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Another old gravity hot-water system converted to Vapor

SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,998
This is the third such conversion we've seen in Baltimore. If you can picture an 1890's-vintage end-of-group rowhouse that's big enough to get lost in, you get the idea of what the place is like. It originally had gas lighting, an annunciator near the kitchen and a set of speaking tubes going to the various parts of the house from below the annunciator. In this way the owners called and communicated with the servants.



We knew it was gonna be special when we walked in and saw a group of indirect radiators, an Italian Flue radiator, and a corner Rococo!
All Steamed Up, Inc.
"Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
Oil & Gas Burner Service
Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc

Comments

  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,998
    edited July 2010
    In the basement

    We see the indirects and ducting. Some of the indirects still had fresh-air ducts but all are now set up to recirculate. Some still had Hoffman #2 vacuum vents- they all drain straight to a wet return and don't have traps, so vents are needed. They all have Gortons now.



    All the piping pitches up from the boiler. The steam and return sides are the same size- that's how we know it's not a Tudor. The last pic is of a pair of 1" risers going to a second or third floor rad- one of the few uninsulated locations.



    The cave-like area in the first pic is the old coal bin, built under the front walk and filled from the street.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,998
    edited July 2010
    The Vapor conversion

    used Bishop & Babcock rad valves, Webster 512 traps and the famous "cast-iron ham", a Dunham #9 Return Trap. It looks like the original boiler was a Mills or similar header-type unit- the header is still there!



    The Burnham V-904 replaced an older Weil-McLain 76 series boiler- we found the tag from it. Note the lack of a barometric on a three-story-high chimney.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,998
    edited July 2010
    The de-knuckleheading began

    When we had first fired the boiler, it ran 15 minutes and didn't even come close to making steam. Definitely not normal for a V-9. We discovered that it was being fired at about 2.2 GPH instead of 4.2 like it was supposed to, which made the boiler condense, and with a 60° nozzle instead of the specified 45° which did a great job of coking up the burner head.  We put in the proper nozzle, set the fuel unit to the correct pressure, brushed and vacuumed it and added a barometric.



    We replaced the cute little Hoffman #75 dry return vent with a pair of Gorton #2s, fresh from the Gorton offices. We rebuilt the Webster traps on two radiators that the owner said didn't heat well, and removed all the one-pipe vents on the radiators that some knucklehead had added. Then we fired her up and tuned the burner, and noticed the feeder was coming on a lot more than it should have. As I was printing the combustion test results, water started streaming from the new Gortons.



    Turned out the Return Trap was stuck, and a vacuum had formed in it which was pulling the flooded Gortons open. We came back today and removed it, changed the Pressuretrol to a Vaporstat and added a low-pressure gauge. Now all the radiators heat more or less evenly on 2 ounces and the water can return as it should. The Vaporstat cuts out at 8 ounces and the water never reaches the vents.



    We found the Webster trap elements had a 1928 date code. This matches the vintages of the Hoffman #2 vents and the Return Trap. So we have a pretty good idea when the conversion was made. I don't think Homer Thrush came out with his hot-water circulator until a couple years later.



    We look forward to the fuel-savings figures from this one!
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • Brian_74Brian_74 Member Posts: 237
    Love the corner radiator!

    I really enjoyed the photographs and your description of what you did. Thanks for taking the time to share this.
    1929 Ideal Heating vapor system.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,998
    Our pleasure

    that's one reason we're here. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • gerry gillgerry gill Member Posts: 2,994
    wow, neat job to work on..

    is that common to run into a conversion like that out there? i don't think i've ever seen that done.
    gwgillplumbingandheating.com

    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • Frank do I get this right?,,

    originally it was steam?

    Later converted to hot-water.

    You converted-it back to steam?

    Help me understand,,,



    Been a long-day for me! ;-)
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,998
    edited July 2010
    Originally it was hot-water

    and in 1928 or so it was converted to Vapor. So far we've been in three homes where this was done.



    In one case, the owner had the original plans which showed the hot-water system that was to be installed. All the piping matched the plans.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • Dave in QCADave in QCA Member Posts: 1,759
    Fantastic!

    What an amazing system.  Lots of wonderful details and good engineering.  The pics taken in the house let me understand the overal scope of this amazing building.  Any chance of an exterior photo?
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,998
    Maybe

    I'll see what I can do when we go to that area next.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
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