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Splitting apart a cast iron radiator

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Wood wedges work nicely, but I found that wedges made from common lumberyard wood only last for one or two uses. A nice strong, hard wood like oak, hickory, ash, etc. is much better. Make sure that the grain follows the <I>length</I> of the wedge!

I once watched and old-timer disassemble sections by putting the handle of a 36" pipe wrench between sections and giving one quick, powerful jerk. I tried the same a couple times and couldn't get the knack--I didn't hurt the rad but won't say the same thing for my shoulder...

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  • Tom_100
    Tom_100 Member Posts: 3
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    splitting apart a cast iron radiator

    I'm remodeling an upstairs bedroom, and I have an oversized hot water radiator that I need to deal with. I noticed a few years ago the radiator only gets lukewarm. I had my heating contractor look at it while he was there to fix the boiler, and he observed that it's way to big for the room, and that if he made it work right I'd get roasted like a Thanksgiving turkey. Since the room gets plenty warm as long as I leave the hall door open during the day, I took his advice and left it alone. Now that I'm doing a gut rehab, it has to come out anyway, so I'd like to have a radiator that's the proper size.

    I had someone do the calculations, and I need 25 sq ft EDR of radiator. The current radiator is a 5-column, 23 inches high, 20 sections. According to a chart I found on the Net, that gives me a whopping 60 sq ft EDR. YIKES. When I started working on it I found the bleeding valve was clogged with corrosion, which explains why I couldn't bleed it. Now I'm glad I couldn't.

    A couple sources I found suggest can split my radiator apart and reuse only as many sectons I need. That's where I am now. The rad is disconnected and drained, and the four threaded rods are unbolted. I've soaked several of the joints with liquid wrench. I tried prying on it with a three-foot crow bar, and sliding a couple crow bars between the sections and pressing them apart with a jack. So far, none of the joints will budge. Any suggestions on how I might proceed would be greatly appreciated.

    Once its apart and I'm able to drag it out of the house, I plan on taking it to a shop that can clean and reassemble it for me.

    Tom
  • Jim Bennett
    Jim Bennett Member Posts: 607
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    radiator

    I have only done this once, but I was successful.

    Once I removed the rods holding it together, I made some small wedges out of old two x fours tapped them in between the sections close to the connections.

    they separated fairly easily considering the age. (I'm guessing early thirties)

    I salvaged a couple of the push nipples and reassembled after coating them with Rectorseal 5.

    The rad has been in service around 8 years now in a commercial building running about 5 psi steam with no problems.

    It was satisfying work as this unique old rad had two sections with sand hole flaws and could have easily ended up in the scrap yard.

    I had a hand in helping it continue it's travel through time.

    Good luck,

    Jim

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  • bob young
    bob young Member Posts: 2,177
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    RADIATOR

    IF THEY ARE GOING TO RE-ASSEMBLE , LET THEM DO THE WHOLE COMPLETE JOB. WHY TAKE A CHANCE CRACKING IT.
  • Tom_100
    Tom_100 Member Posts: 3
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    SUCCESS!

    Thanks for the advice. I didn't have any thick pieces of hardwood laying around, so I cut some wedges out of 8" sections of 2x4 on the table saw. Mike was right, they usually didn't last much longer than one split, but all they cost me was a few minutes in the shop. That works for me. As for why I wanted to do it myself, I just weighed one of those sections on a bathroom scale. Twenty pounds each. Twenty times twenty sections equals 400 lbs. I move furniture at work all the time, but like Dirty Harry said, a man's got to know his limitations. I'm confident I can safely get the two end sections I'm re-using, now 100 lbs each, down the steps, through the living room, and out into my truck.

    Thanks again!

    Tom
  • Jim Bennett
    Jim Bennett Member Posts: 607
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    Good Deal!

    Thanks for letting us know the result.

    Post a pic of the finished product when you get done.

    Jim

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  • Tom_100
    Tom_100 Member Posts: 3
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    Putting it back together

    When I was looking around the web to learn about how to deal with my radiator, the websites I found that talked about shortening or lengthening the used radiators they sell were for companies located in the Boston area. The shop I'm using in the NYC area doesn't usually take apart the radiators they work on, and one of the guys there asked me the best way to rejoin the sections. Ideas? To clarify, I removed the unneeded sectons from the middle, so I have two ends, one with four sections and one with five, that I need to put back together. Thanks again,
    Tom
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