How to get experience to take Steam Engineer's Test

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Jerry Christiansen, Jan 29, 2018.

  1. Jerry Christiansen

    Jerry Christiansen Mega Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Hi all,
    The title of this thread is a question we have all heard. Many of us have asked the same question. Not so many years ago the requirments to take the test were increased. A person needs more hours than when I took the test and must have a qualified person sign off on a 'punch list' of tasks preformed.

    The purpose of this thread is NOT to tell and re-tell stories about how we were turned away. Rather, the purpose is to discuss how we can make it better and help people get the experience they need to take the test.

    Recently a group of us were discussing how we could offer training and who our target auidence would be. Below is a summary of the discussion.

    Target audience - Steam School graduates. If this is going to work, we need to advertise to past graduates. At this year's Steam School we need to get the word out for next year.

    When - Steam School Weekend. If possible, this summer. Any time the current year's class is in the classroom, graduates could get time on engines. Even when the current class is on the engines, the graduates could hang around engines to listen, learn and share.

    Training - Offering all the items on the punch list in one weekend is not realistic. For example: Preparing an engine for inpspection. Boiler inspection usually happens before Steam School, a person needing this checked off needs to be around before the inspection happens..
    Items on the punch list that could be covered include: maintaining water level*, using petcocks to check water level, bringing an engine from cold to operating pressure, blow down and perhaps others depending on the engineers and the students.
    *Maintaining water level would include firing, whether it be with coal or wood, under load. We could have a couple engines belted up to Prony Brakes to do this.

    If this is going to work, we need engineers and students to buy into the idea and make a commitment. Asking engineers to show up when we don't know if students will come is a hard sell, so is asking students to make a commitment when we don't have any engines lined up.

    We need discussion so we can form a plan that will be brought to the Board for approval.

    What do you think?

    Jerry Christiansen
  2. Ned

    Ned Mega Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    I like where you are going with this Jerry. Most of the time while the new students are in class we end up sitting around boiling water just trying to entertain ourselves (some more easily entertain than others).
    And as far as getting the engines ready everyone should experience the joy of putting in hand hole gaskets in students or not especially if you have to drain the boiler acouple times so one can get as dirty and muddy as possible!!

    Seriously though I really think you are on to something

  3. cjmlarson

    cjmlarson Mega Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    The B&R along with the TnT sawmills run Friday and Saturday during Steam School. That has a total of five engines running for some of these things you have mentioned. So if the students come on Friday or the ones that need more time on engines for their affidavit, that is a good time to get more training from a lot of seasoned engineers.
    Jerry Christiansen likes this.
  4. craig mattson

    craig mattson Mega Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    I like the idea Jerry. Another thing we could look at doing is maybe hang a couple "education days" during the summer. I've heard from some people that were trying to get experience that only doing it once it twice a year it's easy to forget. Maybe doing something like that 2 or 3 times a summer. It would be a sizable commitment for those offering their engines for the experience but it could be a good opportunity to get more people involved.
  5. Jerry Christiansen

    Jerry Christiansen Mega Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Ned, Clayton and Craig,

    Thanks for your input. We need to keep ideas coming.
    Do any Steam School graduates (of future graduates) have questions or comments?
    What do some other Steam Engineer/Operators think?

    Jerry Christiansen
    craig mattson likes this.
  6. edin

    edin 28 Minneapolis #7700 Crew WMSTR Lifetime Member

    28 Minneapolis #7700 is usually up and running all of steam school weekend and, when the students aren't around, we're always up for students getting some time firing under load, helping steam up the engine, etc.
  7. Jerry Christiansen

    Jerry Christiansen Mega Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Hi again all,

    A few steam engineers has spoken up and offered to provide time.

    Do we have any people looking for time that are interested? As Ned said in Post #2, "we end up sitting around boiling water just trying to entertain ourselves". If we are going to ask the engineers offer services, we need to have students showing up.

    Any interest?

    Jerry Christiansen
  8. Tia Braseth

    Tia Braseth WMSTR Lifetime Members WMSTR Lifetime Member

    I'm in...there's a lot to learn and it's so easy to get rusty between engine time.

  9. mholm

    mholm Lifetime member

    As an alumni from 2017, I’d say steam school weekend would be great! I’m hoping to be there, God willing, and if the creek don’t rise.

    As to Craig’s post about other weekends, I’d think that if there were engines that would be steamed up, could a message board be devised to say “Ole Olson will be steaming up on weekend ‘X’ if anyone is looking for time?”

    Just a thought,
    Mike Holmgren
    craig mattson and M Kerkvliet like this.
  10. Jerry Christiansen

    Jerry Christiansen Mega Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Hi all,

    As stated in the first post, I talked with a couple different groups of people seeking advice and input about this idea. Then I started this thread. Recently someone asked if the Board of Directors (BoD) was aware of what was going on. Oops, that is where this should have started!

