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coal fired steam needs TLC

Location is Pottsville, PA. Anthracite coal country.

Ahhh, a vapor system. There is a vaporstat on the boiler.

I do not know the building owner, so no action is being taken on finding help for this system at this time.

Should I say something to the owner??? Hmmm.


  • steam on brain
    steam on brain Member Posts: 6
    2 pipe steam needs TLC

    In a large old home in PA, circa 1880, which has been converted to 4 apartments, there is a LOSCH coal fired boiler and a 2 pipe Dunham steam system. Having discovered the WALL and being in the A/C Refrig industry, I enjoy heat transfer of all kinds, and reealy enjoy reading the exchanges on the WALL.

    I have read on of Dan's books and am starting the other. I recently specified a boiler replacement for my mothers home in PA, a 2 pipe system, which turned out well.

    Anyway, I am intrigued and have been studying this old Dunham system. Here are a few things:

    On some radiators there are air vents, which of course are not intended on these systems. There is one main vent - it is a Dunham device about 8" tall and about 4" in diameter. Radiators in one part of the building that I have access to which do not have vents never warm up - trapped air I suppose. Even the supply pipe does not get warm.

    I checked the temperature difference across one steam trap
    and did not see the expected 10 degree difference that you should expect to see on a working steam trap.

    On one radiator that has a cover, I reached in and discovered the top of the steam trap was just laying there - I could lift it off.

    On one radiator I removed the vent and used smoke from a piece of incense to observe the air flow at that port. When the boiler is firing, you could see very gentle puffs of air escaping. It was much gentler than what I expected. Thnking that the setam travels about 30 MPH, I expected more - but it is a rather large home with many radiators., perhaps 30 I would guess.

    The coal fire area is about 5 feet wide x 12" (guessing).
    The 'bumping' action of the inclined fire grate feeds new rice coal on on one end and shakes the burnt ashes off the other.

    I will get photographs I some would like to see it.

    SO, bottom line, I just wanted to share since these sytems are enjoyed by you Wallies.

  • What part of PA are you in?

    We have some steam experts in different parts of the state.

    That type of system is called "Vapor" as it is designed to run at about 8 ounces pressure. See chapter 15 of "The Lost Art of Steam Heating".

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  • That might be a good idea

    and I think Cosmo Valvanis is located near you. The next closest steam enthusiasts I know of would be the Pompettis in Philly, and my company which is located in Baltimore.

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This discussion has been closed.