Sectioning a steam locomotive boiler


We sometimes get asked to cut some unusual items, and for those of us who have ever played with trains as a kid, this job was interesting – Sectioning a miniature steam locomotive boiler.

When we were contacted by the customer to provide a sawing service for cutting a steam engine boiler longitudinally however, we did think this was going to stretch our resources and ingenuity to the limit, not to mention the overhead crane! Once the specification of the job was received, and we saw the actual boiler, it took but a moment before we said, yup, we can cut it.

Sectioning steam engine boiler setup on bandsaw
Due to the unusual shape of the boiler, which was supplied without the engines chassis, we had to improvise some fixturing to keep it steady and movement free during the sawing process. Sawing interrupted sections like this can cause more then the usual amount of shocks and movement of the job as the blade intermittently snags internal structures at awkward angles. Often as not, this can strip a blade if a tooth is pulled into a void, such as a tube, but the blade gullet is hooked up on the tube wall. Without a proper cutting action from the hardened blade tip, this can result in either the tearing out of the tube (or internal structure such as a web or gusset) or the teeth on the blade becoming damaged or torn off.

Steam engine boiler fixtured on saw
Once securely clamped to the saw bed, and after ensuring the job is set correctly to the dimensions or markings specified by the customer, we can have the job passed off by the inspector, and start cutting.


Steam engine boiler sawing
Once sawn, the two halves were un-clamped and one dropped on it’s side to reveal the inside of the boiler. In this case, there were a number of internal structures, and a lot of rust, but nothing special in terms of materials. The cutting was clean, with no run off (as can happen when sectioning voided sections).

Steam engine boiler sectioning
Steam engine boiler sawn up
The job, once checked for conformity to the supplied specifications is then loaded onto (or into) either supplied containers or as in this case, a pallet, ready for banding securely and delivery back to the customer.

Steam engine boiler finished