Seam Locomotive Boilers

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Seam Locomotive Boilers
Posted by pajrr on Sunday, January 21, 2018 3:12 PM

Hi Everyone, Was steel ever used for locomotive boilers? If so, when did it start replacing iron? Thanks for your help.

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Posted by timz on Sunday, January 21, 2018 3:34 PM

Did any all-new US locomotive built after 1900 have an iron boiler?

If an 1870 locomotive had an iron boiler shell, would that be wrought iron or what? How does wrought iron's tensile strength compare with steel?

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, January 21, 2018 3:37 PM

All modern boilers are steel, and have been since the working metallurgy of steel composition and treatment for the various forming operations was established.  As you may know, some of the metallurgical experiments into advanced alloys, both here and in places in Europe, were recognized as dramatic failures, and there was an extended appraisal process starting in the Thirties for proper fusion-welded shells that culminated in a vertical annealing oven of heroic size at Alco in 1947 ... just in time for the great end of big steam construction, but too early to be kept around for Alco's corporate transformation to a nuclear steam-generator company in the later Fifties.

Interestingly, most staybolts in fireboxes remained good-quality iron and not steel, and to this day there are discussions in the ESC of the National Board about the proper form and welding of "better" designed steel stays, including the infamous and potentially difficult fillet-welded designs.

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Posted by Penny Trains on Sunday, January 21, 2018 7:02 PM

Boiler rolling at Norfolk and Western's Roanoke Shops.

Big Smile  I'm Cuckoo For Choo Choo Stuffs!  Big Smile

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, January 21, 2018 10:14 PM


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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, January 21, 2018 10:17 PM

The bigger problem with wrought iron is the tendency to introduce lamellar faults when the plate is rolled.  In the days before practical NDT you can imagine some of the problems these and other inclusions/stress raisers could produce.  This includes issues with seams and the problems with punched vs. properly reamed-to-profile rivet holes.

Cast iron is NOT something for typical 'Stephenson' locomotive boiler construction, even though you find it in strange places like the sine headers of early water tube boilers.  A moment's reflection will tell you why.

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Posted by 54light15 on Sunday, January 21, 2018 11:50 PM

Penny Trains, thanks for the photos- you can see equipment like that at Meiningen, Germany where they roll steel for locomotive boilers. Their open house is every September and I'm going back this year. Greatest day of my life was visiting that place since my divorce was final!

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