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Warner Webster steam system

This is the first Warner Webster steam system I've seen in person.
It makes me happy to see a vacuum system ready to be put back to the way it was intended to work.

The boiler is leaking. I found the leak during service. Customer said he was using a lot of water, so I gave it the fill test and there it is
So now that we know the boiler needs to go, I would like to hear some opinions on what boiler you guys would install.
I'm looking a the Burnham v9-4 because has a push nipple heat exchanger, that I like better then gaskets between the sections and it's a perfect fit for the EDR.
Both me and another plumber found a EDR of 1550 across 38 radiators (372,000 btu) . The customer had the asbestos removed from the pipes, but is planing on replacing with fiberglass. He may chose to put some ceiling mounted radiators back in the basement, so I'm using a 1.33 pickup factor that had me looking for a boiler with 500,000 BTU. The Burnham is 485k and I'm going to stage fire the boiler.
There are 12 radiators that have old Honeywell TRV's and the almost all the others radiators still have the original Webster modulation supply valves and all have original Webster sylphon traps.
I tried turning one of the supply valves. It would only turn closed, and wouldn't open. Can I take that vale apart and clean it without breaking it? If they don't work, they need to be fixed, so is there a good packless valve I can put in that will work the same as the Webster valve?
The Webster air eliminator is a thing of beauty. A little brass ball sits over a hole, vents air and doesn't let it back in. It's so great, how could it break? Why would I change that? Should I do anything with the air eliminator or return trap? I'm thinking if it's not leaking, I'm not touching it with anything but a dust rag.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Normally I'd be trying to put a vacuum pump on a steam system.
This one is nice the way it is.

Oh yeah, that little hot water boiler. Some one put that in doing 3 radiators in the kitchen, office and sitting room.
Those are going right back on the steam lines.


  • Are you comparing the radiator EDR directly with the boiler EDR on the rating plate. That already has the 33% pickup factor built in.—NBC
  • AMservicesAMservices Member Posts: 396
    No. I'm going off the BTU output.
  • Looks like a really fun project!

    I'd probably go with a Weil 580. I think the gaskets have proven themselves (if installed correctly of course), and they are a lot easier to assemble.

    Plus Burnham makes me nervous, given their history. But the V9-4 would be the correct size.

    As far as the air eliminator, I like to take them apart, clean them up, and repaint. Here's a Dunham I did awhile back, same idea.

    Keep us posted!

    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
  • AMservicesAMservices Member Posts: 396
    Thank you for confirming my sizing. I like the red paint job. Find anything good in that?
    I know Burnham had problems with the V8 model. Haven't heard much about the V9. That's why I ask
  • The shape reminded the owners of a heart, so they referred to it as "The Heart of The House".

    So I thought red would be appropriate in this instance...

    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
  • AMservicesAMservices Member Posts: 396

    Here's the Burnham V-9 4 section boiler, with HTP 60 gallon commercial indirect water heater.
    I went with the Burnham because the D.O.E rating was a perfect match for the system size.
    I really liked that it's a push nipple heat exchanger and not gaskets between the tank.
    I compared the weil-maclin model 88, that had 7 sections.
    My thoughts were, if the Burnham was only 4 section with almost the same heating capacity, the casting on the Burnham was probably thicker and will last longer with the right care.
    I guess that can be said about any boiler.

    Boiler went together easier then I expected and the power flame burner was all set up from the factory.

    I replaced every steam trap with B&J cartridges and replaced 15 out of 38 supply valves.
    The old Webster valves look so nice, I didn't want to replace with just any valve.
    I found these Hoffman packless valves that fit the build.

    In the first photos you'll notice a smaller forced hot water boiler next to old blue. It served 2 original radiators and that baseboard, that needed to be put back on the steam lines.

    No problem, just take the plugs out and reconnect.
    But when the plugs don't come out... out comes the big hammers.
    A big sledge held on one side of the fitting and smacking the other side with a mini sledge did the trick.

    Still need to make some repairs to the old Webster supply valves and find leaks in the system.
    I found a return line that serves 4 radiators, half way buried in the foundation wall, that when the burner cycled off, I would hear air sucking sound. After closing the 4 radiators off at their supplies and closing a ball valve that was conveniently put on the return main, the sucking stopped.
    There is a lot of evidence that this return was giving problems in the past. Water damage everywhere in the area.
    I hope the owner let's me re pipe that section.
    I want this system to be as tight as possible to take full advantage of a vacuum forming.
    After isolating the 4 radiators, my vacuum gauge started to move, so I know I'm getting close.
    I'm going to pressure test the system with compressed air and hopefully find the rest.

  • New England SteamWorksNew England SteamWorks Member Posts: 1,180
    Outrageously beautiful!