    At the last BoD meeting I presented the idea to the Board. They asked some good questions, most of which had already been talked about in the small groups. When the discussion was over, they said that Steam School Weekend seems like a good fit and to proceed.

    The number of participants was discussed. We decided that 15 - 20 people would be a good number to aim for. For this year, our cap is going to be 20 people. So far, two people (Tia and Mike) have expressed interest. That means 18 spots are left. Anyone that is interested should respond on this thread or send me a PM. I will add their name to the list.

    A 'course outline' with times and meeting places will be developed and posted prior to Steam School Weekend.

    Please keep questions and comments coming.

    Jerry Christiansen

  11. curtis rice

    curtis rice WMSTR Lifetime Members WMSTR Lifetime Member

    You can add me the list I'll be there.

    craig mattson likes this.
  12. Jerry Christiansen

    Jerry Christiansen Mega Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Hi Curt,

    Thanks for the interest and the reply. You are number 3 on the list.

    Jerry Christiansen
    craig mattson likes this.
  13. mholm

    mholm Lifetime member

    Chiming in to say my dad, Jeff Holmgren, will now be there that weekend, and would like to be added to the list.

    Mike Holmgren
  14. Ned

    Ned Mega Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member


    Do you need / want experience on a steam engine?
    Do you enjoy getting muddy / greasy /sooty?
    Do you enjoy moving wood from point A to point B and sometimes to points C and D?
    Have you ever used a Cresent wrench as a hammer?
    Do you own gloves or know someone that you can steal a pair of their gloves?
    Have you ever gotten more anti seize on yourself than on the piece your actually trying to get anti seize on?
    Do you find bibs fashionable?
    Can you spell Case?

    If you have answered yes, no, maybe, or no comment to any of the above questions. We will be getting the 75hp Case ready the weekend before steam school more than like Saturday June 9th.

    Apply in person at the steam engine shed located on the western end on the sandbox or hunt down a black Toyota pickup with a pair of Case eagles in the back window. Or by appointment only at the Case compound in Nedville right off the first exit on the Snob Hill interstate.

    Erik "Ned" Mars
  15. Jerry Christiansen

    Jerry Christiansen Mega Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member


    I have your dad on the list. Thanks for the message.


    Nice help wanted ad. Let us know how that goes for you.

    Everybody else,

    The URL below should take you to MN Historic Boiler License Affidavit and Check List:

    Jerry Christiansen
  16. Sanders E.

    Sanders E. WMSTR Lifetime Members WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Hello all!

    Rick and I are planning on having the Port Huron ready to get things checked off of the Bolier Liscense Checklist on the Saturday of Steam School (the 16th of June). Our plan is as follows:

    1) Drain boiler and remove handhole gaskets (end of season shutdown, the sadest tasks of the year :(...) - this will aid in checking off the last point of the checklist for 'students'
    2) Install handhole gaskets and fill boiler (first fire of the season, the happiest time of the year! :bannana:)
    3) Put a few sticks in the firebox and try to get them buring
    4) Complete as many checklist items as possible before the students are let out of Steam School 2018

    We might not be the best operators, the best teachers or the best looking guys around, but we will try our best to help people get boxes checked on their affidavit forms and hopefully we will all learn something along the way! We are looking forward to seeing new faces and chatting with familiar ones over the course of this always fun weekend!!

    I'm not a daily form checker here so if anyone needs to get a hold of me, you can call or text at (701)-793-0610, and don't be afraid to leave a message.

  17. Jerry Christiansen

    Jerry Christiansen Mega Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Hi Sanders,

    Thanks to you, Rick and the rest of the Port Huron crew for volunteering for Saturday morning. I am sure people will wonder where to meet. Why don't we meet at the Red Prony Brake at about 9:00am. That should give people time to eat breakfast and get ready.

    So far, I have 4 people on the list. If anyone else is interested, they need to speak up REAL SOON.

    Here is the list of tasks a person needs to check off:
    1. Bring boiler up to operating pressure from a cold start
    2, Maintain boiler water level using both types of feeding devices
    3. Monitor water level with tri-cocks
    4. Test safety valve manually while under pressure
    5. Blow-down boiler, including sight glass
    6. Prepare boiler for inspection, Ultrasonic and Hydrostatic
    7. Belt engine up to pulley
    8. Operate engine on level, uphill, and downhill terrain
    9. Preform shutdown of engine (emergency)
    10. Drain and clean boiler for storage

    Of the 10 items #6 looks like a difficult one to do on that Saturday. #8 and #7 (especially #7) would depend on the operator skills. Perhaps those skills could be practiced Sunday morning.

    Jerry Christiansen
    Sanders E. likes this.
  18. Tia Braseth

    Tia Braseth WMSTR Lifetime Members WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Prony Brake at 9! See you Saturday!

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