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need five point socket or wrench for radiator bypass valve

swvawethead Member Posts: 143
edited January 2017 in Gas Heating
Hello. Posting this after running into endless dead ends.
We are in the middle of swapping in a Buderus gas boiler which is replacing a 1950's era Arcoliner.
Baseboard fin tubes from the same era from when the house was built.
There are about ten bypasses with black bakelite handles that turn 90 degrees for bypass or straight through flow for heat.
The bakelite handles have 'Webster System' 'Camden New Jersey'.
Some of the valves are extremely difficult to turn and several of the black handles have cracked off.

Oddly, the valve stem is five pointed.
Some of the stems - they appear to be brass - have been mangled from previous attempts to turn them without the proper five pointed wrench or socket.

I have not had any luck looking up Webster System and cannot find any penta sockets which are mostly listed in much larger sizes.

Luckily most of the valves are oriented in the straight through setting but I would like to loosen them for when the system is refilled so both the regular and bypass loops are filled with water.
Other option is not take a chance causing a leak and leave alone the valves I know are in the 'open' position.
There are a handful with broken off handles and I will not know if they are opened or bypassed until when the system is heating.

Sorry about this over-winded post.


  • swvawethead
    swvawethead Member Posts: 143
    edited January 2017
    Sorry if I wasn't clear about the bypasses.
    Each bypass valve is at the beginning or end of of a fin tube section.
    The way the bypass works is turn the black knob to 12/6 o clock position the flow is diverted to the bypass section.
    Turn to 6-9 o clock position and water is sent through the fin tube section.
    I have no idea why some of the valves were installed at the downstream end of the fin tube section but they would still serve the intended purpose for bypassing.

    There is one very long bypass run but only the pipe was installed and the job not completed by looping it into a bypass valve.
    The long incomplete bypass piping is capped off.

    Bought and read Dan's books years ago and the new install will correct the old piping by pumping away (!) with a third zone split out.
    Fourth zone will be stubbed out for adding an indirect later after recovering from the financial shock of this project.
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,423
    If the valves have a packing nut around the stem (under the black valve handle) you can loosen it which should cause the valve to be easier to operate.

    Can you remove one of the good black handles and use it to operate the valves that have no handles??
  • swvawethead
    swvawethead Member Posts: 143
    Ed - Thank you for replying.
    Yes, under the handle is a portion of the valve that is threaded into the body. The stem goes through this piece but I am not sure what seals the stem to prevent seepage/leaks. I am very nervous about loosening other parts out of fear of causing a leak afterwards. I could try this on one of the bypasses in a downstairs section that we isolated into a separate zone.

    Yes, I do have a good handle that will fit the seized valves but already broke two of them trying to loosen with handle attached.

    Ideally it would be nice to have a five pointed socket or wrench to properly fit over the stem for turning/loosening but I will (reluctantly) try your suggestion.
  • swvawethead
    swvawethead Member Posts: 143
    I will try to post of picture of this valve.
  • swvawethead
    swvawethead Member Posts: 143
    Sorry could not figure out adding text with pictures. I think I can loosen and remove the entire valve mechanism with the larger six pointed 'nut' or maybe help loosen the stem with the smaller six pointed nut. Again, nervous about opening a can of worms by disturbing an old valve installed in the 1950s. This one I was able to use liquid wrench and gradually loosen.
  • swvawethead
    swvawethead Member Posts: 143
    The handle turns clockwise 90 degrees to divert and counterclockwise back to horizontal orientation for heat. This valve is on the supply side but there are several on the other end which gets a little confusing determining rotational direction of the handle to control the flow.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,091
    The smaller six point nut is the nut which compresses the packing around the valve stem. If the valve is impossible or very difficult to turn, you can try backing that nut off a bit and see if it loosens up. On the other hand, if the valve drips at the stem, you can try tightening it a bit.


    you can take things apart and repack the valve. However, to do that, you have to drain the system.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • swvawethead
    swvawethead Member Posts: 143
    Jamie - thank you so much and will definitely follow your suggestion.
    I am trying to stay ahead of the boiler installer crew by attempting to loosen and making these valves operable before refilling the system.
    The system has been drained for the project and thus the urgency trying to take advantage of the opportunity.
    I am somewhat familiar with the graphite packing nut ropes (?) that can be used to properly seal the packing nut/stem.
    Will go ahead and test loosen the smaller nut around the stem.

    The reconfigured piping and with enough isolation valves added I hope draining and refilling (if necessary) will be a cinch in the future.

    Thanks again and I think I will have at least tonight and tomorrow evening to loosen up the valves before the crew fills the system.

  • swvawethead
    swvawethead Member Posts: 143
    Jamie and Ed. Thank you for helping. Last night I was able to free all the bypass valves and back into operable condition. Following your suggestion of loosening the smaller packing nut for the stem did the trick.
    Now the only remaining puzzle is with the several bypasses that are mounted on the downstream end of the bypass where it reconnects to the heating line.
    The handle is oriented horizontal for heat and vertical for bypass on the valves that are mounted on the upstream side of the bypass.
    Several are mounted downstream and hopefully the valves rotate and function in the same direction.
    The five pointed stem may be part of the design to help orient the knob to indicate the flow.
  • swvawethead
    swvawethead Member Posts: 143
    The following is somewhat related to my dealings with the bypasses.

    Following Dan's suggested piping scheme we've been filling the system one zone at a time and pushing air out of the drain that was added above the boiler on the supply as it exits the boiler and added a main shutoff downstream immediately after it.
    Close the shutoff, open each zone and open the drain.

    For the purpose of filling the system can the bypasses be set in midpoint so water is flowing through both pipes?
    I am assuming these bypasses are not the all or nothing types and can be set at any point for regulating heat from the fins.

    I think I managed to fill the pipes for the two downstairs zones but for some reason still getting trickling sound on the upstairs main floor loops as if the pipes are not full.

    Test fired the pump and it sounds very obvious more water needs to be added and I don't see any point where air could be trapped and preventing water from displacing it.

    Will the system be topped up during the boiler operation with the city supply open for the automatic fill valve and air separator doing its thing?
    There are three bleeders I can use with a fourth one that can be added where the loop drops back down to the boiler return.

    We used the fast fill only for initial pushing out the bulk of the air.

    Sorry again for yet another over-winded post.
  • swvawethead
    swvawethead Member Posts: 143
    After bombarding the forum in this thread over the stubborn bypass valves thought it would help to update this on a good note.

    The new boiler was fired up last Friday after I was satisfied with the pipes being completely full of water.
    Thank goodness the pipes ran quiet with no trickling noise.

    And was relieved to find the bypass pipes cool which confirmed the bypass valves were properly shut off for full heat (to start with).

    So regardless of the bypass being on the up or downstream end in the bypass loop, the valves work by turning 90 degree clockwise for full bypass/heat off and counter clockwise 90 degree for full flow/heat.
    There is a 'stop' to each direction so after freeing up the stuck stems it was a matter of turning in either direction to determine the flow direction setting of each valve.

    The only hint I had for which direction to turn the valve was one of the painted convector covers had a scratched on "off" mark with arrow turning clockwise but no info on how much it turned.