    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
  • AMservicesAMservices Member Posts: 396
    Thank you @New England SteamWorks
    Just trying to jump the bar you and others set.
  • New England SteamWorksNew England SteamWorks Member Posts: 1,180
    You jumped so far over the bar you're in near orbit!

    I am certain you will sleep soundly this week-end. And well deserved.

    But once you are rested, I would dearly love the source for those radiator supply replacement valves!

    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
  • New England SteamWorksNew England SteamWorks Member Posts: 1,180

    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
  • AMservicesAMservices Member Posts: 396

    I found the valves in Hoffman's catalog and had F.W. Webb order them.
    Good song, Like a good heating system... never gets old
  • clammyclammy Member Posts: 2,072
    Great looking job ,loved the pic of the plugged and gauged block. Indirect tanks off steamers aren' t one of my favorite set ups unless there's circumstances, always end up w maintenance issue down the line but that's me aside from that you make it look great nice piping w the strainer and isolation valves and purge set up ,set up for future maintenance. Kudos on the near boiler piping also very nice work with top notch quality .Peace and good luck clammy
  • AMservicesAMservices Member Posts: 396

    Thanks @clammy
    Here's a pic with less going on
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 7,642
    Why would a packless valve be needed instead of the good old packing nut variety?
    Mepco has a metered valve which might work in this sort of situation.—NBC
  • AMservicesAMservices Member Posts: 396
    Reading through my copy of lost art companion, all the vapor vacuum system would talk about how important their packless valves are to the operation. Some of them gave their valves more credit then the boiler components. Making the system tighter, easier to control each radiator, less maintenance. According to all of them , you can't have a good working vacuum system without packless valves.

    The valve is what the owner sees every day. That what is going to be used to control the distribution of the steam in a house with 7 guest rooms, 38 radiators, across 6,000 square feet.

    The Hoffman valve was reasonable priced and in my opinion looks better then the other packless valves.

    Why packless valves? A dead guy recommend them
  • clammyclammy Member Posts: 2,072
    Spot on w pack less and vacuum it s far less aggravation trying to get them not to admit air .Keep headen in that vapor vacuum direction i have a tudor system i did last year holds up to 20 in hg between cycles and steam distribution is in about 3 minutes after steam is in the header .I ended up with 2 hoffmann 67 on each main and 2 on the dry returns .They all tie together into a common wet return .The job was the replacement of the original 7 section ideal original to the home 1930 w all trane convectors no traps no supply valves and no return devices.There where many return trips for skimming and wanding alot of junk the was effecting the water line and producing foaming and causing minor hammering all good after about 3 or 4 good wandings and skimming just cant bring myself to use any chemicals when in most cases after there clean its unnecessary .also love full sized tee s on return for cleaning the mud leg u my friend are rocking it peve and good lucl clammy
  • clammyclammy Member Posts: 2,072
    One small note i also was a hammer smasher of CI fttings for decades now i use a grinder and a chisel .Cuts down on any damage control and shock to the system piping .As for union i stoppedtheold prior game and use steam unions they are pretty cheap on 3 and 4 overreg unione but for tight spots i ll pay the extra fr the 2 inch ones and use 2 and just slide it in ,i'm starting to getting to old to do other repairs down the line .Give it a try i was hesitate at first but its my 1 st go to for cutting and repairs on mains branch runs are a bit different.keep up the excellent work Ps let it all go to ur head the pic show pride clammy
  • AMservicesAMservices Member Posts: 396

    Made some progress today pressure testing Webster.
    Found a lot of little leaks around old supply valves and steam traps. Never would have found them without pressure testing.
    There was no signs of leaking where I found leaks. Usually I'll see evidence of corrosion or water damage.

    still need to rebuild about 15 valves. It goes quick when your all set up.
    With a few repairs I was able to get 8 HG on the vacuum gauge. I'm sure it will be more by the time I'm done.

    Only had to pressurize system to 4 psi and used some soap on valves.

    I took pressure controls off during testing.
    Only having the 1 air vent makes testing easy.
    For any fellow steam fanatics out there obsessed with having a tight system, I highly recommend doing this test.
    More of a pain in a 1 pipe system because there's vents on all the radiators and mains. Well worth the running around if you can save on the amount of fresh water your system sees. And you may have a easier time balancing after all leaks are gone.
    Don't have to drain the boiler. Normally when I do this test I fill through the boilers drain. On smaller systems I would use my nitrogen tank.
    Give it a try.

  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 7,642
    What is the purpose for the nozzle on the air eliminator?—NBC
  • CanuckerCanucker Member Posts: 493
    > @nicholas bonham-carter said:
    > What is the purpose for the nozzle on the air eliminator?—NBC

    Doing the leak testing at 4 psi. At least, that's what I'm figuring
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • AMservicesAMservices Member Posts: 396
    The vent on the air eliminator would be the only hole to plug for a pressure test. Using it as the place to connect the air compressor was me killing 2 bird's with 1 stone.
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