The key to insulating and protecting cinder block -- or concrete block -- walls, as opposed to poured concrete walls is quite simple, really: you don't want the temperature in the wall to go below freezing or, if it can, you want the wall to be dry. Take your pick. Block constructed walls -- of whatever kind (includes brick, too, come to think of it) will fail if they are allowed to freeze in the presence of water, as the freeze thaw cycle will crack the mortar (if not the block itself).
Dry laid stone walls survive because they don't depend on mortar to hold them together. Poured concrete walls survive because they don't have any mortar. Block walls... not so much.
So. Ensure that you have good drainage on the outside and a waterproofing mastic on the wall to above grade. If at all possible, insulate on the outside; that will keep the block above freezing. If you have to insulate on the inside, double down on that outside drainage, and place -- and seal -- a vapour barrier on the inside before the wall surface. The outside drainage should be that waterproof mastic on the block, then a free draining layer (there are some molded plastic products in mat form which can be used placed nest to the wall, but not really necessary, also works), then coarse stone (1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inch broken stone) for at least a foot out and to a depth below the footing, with a perforated drain pipe to daylight at the bottom of the trench, and the whole thing protected from the surrounding soil with construction filter fabric to keep the soil fines out.
Don't skimp. You don't want to have to dig the whole thing up a decade later and rebuild the wall. That's tiresome.
On Q1 -- the shorter nipple should be OK. The Gorton #2 is a bit of an odd beast. As many have noted (with curiousity!) it has a smaller diameter fitting than many others -- which is entirely adequate for the venting rate it has -- which I think is quite intentional, as it helps a lot in keeping odd splashes and splooks out. You're far enough from the end of the main there that it should be well protected from overenthusiastic condesnate.
Q1 -- I don't see anything amiss with where that Gorton is mounted. What is it you want to do that is different?
Q2 -- you can scrape or brush the rust off and paint -- it won't make it that much harder to undo the joints later, if you have to. But I'm curious: do you really need to insulate the returns? They shouldn't be getting much more than warm, and it would be a lot of work for not much return.
Q3 -- not in my field of expertise!
Last Q -- sounds to me as though your system is working just as it should.
Carlin 100 CRD. A good burner.
It will use a 60° or 70° nozzle, depending. The dimensions of the combustion chamber will decide.
I will say it's an upgrade because obviously its newer, and the primary is a 15 second safety vs 45 seconds on the existing R8184G.
I would ditch that primary in favor on one with pre purge. It will also need an oil delay valve.
I can't remember if the existing burner flange is bolted to the boiler plate or just cemented in place. If not I recommend a pedestal for the burner. The contractor can get one.
Also an amulet to protect the air tube.
said he used copper cuz was easier to connect between the other ends of steam pipe because of treads.
Tell him your computer programmer friend said he should look into these things called “unions”
Congrats on finding the problem! Hopefully you’ll be able to keep the problem from coming back...into your house...to work on your steam system
Reflective (mirror) insulation has its place; especially if you can fill the space between the reflective surfaces with bubbles of certain gasses; or if you can create a vacuum between the surfaces.
Where I have seen it actually used (in the pure shinny metal mode with metal support pins between layers and no fillers) is to insulate the reactor vessels of nuclear power plants. It's one of those applications where cost really does not matter (and we spent over a $million to replace the mirror insulation on the bottom of the reactor vessel at my last plant (purchase price - not including installation: of course - we need metals that will not become radioactive or weaken due to gamma and neutron radiation).
If you can produce a vacuum between the layers.... you have a Thermos Bottle (or cup, etc.). Note that my wife really loves her new Thermos mug that I got her for Christmas. It works far better than all the cheaper "insulating" mugs that she has been using for years.
So, I believe that 1 layer of this bubble plastic with aluminum foil on both sides has an R value of 3 in normal use. Along that line... you likely need 7 layers to get an R value of 21.
You know, when I look back on what we did when I was young... what my parents did... what their parents did...it's a wonder any of us are here to tell about it, never mind lived long enough to tell our children.
But... 3,000 years ago the Psalmist wrote "three score and ten is the measure of a man" (and added that some folks live another 20 years beyond). Our normal life span -- barring death from childhood infections, childbirth, and accidents hasn't changed. In 3,000 years. It's just that now we are terrified of living normal lives, and terrified of dying. We have to stop being afraid of living -- and accept that dying, like it or not, is something we'll all do someday. Think about it.
Halifax authorities were able to send a telegraph signal before all communications were cut off. Based on this signal, and not hearing anything more, Boston authorities immediately organized a relief train, which left that same night. The train arrived on Dec 8, and the relief workers immediately began distributing food and medical supplies, and relieved local medical workers who had been attending the wounded for two days straight without rest. To this very day, the government of Nova Scotia sends a Christmas tree every year to the people of Boston as a gift of appreciation.