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Need used or cheap commercial steam boiler

customer is non-profit, struggling and now their old steam boiler cracked 3 sections. Holes too big to patch. Funds should be available in 1-3 years to convert to GEHP or ASHP but need to bridge the gap until then. Boiler is rated 1.2 mil BTU but connected load would allow down to 750,000. Have burner, need block. anybody have any leads?


  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,328

    do you want to rip out the steam? That would cost them even more money, and you say they're struggling. 

    If this is gas, you might look at a Dunkirk D247 or Utica JD series boiler. They're not my favorites, but they do offer lower prices. But you couldn't use that burner with them.
    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.
  • George HaseltonGeorge Haselton Member Posts: 11
    used steam boiler

    Hello Mr. Steamhead,

    I might have guessed I'd get this response and it is a valid point. The board, with an architect on it is concerned that the delivery system is about 80 years old and the longevity is a concern. Next is the price of oil verses the electric for the heat pumps. Typical figures here indicate 40% savings on the heat pumps, next, its an old school and now it is divided up into many tenants and they want to be able to track individual tenants costs for heating. next, they wish to have some cooling too. we've saved many old steam systems and have a few real old time steam luvin techs but the above reasons gicve a strong arguement. Thnks for your feedback!
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,535
    Replacement sections?

    Are replacement sections still available, or would two 375 MBTU (or three 250's) be easier to install. Staging would save some fuel possibly. Is gas available?

    What sort of radiation is now there?--NBC
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    They're crying poverty and they want to spend a ton on money on a complete re-hab of the heating system of the structure or do it on the cheap with a used steam boiler? That some cheapskate Architect that thinks that's a good idea? Another reason why contractors hate working with building committees. Especially ones with "experts" on them. 

    Keep track of your uncompensated "run around" time for them so they can get someone else outside of your work sphere (unless you do HVAC/AC). Or, they put it out to bid and you can't allow your uncompensated overhead.

    The job sounds like it is large enough to require the services of a Mechanical Engineer.. Let them pay a ME to run around and decide what's best for them and pay for their design services. Let them do the design work and make the mistakes. YOU might get to fix them.

    If the boiler is as bad as you say it is, the "Board" probably suffers from congenital alligator arms. Their hands won't reach far enough to get to their pockets.

    I'll bet that someone knows someone who knows a guy that works for cheap labor and will install it. He's never done anything as complicated as that, but he'll try. By Dog, he'll try.
  • George HaseltonGeorge Haselton Member Posts: 11
    Used Steam boiler

    Hi there ICE Sailor. I have a DN and am into the skim bats, see attached picture. But now for business, I am glad I gave you a chance to rant. Rants are best when the writer has no idea what he is talking about. i almost felt like I was listening to a politician on one of those  AM radio talk shows.

    To humor you , but maybe  to get you to think more before you start typing next time... I've been in the trade for pushing 40 years and have my share of architect experiences and know they can seem pompous and egotistical, but there are good ones too. This one is the later,  his energy related design is just about as good as anywhere in N. America, maybe the globe. The young mechanical engineer that came to the meeting is also cutting edge, grew up in the trades, still turns the wrench and knows more about the HVAC business than just about anyone I've come across. As for me, I don't mind helping these folks out, they have been good customers for years and have a service agreement with us and pay their bills. I do well enough in my business that I don't have to squeeze a local non-profit that is in a tough situation. Wow the rest of your rant is just plan ridiculous, have you been huffing adhesives? Enough!
  • George HaseltonGeorge Haselton Member Posts: 11
    Cheap steam boiler

    Hi Nicholas,

    Appreciate your reply. Replacement sections are not available as we learned a few months ago when the 1st section cracked. We removed the section and re-welded the headers back as a stop gap repair to make it to spring. Looks like we missed by a few weeks. No nat. gas here, oil holds sway in comparison to LPG, plus we are all set to use #2. We just are looking for a band-aid as the plan is to go air source heat pump despite one of the earlier responders vocal and off beat response. Could be 2-3 years before funds to do the envelop tightening and associated work to be off the oil. We are junking a few boilers of this size this spring but they are either too large or too small. Just hoping for some luck!! Never know, right?


  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Ice Sailing & Architects:

    "Never sail alone. There's always thin ice somewhere". Much if what I saw comes from experience. We pick our battles. I've fought most all of them. If you wish to indulge in this, God Bless You. I also post what I say so that someone might relate to what I have said. I often got into these exercises in futility. Once after a particularly difficult problem, where I was having my mind twisted by a designer and a contractor that I had done a lot of work for. I came to find out that they had found someone else and they were running me to get the other person to drop their price even more. I was complaining to a store manager. He asked me, "Is this worth it?" That enraged me. I sat down and added up all the work I had done for these two in the last ten years, I called the manager back and told him how much money they had spent with me and I didn't want to lose the account. Have someone else get in where I was. To which the manager stopped me short. I almost fell over. "Are you making any money? Just because you're handling a lot of money, doesn't mean your making any".

     I had been. But as the jobs and designs became more and more complicated, they wanted jobs for the same price as when I could make money.

