The National Traction Engine Trust

There was concern expressed in the weeks leading up to the Great Dorset Steam Fair this year that the Trust was causing difficulties for the New Zealand engines visiting the McLaren gathering. The Trust’s own concern was due to the standard of the NZ inspection reports not complying with UK regulations. This unfortunate situation was not of the Trust’s making.


About four months prior the organisers of the McLaren gathering first spoke to a senior engineer at a corporate inspecting authority about the overseas engines appearing and the advice given was that as the boiler reports were only valid in NZ it would be a good idea to get them dual certified – that is valid for both NZ and UK regulations. It was stressed that inspection reports are not internationally transferable as each country has its own specific requirements even though the inspections may be done to ISO/IEC 17020 standards. At this stage it should have been a straightforward paperwork exercise by the NZ inspecting authority with the possibility of a steam test being required on arrival in the UK.


A few weeks before the event it became apparent that dual certification had not been applied and the NZ boiler inspection reports landed on the desk of the UK insurer who had been asked to provide NTET discs. As none of the NZ inspecting companies were on the list of NTET compliant inspectors, a disc could not be issued. This resulted in the Trust seeking advice and clarification on the matter of NZ inspection reports.


The advice the Trust received from a number of UKAS accredited sources was that the engines should be dual certified, or if this could be done then a Written Scheme of Examination should be written followed by a full Thorough Examination to PSSR 2000 standard. After much debate between the NZ inspecting authorities and the NTET/McLaren event organisers, it became apparent that the former was not practical, as they could not understand the requirements of PSSR 2000 in the short time available. Therefore the only way forward was to have the engines inspected in the UK. This has caused friction as it has been pointed out that previously when overseas engines have visited the UK, they did so with little fuss.


It must be pointed out that the Burrell engines which came over ten years ago did so in a very different world to that in which we now live. It would have been irresponsible of the Trust to brush aside the firm advice it had received especially if anything had gone wrong. If an incident had occurred with a boiler, then any investigating authority would most certainly have found the Trust to be negligent and so liable to an insurance claim.


Thankfully the visiting engines were all inspected to PSSR 2000 standard once in the UK and all were issued with a certificate allowing them to steam. However, one engine was given a short periodicity certificate with reduced working pressure due to some components being the subject of large amounts of scale build up thus preventing a more detailed examination.  Although we are mainly concerned with just our hobby activities, we have to be mindful of our responsibilities in the bigger world and unfortunately this is where conflict can raise its head.

Originally published in Steaming

01 Nov 2010