If I sell a stationary engine on eBAY comlpete with steam plant as a private
sale, am I liable for the failure of the boiler and consequences?
I thought about simply tossing the safety valve so it can only be brought
back into service by the buyer fitting an new safety valve?
A bit like cutting the plug off electrical stuff before sale.
In general, yes, and especially so if you have cause to suspect that it
might be faulty.
However if you eg have a boiler cert the inspector might well be responsible
rather than you if you have done your bit right. And they will (or had
better have) have insurance for this.
There are specific laws about selling things with steam boilers, which often
(if not usually) do not correspond to the ideas of boiler inspectors - but
I'm far too pissed now to say exactly what they are.
And I am not a lawyer, and so I could not give proper legal advice under any
Nope, that would be illegal for an electrical item anyway, and it would
probably also increase the circumstances in which you would be liable - not
a good idea.
If it was not a boiler (or electrical item) you might be able to shift or
void liability, eg by stating that the item is of scrap use only and getting
a written acknowledgement of that from the purchaser, but there is a
specific law here, and offhand I am not sure enough of what it says to
Might post some more later, I do know a little about this, but don't hold
your breath. Some links, but there ae more:
I think the HSE has also issued some "official" guidance, but you should ask
In what has turned out to be a reasonable and manageable set of
conditions for public liability insurance purposes, the responsibility
for testing of 'small' boilers for models in the UK has been devolved to
clubs that are members of either the 'Northern Association' or the
'Southern Federation'. That is good news for club members but leaves
unattached individuals out on a limb. My understanding it is that
liability lies with the current owner of the boiler but insurance is
impossible without a known and documented history of the boiler
including previous test records. I had no difficulty getting a new
certificate for a twenty-year boiler but then I was able to produce
evidence of its history.
Boilers below 1.5 bar-litres (pressure in bars x capacity in litres) do
not need to be tested (but it is nevertheless recommended). 'Club
testers' are normally authorised to test up to 500 bar-litres and, with
special authorisation, up to 1100 bar-litres.
Model matelots have some remaining problems concerning remotely
controlled boiler feeds but this may be because, in their wisdom, the
Model Power Boat Association did not take the initial negotiations
For some more detailed information about testing you could do worse than
take a look at
As an interesting aside, I suspect that most vehicle radiator systems
fail the 1.5 bar litre test. After all the radiator is a 'pressure
vessel' and the engine a heat source that can boil the water. So it
will also fail on the 'two means of filling' test. !
I'm sure that I should look the answer up, but it might be quicker to just
Is 1.5 bar-litres based on gross pressure vessel volume; net pressure vessel
volume (less fire tubes etc) or working water volume?
No, I do not think you are otherwise no one would sell a model steam
locomotive for example and there are plenty of these for sale from time to
The owner is responsible for the safety of the object and as a private sale
the usual Buyer Beware advice applies. You can be explicit about your boiler
to inform a buyer of its history to be helpful.
Its then up to the buyer to test/insure or otherwise depending upon the use
they intend to put the object your selling.
As long as you attempt to fulfil a "duty of care" and not mislead any buyer
I think you can safely sell without the sword of litigation hanging over
you. ...... but then that's just MHO.
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