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Replacement for a Smith Mills 2000L?

Here is a candidate for the ugly system contest.

This is the boiler at the church my wife attends in Westchester county NY. After many years of patching and band-aids, the decision has been made to replace this steam boiler. It is a HB Smith Mills 2000L, rated at 1290 ft steam.  I have not  yet done a survey of the installed EDR, but I believe it is way oversized for the load. Supporting this feeling is the fact that although rated for a for a firing  rate of 3.8 Gal/hr, I see a tag showing the current nozzle installed is 2.5 Gal/hr.

When the system does operate, it seems to do so quite well, with even heating and no perceptible noise or hammer. Interesting, since the near boiler piping is far from ideal. There is absolutely no insulation on any of the steam piping, which extends from the small boiler room to the radiation, mainly through crawl space under the church.

I have just set up a data logger to monitor the cycling behavior under normal operation, to see how well the present boiler and firing rate match the installed EDR. Will post the results and graphs when data collection is completed.

The church is getting bids presently on the boiler replacement and hopefully insulation of the piping. My involvement will be to review the proposals and help the church officials decide which one to go with.

Any thoughts from the resident steam pros on what a suitable replacement oil fired  boiler might be, assuming an estimated EDR in the range of 800 sq/ft or so? Looks to me like it might be at the the upper end of the residental line or smallest commercial.


  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,253
    The boiler is efficient by design

    also With it being down fired it is behaving better than it should. Weil McLain is very popular in your area. I spent some time in White Plains last Winter straightening out an install in an apartment building that had a throughly abused Weil McLain 680 I turned into a 580 and trimmed the fire rate down to suit the building load. I am not sure what other boilers are used around there.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • Mike Kusiak_2
    Mike Kusiak_2 Member Posts: 604
    edited December 2010
    Popular Boilers Here

    Burnham is quite popular in this area. The original Burnham factory and warehouse is about 2 miles away in Irvington NY. The local Public Library is now located in the original 1885 Burnham building. Before they completely shut down here and moved all operations to PA, they rented out some of their surplus space and for a time I worked in a building described as their former boiler test lab.

    Peerless also common, but I don't know what they offer in larger steam boilers.

    When I first looked at the present boiler I made a few notes and emailed them to the church leaders:

    " I took a quick look at the church's present

    boiler yesterday. If I can be of any help in facilitating its

    replacement, I would be glad to do so.

     A few observations:

    1) The boiler is certainly in need of replacement, although it does not

    appear to be at risk of imminent failure. There seems to be a slow

    water leak at evidenced by the damp floor and corroded jacket at the

    base.The burner controls look to have been replaced recently and

    routine maintenance has been performed.

    2) There is no insulation of the steam piping in the basement which should be addressed during replacement of the boiler.

    3) The present boiler piping could be improved. Currently there is a

    single direct connection between the boiler and the overhead steam

    main. Modern boilers require the use of a steam header and equalizer,

    piped with swing joints to both of the boiler steam outlets. This type

    of connection serves to separate water from the steam and insures a

    quiet , efficient system. The new boiler's installation manual will

    describe in detail the required near boiler piping. It should be

    specified that the contractor install the near boiler piping in exact

    accordance with the manual diagram. In addition, all steam piping

    should be done with black Schedule 40 steel pipe.

    4) In order for proper operation, the size of the replacement boiler

    should be determined by a detailed survey of the amount of radiation

    connected to the system. In this way the ability of the boiler to

    produce steam will be balanced by the radiation's ability to condense

    it. The contractor should not simply note the capacity of the present

    boiler and replace it with one of the same size. The present boiler

    appears to be larger than necessary, as it seems to be downfired from

    its normal rating."

    If anyone has any further observations or comments that would help the church make the right choices, any such input would be greatly apprciated.
  • points to consider for church job

    why not make some mention of the advantages of a vaporstat, and good low-pressure gauge; and of the need for more main venting. you might well need a few gorton #2's for several hundred dollars, and some may balk at that later, so perhaps best to bring it up now.

    keep it gravity return, [easier with low pressure].

    if power cuts are a problem, you could wire in a largish computer battery backup, which can send an email to give notice the power is down.--nbc
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,253
    Check the returns

    moneys may need to be budgeted to replace them. Also adding return and king valves to help with future maintenance would be a good idea. Either of the three boilers will suit you fine if installed properly. They all have boilers to meet the size you will need. Are you staying with oil? has the chimney been inspected?
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,568
    1-pipe or 2? convectors or rads?

