About Us

Vouk 110 CaseThe Minnesota Steam Engine Association was organized in the spring of 1978 and in 1989 was incorporated as a non-profit organization under the laws of the State of Minnesota. Prior to its origination, a small group of men, who would eventually found the association, were successful in getting the rule changed on hydro-static testing of hobby and show boilers. When these boilers were in regular use, the hydro-test pressure was 1-1/2 times the working pressure. At some point, this was changed to double the working pressure. It was apparent that this put undue strain on these old boilers. So these men took it upon themselves to get the hydro-test pressure changed back to l-l/2 times the working pressure for the benefit of all owners of hobby and show-boilers.

Legislation & Regulation Creation

The association has established a good working relationship with the Boiler Division of the Department of Labor & Industry, as they have established a special committee for hobby and show-boilers. From Minnesota Steam Engine Association’s beginning, its members have always worked to improve the laws and regulations regarding boilers.

• One of the first tasks accomplished by the association was to bring about legislation to establish a life-time steam engineer’s license for hobbyists. This allowed license holders the ability to avoid yearly license renewals when they only use it for a few days each year. However, any licensed engineer can operate hobby or show engines and/or boilers according to the stipulations set forth in the license held, without obtaining the life-time license.

• Another legislative accomplishment was changing the inspection of hobby and show boilers from annual to biennial, saving any owner of a hobby or show-boiler half the cost of inspection. The MSEA also had the rules clarified regarding allowable working pressure on lap-seam boilers. We had been told that any lap-seam boiler larger than 36 inches in diameter was limited to 15 psi. and those under 36 inches in diameter were limited to 100 psi. Currently these boilers are being inspected and granted specific working pressures according to their own merits.

• The association’s next step included working with the boiler division to prevent the disallowance into the State of any nonASME coded boiler. Many of the hobby boilers were built before this code was put into effect.

• Our association helped to write the rules for leaving a boiler unattended.

• In June of 1991, legislation was passed to waive the X-ray requirement on non-certified, lap-seam boilers if the owner accepts a working pressure of the maximum allowable working pressure arrived at by standard inspection or 100 psi, whichever is less. In April, 1994 the law was changed back, leaving the X-Ray of lap-seam boilers to the discretion of the inspector.


Concerning education, the association makes educational materials available to members interested in learning how to operate a steam engine or boiler. Every Spring a “steam-up” is held, where those interested can get hands-on experience running an engine. At these events, we have lectures on getting an engine ready to fire, preparing a boiler for winter storage, boiler water treatment and the workings of the injector, water glass, soft plug, etc.

In our educational endeavors, safety is always highly stressed. We want every engineer or aspiring engineer to operate his engine or boiler in a safe and responsible manner. In addition, the MSEA awards a scholarship to one of its members for use at the Steam School, which is put on each June by the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers at Rollag, MN. Upon completion of this school, one should be able to pass the test to obtain a Minnesota’s Traction Engineer’s license.