Gentleman crawls into boiler of steam locomotive


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When I was a kid there was a park close to my house that had an old, decommissioned locomotive just parked there for kids to play on. It had so many nooks and crannies to squeeze in to and explore - it was a really inspiring playground prop. I think the boiler itself was sealed shut, but I remember thinking how great it would be to get that hatch open…

I’m sure such machine would never be allowed on a playground nowadays. Sad.

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This was the park near my home…Also long since taken away.


Confined spaces! Eye protection! Hardhats! Gloves!

Life was not so taken for granted back then.

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Yeah, we had that in a neighbouring town last year. The engine stood on a playground for decades, then suddenly it wasn’t ‘safe enough’ anymore and was fenced in.

Stuff like this always make me wonder how the hell I survived my childhood.

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I actually just did a little research and the train I grew up playing on is still there, but it has been turned in to a “static display” and kids are no longer allowed to play on it. Something about asbestos or something. Mesothelioma, schmeshothelioma, I say.

My 10-year old self has just swooned.

The same thing happened to the (previously awesome) steam engine in a park in Lawrence, Kansas. My father and I complain about this change every time we’re home for the holidays. And this, despite the fact that he actually fell off the thing and broke his arm as a child.

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Could you please include a link to the content you’re sharing in this 15 minute video ?


To be picky, he climbs into the firebox (as per the article text) rather than the boiler (as per the headline). He tests the boiler indirectly by tapping.

Anyone into this topic should check out Fred Dibnah.

Edited. It should now start in the right place.

A very interesting vid, but wow, was the anthropomorphism tiresome.

I saw a documentary from the same era about assembling engines, from the foundry to the factory, and it’s amazing how many people you see wearing ties – not just the foremen, but guys with wrenches.

I guess it takes a proper gentleman to build a proper steam engine.

Many years ago a writer for our paper did a recurring series about the crew overhauling an F-111 at McClellan AFB. One of the pieces was about cleaning the fuel tanks, which required a technician to crawl inside. It was one of those jobs that had to be done in 10-minute shifts because they would get high so quickly from residual fumes.

I thought it was awesome that when they were done, (after about 6 installments on the series), they asked the writer if there was anything else he needed for the story, and he said, half jokingly, “How about a ride, you know, just to polish off the story and all.”
They went for it. People in the newsroom were SO jealous…

Wow. 6,000 workers in 19 departments around the clock. Rebuild engines in 7 days, 5 too paint. The conditions, no gloves, respirators, hard hats? The turn over of general labour must of been high. “YES. We are always hiring. Step right up.”

In the awesome 1964 WWII film, “The Train”, with Burt Lancaster, at one point Lancaster’s character is in a locomotive repair shop and has to pour a new babbitt metal bushing into its race on a steam engine connecting rod, then he files it clean, picks it up with a hoist and carries it over to the locomotive and sets it back into its mounts, all in one take, and Lancaster does it all himself. Pretty impressive and it really gets you inside that shop. The film is obviously full of railroad stuff.

As a 16 year old apprentice for Britiish Rail (remember them? Before it was all given to corporate robbers?) my father did this on a regular basis to clean out the fire boxes. A bit like using children as chimney sweeps I guess.

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Thanks Maggie!

I was trying to catch this at work and Wadworth’s constant failed me.

There are plenty of them in Australian playgrounds. Some years ago I was on a road trip with my (then eight year old) son. We stopped in a small town and left him playing in such a playground while I wandered around taking pictures. Five minutes later I returned and he was nowhere to be found. Needless to say I freaked out. I checked the toilets and behind every tree. I was on the verge of calling the police when I heard noises from behind a fence which had been put up to stop kids playing under the train. My son was hiding in there along with the other kids he had been playing with.

Stewie Griffin really does have a time machine. How else could he have done this voiceover?