be more than adequate.

Bar litre??  Less than 1.5.

Offline IanT

Re: Boiler standards
« Reply #9 on: Aug 23 2017 14:57 »
Jamie, I am no longer involved in G3S Committee matters, so do not what any future policy might be.

But if I were to guess, I think the Society will probably stay with the Southern Federation and with whatever they decide to do in this area. Exactly the same boiler regulations are of course required by the Northern Fed, Midland Fed and 7.1/4" GS - so this is certainly not just a Gauge '3' thing.

For anyone not familiar with the "Green Book" (and I'm sorry Jamie - but you appear to be one of them) - the requirement for NEW small boilers (<3bl) is initially the same as for NEW large boilers, with a 2 x Working Pressure (WP) hydraulic test of the 'shell' - followed by a 1.5 x WP test once boiler fittings are in place. These hydraulic tests are for life (unlike >3BL boilers) and do not need to be repeated, unless modifications or repairs to the boiler occur. There is an annual "Steam Test" required (essentialy a visual inspection) and currently they are undertaken by an Inspector authorised by the relevant Society or Club.

I believe it is this latter aspect of small boiler testing that you object to. In practice I don't really see the problem, as most G3S GTGs usually have a Society Inspector present and the steam test is basically a visual inspection and very easily done. A phone call can usually confirm if an Inspector will be present - no test equipment is required for a steam test.

The Society only seeks to regulate it's own GTGs - so does not require an owner to have inspections for private use. There is certainly no need to drive long distances every year to have your boiler "pumped up". If you are attending a G3 GTG then, as I've stated, there will very likely be a G3S Inspector present who can witness your steam up (a phone call in advance could confirm this) - so what is the problem in reality?

I am very sorry that this disturbs you so much (as it obviously does) but I've not heard this raised as an issue at any G3S GTG I've attended.

Ralph - I suspect that gas tanks and associated 'bits' are going to be one of the areas addressed in the new 2017 'Book' - so we will have to wait and see. Personally, I don't really understand your point about different boiler types, if the boiler is a "pressure vessel" then it requires testing. I accept that some boilers are not pressure vessels per se (for instance so called 'flash' boilers) but you mentioned 'Project' and 'Venture' and as far as I'm aware (whatever their heat source or type of heating surface) their boilers are still pressure vessels.

Andy - if you don't want to run your locos at 80psi - then don't, no one will force you to do so. A lower working pressure will help some loco's come under 3BL - which of course is a somewhat arbitrary number but some value is required to differentiate between "small" and "large" - assuming that we are all agreed that there should be different rules for smaller boilers vs larger ones.

Workshop time I think.


Nothing's ever Easy - At least the first time around.

Offline John Candy

Re: Boiler standards
« Reply #10 on: Aug 23 2017 15:26 »
This discussion is becoming convoluted!

In simple terms and for the avoidance of doubt, is the following scenario correct?

Member "A" turns up at G3S arranged function with a "small boiler" loco which has the manufacturer's test certificate (for the sake of an example, issued 5 years earlier) but it has not any more recent test certificates.

The loco is steamed in the presence of a G3S "inspector" and, if it appears safe, then it can be run without a boiler test and consequent certificate.

A simple "Yes" or "No" answer, please.

My fellow Members, ask not what your Society can do for you, ask what you can do for your Society.

Offline jamiepage

Re: Boiler standards
« Reply #11 on: Aug 23 2017 16:06 »
Yes, you're absolutely correct, it does disturb me. I disagree utterly with unnecessary embellishment within regulation, especially when it is based on illogicality.
It undermines confidence in the regs and causes workarounds and unintended side effects.
To impose additional burdens on owners of small boilers beyond that required by the insurers or that have been empirically proven by the two largest Associations involved with small scale live steam scenic railwaying is unnecessary.
End of story.
The reasons given before by G3S for embellishment have been illogical and factually incorrect.

Clearly, the requirement to check attendance of a G3S inspector and then to attend a GTG is no problem to you, but that's not really the point.
To some future potential members, like it or not, it may be. How about someone with travelling restrictions who might have toyed with the idea of ripping up his G1 track, selling his G1 steamers and going G3 with the idea of organising an occasional G3 GTG.
How is he supposed to be enthused by the complications imposed by G3S beyond those by G1MRA?
I think I'm right in saying he would be covered by the insurance of 16mm Assoc (if a member) or G1MRA (if a member) so long as all the locos had initial hyd certs and self certified/ buddy checked annual inspections- but not by the leading body of his new gauge. Is that welcoming?

