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The Return of the old Bryant boiler

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  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,728
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    My install will be this summer is my current plan! It will be worthy of a few laughs if nothing else!

    And I do also have the same question as @Chris_L !
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    Precaud
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,770
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    Chris_L said:

    @Precaud, it looks like the header drip is again connected to the return drip above the water line. I thought you were trying to avoid that.

    Can you explain why you did it that way, or is it actually below the water line?

    I believe what you're seeing is either a plug, or a nipple and cap in the tee and then a reducer on the drip which will be piped down below at the floor. It's missing the middle section right now.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    Precaudethicalpaul
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    I don't think there is a tee there just a red coup.
    He could tighten that old tee 90 degrees and get that close nipple out of the way of the red coup.

    Some pipe, 2 45's and union should finish it up.
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
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    ChrisJ said:

    Chris_L said:

    @Precaud, it looks like the header drip is again connected to the return drip above the water line.

    I believe what you're seeing is either a plug, or a nipple and cap in the tee and then a reducer on the drip which will be piped down below at the floor. It's missing the middle section right now.
    @ChrisJ got it right. It's an illusion from the camera angle. The middle section pipe is being cut and threaded now.

    The guy at Lowes told me a couple weeks ago that they cut and thread the pipe for free if you buy it there. (They also are the only one in town with 1.25" black iron) So I went there this morning to get it, and was told their threading machine has been down - for four months... sheesh.
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
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    ChrisJ said:

    @Precaud Is that crack an actual water leak, or is it just a leak on the fire side of the boiler? If you fill it up (literally) does it actually leak water?

    Not sure what you mean by "fire side". Overfill the boiler and yes, it does leak. Not much, but some. It's a crack in the top of one of the seven sections, about 2.5" above the water line in an inside corner of the casting.

    I've got a decent idea on how to patch it, and am feeling pretty confident that I can easily get another year (or more) out of it.
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,770
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    Precaud said:

    ChrisJ said:

    @Precaud Is that crack an actual water leak, or is it just a leak on the fire side of the boiler? If you fill it up (literally) does it actually leak water?

    Not sure what you mean by "fire side". Overfill the boiler and yes, it does leak. Not much, but some. It's a crack in the top of one of the seven sections, about 2.5" above the water line in an inside corner of the casting.

    I've got a decent idea on how to patch it, and am feeling pretty confident that I can easily get another year (or more) out of it.
    I gave up on them for threading pipe, as well as others years ago and bought my own stuff. I just couldn't take all of the problems and trips anymore...

    Fireside meaning in between the outside of the sections. If it leaks water, then no it's shot unfortunately. That sucks.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    ethicalpaul
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
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    ChrisJ said:

    Fireside meaning in between the outside of the sections. If it leaks water, then no it's shot unfortunately. That sucks.

    It's not down between the sections, it's actually on the top surface, quite accessible. I'm very optimistic about its repair, actually. Repair "for decades", no. But "for a year or so", I'd bet yes.
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
  • Chris_L
    Chris_L Member Posts: 336
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    @Precaud and @ChrisJ thanks for the clarification on the photo.

    As for the threaded pipe you need, around here in MA, some of the plumbing supply places will do it for you if the big box stores can't--or you want to avoid them. And they usually have more pipe sizes.
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
    edited April 2020
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    Yeah, one of them is doing it now. I'll probably pay more for the one cut/thread than the pipe cost :)

    EDIT: well they were actually quite reasonable, did a good job, and gave me unsolicited good feedback on the quality of the pipe. Said it was better quality than they'd been getting in lately...
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
    ethicalpaul
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
    edited May 2020
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    Here's the bottom half of the M&M 47-2 LWCO. Looks like Hershey's chocolate to me. Or a brown sauce experiment gone bad. 30-plus years of accumulation. Amazingly, other than blowdowns being a tad slow, it still worked fine in this condition. In the upper half, the float is clean, moves freely, and there's very little grunge around it (which I cleaned anyway). The whole thing cleaned up nicely down to bare metal.


    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
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    You can repair that crack using a good epoxy compound.
    It makes better than a temp repair. JB weld is a good epoxy. It is good for use on hot surfaces.

    One of the great features about this epoxy is before it sets you can use a wet rag to smooth the surface of the material.

    I used this epoxy several times to get a boiler thru the heating season.

    On two of these jobs the customers waited two and three years before replacing the boilers.

    They took the risk due to finacial problems.


