Boiler Testing

Obtaining a boiler test.

There are two ways to obtain a boiler test and certification as follows:


You may approach any listed or advertised approved boiler testing organisation or qualified persons advertising boiler test services. These facilities are commercial and there will be a payment to be made to the individual or organisation that undertakes the examination, testing and issuing of certification.

It is not possible to give an estimate of cost because that will vary depending upon the arrangements you make but charges will have to cover the tester’s costs of travel and attendance at an agreed location.

One such organisation would be the engineering department of Royal Sun Alliance, or similar Insurance Company.

One could always check whether the manufacturer or supplier of the boiler has arrangements for testing.


Within the UK there is a national boiler testing scheme operated by boiler inspectors within individual model engineering societies.

These societies may be located using computer search engines. One such is here.

There is no charge for boiler testing within a society that is affiliated to the major model engineering organisations. However, you must join a society as a full member to have any pressure equipment tested under the national boiler testing scheme.

The Boiler Test

The following document was drawn up for the benefit of members. It brings together the legal and practical aspects of the testing of Miniature Steam Boilers.
Wirral Model Engineering Society © 2013. All rights reserved.

Purpose of Document

To clarify for the benefit of all members of Wirral Model Engineering Society (WMES)

The reasons for testing boilers

The relevant regulations

The testing procedure

How Inspectors are appointed

Local arrangements for testing.

Record keeping.

The owner's responsibilities


WMES operates two railways. The public can be in close proximity to the railways whilst outside the boundary fence or they are passengers on the railway when public running takes place.

Members operate pressure vessels such as Stationary Boilers and Traction Engines when the public and fellow members are present.

Although most hobby pressure vessels are exempt from some legal requirements such as Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) considers it good practice for those operating such equipment to do so to the same standard as if they were duty holders under the Regulations.

Our insurance requires us to ensure the safety of pressure vessels used by society members.

WMES intends to conduct itself in such a way that there is no unacceptable risk to the health and safety of employees, members, visitors or others who may be affected.


The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) applies.

The Act places general duties of care on employers and the self-employed to conduct their undertakings without risk to the health and safety of others. Some of those to whom this guidance is addressed may not fall within this group of dutyholders, but their activities may create risks to themselves, those who help them on a voluntary basis and members of the public. HSE considers it good practice for those who carry out such activities to provide the same level of health and safety protection as they would if they were dutyholders under the Act.

HSG 216 - Passenger-carrying miniature railways applies.

HSE Entertainment Sheet No 12 applies. (Appendix 1)

The Examination & Testing of Miniature Steam Boilers (revised edition 2012) by The Model Engineering Liaison Group applies. (Appendix 2)

Testing Procedure

WMES has adopted the procedure detailed in The Examination & Testing of Miniature Steam Boilers (revised edition 2012) by The Model Engineering Liaison Group. (Appendix 2).

The provisions of this revision shall come into effect on 1st January 2013 and are not retrospective.

The Inspectors

The role of the Inspector is covered in Section 3 paragraph 3.9 of The Examination & Testing of Miniature Steam Boilers (revised edition 2012)

The Committee of Directors of WMES will appoint boiler inspectors.

3.9 Inspector:

a. This is a person who is competent to examine and report on all parts of the system as covered by the Test Code. An inspector shall not be permitted to examine or test either his own work or equipment in his ownership but he is permitted to test a boiler which is owned by his Club or Society provided that he did not participate in the building or repairing of the boiler. An inspector shall be a member and appointed by the Committee of the Club or Society under whose name the boiler is examined and/or tested after such persons have satisfied the Committee that they have the appropriate level of experience and/or qualifications.

b. An inspector acting as a competent person who carries out an examination under the Written Scheme of Examination shall have such sound practical and theoretical knowledge and actual experience of the type of system which is to be examined as will enable defects or weaknesses to be detected which is the purpose of the examination to discover and their importance in relation to the integrity and safety of the system to be assessed.

c. The individual should know his own limitations and should not act outside his level of qualification or knowledge.

d. In order to provide for the situation of a boiler inspector not wishing to test a certain boiler because of lack of experience and where there is not another inspector within the club prepared to undertake such a test, arrangements can be made for the boiler inspector of one club to test a boiler in the ownership of a member of another club. Such an arrangement shall be made between clubs on behalf of the member(s) concerned and not directly between the member and the boiler inspector. It shall be a matter for the clubs to check that such an arrangement is covered within the insurance cover available to them.

e. See also Section 2 and Section 4 paragraphs 4.3 and 4.4 for limitations of test.

f. A Club or Society can agree that a boiler inspector be authorised to undertake examinations, hydraulic tests and steam tests without the presence of a witness. If such an agreement is made the boiler inspector shall be formally authorised to do so by the management of the Club or Society and the name of the boiler inspector shall be registered with the appropriate Federation or Association.

Boiler Registrar

The Committee of Directors of WMES will appoint a society Boiler Registrar.

The Registrar will be a member of WMES.

The Registar will keep a complete record of all boiler tests.

The Registrar will record all certificates and their expiry date.

The Registrar will remind members when their equipment is due for retesting.

The Registrar will liaise with the inspectors on their availablity for testing.

