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Gearing up inspections



Published: Fri, August 10, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The steam tractor that exploded in Medina would not have been allowed here, Trumbull County club members say.

By STEPHEN SIFF

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

JOHNSTON -- Steam engines on display at the annual Trumbull County Antique Steam and Power Association show this weekend have been taken apart, inspected and reinspected.

They are safe, association officials maintain.

Still, the three working steam models will be set apart from the rest of the 100-plus tractors at the show Saturday and Sunday at Johnston Township Park.

And they may be idled altogether if many showgoers express concern in the wake of the steam-powered tractor explosion at the Medina County Fair last month, which claimed five lives and injured about 50 people.

"We don't want to scare anybody away," said Chuck Dyson, director of the show.

Stringent requirements: Association inspection requirements, club officials say, are among the most stringent in the state and there has been a clean safety record at local shows.

"Basically, the state has the policy that if you have an antique engine and are crazy enough to use it, they don't care," said Hank Marsilio, owner of Eager Boiler Service in Youngstown, who helped establish the Trumbull County association's procedures.

"It is essentially up to the people who run the shows."

For many members of the Trumbull County Antique Steam and Power Association, the show season begins at the Trumbull County Fair, goes on to the Geauga County Historical Engine Society show in Burton and ends with the Johnston show this weekend.

Precautions taken: Before the start of the season, The Trumbull County association disassembles each steam engine that is going to run at any of the shows.

They are inspected inside and out for rust or cracks, safety valves are tested and the strength of the boiler walls is measured with an ultrasonic device.

Inspectors from the association also assess the owner's competency to run the device.

Boiler safety valves are also tested before each show, Marsilio said.

One tractor at the Trumbull County Fair was shut down, even though it posed no danger, because of a crack in a pipe outside the boiler, he said.

"There was a lot of effort to make sure the equipment was in good safe and working order," he said.

Wouldn't have passed: The steam tractor which blew up at the Medina County Fair would not have passed the inspections required here, said Marsilio, who was called in to help investigate that accident by the boiler division of the state Department of Industrial Relations.

"I believe a complete inspection ... should have found there were problems," he said. "There is a lot of unsafe equipment out there."




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