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Door-Mount Disaster, or- Ohhhhh, This Is Just WRONG

SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,055Member
Note to any non-professionals reading this: Do NOT try this yourself. What I'm about to describe is to be done by knowledgeable professionals ONLY.

This is one of those situations where the owners want to replace an old oil-fired boiler with a gas-fired one, but there is no gas service to the house (though it is in the street). Having to work with BGE, which seems to be on its own time zone, means we don't know when we can do the conversion. Then there's the asbestos abatement, which will of course be expensive. So, what to do? Right, get the existing boiler running as well as it can. It will probably have to run another year and maybe two.

The boiler is a very old National Heat Extractor, which also produces the house's domestic hot water. It has a built-in tankless coil, but someone disconnected that and put on a side-arm coil unit. The boiler water circulates thru the side-arm by gravity. The house was built around 1938, and we think the boiler is original to the house. The heat is forced hot-water with cast-iron radiators.

The burner went off on safety and the oil company said they needed to replace the pump (fuel unit?) again. The owners called us to ask about converting, and we went over to have a look. Here's what we found:









I won't mention the oil company's name, but it's the same one whose work we encountered here:

https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/132567/one-of-the-worst-maintained-oil-fired-boilers-weve-seen
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.
https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc

Comments

  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,055Member
    edited June 6
    I bet many of us have never seen a burner head like this before. Here is a closer look:



    The burner itself is branded AMOCO (American Oil Co, one of the spin-offs from the Standard Oil antitrust breakup). It looks like it might have been built by Wayne or possibly ABC. Here's a shot of the chassis:



    Originally this boiler had the burner mounted in the rear. The door mounting was a popular modification for a dry-base boiler like this one- you filled in the firebox and any other area that did not have water on the other side, then cut a hole in the door and mounted the burner there. But you really have to use a flame-retention burner to do it right, since there isn't much height available to accommodate a wide flame.

    The head appears to be one of the upgrades that was available in the late 1960s- Delavan had their FlameCone, Boston Machine (IIRC this is the same company now known as Lynn Manufactiring Co, the firebox people) made one, as did Engelhard, and you could even get a kit to change an ordinary burner into a Gulf Econojet. The probable reason we don't see many of these is because Carlin came out with the Flame-Retention head around that time, and it took the industry by storm. You can see the above-mentioned kits in Charles Burkhardt's excellent book "Domestic and Commercial Oil Burners".

    But there's something else weird about this burner:



    Look at the fan- you see it's too small for the chassis. Also, the motor and fuel unit are 3450-RPM whereas other Amoco burners I've seen that appear similar are 1725-RPM. I think someone installed the motor, fan and fuel unit from a Beckett AF on this burner. That's just WRONG- no wonder there was a lot of soot in this boiler.
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,055Member
    So we cleaned it out, put in a Beckett AF with modern controls and applied a Dead Oilman's Trick. We installed baffles in the flue passages to create turbulence and cause the flue gases to have more contact with the cast-iron. Like this:



    This was a popular upgrade during the fuel-rationing days of World War II. It was discussed in several books from that time, most notably the Audel oil burner book by Frank Graham.

    On a door-firing unit, there is another useful upgrade. The top of the filled-in area is a huge heat sink, which can chill the flame to the point where it creates soot. So we covered it with a 3/4" thick Kaowool blanket, which reflects the heat upward and, due to its thickness, will stay put:



    The combustion test told the story- almost 12% CO2 with zero smoke. We left it at 11.4% to add headroom. Stack temp was still over 500° F, but it was a noticeable improvement. This type of boiler is notorious for high stack temps.

    Again, we're not sure when this boiler will be replaced, but while it still serves, the owners will be able to use the reduced fuel bills to save for its replacement.
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,548Member
    Nice work! And no, I wouldn't try that myself - no fear!
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Intplm.Intplm. Posts: 761Member
    Excellent that you thought of the baffles. They should help a bit. @Steamhead please post your future findings .
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,055Member
    Will do, thanks!

    BTW, baffles seem to be hard to find these days. But every gas-fired water heater tank has one in the flue. So when we replace a water heater, we save the baffles and use them on jobs like this. They come in different sizes and configurations, so we have enough to fit most boilers. It's also possible to use bricks to baffle a boiler.
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,868Member
    @Steamhead
    Nice Job!

    A lot of the good old tricks, raising pump pressure, baffleing, lightweight combustion chambers are in the Burkhardt book (the bible when I was in school) you mentioned and still true today.

