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Steam Railways

12 May 2021

Although the majority of our work is received from existing clients we are always happy to hear from new customers.

We had a ‘phone call from a local steam railway trust that was having problems with a new batch of steel tubing in one of their engines. These are the water pipes that run the length of the boiler, and were failing at the high temperatures and pressures encountered in the locomotive. Keen to find out if they had been sent the correct grade of steel that they had ordered from the supplier we were asked if we could help.

One of the volunteers dropped off a small cross-section of the tubing for us to analyse. The specification for the steel grade shows the expected ranges for various trace metals, which together with iron make up steel. The steel sample was easily digested in acid ready for analysis by ICP-Optical Emission Spectrometry.

We compared the results obtained for chromium, copper, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, phosphorus and silicon against the specification, and were able to confirm that their steel tubing sample was the correct grade.

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