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Does anyone still....

We live in an old house that is a register Historic Site. The house is a community gem to the small town we live in. The people here have a real pride for the house and we have taken on the task of restoring it. While talking to some people at the local historical society, I found out the grandson, a third generation pipe fitter, of the man that piped the Eddy System in this house is still alive. Several weeks ago I met with him. He serviced this house for many years until he retired and was excited as can be when I said I wanted to learn about steam systems from him. This is my first steam heat home and I am amazed by the work of the old timers and their mastery of physics to overcome any problem presented to them.

Anyway, I met with him again today and we started talking about new inovations and things they didn't have "back then". We got on the topic of thread tape, and he proceded to tell me, then show me how he sealed pipes. He demonstrated on a nipple and a coupling by taking something he called "plumbers thread" and winding it in the valleys of the threads. He started where the pipe turns to threads and held the end of the string there, then pulled it tight down to the end of the nipple and started wrapping the threads of the nipple. Once he wrapped about 2/3 of the threads, he coated with some pipe dope and spun them together.

He claims every joint he ever made was done this way, and also claims to have never had a drop of water leak on any fitting, ever. He said all the joints in my system are fitted that way.

I'm curious if anyone does this anymore? I know thread tape and newer better joint compound means you don't need to do this anymore, but do any of you still use this method? Was it even a popular thing to do, or just something a few people handed down to each other?


  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Thread Wicking:

    I used that stuff until one day, while working in the local power plant, the Boss handed me a roll of Teflon Pipe Tape. I never uses wicking again.

    If the old timer had been handed a roll of Teflon Pipe Tape way back when and he used it, he would have used Pipe Tape from then on. Especially the Blue Monster stuff.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 8,631
    Blue Monster

    Ever since Gerry Gill recommended Blue Monster tape to me I have not had a leak.  I still use white tape on my radiator vents as it seems nicer on the tiny threads but Blue Monster everywhere else.

    I've also been curious about the wicking I've heard about.  I'd love to see a video of how its done.  When was wicking used and why isn't it used with modern pipe dope?  Or, is it sometimes?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures
    Central air project pictures
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 1,349
    Thread Thread

    The idea was to fill in the gap between the peaks of the female thread and the roots of the male thread, eliminating one of the two primary leak paths. It's not really clear to me that this ever really did much good because it didn't fill the gap between the peaks of the male threads and the the roots of the female threads, and if thread dope was used anyway, that should have been enough.
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S
    3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited November 2013
    Old dead guys:

    The old dead guys used to use it a lot. I still saw it often on old brass and iron screw pipe. I/we always used it on well pipe that we drove for water wells. Teflon tape replaced it. 

    You install it just like Teflon Tape. It comes on a rill like a ball of kite string. Only it wasn't "braided" but was "twisted" and you cut off a piece long enough to properly wrap the threads. You separate one string and use one. Pulling out each successive string as you needed it.

    You can probably get a ball of it from Crest or Sioux Chief. Or an old supply house.
  • JStarJStar Member Posts: 2,668

    I used to use thread wick on everything over 4". Man, it takes a long time! Now, I reserve the old tradition for cases where an older pipe looks like it has some pretty beat up threads. I'll use wick, teflon, and dope. A little overkill, but I have "old pipe" paranoia.

    On all new pipe and fittings, I use Monster tape and Megalok. Never had a single leak this way.
    - Joe Starosielec
    [email protected]
  • MDNLansingMDNLansing Member Posts: 297
    well then...

    I will certainly talk to him next time about video taping the process to save here. He will be thrilled to archive the process so someone can always see how it used to be done. He's not interested at all in the using the internet or this blog himself, but he gave me his official "approval and consent to share my knowledge and understanding of anything steam related that you might learn to that internet" (his exact words right before asking if we needed to sign something official and notarize it) I love this man :) I have to proxy what he teaches me.

    I'd love to interview him about this process and video him doing it for an upload. What a great idea ChrisJ.

    He did explain to me something not mentioned yet He said that threading the pipe not only prevented leaks but allowed old pipes to be removed easily using the candle wax method as you had a wick to draw the wax deep into the joint. He also noted that the thread would help get "gas juice" deep into the joint by wicking. According to him, "gas juice" is the condensate and crud that accumulates in the drip leg of a gas line. The stub that extends to the floor. Apparently there is a liquid in there that works like a penetrating oil, but is far better than anything you can buy. He had a jar of about 4 or 5 oz of it that he had collected. Every clean and check he would go on he would save this stuff and use it when needed. The threaded pipes helped draw the liquid into the joint and penetrate better. Now I have no doubt he used and did this, and honestly thought that it worked. It might be total nonsense as far as the mechanics of piping goes, but he swore by it and I gotta tell you it makes some sense to me. Drawing any type of penetrating oil inside the joint seems to me at least plausible.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Old Practices:

    If he was one of them young whippersnappers today, and he used 1/2" or 3/4" Blue Monster, Meg-Loc (or other modern thread sealing compounds) and a can of AeroKroil, he's put that old junk gas goop in the hazardous waste bin. That stuff came from manufactured gas and not available in Well Head gas.

    Being old enough to have used both, and worked through the transition, there is no way I would ever go back.
  • vaporvacvaporvac Member Posts: 1,512

    Hello Icesailor,

    This is the first time I've heard mention of AeroKroil. Is this something commonly used? I
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    The Best Penetrating Oil

    Hi - Kroil and Aerokroil is made by Kano Labs.

    It is, without a doubt, the best penetrating oil available. I used it on an old pump that was just a mound of rust and after several days of soaking the nuts, was able to get the pump apart.

    It can be hard to find.a source for it.  You can get straight from Kano Labs. Amazon also carries it and I usually order a can at the same time I order a book.

    - Rod
  • MDNLansingMDNLansing Member Posts: 297

    I'll agree with that. As far as penetrating oils go, there's nothing better than Kroil.
  • vaporvacvaporvac Member Posts: 1,512
    Kroil & near boiler piping.

    Thank you. It this something I should make sure to use when doing the near boiler piping?
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Penetrating Oil

    Hi Colleen-  Kroil is a penetrating oil which is used to help loosen up things like tight and rusted nuts and bolts. .

    You 'd use it where there was a old fitting /fastening which is stuck and you might need to remove without physically destroying it. It's not used for assembly.

    - Rod
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