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Boilers & Accidents

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by johnofwessex, Sep 3, 2016.

  1. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    While there have been many 'boiler accidents' how have boilers behaved in accidents?

    When the Gresley 'Hush Hush' was being built there was some concern over how the water tube boiler might behave in a collision but have boilers ever failed following a collision?
     
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  2. williamfj2

    williamfj2 New Member

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    There is a photo in Red for Danger by Tom Rolt of an LNWR Precedent after an accident at Ditton Junction in which her boiler barrel was broken away from the firebox.
     
  3. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    It hadn't, although this is the common belief. The bottom of the barrel was pushed rearwards into the firebox throatplate and the steel bent to allow this, but the boiler didn't fail in that there was no resultant explosion. The belief that the top sheared away from the firebox is wrong.

    Many a boiler has suffered displaced fittings, including tubes if the deceleration and shock were sufficiently severe, allowing the steam and water to be expelled in minutes. The fire would then scorch the crown or sides, but as the pressure had been lost, no explosion followed.
     
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  4. Sir Nigel Gresley

    Sir Nigel Gresley New Member

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    Probably the last serious boiler incident was the explosion of the boiler of Deutsche Reichsbahn (East Germany) pacific 01 1516-2 at Bitterfeld on 27 November 1977 with express D567 Berlin - Leipzig, in which both footplate personnel were killed - their bodies ended-up on the station roof, and 7 bystanders were killed. The boiler turned through 180° about the cylinder block, and welded itself to the rails 40m in front of the remains of the loco. The contents of the firebox set fire to a passenger train on a neighbouring track, destroying two coaches. The crew had not taken the planned water-stop at Lutherstadt-Wittenberg, and had planned to take water at Bitterfeld. The loco had been rebuilt from 01 117 in 1963, at Meiningen.

    The whole incident is somewhat puzzling, as this was the return leg of D562 Leipzig - Berlin, on which the crew had already failed 03 2121-6, the "Planlok" (Bw Leipzig Hbf - West), on the outward journey, by allowing it to run dry, and blowing the firebox fusible plugs after leaving Lutherstadt-Wittenberg. This train continued to Berlin behind a 118 diesel. For the return working, the crew were given the standby loco 01 1516-2 (Bw Berlin-Ostbahnhof), on which they managed to do the same, but with serious consequences on the approach to Bitterfeld, when the firebox top became exposed due to the braking of the train. The fusible plugs did not melt on this occasion, as they were subsequently found to be ineffective due to excessive build-up of scale. There was hardly any coal in the tender, and the tender tank was empty!

    As a result of these incidents, all of the locos in Bw Leipzig-Hbf-West were thoroughly inspected, and all required a visit to Meiningen. 03 2137 was found to have 371 serious faults, and was immediately sent to Meiningen.

    Notably, the line was reopened within a few hours - imagine that today!

    Photos from East German News Agency (now defunct!)

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

     
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  5. dan.lank

    dan.lank Member

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    Flipping Nora...


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  6. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    I had taken the title to mean boiler failures caused by collisions or derailments, rather than boiler explosions as the caus. But extending to this, the last boiler 'explosion' in Britain was at Buxton on 11/11/21 involving B Class four-cylinder Compound 0-8-0 No. 134 of the LNWR. The safety valves couldn't lift due to incorrect assembly, and the pressure at the time was estimated at 600 p.s.i., or three times the working pressure. Firebox crowns down through insufficient water continued after this, although without major external damage. The last I am aware of was on 24/01/62 involving Stanier pacific 6238 near Bletchley. The loco did not derail. Strangely this class was involved in two other crown-down incidents, both to 6224, in 1940 at Carstairs (an inexperienced crew allowed the water level to drop too low) and 07/03/48 at Lamington, where one of the water gauges was too dirty to see the level, and the other was giving a false high reading.
     
  7. david1984

    david1984 Well-Known Member

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    Presumably the crew were aware of this long beforehand when the pressure gauge just kept climbing ?.
     
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  8. Jimc

    Jimc Part of the furniture

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    "Driver, the boiler pressure says 250psi"
    "Dratted thing must be broken, lad, the safety valves are set at 180psi. Look, its right on the stop, it must be broken."
     
