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RIVET LAD More Battles With Old Steam Boilers


5.0 (3 reviews)

This latest book chronicles Alan’s story from leaving Phoenix Boiler Makers and establishing his own firm: H.A. McEwen (Boiler Repairs) on the 4th August 1968. In those early days Alan battled with a great variety of old steam boilers in town and country, where he met some extremely interesting and rather bizarre characters. The book is hard back and contains 128 pages of text and numerous amazing photographs.

We would like to inform customers of our ‘SPECIAL OFFER’ the two RIVET LAD books can be purchased together for £40. Both books will make fantastic Christmas presents.

CLICK HERE to buy both books as a discounted bundle



3 reviews for RIVET LAD More Battles With Old Steam Boilers

  1. Anthony Pilling BSc, Dip Arch, RIBA,

    Alan McEwen, master boilermaker, engineer and author, actually was the Rivet Lad at the start of a full career in industrial and heritage boiler making. Expert in riveting, re-tubing, coded welding, flanging, boiler design and construction from his years with Phoenix Boilermakers he was ready to set up his own business. In 1968 he founded H. A. McEwen (Boiler Repairs) Ltd, where he built his reputation and operated successfully for 40 years before handing the reins to his son in whose hands it continues to thrive.

    Alan carried out heavy overhaul and remanufacture for every type of industrial boiler in general use in the mills and works throughout Lancashire and Yorkshire and all over the United Kingdom and Eire. Heavy Lancashire boilers, his own design of economic boiler, traction engines, pressure vessels, Scotch marine, vertical cross tube and preserved railway engine boilers were core business, some to the exacting standards required for express locomotives such as 60009 Union of South Africa, Green Arrow, Duchess of Hamilton and other engines running on the main line.

    Now an author and publisher he has written a number of books and contributed numerous insightful articles for steam heritage magazines. People involved in the preservation and live demonstration of historic steam plant, including his good friend, the late great Fred Dibnah, have benefitted greatly from his advice.

    People familiar with his previous books, ‘Chronicles of a Lancastrian Boilermaker’, ‘Fred Dibnah’s Chimney Drops’, ‘Historic Steam Boiler Explosions’, etc, know Alan writes in an entertaining, enthusiastic style, but with the authority of one who has the in-depth technical knowledge and practical know-how associated with all aspects of his subject. His books are essential reading for those involved with live stationary steam.

    The ‘Rivet Lad’ books are full of amusing tales of incredible yet real characters which are combined with relevant images in a context of hard engineering graft. They graphically illustrate just what was actually required to keep steam plant efficient and safe in all sorts of different contexts across the North of England. Although many of these true stories are told at Alan’s own expense – with nicknames used to protect the innocent – the practical work and engineering skill involved in often harsh conditions becomes abundantly clear.

    Photographs of the different types of boilers and pressure vessels encountered are included from Alan’s personal collection and archive of catalogues, including some exceptional images of the work involved and rare boilers from the dawn of industrial stationary steam. These are informative technical references for the industrial archaeologist while the anecdotal tales evoke a social context that has all but disappeared. The books share a wealth of experiences as well as lessons from a lifetime of practical work that those of us now involved with demonstrating live steam engines to the public would do well to take on board.

    The two ‘Rivet Lad’ volumes shine a light upon the human graft and endeavour behind the numerous engineering firms that designed and manufactured heavy steam plant and the countless highly skilled yet tough engineering squads that went out to regularly repair and maintain them. These books are a rare source of material about a way of life that has almost vanished and about which little has been written or published. However, they cover a critically important part of our engineering heritage without which no steam driven mill or works enterprise could ever have existed.

    Anthony Pilling BSc, Dip Arch, RIBA,
    Industrial Heritage Advisor,
    Pilling Looms

  2. Steve Hodgeson

    “Rivet Lad. More Battles with Old Steam Boilers” builds from “Rivet Lad” but takes the reader into a different area of boiler repairs. The author has now established his own repair business and undertakes work for the many pig- breeding small holdings in south east Lancashire. These concerns frequently used vertical boilers and the reader is drawn to an area of boiler design and construction that is rarely dealt with. Owners of these small holdings were characters in themselves and the dialogue between the author and these characters was worthy of a separate book in its own right. Both volumes shine a light on a small part of industrial history that is rarely seen or recorded. Again, difficult to finish this book without a smile on your face.

  3. Jo Collings

    Another gem and companion to Rivet Lad Lusty Tales of Boiler Making in the Lancashire Mill Towns of the 1960s. These beautifully written and produced books are a fascinating insight into a bygone era of heavy engineering. The illustrations and photographs bring to life the glory days of British industry.

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