    Seems that someone tried to door fire with a low speed burner which would be questionable even if it was flame retention, then switched it to 3450 rpm. That burner does look ABCish

    I am sure it has been a mess for years, a real soot maker.

    We never filled one with sand. We would use cinder blocks or bricks and on top of that block mineral wool insulation , hard fire brick and insulating fire brick on top.

    And your right about chilling the flame , something many don't understand.

    Start up a wet base boiler full of cold water will sometimes make CO like crazy until it warms up. So will a pot of cold spaghetti water on a gas stove

    Combustion needs to take place in a hot environment.

    They used to fire those boilers from the rear as you mentioned. With the flue connection in the back firing from the back would make the flame turn around to get to the front flue passages. It was like giving the boiler an extra pass.

    500-550 stack is not bad for that thing
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,055Member
    edited June 6

    They used to fire those boilers from the rear as you mentioned. With the flue connection in the back firing from the back would make the flame turn around to get to the front flue passages. It was like giving the boiler an extra pass.

    That makes perfect sense. I've always wondered why they would put the burner back there where you had to be a contortionist to service it. Although, on this one the uptakes from the firing zone are in the rear. From there, the gases come to the front, reverse and go to the rear and out the breech. So it might have been a four-pass in the rear-burner configuration.

    I've seen some other old boilers with front-firing burners that used a plate above the firebox to direct the gases forward, which would do the same thing. You could get much the same effect by using a corbel on the rear of the firebox as well.

    I'm hoping @billtwocase will chime in here as well. He's probably seen a lot of these too.
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,868Member
    @Steamhead
    weird burner though. never seen one of those
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,055Member
    edited June 9
    Here is an article where they mention some of those burner head upgrades:

    EPA oil burner article

    Look at the diagrams- the Union (Pure) flame control is the same basic head used on the Sunray Golden Cup and Carlin FRD/CRD models (BTW, Union is the Union-76 oil company, and Pure is another oil company they bought out. Union-76 later became part of Chevron, but Phillips bought the 76 brand which still exists in some form. That's today's history lesson). Also, according to the article the Delavan FlameCone was actually a flame-retention head- whoda thunk?

    But I still haven't found that particular head.
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,868Member
    @Steamhead
    We had some oil customers back in the day older folks with no $$ for a new burner and they had some real soot makers. So we retrofitted a few with Delevan Flame Cones to try and help them out and they worked really well ...until I got stupid on one of them. Put one on a burner and the flame cone was pretty restrictive to the air flow and the old burner didn't have enough static to push enough air through.

    I was able to downfire it and got away with it but after screwing around with those things, getting them to fit the old odd size air tube etc. after that it was a new burner or keep running what you got.

    When I started an AF or 100CRD was about $75 for the burner and air tube and about $100 with a cad cell.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,055Member

    When I started an AF or 100CRD was about $75 for the burner and air tube and about $100 with a cad cell.

    And everything on them was made in America as well :s

    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,055Member
    edited June 9
    I had reached out to my friend George "Firedragon" Lanthier, who I'm sure has forgotten more about oil heat than I'll ever know. Here is his reply:

    That’s quite a mess, you did the right thing pulling it.

    That’s actually a Stewart-Warner burner marketed under the name Winkler. Only hi-pressure (100 psi pump) they made and it was only 1725 rpm.

    It was part of a package boiler/burner sold by Winkler. The chassis, tube and drawer assembly were made for Winkler by Ducane. The head was the Winkler part.

    The boiler (they were originally used on) was made by Dunkirk who also made the Delco Heat/GM boilers, that’s important because of the chamber used.

    GM used a burner called the H200.

    The trick was the Winkler and Delco burners fired into a “base heat chamber”. The chamber was a horizontal round full chamber with horizonal slots on the sides only, the flame was covered at the top, you couldn’t see the flame, so you had to use instruments. The chambers got cherry red, produced great fires and burned at 12% CO2 with Zero Smoke.

    That job is an insult to the technology.

    BTW, AMOCO used Winkler equipment in the late 50’s early 60’s.

    Thanks, Dragon!
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,055Member
    edited June 10
    So I looked this up in an old Steinen nozzle guide, They didn't list this particular model, but many of those they did list used 80° hollow nozzles. This one had a 1.25x80°B in it- a solid. This could be a case of a nozzle poorly matched to the burner's air pattern.
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,868Member
    @Steamhead

    a lot of the old stuff had little information available and no computers back then. More than once I follower Burkhardt's "nozzle application test"

    I remember 1 school in particular about 20 years ago. Had old Power Flames in them with two nozzles in each burner. Stineen 90 degree ss and that what PF wanted. The first year I cleaned them, the supply house told me "not available anymore" "use Hagos there the same thing".

