Beam sitting on "something"

Is it ok to have a steel beam resting on 8 or 10 1/8in shims? They looked a little bit like rectangles cut out of old asbestos shingles.

the quick answer - no
a steel beam should be supported with steel plate shims. you’re only talking about 1" - 1 1/4", that’s the right way, IMHO.

Actually as I look at the pics again (too large to post) there are more than that… we’re talking a good 3 or 4 inches.

The 3-4 inch gap should be filled so that they rest on non-shrink grout.

3-4 inches or 1-2 inches the answer still remains the same. A steel beam needs to have solid non-compressing support. Whether it is a brick, a solid cement block or steel shims but not wood or shingles or any other material the can be compressed. Hope this helps and answers your question.