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Stupid Radiator Tricks?

lee_7 Member Posts: 458
Use a hack saw blade (blade only) and CAREFULLY make two cuts at 90* from each other. Then use a chisel to break piece out. The rest of the reducer should come out easily.


  • Al Hendrickson_7
    Al Hendrickson_7 Member Posts: 2

    I wrote here before about my cracked radiator . . . and I finally found a used replacement. Now I'll need to prepare it for use. It was formerly in hot water service and I'm putting it in a single-pipe steam system . . .

    1) I'd like to recover the spud from the cracked radiator so I don't need to buy a new valve. I'm thinking I'll use a Sawzall and/or a cold chisel to split the inlet of the radiator and free up the spud. Does this make sense?

    2) I'll need to remove a pipe reducer from the replacement radiator so I can pipe it for steam. They've probably been in there for fifty years. I've got a 24" pipe wrench and a six foot cheater bar. Should I just try it cold and dry first? Is penetrating oil a waste of time on a pipe fitting that's probably sealed anyway? I just have a propane torch, so I'm thinking that trying to heat the radiator to expand it would be an exercise in futility. I could try to make an outward cut in whatever reducing bushing is in there too, but I wouldn't want to go too far and damage the female threads on the radiator.

    Any guidance or interesting stories about salvaging an old radiator would be appreciated!
  • jim_51
    jim_51 Member Posts: 69
    recycled spuds

    Re: #1- Went through this myself last year. Here's my suggestion.
    First, buy a new valve and set it aside. Now spend a few hours trying to surgically remove the soft brass spud from the ci radiator. If you do not have a dog, feel free to kick your tires, a large rock, or your neighbor's dog. If you manage to get it out in one piece,do your best to screw the slightly out-of-round spud into your new radiator, and couple to the valve. Turn up the thermostat. After losing a quart of water in steam from the valve (this could take several days), disassemble the whole works. Add teflon tape, pipe dope, then wrap in new panty hose. Reassemble. After losing another quart of water, disassemble a second time. Now turn to the reserved radiator valve. Installing this valve will be one of the most gratifying mechanical experiences of your life, something like opening up a Porsche on a desert highway, and it will only set you back around $20.
    At least that's how it worked for me- your results may vary.
  • Dry Steam
    Dry Steam Member Posts: 32

    Yes do yourself a favor, buy a new valve, make sure its for steam and then buy a spud wrench from a plumbing supply house. A relatively small expenditure in the long run. The best thing about this is that you can justify to the wife why you need more tools!!!!
  • Al Hendrickson_8
    Al Hendrickson_8 Member Posts: 1
    Asbestos . . .

    Thanks for the great replies!

    The valve would be a 1 1/2" NPT unit, which is a big jump in price from smaller ones. I bought one a couple of weeks ago when I installed a different radiator (with previous fittings already removed) in another room. The valve set me back about $50 and I got it cheap on eBay. It might be $50 well spent, though, but I won't order one until I need it. I could live without a radiator in the kitchen for a few days, and I do have a 1.5" cap handy just in case things go badly. I'm more worried about getting the old valve off in one piece without damaging the asbestos covered riser pipe beneath the floor and creating an abatement issue.

    As far as getting the old spud out . . . since the end section of the radiator is cracked, it's junk. Splitting open the end of the cast iron radiator would be no loss. Or . . . since the crack appears to be traveling toward the inlet fitting anyway, I guess I could just keep the radiator in service for another couple of months until the spud breaks free on its own. :)

    Anybody have good advice on how to get the old reducing bushings out of the replacement radiator without wrecking it?
  • jim_51
    jim_51 Member Posts: 69
    1 1/2\" valve

    Had this question, too, and the like of the venerable Steamhead said a 1 1/4" valve would be fine, 1 1/2"-ers being on the rare and pricey side. I have a number of radiators with a reducing bushing and 1 1/4" valve and can't claim to notice any difference in performance compared to those with a full 1 1/2".
  • Al Hendrickson_10

    That would probably work OK. I'm a little uneasy about chiseling around brittle cast iron though. Maybe with extreme caution. Or maybe if I put those two cuts in, most of the way though, the reducer would crush down a little in the jaws of a pipe wrench and free itself up easier.
  • Al Hendrickson_10

    Thanks! I'm sure that a 1 1/4" valve would be adequate for the small radiator, but the riser is 1 1/2" and I'd rather not disturb it if I don't have to.

    I don't actually have the radiator in my hands yet though. A plumber acquaintance of mine says he'll drop it off on his next trip through my neighborhood. If the inlet is at a different height than the old one, I'll have to replace the riser pipe . . . and then I might as well reduce it down.

    I'd then have to remove about a foot of asbestos pipe insulation, which I'd rather not disturb. But If I wear a proper respirator, saturate the section with soapy water first, double bag, and clean up well, I doubt I'd release enough stray fibers to hurt anybody.
  • tim smith
    tim smith Member Posts: 2,752
    Cut, cut cut. Just make couple cuts in bushing as stated above

    Not hard to make sure you don't cut into radiator threads, just stop before you are too close. We do tons of these this way and works just fine. Good luck, Tim Ps, we use a sawzall and semi fine blade and just cut cut twist...
  • Al Hendrickson_11
    Got it!

    I got the radiator today and managed to get the fittings out of it. I made a couple of cuts in each with a Sawzall, but they still wouldn't budge. I wound up breaking off the hex part of the cast iron reducing bushings with the pipe wrench, leaving the threaded part in the hole to be chiseled out. They were stuck so hard that even cut into sections, they needed to be chiseled loose. They're out now. I did nick the radiator threads a little with one saw cut, but I'll just use some high temperature epoxy instead of pipe dope for the reducing bushing that goes in that one.

    The new radiator connection is 2" higher than the old one. There is no room to make a knuckle joint with 45's, so I'll probably have to replace the riser pipe. I sure wish there was a way to screw on a 2" long extension on 1.5" pipe. I wish I still had my metal lathe so I could make some kind of special fitting. Anybody know of a way to extend this pipe? Is there some really cool fitting for this purpose?
  • oil-2-4-6-gas
    oil-2-4-6-gas Member Posts: 641
    street coupling

    go to the supply house and get a street coupling the fitting will have a male and a female end --(sometimes called the plumbers f@%k-up coupling ) i think an 1-1/2 street coupling will get you there if not a coupling and a close nipple should do -
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