Stationary Engine List

Playing Safe

| September/October 2002

Stationary Engine

It's been an eventful month for the members of the ATIS Stationary Engine Mailing List. One of our American List friends has been staying with us here in England, in for his third annual Industrial Heritage Tour of Britain. The tour has included three weekend engine shows in as many weeks, plus a varied selection of historic visits, engine sheds the length and breadth of the country, a hop across the Channel to Belgium and five days experiencing the total relaxation of travel at 3 mph on the canal system.

Other members of our group, however, have not been storing such pleasant memories, and someone suggested the warning tales be shared in GEM for the benefit of those who don't own computers - Listers are not afraid to share their mishaps if it helps someone else to avoid the same mistake.

The first close call took place in Australia as two members of our group were visiting with a collector. Names have been left out, as it is one thing to let 300 or so close friends know of your mistakes, yet another to share them with the entire readership of GEM.

Our host decided to give a demonstration of many of his models, full-sized engines and hot air stuff. Well, everything was going along great until we got to the Heinrici model hot air engine. He bends down and fires it up, and it ran perfectly for about three minutes and then stopped - unbeknownst to anybody. Someone noticed it had stopped, and with that our host raced across to the engine, bent down for a look and said, 'No wonder, the flame is out.' So guess what happened next? He picked up his flint gun, bent down to see what he was doing and pulled the trigger. WHOOOOOMPHA!

I know I shouldn't have laughed, but I couldn't help it. There he stood with very little eye lashes and no eyebrows at all and, I kid you not, smoke still rising from his hair on the top of his head.

Lesson #1: Be extra careful with flames around engines.

Yesterday I was trying to get my eight-ton 'Tampo' roller going. It didn't want to start so I cheated with a little ether. It still was un-cooperative, so I grabbed the coil wire and held it close to the vented oil filler cap. Yup, ether had gotten into the crankcase and all it was waiting for was a spark. Another lesson well learned.