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MegaSteamer Install (Alex M.)

The Wire Nut
The Wire Nut Member Posts: 420
Here’s one of my latest installs. It’s in Westchester at the house of friend’s who purchased it last winter.

The original boiler was a W-M 662 steamer with an indirect. They had asked me to check out the system after burning about 2 dinosaurs worth of fuel last winter. In addition, they didn’t have adequate hot water, and when the boiler ran on the aquastat, the radiators would get hot. Always a useful side-effect in the middle of summer.

My first visit was this past spring. The boiler was tagged with a local service company and it had been “cleaned” the prior winter. In addition they had installed a VXT water feeder. Notice that the service company didn’t seem to mind the vent stack. It made me suspicious about what I might find…

My first find was the indirect being fed by a ¾ copper feeder reduced to ½ on the input side, the output connections were also ½ feeding the ¾ DHW house supply. The piping was cleanly installed and neatly soldered so I presume some “pro” rather than a homeowner had done this…

After some discussions and some research on their part, they decided an electric water tank would suit their purposes. On my second trip up, I moved the DHW to the tank, and they’ve been very happy with the quantity of water, and their electric bill has not been significantly impacted.

I had them measure up the radiators and calculating the EDR, even with the indirect and a 50% pickup for the uninsulated mains, it was almost 40% oversized.

I went up in early September to fix the stack and clean the boiler. Upon removing the burner I found the end of the burner tube burned off, black soot was baked on the nozzle, the “spinner” and about ½ way up the tube.

When I removed the door, I found the chamber cracked wide open across the bottom, and the pins were caked with yellow and red soot, thick enough to bridge across the pins.

Clearly not recently cleaned or serviced…

Since the 62 series was ended in the ‘70s, I believe, it was clearly time for a new boiler… And what better steamer than the Burnham MegaSteamer. Based on the EDR a 396 was the perfect fit. I ordered one from a local supply house, disconnected the W-M and left them to arrange for removal and bringing the new one down the basement steps…

Whomever did the original install in the 30s, did a nice job with a 3” header feeding two 2” mains. The W-M was piped into that header using one riser (I think the 662 only had one tapping).

Since the best steam is dry steam, I decided to drop the Mega’s two 2” risers into a new 3” header, and then pull off that to feed the 2 mains.

After some head scratching and a consultation with Steamhead, I decided to wrap the header around the back of the Mega to let me feed each main from its own take-off. I originally tried to use the take off piping at the unions where they connected to the old header. After playing around with some piping arrangements, I decided it was easier to remove some of the old piping and to make more direct connections.

I had mixed luck trying to find 3” fittings. I ended up at Best Supply, who had a nice, pick it yourself, setup, with lots of stock, including a decent supply of CI fittings. But with enough empty bins to make pull from the black iron section. And no large gate valves which is why I ended up with fp balls on the risers…

Since I hadn’t brought my threader, I bought a large assortment of nipples and fittings, and they cheerfully took back what I didn’t use. The only thing they were missing was a cut and thread service, and I actually had to run to the local H-D to get an off-size 2” nipple cut.

The only real problem was at the end of the “long” main where the vent attached to a Tee prior to dropping into the return. When I removed the old vent it was in a ¾ to ½ bushing and the bushing sheared off in the bull of the tee. An extractor did nothing but feed its way into the Tee and lose its grip. That took some time to extract!

The next step was to try and remove the Tee. There was union on the return about 3 ‘ from where the main dropped down. I was able to crack that, and to unscrew the pipe from the preceding El, but the down pipe crushed when I tried to spin it with a 24” wrench.

I decided to replace the whole section. When I next returned I was able to remove the Tee and related fittings using a lot of W-D 40, a big wrench and a cheater bar, and a lot of patience. A nice Gorton #2 now occupies the venting position…

All told the job took 3 days with me working essentially alone. My friend and the co-owner of the house, Susan, who is a geek at heart, pitched in by wicking and doping fittings, and holding parts and wrenches as needed. By the end of the project she was able to fit and install the replacement vent T and piping as mentioned above.

She had taken a 10 week BOCES plumbing course, just because she wanted to and could, but was unable to identify common fittings, like unions and bushings. But she was a good apprentice and, I think, learned a lot more in 3 days than she did in 10 weeks!

The boiler fired up pretty cleanly, needing only a slight adjustment from the default burner settings to get it spot on using the Bacharach… I did a 3 hour initial skim, but need to go back to do a thorough cleaning and to clean up and paint the pipes. When the weather finally gets cold, we’ll balance the radiators and check the burner again…
"Let me control you"

Lost in SOHO NYC and Balmy Whites Valley PA


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