Boiler under construction
Legal requirements such as the Pressure Systems Regulations do not normally apply to persons operating equipment as a hobby but the Health and Safety Executive considers it good practice to provide the same standards of safety for hobby activities and as a result miniature railways should have in place a system of boiler inspection. The code normally followed in this respect is “The Examination & Testing of Miniature Steam Boilers” – current issue is the revised edition 2012. This code is published by the Model Engineering Liaison Group (MELG) and copies can usually be viewed or obtained through local model engineering societies. If any 71/4” Gauge Society member has difficulty in obtaining a copy they should contact our Secretary.
Our Society is represented on the above mentioned liaison group.
Full details of the boiler test procedure and the frequency that this is required can be found in the code. The Society is aware that most of our members requiring boilers to be tested obtain this service through their local model engineering club. Our Society is unable to appoint boiler inspectors to cover the whole country to duplicate the excellent service that is normally available at local club level, but we do have inspectors in certain areas and if any member has difficulty in securing a test it may be that the Society can assist – please contact our Secretary.
Usually insurance cover for miniature railways includes the condition that all steam locomotives in operation shall have a valid boiler certificate.
It should be noted that the Code mentioned above, whilst being compliant with the regulations as appropriate for a hobby activity, provides that miniature railways operating as a fully commercial activity cannot rely on tests carried out in accordance with this code and in such cases commercial testing is required.
It is recommended that members who are contemplating the construction of a boiler themselves, rather then a purchase from one of the recognised professional boiler makers, should contact the boiler inspector of their club at an early stage as there are stage inspections required during construction and advice can be obtained as to what is required. Even when purchasing a boiler commercially it is a good policy to check on what is required in accordance with the code to ensure that the boiler maker is aware of the standards required particularly with regard to the specification of the materials used and their traceability.
It should also be noted that all professionally built boilers constructed after 30th May 2002 should be constructed in accordance with the regulations that are in force at the time and must be CE marked. Boilers built commercially after this date that are not CE marked cannot be tested at Society or Club level in accordance with the above mentioned MELG Test Code.