    Mike -- you fail to mention whether this is 1-pipe or 2 and whether most of the radiation is convector or rads? thanks.
    1-pipe Homeowner - Queens, NYC

    NEW: SlantFin Intrepid TR-30 + Tankless + Riello 40-F5 @ 0.85gph | OLD: Fitzgibbons 402 boiler + Beckett "SR" Oil Gun @ 1.75gph

    installed: 0-20oz/si gauge | vaporstat | hour-meter | gortons on all rads | 1pc G#2 + 1pc G#1 on each of 2 mains

    Connected EDR load: 371 sf venting load: 2.95cfm vent capacity: 4.62cfm
    my NEW system pics | my OLD system pics
  • Mike Kusiak_2
    Mike Kusiak_2 Member Posts: 604
    Good Points

    Venting seems to be lacking. The only vent I can see is on the return at the extreme left of the third picture, its view blocked by a white piece of wood. Maybe there are others, but if there were any at the ends of the mains they would be in the crawl space and pretty inaccessible.

    Returns seem to be all dry until they drop to the floor behind the boiler. I hope they are ok because changing anything but the near boiler piping would be difficult as it is all in crawl space. Its hard to follow the piping because it all disappears into darkness.

    Chimney collapsed last winter and was replaced by B-vent up the outside of the building. I assume it will remain as there is no money to rebuild the masonry chimney.

    No gas is available on site, so it will remain oil.

    The next time I go there to retrieve the data logger, I will try to take a few more pictures of the area behind the boiler showing the return piping, vent and Hartford loop.
  • Mike Kusiak_2
    Mike Kusiak_2 Member Posts: 604
    Cast iron radiators

    I believe it to be be one pipe, but most if not all the radiation is hidden from view. I seem to remember looking down through one of the top grilles once and seeing an air vent.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,253
    Just checked back in and was wondering

    You say it is vented with b vent. Do you me metalbestos pipe? As b-vent is not rated for oil boilers. The returns below the water line tend to be the issue areas so that seems to be located in the boiler room. when these pipes are being replaced is the time to add taps for new venting. Someone will need to crawl into the darkness to check for old vents and sagging return piping.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • Mike Kusiak_2
    Mike Kusiak_2 Member Posts: 604
    edited December 2010
    Metal chimney

    I should have said "looks like" B-vent. Its a double wall stainless steel pipe outside. I assume it is rated for oil as it was installed by the oil service company.

    Here are a few more photos. I found another vent on a different return, so there are two so far. Returns seem to all join up at what looks like a partial Hartford loop, but the piping is a real mess.
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,253
    I would say

    require changing piping from just above water line back to boiler. The new boilers waterline will be close to the height( guessing from the photo) those pipes join at. You say the returns are dry returns so this should be restricted to the boiler room.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • Mike Kusiak_2
    Mike Kusiak_2 Member Posts: 604
    Logger data is in

    I went and downloaded data from the temperature logger today. First graph is the cycling during maintaining a constant 55F during the week when the church is unoccupied. This was on a 40F degree day. Seems to run about half an hour with 3 hours off cycle. Flue temp about 375F.

    Second graph is showing recovery from setback on Sunday morning. Thermostat was turned up from 55 to 70 at 6 AM. Burner ran for 4hours until 10 AM to satisfy thermostat. No pressure cycling. Dont know if pressuretrol is working. Flue temp increased 10F to 385F after 2 hours of firing, which might seem to indicate an increase in pressure of a few pounds.

    Also, might be a hole above water line? I see signs of condensation on the flue pipe and flue temp seems normal?

    Will have to wait for a survey of EDR to see how firing rate matches the radiation.
  • Warren123
    Warren123 Member Posts: 1
    Smith Mills 2000L

    May I know when is the boiler Smith Mills 2000L made? Does it have asbestos components in it? Thanks.