Wow. Another great post and food for more consideration. Some thoughts on your comments:gondolier88 wrote:It's a matter of what quality of water is used when steaming, whether the boiler is left with water in or emptied over winter and how many hours steaming the boiler does- it has nothing at all to do with personal opinion on whether it's a pain or not- having a blow-out on an inspection hatch can and has killed steamboaters in the not so distant past, they need looking after!
Suggestions of soaking gaskets in hot/warm water and gluing them on are, to be frank, a little scary given the context.
Most (not all) inspection gasket manufacturers stipulate they are to be installed dry (no compound). If they were installed wet and warm and then left to go dry they can cause pitting on the land they seal on, they can also shrink- shrinkage isn't too much of an issue if good practice is followed and they are torque'd up incrementally on first steaming up until tight as they can be (again, some manufacturers stipulate a torque setting on rubber based ones) and checked once cold. A pin-hole leak on one of these can cause big safety issues if left and expensive repairs too.
If you don't notice crud collecting at the base of the boiler and you always blow-down hot and leave the boiler vented with a low-temp. heat source to air the boiler then your boiler inspector may be able to advise you on allowable non-service periods of inspection gaskets.
A pain or not, they provide just about the best way of inspecting the bottom of a boiler on a fixed shell boiler.
1 - Last year, I tried soaking Topog-e gaskets in boiling water to make them easier to work with. They were just as stiff hot as they were at room temperature.
2 - Your comment on regular gasket inspection was validated by me this year. One of the oval covers I removed had a corroded raised gasket positioning surface bad enough to allow a gasket to be forced inward by the pressure to a point where it could leak or, worse case, blow out. I had a new gasket positioning plate welded to the cover. I will now be removing all the hand hole covers to make sure no others have the same problem.
3 - You mentioned my boiler inspector recommending inspection intervals for hand hole gaskets.
Inspections are not required at my location so I have no boiler inspector. If this hasn't been discussed previously, I would sure be interested in input and recommendations on how often this should be done.