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my experience trying to remove a rusty elbow

I am a novice to steam, we just bought an old house with an old steam system. But thought someone might find my adventure interesting . . . .

My first repair was to remove the old main vent and replace with a Gorton #2. It required extending the piping with a nipple and new elbow because the Gorton was too tall in the old location and would have hit the joist.

I bought all the parts and pieces to do the job, but I tried and tried and tried, and could not unscrew the old rusty parts.

So I went to strictly steam, and searched the archives. Lots of great advice. I learned that in my case the only solution was to crack the old cast iron elbow.

But I did not have a sledgehammer (nor the nerve to use it). And I did not have a sawzall handy -- and anyway, there is a lack of control with an electric saw -- I would be too afraid of cutting the threads of the pipe I needed to remain in place.

But I did have an electric drill. So I drilled holes in the elbow. Lots and lots of them. It took forever, but it was very easy to control. At the connection to the threaded pipe, I drilled only so deep so that I'd exactly miss the threads. There were so many holes that it took almost no pressure to break it apart and expose clean threads. Pictures are below.

The oddest part of the adventure was that I found an acorn INSIDE the elbow that I cut apart. God knows how some mouse got it in there -- probably when the system was down and being repaired -- I guess the mouse found it an amenable place to store food. This nut probably floated to the top and was pushed against my main vent, blocking the air flow for who knows how long.

Anyway, the acorn is gone, the vent is replaced, and the house is warm again.

Thanks everyone on this board for helping my cope with this new heating system.


  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    acorn finally found

    i hope no animals were harmed in making your pictures!

    good ideas on the removal. maybe by now you can feel the difference in your system with improved venting.--nbc
  • Rod
    Rod Posts: 2,067
    Acorns - Of course!

    Good for you! It doesn't matter how you do it as long as long as you get it done and it turns out okay. We'll have to add a "Check for acorns" answer to the list of responses to the common question -"Why don't my main vents work?"

    - Rod
  • Nice Job

    the Gorton looks good. and I like your drilling trick for us rookies I think thats a good thing to know . I wonder what the more experienced guys would have done . Heat or the Hammer
  • Dave in QCA
    Dave in QCA Member Posts: 1,785
    Acorn Vacuum Vapor

    Wasnt' there unique system, called the Acorn Vacuum Vapor System, that claimed to save you 25% on your coal bill?
    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.
  • Thats sounds

    A little Nutty To Me
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,929
    galvanized fittings

    You should remove the galvanized fittings and use black. NICE JOB!
  • galvanized? black?

    Hi, thanks for the compliment, it's my first steam piping I've done. But since I am new to steam, I am not sure I used th right fittings. I went to my local plumbing supply place for the fittings and said they were for steam, and they sold me the elbow, coupling and and nipple. I know galvanized is bad for steam systems, but am not sure I know enough to tell the difference. The receipt from the shop says they are "BLK", for instance: 1 x 1/2 BLK MI 90 EL.

    So they are black, aren't they? Maybe the camera flash made them look silvery? Any easy way to tell?
  • 04090
    04090 Member Posts: 142

    Your choice to go to a plumbing supply store was a good one. I'd expect they gave you the right thing.

    My limited homeowner experience with changing a steam shutoff at a radiator with supplies from the big orange store was miserable. I heard crackles with moderate tightening of the imported fittings. Exchanged it for domestically made parts from a plumbing supply and all was good to go, with confidence.
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    the big orange store

    A friend of mine, who is resourceful with many technologies, and is a skilled welder (1/8" to 4" thick steel, stainless, aluminum, boilers, ships, aircraft, refers to that store as "Home Despot."
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,929
    black vs. galvanized

    The nipple( that's the short piece of pipe)  appears to be black while the coupling and the elbow appear to be silver which means that they are gal. The problem with gal  is that there is a coating which will come off in little flakes and potentially clog the the vent
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