HOW TO PREVENT BOILER EXPLOSIONS.
The records of boiler explosions in this country and in England, says The American Machinist, will show one thing very clearly, viz., that no amount of inspection will guard against the practices of dishonest boilermakers, or the incompetency of the man who has the care of the boiler. We do not say that thorough inspection will not prevent many explosions, when dishonest or incompetent work has been done, for there are many cases of malconstruction so plainly in sight that a careful inspector will see them at a glance; and competent inspection will find cases of deterioration from natural causes likely to result in disaster. Therefore it is of the first importance.
But the dishonest boilermaker has it in his power to hide defects in material and construction that will never be detected by any amount of inspection short of the destruction of the boiler.
Then improper care—or lack of care—in other words, an incompetent engineer, may, in a short time, bring about such conditions as will make explosion imminent.
In the first place—and it should always be first—the duty of a boiler user is to employ an honest boilermaker to construct his boilers. There are plenty such, although the prevailing opinion is that the dishonest ones predominate, Then he should employ a competent man to take charge of his boilers, and we believe the boilers should be submitted to frequent thorough inspection, for with the best of care a boiler is submitted to usage that in any other metallic structure would be termed destructive, and the skilled inspector, dealing with a great number of cases, may detect dangerous conditions outside any question of construction that may escape the attention of the most careful engineer. An engineer should, of course, himself inspect the boilers in his charge ; but as the physician requires counsel in critical cases, so the engineer should counsel with the inspector, for the use of a boiler always represents a critical case.
Boiler explosions would be rare indeed if the above-named conditions were observed. For, first, there is the care of the competent and honest boilermaker ; second, the care of the skilled engineer, and third, the care of the experienced inspector, all working to the same end, viz., the prevention of disaster. But the practice is, in too many instances, to buy the boiler of the man who will furnish it for the least money, attempting, perhaps, to hold him to good practice by restrictions which he finds it easy to evade, then to employ, under the title of engineer, the man who will work cheapest, and avoid inspection as a costly luxury. By the rule of contraries this makes a combination reasonably sure to bring about trouble sooner or later.