    We take our own sticks to our own a$$;s. We lie in the beds we choose. I pick my beds and the species of fleas I sleep with.

    I also check for bed bugs. People laughed at that. A couple of them caught them. I haven't
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,535
    used boilers

    since many people are switching from oil to gas, there must be some used ones around which have been replaced by atmospherics.

    a pair of used boilers stage-fired on pressure, may be very economical to run. the previous owners might get a tax deduction for their boiler donation.--NBC
  • George HaseltonGeorge Haselton Member Posts: 11
    used steam boiler


    Thanks, that is my hope!
  • SnowmeltSnowmelt Member Posts: 750

    Cheap and band aids don't work

    Go to the bank and ask for a loan.
  • George HaseltonGeorge Haselton Member Posts: 11
    edited April 2014
    ICE sailing


    I understand your views & appreciate them, however negativity is not an asset to anyone nor the intent of this site. Just have to move on when you get burned unless you want to fight, that will beget more negitivity.

    I do just fine in this great busniess. another year of paying more in taxes then most make, can't complain. Just have to figure out where it works for you and follow that.

    I lost a good friend a few years back to a hole in the ice, that was bad, left his family behind. i go with a friend and wear the ice picks. sorry, could not find that picture of the "skim bat, its a wing thing like a wind surfer sail and you can go on skis or skates
  • Paul48Paul48 Member Posts: 4,234
    Yeah George!

    Maybe you could get everyone in the bank drunk, before the folks from the NON-PROFIT go in to ask for the loan.
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,535
    used boilers

    I don"t think this is such a wild and untenable idea, as long as there is a boiler angel to do most of the grunt work. as we all know, the labor cost of a replacement is a great part of the price of the whole.

    have a look in the for sale ads here and see if anyone has a lightly used oiler for sale. maybe place an advert there as well "looking for oil boiler"--NBC
  • Paul48Paul48 Member Posts: 4,234
    Ya Know

    Not that it matters, but no one thought to ask this gentleman what the non-profit organization was,before criticising his cause. I have trouble finding the words.....SAD is the only one that comes to mind.
  • jimmacjimmac Member Posts: 43
    Boiler type?

    What is your current boiler?where are you located?
  • RobGRobG Member Posts: 1,850
    Paul is right

    George, perhaps if you post the non-profits cause you might get a more positive response. Used boilers are usually relegated to scrap. If it is for a good cause people will keep their eyes and ears open. Who knows, rather than having to buy it, someone would probably donate it. A quote that I recently read struck home with me. "What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness"

  • George HaseltonGeorge Haselton Member Posts: 11
    Used Steam boiler

    Hello JIMMAC,

    Appreciate your reply. Facility is called Waterfall Arts in Belfast, Maine. Old school converted to community based uses for a variety of art related tenants I think. The boiler is a American Standard PFA 513 series. No longer in production. it was about 800,000 btus.

    Thanks, George
  • Here's an Idea....

    maybe you can get a couple of nearly new megasteamers donated since Burnham won't permit conversion to gas (there's one on the wall right now that may become available).  Also, is your steam two pipe?  If it is you may be able to go even smaller on the steamer.   If you orifice the valves, you can drop down to the heat loss of the building plus a 10 to 15% PU factor, not the radiation load.  Also, I have found that most engineers have had little or no training in steam heating, so they have no basis to make the decision that steam in somehow inefficient ( I have my degree in Architecture and quite a bit of engineering came with that).   If they want new systems, the best solution may be a combination of the two.  Size the new systems to accommodate the base load for the typical winter day or warmer ( about 60% load and 90% of the heating season), to nearly halve the size of the new systems, and then let the steam supplement for the 10 days a year that the weather requires additional heat.   With a multi-unit there are so many internal heat gains, that the steam probably would only be needed a couple days a year.
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert

    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
  • George HaseltonGeorge Haselton Member Posts: 11
    Used Steam boiler

    Hello Steam whisperer,

    I like that name. I hope you are passing your knowledge on to the younger folks as steam need not be a lost art. We work on our share and enjoy it, especially the projects that everyone else gave up on, then they call us. As for this particular facility, its 1 pipe and the divisions of the spaces are now that zoning isn't too feasible even with TRV's. The other issue is maybe in the last 6-8 years we did get the traps all working and the pneumatic controls working but its only a matter of time before they need attention again. It will be easier for them to fund raise for the air source heat pumps and along with the incentives available along with the envelope tightening work they will do. This particular engineer, even though he is young, grew up working for his dad, a respected mechanical contractor in northern Maine. He was exposed to more then most Dilbert types you speak of. I do however think there is merit in your opinion to retain the steam system, especially if they have to invest in a boiler now. At least then it can do some "work" for them and they can go smaller on the air source heat pumps. However, as I mentioned to one of the earlier respondents, the piping distribution system is pushing 80 years old and is sure to need investment, especially the condensate returns.

    Thanks again,

  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,535
    Traps on 1-pipe??

    How can 1-pipe have any traps or vacuum controls? Best to try to return the system to its original state.--NBC
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