    I put the Hagos in and they fired like total crap. I saved the Stineens and cleaned them and put them back in with new strainers, they ran fine. I did this for a few years no problem. (these were like 5.00gph nozzles0 ran great

    When I stopped going there I told the tech that was going, I explained everything to him. "if you throw those nozzles out I will kill you" he didn't listen and threw them out. ^ months later we put Carlins in there because they were all carboned up and burned the end of the blast tube. just plain dumb
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,055Member
    Steinens are still available:

    https://www.steinen.com/cross-reference-chart/

    They had a booth at Hershey a couple years ago. I asked the guy which other brand Steinens were closest to and he said Delavan. If I had to replace a Steinen with a Hago, I'd use the next narrower spray angle.

    And of course the guy who burned out the PF burners in that school probably did not do a combustion test............
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,868Member
    @Steamhead
    Steinen's are available but stopped making the 90 degree SS. Delevan doesn't make one either.

    The old Power Flames (these were early 60s burners) used 100psi oil pressure and ran 1 nozzle for low fire and 2d nozzle on high fire. The diffuser was fixed inside the burner.

    The same burner which they still sell has been redesigned, the diffuser comes out with the drawer assembly. They run 300 psi oil pressure on high fire fire and 100 on low fire and use 1 nozzle. Conversion would not have been cost effective.

    But those burners could have run a few more years.

  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,055Member
    edited June 12
    Hmmmmm- I think I would have tried a Hago 80° SS, which they still make up to 12 GPH. As I understand it, for a given advertised spray angle, a Hago will produce a slightly wider actual spray than a Delavan or Steinen. And of course I's use my analyzer to see how it did!

    But speaking of Hago, they recently discontinued their ES and P nozzle lines, so the only solid they offer now is the B. See this bulletin from Beckett:

    https://www.beckettcorp.com/support/tech-bulletins/hago-danfoss-nozzles/

    For those interested, they're auctioning off the contents of the factory in a couple weeks:

    https://www.myronbowling.com/Auctions/Danfoss-Hago-Inc-1015C50.html?LayoutID=23
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,868Member
    @Steamhead

    At that time Hago made a 90 deg SS nozzle and that is what we tried. The results were awful. Didn't need an analyzer to see how bad the fire was. Back to the Steinen and it was fine.

    Funny how some burners are very touchy and specific as to which nozzle it used. Others make little or no difference.

    I can think of at least 3 times where we had to deviate from the manufacturers recommended nozzle to make a job work because it wouldn't work with what they recommended. 2 with the manufacturers permission and 1 without. The one without sooted one side of the boiler while the other side was spotless after a weeks operation. The fire looked fine front & back but it made soot. Nothing would clean it up.

    We tried different nozzles and pump pressures, NG. We were convinced we had impingment on one side even though you couldn't see it. Removed the burner from the boiler and went through everything, checked the blower wheel for the correct size, made sure it was centered, checked the nozzle line to make sure it was straight, checked the blast tube & choke ring, refractory. Everything was as specked. The MFG was no help. This was a Power Flame and we were the Power Flame reps at that time. This was a Smith/PowerFlame package.They recommended a 70deg nozzle we tried 60s & 80s finally put a 45 degree in it. Problem solved. Probably spent 2 days or more on it

    I herd two thing from the manufacturers: "no one can predict the air currents in a boiler" & "the changed nozzle fits the air pattern of that burner in that particular boiler"
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,055Member
    Sometimes it takes a "nozzle substitution test". That's another trick that's fading away.
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,868Member
    @Steamhead
    Think it's in Burkhardt's book. I always called it a nozzle application test. Same thing. I think Burkhardt's book is 50-60 years old. The basics never change.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,055Member

    The basics never change.

    So true!
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • ratioratio Posts: 2,036Member
    Is Burkhardt's book available electronically somewhere?
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,055Member
    edited June 13
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,868Member
    Yeah, the used bookstores usually have them. I went to community college in 71' and bought mine then we had to have it for class it was the black one, don't know what edition. I gave it to my brother as he took the same course a few years later don't know what happened to it. I finally bought another one a few back at a used bookstore I also found a older red one, have to look and see where they are
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