Fingers and Steam Engines
Bit by The Stanley Bug

by Christopher Roberts

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Safety is the #1 factor we have to take into consideration when working on steam cars. A 1/2 second of carelessness can cause lots of money, time and even pain.  Upon a close inspection of my spare engine, I decided that I should check to see how it would turn over on steam. So I raised 20 pounds of steam on a wood fired return flu boiler and plumbed it to the Stanley engine. 

It ran beautifully and smooth, and after about five minutes of running I decided to feel the wrist pins.
The engine was only running maybe at 55 r.p.m. and I saw no danger at feeling the wrist pins as the engine turned over. I knew that it WOULD be safer to stop the engine, but I was too lazy to do this. So I checked the right side and everything seemed fine. Then I checked the left side. As best as I can figure, the connecting rod grabbed my left ring finger and brought it down to the slipper where the crosshead nicely sliced through the finger, nail, and the tip of the bone. I was rushed to the hospital, where only a .030" of flesh was still attached to my finger. It took seven stiches to re-attach my finger, (Which will be o.k., however I will always have a scar. To add to this I also failed to have any health insurance.

The moral of the story is to be VERY careful. Think things through, and take the time to shut off engines BEFORE you check the wrist pins, or any other part. The engine didn't even notice I was there at 20 pounds of steam. (didn't slow down)

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