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Where are the dead men? Can I eliminate on an old steam system

Mufichman
Mufichman Member Posts: 7
edited January 2017 in Strictly Steam
Hey Dan and friends.

I have no clue what these are or what they do. I have one guy who "has been doing this for forty years" tell me yes cut them out you don't need any of that. And another guy who has been doing this almost as long say "remember the deadmen". If it was working, leave it alone.

Now I'm just hungry for an answer. Please help.

Comments

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,755
    edited January 2017
    Do the following:

    1. Back slowly away;
    2. Put away the wrenches, Sawzall and sledge hammer;
    3. Click on "Store" above and get a copy of "The Lost Art of Steam Heating".

    This is a Vapor system. The device with the "Steam Valve" and "Air Vent" is a Return Trap. Its job is to make sure the water can return to the boiler if its pressure exceeds a certain amount- often less than a pound.

    The other device is an Air Trap, which functions as the only air vent in the entire system. You can find both these devices in Chapter 15 of Lost Art.

    You can really screw up the system if you take these out. Where are you located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Koan
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,572
    You must have an old vapor system which will need these parts to function properly. A vaporstat on your boiler will help them do their job more effectively. In addition, it would be necessary to make sure the air is being released adequately through these old parts of the system.--NBC
  • Mufichman
    Mufichman Member Posts: 7
    I am in Chicago. One of them leaks because of a bad gasket. I am assuming I can open it up to replace the gasket. I always have the old clock gear with taking something apart I have no experience with. I don't want a handful of parts to fall out if I open it up.

    What should the pressure be set to on one of these? It looks I have to reread dans book.
  • Mufichman
    Mufichman Member Posts: 7
    edited January 2017
    Should I be using a vapor stat as my primary "on off control" instead of a pressuretol? Or would I use it in conjunction with? Would you still have a manual reset for high pressure limit or is that not needed. I am assuming by your comments this runs at an extremely low pressure.

    Right now I have the cycle rate set on a Honeywell 6000 thermostat for 1. Would you recommend me change that for a vapor system.

    Thanks a lot guys you are a life saver.
  • New England SteamWorks
    New England SteamWorks Member Posts: 1,456
    Where are the Dead Men?

    They are still around! At least you've started with the right question!



    The answers are in Lost Steam, and finding one.
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,432
    In answer to your question on control -- yes you should be using a vapourstat as the primary pressure limiting control, and it should be set to cut out at no more than 8 ounces per square inch. There is no harm to keeping the regular pressuretrol in the circuit, and I am a firm believer in having the high high limit -- somewhere around 3 psi -- being manual reset. It alt least grabs the attention...

    There is another gotcha in these vapour systems. As @Steamhead said, the air trap functions as the only air vent in the system. He should have emphasized that: the only air vent. There should be crossover traps between the ends of the steam mains and the dry returns, and they must be functioning. Furthermore, for the system to function properly, there must NOT be any other air vents on the system. Resist the temptation to vent the steam mains!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,755
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    KC_JonesErin Holohan Haskell
  • Mufichman
    Mufichman Member Posts: 7
    Today I piped in a high pressure limit and a vapor stat. I set the vapor stat to 8 oz and the differential to 4. My plan was to wait around and watch it run and cycle but I had to run deep into the city for another boiler call. It seemed to be running ok.

    The second picture is one that I showed before. I forgot to take a new pic of it before I left today but I had a system vent piped into the top of it. should that vent be there? Or should this system be completely ventless? The gasket is also leaking. If I remove the side of it will I get myself in trouble? Or will it just open up and I can cut a new gasket to stop the slow drip? I just don't want parts to an 80 plus year old contraption fall to the floor and me not be able to put it back together.

    Sorry guys I am very green when it comes to steam. Throw in vapor and I'm at a loss.
  • Mufichman
    Mufichman Member Posts: 7
    I just found a diagram online. To me, it looks like a return trap system and not vapor. Thoughts?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,755
    It's still Vapor. But that diagram should be pretty close to what you have.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • SteamCoffee
    SteamCoffee Member Posts: 102
    edited January 2017
    Go to archive.org and search for Illinois Heat System. There's a 32 pg. .pdf that explains the system very well. Had some really cool traps as well. Good luck, sounds like a nice project. It's in the library here as well. A few months back there was a great thread called
    Illinois vapor heat improvements or some very close. Check it out, good info there...
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,540
    Why don't I see a skim port on that boiler?
  • Mufichman
    Mufichman Member Posts: 7
    Skim port would be on the stern side sir
  • SteamCoffee
    SteamCoffee Member Posts: 102
    Any progress to report? After reading up on your system some more, I gotta say it's a pretty darned impressive design. Seems that water in the unit is mandatory for it to work in all three of its advertised roles. Without water and all you have is a nice looking boat anchor. Really impressed that it vents at roughly a third of an ounce. The float unit works as an almost open system to vent, a seal to go into deep vacuum on a declining fire and as a return trap, if water backs up in the returns. In the smaller installation, under 1500 edr or so, a separate return trap was, spec'd. ..Pretty slick.