    Jake
    Precaud
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
    edited May 2020
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    You can repair that crack using a good epoxy compound. It makes better than a temp repair. JB weld is a good epoxy. It is good for use on hot surfaces.
    [snip]
    I used this epoxy several times to get a boiler thru the heating season. On two of these jobs the customers waited two and three years before replacing the boilers.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with this, Jake. Much appreciated.

    JB Weld makes many different kinds of epoxies. Which one did you use?

    My current idea on fixing this crack involves using two of them; after a meticulous cleaning and surface scoring, use their "High-Temp" to fill the crack, and the "regular" one to cover the wound and adhere to the surface. On top of that will be a metal "L" bracket covering the area and held by two C clamps that will stay in place.
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
    edited May 2020
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    And it's done. Everything came together quite nicely.



    To leak-test my work, I stole some water from the water heater, opened the boiler draincock, and poured it down the tee in the main drip until it just started coming out of the boiler, to fill the wet return and drip pipes up above the fittings. Look ma, no leaks!

    Needless to say, I'm pleased as punch. Another big THANK YOU to everyone for your excellent advice. I literally could not have done it without you.

    I also finished the LWCO, auto-feeder, and pressure reducer, so we're ready to test the whole system.

    Problem is, we're having a record heat wave out west, mid-80's today, and bringing this system up to temp would bake me out. I'm going to wait a few days when it drops down to the 70's.

    After that, it's crack repair, and maybe an automatic flue damper.
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
    ChrisJmattmia2ethicalpaul
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,770
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    I can't zoom in on my phone but I don't see any teeth marks on those fittings? Are you sure you got those tight enough?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
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    Seeing teeth marks is your criteria for tight enough?

    They were all made quite tight with a 24" wrench. There's only one where I questioned going another turn, but left it in order to get the final critical angle right.

    It doesn't leak - isn't that good enough?
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
    mattmia2
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,770
    edited May 2020
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    > @Precaud said:
    > Seeing teeth marks is your criteria for tight enough?
    >
    > They were all made quite tight with a 24" wrench. There's only one where I questioned going another turn, but left it in order to get the final critical angle right.
    >
    > It doesn't leak - isn't that good enough?

    I generally get teeth marks when I tighten npt black iron fittings.

    A far as not leaking those joints should handle 150 psi air. I've made npt joints at work that handle 3200 psi nitrogen and do not leak.

    I asked because I don't want to see you developing a leak next season when it's in the dead of winter. I was trying to be helpful......... If you're going to be sarcastic I'll just go try to help someone else.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
    edited May 2020
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    OK. So how/why would it develop leaks in the dead of winter?

    Is asking questions sarcastic?

    Your 150psi criteria seems excessive for a system which sees a few ounces of pressure at most.

    From what I saw with the pipes open, all of those submerged joints are going to be covered and sealed on the inside by rust, well before next heating season starts.
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,735
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    If the joint was marginally tight the expansion and contraction of heating and cooling could cause some cold creep and cause a leak. I'm not sure you will get much of a mark from the wrench if you do a good job of seating the wrench on the fitting in a 3 point grip although some marks especially on the pipe are inevitable.
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
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    Yeah, the concern raised is totally speculative. I'm honestly not worried about it, I'm not a physical wimp, the joints are plenty tight. The only joint I had to be conservative with is the 90 coming off of the tee, where the angle up to the header had to be correct. It got to the point where I could have tightened it more, but it quite obviously wasn't going to make another full rotation, so I stopped.

    One of the things I am interested to see is if there is less pipe expansion clunking on warmup/cooldown now (not that it was too bad before...). All three of the original pipes were assembled under tension, and in different directions. I reconnect them so they are relaxed, at rest. I'd think it would be quieter.
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,002
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    Wouldn't be too worried about leaks. I have often been tempted to hand tighten some steam piping and see what happens. Pressure is rather low.
    Precaudethicalpaul
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
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    The JB weld epoxy I used came in two tubes. One tube was the black resin and the other s a light grey hardener.

    The two tubes are about 2 oz. each. It is not necessary to use a second product from JB weld. Make sure when you purchase it, it states the for use with high temperature.


    Jake

    P.S home depot carries it.

    Jake
    Precaud
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
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    Thanks Jake. That sounds like the standard stuff.
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
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    While Dremel grinding, steel brushing, and cleaning the area, it didn't take much to turn the crack into a genuine hole. The sidewall above the crack was on the verge of going. Best to get rid of the weak material now.



