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Spring Project

mikeg2015mikeg2015 Posts: 792Member
With the help of a coworker, I salvaged an 10 year old 200k BTU input Hydrotherm VGA-200. The home was damaged in a fire 7 months ago and insurance has finally settled so it can be demolished. One less 1 pipe steam system in the area. Probably only 3 or 4 left I’d guess. The boiler were drained so they didn’t freeze. The “scrappers” had already cut it loose and it was laying on it’s side. But case and base is still in good shape other than some rust. Flue damper was in automatic, so I’m hopeful it still works. Flue got crushed, but it’s just 7” galvanized pipe. Collector is OK. Cycleguard is destroyed, but those seem to be universally disliked. Some refractory came off, but I salvaged some from a 2nd 300k boiler. The house had a 2 boiler setup. My company installed them. I als salvaged all the burner tubes from the 2nd boiler and it’s cycle guard LWCO.

Plan is to plug it and fill it for a basic leak check. Will pressurize it if I can get the 3” pipe out of the supply. Have a 3’ pipe wrench. Then get it in the basement and start the project.

Will need to transfer all my intermittent pilot controls, 2 stage gas valve, LWCO and it needs a gauge glass and repair the refractor. The boiler has a single 3” pipe out. I’ll run that vertically about 3-1/2’ then down to a drop header where I’ll connect the existing 3” header then connect the equalizer. I’ll have the brush the flue as they have a light surface coating of rust from the damp basement. And clean up the burners and pick the 5 best looking ones of the 12 I have.

Last, I’ll get it setup to eventually add a hot water loop for a indirect tank.

Dry return will get two 2”x3/4” fittings for maximum venting.

Also found a very clean Detroit Radiator valve and couple wood knobs to replace some of mine. Grabbed a transformer and a contractor too.

Should be fun. Worst case, they only last a couple years, but the header will better fit the height of modern boilers in the correct size. Current boiler is not only oversized, there’s no equalizer and it’s supposed ot have a 2nd supply. I’m losing about 2 gallons of water a week. Not extreme for a nearly 20 gallon volume boiler, but it’s 36 years old and cement between sections is falling out, burner box leaks a little because of it, insulation is in bad shape and burners are pretty rusted and just galvanized not SS. Gas analyzier shows 75% effeceincy,


  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,795Member
    Sounds like fun. What's your connected EDR compared to the Hydrotherm output
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Posts: 792Member

    Sounds like fun. What's your connected EDR compared to the Hydrotherm output

    644 Total currently
    284 on TRV’s
    I use 235 BTU/sqft since pressure is <1oz.
    Basement Header and run outs insulated
    With 10% pickup, puts me at 204k BTU input
    Might connect low fire to the upstairs thermostat.

    Also, its a 1 pipe Vapor system, so I can balance it without filling radiator completely. Tested it with dowfiring my current boiler. Had it down to about a 160k output and system remained balanced.

    Home heat loss I estimate at 90-100k on the coldest windiest days based on gas bill and duty cycle.

    Also possible to downfire this to 175k input by changing orifices and low fire would match match design heat loss.

  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,795Member
    Good deal sounds like it will dial in.
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Posts: 792Member
    edited April 15
    I got the easy part done. Old boiler stripped and return union loose. But the main will need a torch for sure. Want to recover most of the fittings and will dismantle up to the current highest point of possible so it’s all parallel flow instead of the 2 short counterflow sections right now that look like a failed attempt at a drop header without an equalizer.

    Decided on using a 1-1/2” black equalizer but will use 1-1/4” copper return piping up to the Gifford loop.

    Pretty striking the size diff of a 375k 1984 HB Smith vs a little 200K Hydrotherm. The base is in the other room. Need to fix the refractory liner and clean up the base pan. Burner tubes need a little cleaning and heat exchanger needs brushed from sitting for 6 months in a damp basement.

    Old 900lb boiler block will likely get abandoned in the basement until I get around to breaking the sections apart. Ya.

  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Posts: 792Member
    edited May 5
    Little update on the project.

    Got the 2” plug out of the boiler.

    Prepped the dry return header and cut apart the main.

    Broke down the old boiler into sections. It has rubber gasket not push nipples so came apart easily into nice light 200lb pieces.

    Have a nipple to cut out of the main and waiting for the release of funds from the wife to purchase pipe and fittings for the installation. Also need the brush surface rust off the old heat exchanger while it’s on its side. Also want to hose out any mud from inside the boiler. Original install didn’t have a mud leg.

    Base needs some Cleaning, some refractory repair and I
    Have new rope gasket.

    Supply is on left side only so going to bring the main across diagonally, then a drop headed to the left then turn toward the rear of the boiler, connect to the main then to the equalizer equalizer in 2” and dry return bushed to 2” with mud leg 12” below the Hartford loop.
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Posts: 792Member
    edited May 26
    Finally making some real progress. It’s my first steam boiler install and I’m on my own.... except for all you helpful folks and the knowledge base on this site.

    I see now why some plumbers cheat and use copper. Would definitely have been easier to make it fit up.

    Made some compromises for cost. Used all malleable fittings. Local supply doesn’t carry them anyway. Salvaged some piping off the boiler including a very nice Ward 3” union.

    Used monster tape and monster PTFE dope, mostly just ot make them easier to turn. It’s a solo job and I only have a single 36” and 24” wrenches.

    The 2” union on the equalizer has 1-2 degrees of angular misalignment. I’m hoping that not a huge deal. If it leaks, I’ll just have to pull apart the end of the drop header and, add some extra wraps of tape to get an extra 1/4” length out hte the last nipple and 90.

    Equalizer is a little close to the boiler.

    Wish I had used a cross for the return, but I will have a 2nd tapping return for a future indirect that will have a boiler drain on the end for flushing it.

    Mud leg will get a large drain.

    Have another full days work I think with the rest of hte return, gas piping, trim and electrical. Have to recipe the pilot. Going to build a control panel again with indicator lights for all 120V and 24V operations and interlocks.

    Have a 2nd Big Mouth vent to add and enlarge another spare tapping.

    Be interested to hear what I messed up while I can still somewhat easily fix it.

    Yes, the union to the main isn’t in the best spot. Should have dropped it farther and placed it vertically.

    A dimenson from top of boiler case is 29”.

  • Danny ScullyDanny Scully Posts: 1,179Member
    Thailand is killing me...but I’m not your CFO. If I were, you’d have a new boiler too :wink:
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,982Member
    Very good so far, especially for a first try.
    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.
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Posts: 792Member
    I’ll add some better pictures once I clean up the area. Filled it and temporarily hooked up the flue and wiring. Fired up and heated up. Surged like crazy of course since it’s not skimmed. No leaks so far I can see.

    Have a fair amount of exterior burn off. Not sure what that is. Maybe some residual PB blaster, some other dust and crud.

    Once hot and the draft picked up, the pilot flame lost the flame sensor. Didn’t have a dedicated ground wire to the pilot bracket and probably need ot adjust the pilot when I check gas pressures and combustion analysis.
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