But, I fully accept that what G3S does is up to it, and its members; and it's none of my business so long as they don't make insurance more difficult for the rest of us.

And maybe the insurance requirements will indeed move in G3S' direction anyway, although I sincerely hope not.

Offline John Candy

Re: Boiler standards
« Reply #12 on: Aug 23 2017 16:53 »
But, I fully accept that what G3S does is up to it, and its members

I don't ever remember having been asked for my opinion ...... has this ever been put to the members for a vote?

The G3S should be run by its members for the benefit of ALL members, not just to satisfy the aspirations/opinions of a particular group.
My fellow Members, ask not what your Society can do for you, ask what you can do for your Society.

Offline jamiepage

Re: Boiler standards
« Reply #13 on: Aug 23 2017 17:23 »
Please, I won't make any more postings on this subject, but below is an extract from current G1MRA documentation concerning small boilers.

'I will describe how to carry out a safety inspection as a separate paper as in this article, I wish to describe the use of the new documentation drawn up in collaboration with the 16mm Association.  One result of the common documentation is that boiler inspectors for one organisation may inspect boilers for members of the other organisation.  A second result is that persons other than an ‘approved boiler inspector’ may perform the safety inspection.  Boiler ‘inspectors’ will therefore mainly be involved in hydraulic testing and education, regular safety inspections can be performed on a ‘buddy basis’.  IE. ‘I will inspect your boiler(s) and complete the documentation, you can examine mine.’  The law (in the form of the PSSR2000) requires regular inspection and documentation.  Whilst, as hobbyists, we do not have to comply with PSSR2000, it does contain useful advice which we can take on board for guidance.  Some have objected to this ‘buddy basis’, expressing concern that the inspection may not be performed adequately.  My response is that we have a duty to educate members what to look for, and that by placing their signature on the document, they are accepting responsibility for the standard of care they are required to demonstrate in the inspection.  It is not compulsory for us all to become boiler examiners.  We also have to consider the position of those members who live many miles from an ‘approved boiler inspector’ and have difficulty in obtaining regular hydraulic tests'.

I hope they don't mind the snip.

It neatly encapsulates the joint working relationship that allows a member of either large organisation (G1MRA/ 16mm Assoc) full access to all  boiler inspectors from BOTH organisations, a relationship I suggested G3S could look to perhaps join. No interest shown.

It also reflects a very member orientated approach, which came up with a simple and pragmatic solution to the annual inspections for the benefit of  ALL members, including those who may be more remote than others  - a solution, by the way, still in excess of the mandated insurance minimum by also satisfying insurance 'recommendations'.

G3S didn't go that way, but stuck with MELG, a decision which apparently suited 'most' members, and so require an annual attendance to a GTG because their annual inspection (described above) must be carried out only by an approved G3S inspector. Apparently 'most' of the membership also approve of that.

So be it, but is G3S really looking to attract new members with that inward looking approach? Maybe the attendees at a particular GTG did not find it onerous to attend when asked, but isn't that missing the point?

No more from me.


Offline IanT

Re: Boiler standards
« Reply #14 on: Aug 23 2017 17:24 »

Green Book - Para 14.5 (Small Boilers) "Test Certificates supplied by a commercial boiler maker are acceptable as evidence of a satisfactory hydraulic test provided that the test values are equivalent to those indicated in paragraph 14.3" - so the short answer to your question is yes.


I am not going to debate you on this subject, you are of course entitled to your own views on this matter, as are others, including myself. I've seen examples of your work and have every respect for you as a fellow modeller.

However, what I object to - and will challenge - is when you make misleading and inaccurate statements on a public forum linked so closely to Gauge 3. I quote from your recent post:

"I will still not be annually driving to a Society inspector to have it pumped up on approved equipment just to receive an unnecessary piece of paper"

You don't need to and nor does anyone else for the reasons I've already given. I know you have a bee in your bonnet about this matter and I don't have a problem with that but please keep it factual and don't just go spouting off.


Nothing's ever Easy - At least the first time around.