Question about steam boilers and magnets (serious) : LUSENET : Southern Railway : One Thread

I recently called a friend of mine who is more knowledgeable about water about an ad I saw about magnets and water. I was skeptical. The ad said that applying a magnetic field cut down on deposits.

He stated that there was indeed something to it. Apparently this is old technology. Steam ships have been doing it for years. The Soviet navy has done it with magnets. Our navy has done it with electromagnets. He installed on on a stationary boiler for a large facility he ran and the scaling on the boiler began to disappear (unfortunately some of the scale had also plugged some pin-holes.

My question is: Is anyone aware of whether railroads ever used or experimented with this technology and whether any of the steam restorations (museums etc.) have investigated? It seems it might cut down on scaling problems and thus some boiler tube repairs.

I look forward to any responses. BTW, my friend is going to send me some tech info on the matter because I love reading supporting literature.


-- Gordon Andrews (, October 15, 1998


I discussed this with a relative who is a boiler expert.

He noted that shipping made use of magnets becuase of the water source, where as boiler systems for buildings usually have a closed water system and retain alot of there steam. The water in these systems is usually kept clean because it's recycled and treated. Also, water treatment is another way of keeping the problem under control.

I don't have any info on magnets used for railroad Locomotives, and haven't seen any on the subject. I have heard of water treatment for railroad use.

Hope this helps.... interesting subject... BK

-- B Kimble (, October 20, 1998.

Magnets in boilers are obviously there to attract metal particles that may damage moving parts. Further to boiler 'self protection' a material called magnatite deposits itself on boiler internals reducing corrosion and wear by abrasion. Water conditioning in locomotives was very poor so unwanted deposits had to be regularly removed. I have seen 'Briquets' used to condition water on the old 'Gresley' L.N.E.R. 4472 as acidity is obviously a boilers worst enemy.

-- Deidre Rene'e (, May 13, 2004.

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