In my last briefing to members, in my Chairman’s Column in February 2018 SMT, I anticipated that the revised codes would be issued 1st March 2018.  In the event it took a little longer to finalise them than expected, but the work is now done.  I’m pleased to advise that the codes are available for download and/or printing, on the insurance page of our web site.  Concurrent with the release of the codes, the insurance page has been revised, with major changes to the section headed Insurance Conditions Relating to Boilers and Gas Tanks.  A pressure vessel certificate, covering boilers and/or LPG tanks, is also available, which can be used to record hydraulic test(s) (if needed) and records of annual inspections and safety tests.  A completed sample will be added to the page in due course.

These codes are specific to small boilers under 3 bar.litres and LPG tanks under 250ml, which covers the vast majority of 16mm live steam locos.  The expectations I set in my August 2017 column in SMT remain true:

  • The codes do not envisage repeat hydraulic testing of small boilers or gas tanks unless repairs or changes have been made.
  • Hydraulic test certificates provided under earlier versions of the Association’s test codes remain valid.
  • Test certificates provided by commercial manufacturers will still be accepted as proof of successful completion of the initial hydraulic test.
  • The only change is for brass boilers, where a hydraulic test certificate will be valid for three years from the date of issue.
  • There has been no change to our Public Liability Insurance policy, which provides cover whether these codes are followed or not.
  • Members can still perform their own annual safety tests – these do not require the participation of an Inspector.
  • For most members, the only change is use of a different test record, but existing records will remain valid if they adequately cover the locomotive concerned.  As an example, the existing record could be used for a coal or meths fired loco until all rows on the form have been used.
  • There is no change to the basis on which members can run their locos at the National Garden Railway Show this coming Saturday 7th April at the Peterborough Arena.

For the first time we now have a gas tank test code.  This includes simple, non-intrusive safety tests in sections 13 and 14, which the codes recommend at five year intervals.  The new pressure vessel certificate provides for recording these tests, so you may choose to move to the new form on a loco by loco basis when these tests fall due.

I’d like to stress again that following these codes is entirely voluntary.  The Board continues to recommend safety testing as described in the codes.  It remains the case that event organisers or venue owners may have different requirements, but they may equally accept this hobby-wide set of test and safety codes.

Technical Director Mark Rennie will be on the Steam Model Loco stand at Saturday’s National Show along with Keith Bucklitch, who did much early work on these codes.  They will be available to answer questions, or to provide practical advice on safety testing.  Alternatively, email Mark at

Finally, thanks to Fred Roberts, Keith and Mark, all who worked with me on these codes within MELG, and to the other members of MELG, who participated actively in their review.  This was a team effort.

Alan Regan, Chairman and Membership Secretary