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UK steam road laws
Posted by: (
Date: November 13, 2009 05:22PM

I was just wondering what all would be required of a steam vehicle to be able to be able to legally operate on UK roads.

if it has a monotube steam generator for its steam source.


Re: UK steam road laws
Posted by: (81.168.70.---)
Date: November 16, 2009 08:40PM

Essentially, it's the same whether steam generation is by way of a fire tube type or water tube. You need to display a valid tax disc and valid insurance cover (minimum - road traffic act, covering the driver).

Your car must be in roadworthy condition. Let the tyres go bald - you would not be operating legally. You could & would be prosecuted by the police if discovered. Fundamentally, you (the registered keeper) are responsible for the road worthiness of your vehicle.

In order to get a valid tax disc, if the car is over three years old you'll need an MOT certificate & insurance. That's pretty much it!

You'll need to disclose that your car as propelled by steam to your insurer. He may impose conditions on the insurance. If you don't comply with his conditions, your insurance is void, so you would not be operating legally on UK roads.

Ultimately, the boiler testing issue is bound in by the conditions of your insurance. If you have an evaporative fire tube boiler your insurer is likely to require in date boiler test certification by a person qualified and competent to carry our the cold hydraulic test and hot, "in steam" test of the system, and he must carry adequate professional indemnity insurance cover. Note that subsequently carrying out remedial work, fitting replacement components, or repairing parts of the system may invalidate the test & require a new one.

A vehicle with a monotube, or other water tube steam generator is less likely to demand a valid boiler test certificate, because the stored energy of the enclosed water (maybe a litre) is so much less than a typical fire tube boiler (maybe 100 litres), and it simply cannot explode. In the extreme, think about the concept of trying to make a bomb by filling a vast length of hypodermic needle tubing with high explosive. It can't be done. Any rupture can't propogate fast enough to cause significant damage, no matter how much tubing you use. Put 100Kg of high explosive into a strong spherical container ... now you've got yourself a bomb!

However, the bottom line is, to be driving your steam car legally on public roads you must have valid insurance, and it's the conditions imposed by your insurer, and your compliance, or otherwise with these conditions that determines whether you're driving legally. Monotube or not.


Re: UK steam road laws
Posted by: (
Date: November 16, 2009 09:29PM

Thank you for the information.

Since I am not in the UK, I am just not informed to things that are just common knowledge to you.

When gasoline prices spiked last year several of the US states changed their laws making it easier to operate light vehicles for road use. So I am trying to make my little steam car compliant with more than just my local area.

Thanks again.

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