  9. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    Pretty much. The needle was hard against the stop so the engine was continually booked for the pressure gauge reading incorrectly and was changed several times.

    http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/MoT_Buxton1921.pdf
     
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  10. david1984

    david1984 Well-Known Member

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    Very nasty, suppose Im judging it by standards today where a pressure gauge going up n away would set alarm bells ringing.
     
  11. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Thank you all for the responses

    What I find suprising is that the German crew was allowed to continue after dropping a fusible plug
     
  12. northernsteam

    northernsteam New Member

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    I seem to remember another reference in 'Red for Danger' with a locomotive showing all its boiler tubes burst? I don't think it was a result of an accident though. It rings a bell that it was in the Eastern Region perhaps? I could be completely wrong on this, expect someone will correct me.
     
  13. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    Forgot about this one. It does appear to be a boiler explosion following a collision. From Arthur Travena's Trains in Trouble Vol . 2

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. irwellsteam

    irwellsteam New Member

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    Didn't a number of S160s suffer boiler explosions in Britain during WW2? A few mentioned here
    http://www.lner.info/locos/O/s160.php
     
  15. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    There seems to be a distinction between crown sheet collapses and actual explosions.
     
  16. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    Firebox crowns down rather than a full explosion. There were three S160s which succumbed due to the unfamiliar operation of the water gauges.

    If the water level drops low enough to uncover the inner firebox crown, the crown becomes overheated to the point where it becomes 'plastic'. Normally, the water above removes the heat so the metal cannot be at a higher temperature than the water, despite the heat from the fire below. The situation is similar to allowing a pan on a stove to boil dry; while there is water inside all is well, but once dry the pan soon burns. The boiler though has a lot of pressure inside it, sufficient to force the firebox crown over the stays supporting it. The steam and water are then free to escape via the now open stay holes. The damage can be very extensive with the rush of steam now in the firebox forcing the grate down into the ashpan and lifting the rear of the boiler, derailing the loco and even forcing the boiler out of the frames, as in Germany.

    A boiler explosion is generally caused by corroded platework and / or excessive pressure, and is not occasioned by low water level. The Buxton incident was an example.

    Can I recommend 'Locomotive Boiler Explosions' by C.H. Hewison (1983) David & Charles ISBN 0 7153 8305 - well worth a read!
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
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  17. marshall5

    marshall5 Well-Known Member

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    Whilst the actual crown collapses were down to misreading gauge glasses (the shut offs were among a myriad of similar wheel valves on the manifold and could be inadvertently closed) there were some 'wartime economies' that made the S160's more susceptible to 'low water incidents'. The firebox plates were only 3/8" thick as new and the staying was inadequate so as the crown became 'plastic' the stays pulled through and the firebox collapsed. I believe those that remained in Italy were re-boxed with 7/16" plate and the S160 currently being restored in Alaska has followed suit along with improved staying.
    Ray.
     
  18. huochemi

    huochemi Well-Known Member Friend

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    That is what basically what Tourret says but I am not sure the thickness of the wrapper or the staying was unusual. Tourret added that there were only five threads in the plate - I think the S160s may have had 12tpi - and arguably this is exacerbated by the crown stays being riveted over rather than nutted. However, at random, I pulled the drawing of a South African S2, which shows a 3/8" wrapper and 11tpi threaded, riveted head crown stays. I find it hard to believe that Baldwin, Lima and ALCO were happy to deviate from standard stay spacing / factors of safety. I am more inclined to go with the theory that the problems were due to unfamiliarity with the water gauge and poor water treatment / inadequate washing out, causing localised overheating.
     
  19. Steve B

    Steve B Member

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    The NTSB report into a boiler failure at Gettysburg is interesting in regard to the design of the firebox. It appears that it had a mixture of straight thread and button head stays, so that if the crown sheet became uncovered then there would be a progressive failure. It appears that there were no fusible plugs by esign

    The report is here:- http://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-studies/Documents/SIR9605.pdf and the relevant section is on page 14

    Steve B
     
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  20. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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