The Registrar will make appointments for members with the inspectors.

Local Arrangements

WMES makes no charge to its members for the provision of boiler tests.

The Boiler Inspectors are volunteers and receive no remuneration for their time.

The Registrar will try to ensure that members are accommodated as soon as possible.

Appointments for boiler testing should be kept. If you miss an appointment you may go to the 'back of the queue'

If a member turns up on 'spec' they are unlikely to get their boiler tested.

Sometimes arrangements will go wrong or not to plan. Every effort will be made to ensure a member is not disadvantaged.

The owner is responsible for preparing the boiler, making the connections, removing cladding, etc., not the Inspector.

Ensure all fittings are tight and secure.

The firebox, smokebox and grate have been cleaned out.

The tubes have been cleaned.

Have a pre-test, by using your own hand pump, or test pump.

Ensure that the correct fitting is available to connect your boiler to the club's test pump.

A full list of fittings, available within the society, will be posted on the notice board.

The Inspector has the right to decide how he is going to conduct the test - do not argue, the Inspector's decision is final.

Before any testing is carried out on a boiler it must satisfy the conditions outlined in Section 6, of the Boiler Test Code: Preliminary requirements and preparation for test.

The requirements for a witness are covered in Section 3.10.

Don't forget to bring a torch and inspection mirror for the Tester to use to examine inside the smoke box and firebox.

Record Keeping

Records will be retained by WMES for as long as is practicable but for a minimum of 10 years.

Boiler Inspectors are responsible for making and retaining their own records.

WMES will record a table of members (displayed as initials only), models currently in use, tests completed and dates of expiry will be posted on a secure notice board at Royden Park. Additions, changes and deletions can only be made by the Boiler Inspectors or Registrar.

The certification issued by WMES will comply with the requirements of the Boiler Test Code outlined in Section 12 Certification.

The owner's responsibilities

To operate the pressure vessel in a safe manner.

To ensure that the pressure vessel carries a unique, indelible identification number, which is visible when installed.

Ensure appropriate tests and certificates are completed before operating in public.

To undertake such maintenance that the model and its usage requires.

Maintenance should be of a high standard. If the owner is not competent to undertake such tasks they should seek help from a competent person.

Before operating a pressure vessel, get in the habit of making a visual examination and any other examination that is appropriate. Eg.

Is the firebox dry?

Is there moisture around the tubes?

Is there any obvious distortion?

Do the safety valves operate at the working pressure of the boiler?

When operating the model under the auspices of WMES, to comply with the rules and operating procedures that from time to time apply. Eg.

Speed Limits


When visiting other societies, to comply with local operating requirements and not bring the name of WMES into disrepute.

To accept guidance from other members of WMES if they should believe that one is operating in a less than safe manner.

To ensure that other members and any visitors are operating in a safe manner.

To be tactful and diplomatic in providing guidance to fellow members and visitors if you feel they are operating in an unsafe manner. If you do not feel able to raise issues with another member or visitor, you should approach another member of the society and ask them to address the issue. It is not enough to 'turn a blind eye' or 'hope' someone else will deal with the issue. All members are responsible for ensuring the safety of fellow members and the public.


WMES purchases insurance for the benefit of all members and the society.

Public Liability Insurance Certificates are provided, on request, to all members. This ensures that when operating at other societies, a member can provide evidence of insurance. This insurance is only valid on steam powered models if all relevant certificates are up to date.

Normally, if the latest relevant test certificate is provided by another society, a Public Liability Insurance Certificate will not be provided by WMES. Insurance certificates should be provided by the society undertaking the latest test.

Members may from time to time be asked to provide evidence that they possess all current paperwork.

Members whose models have been tested elsewhere will be asked to provide sight of current certificates before running at Royden Park. This would normally be by showing the certificates to the 'Officer of the Day', Society Boiler Registrar or any other member.

Members, about whom complaints are received from other societies, may be asked to provide a response.

Members who bring WMES into disrepute will have their membership terminated.

CE Approval for New Boilers

From the 30th May 2002 pressure equipment and assemblies sold in the UK must comply with the Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999.

It is an offence for a boiler built commercially after that date to be sold unless the boiler is


Meets essential safety requirements of Design, Manufacture, Testing.

Satisfies appropriate conformity assessment procedures

Is accompanied by a declaration of conformity

Carries CE marking

Some boilers built commercially since May 2002 do not comply with the regulations and do not carry the CE mark. These boilers are non-CE compliant.

A non-CE compliant boiler cannot have a valid test certificate.

It is most likely that insurers will not allow a claim in the event of an accident with a non-CE compliant boiler.

Boilers built commercially after 30th May 2002, which do not bear the appropriate CE marking will not be tested by WMES.

New Boilers

New Boilers to be inspected at least twice during construction.


HSE Guidance (HSE Entertainment Sheet No 12).

The Examination & Testing of Miniature Steam Boilers (revised edition 2012) by The Model Engineering Liaison Group. (Appendix 2)


HSG 216 - Passenger-carrying miniature railways Guidance on safe practice

Published 2001 ISBN 0-7176-2035-2

© Wirral Model Engineering Society 2017