    I fashioned a piece of 5/16" steel to shape to fit and cover it. Will JB Weld it in place manana.
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
    ethicalpaul
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    Precaud said:

    Not around here. Nobody is installing steam here. The only potential future occupant that would like steam is my son. Everyone else would want hot water or something else, something that is serviceable by locals.

    So a working steam system is a harder sell than a broken one?
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
    edited May 2020
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    So a working steam system is a harder sell than a broken one?

    Different kind of buyer. If I don't stay here, or my son doesn't take it, it will get rezoned and sold to a commercial buyer. They will rip the steam, asbestos, etc. outta here. And install something that can be serviced by locals, probably on a maintenance contract.

    The plug is in. I think this is a higher-integrity solution than just smishing the stuff into a crack. According to the 7-day forecast, we're cooling down to normal this weekend, maybe even a tad below, so I'll be able to test the system then.


    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
    ethicalpaul
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
    edited May 2020
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    Today was our "arctic blast" day, which was not very arctic... but cold enough to open all doors and windows and cool the interior down to 67F. At 5pm I filled and lit the boiler, and am happy to report - everything works fine - success!

    Now that there is no steam going down the header drip pipe and up into the end of the main, steam reaches the main vents (after the last radiator) much faster. In fact, there is now too much heat coming from the last two radiators. I'm going to have to do some vent rebalancing, but that can wait until autumn.

    Condensate return is much faster; pre-cycle level is restored in about 10 minutes.

    Time from heat-at-the-header to main-vents-close is also faster by a minute 40, nearly 20%. It really helps not to be pushing steam up both ends of the main!

    The leak fix appears to be fine. I was thinking I might now see some pressure reading on the 3psi gauge, but still nada. No change.

    It's done three cycles so far tonight, and I did a LWCO blowdown during each one. The first one was really filthy. The next two were better. Water from the boiler draincock is clear, so this must be coming from the top half of the LWCO, which was not disassembled but cleaned in place.

    The only problem: After filling the boiler, there was one slow-drip leak between the halves of the M&M 47-2, which surprised me because I cleaned those mating surfaces really carefully, and it got a new gasket. The leak closed itself after the first firing cycle so I'm going to let it be. There's always a lot of sediment in there so I expect it will be fine.

    Oh, and there is no clanking of pipes during warmup or cooldown. And no water loss in the gauge glass.

    This has been quite an adventure. I've learned a lot. I'm already forecasting next winter to be comfortable and warm. :)
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
    mattmia2ethicalpaul
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
    edited November 2020
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    Final followup on this saga from last heating season.

    Last week we had a real artic blast to start off the new season; 4 days of no sun, high wind, single-digit lows and highs in the mid-20's to low-30's. The Bryant got fired up and called into immediate 24/7 duty, this time with a new vent damper.

    After the first firing cycle, water level was topped off, and it hasn't dropped a bit since then. Time-to-steam and on-cycle duration are shorter. The radiators all heat up in sync. All this with no pressure build. Operation is quieter, less pipe clunking during setback at night. And the basement has been turned into a sauna. In short, system performance is superb, better than I ever thought it could be.

    I want to once again thank everyone here who gave me good advice and guidance on how to address this system's many flaws.

    And give a word of encouragement to other homeowners who land at this website while searching for answers. The advice you'll get here is spot-on.
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
    ethicalpaul
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,265
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    Precaud said:

    Final followup on this saga from last heating season.

    Last week we had a real artic blast to start off the new season; 4 days of no sun, high wind, single-digit lows and highs in the mid-20's to low-30's. The Bryant got fired up and called into immediate 24/7 duty, this time with a new vent damper.

    After the first firing cycle, water level was topped off, and it hasn't dropped a bit since then. Time-to-steam and on-cycle duration are shorter. The radiators all heat up in sync. All this with no pressure build. Operation is quieter, less pipe clunking during setback at night. And the basement has been turned into a sauna. In short, system performance is superb, better than I ever thought it could be.

    I want to once again thank everyone here who gave me good advice and guidance on how to address this system's many flaws.

    And give a word of encouragement to other homeowners who land at this website while searching for answers. The advice you'll get here is spot-on.

    @Precaud , thanks for this.

    What can I say? I've said this is huge many times. It gets played down a lot here as not worth it. I see pictures of replacement boilers going in without them.....

    I guess it takes actually living in the difference to fully appreciate these things. While comfort will be greatly improved, you won't mind what it does to your gas bill.

    I forget - are you two pipe?
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
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    You're welcome, @PMJ . Your thought process on this whole event is particularly cogent.

    This is a 1-pipe system.

    I almost forgot. Circumstances have changed (due to Covid), and I am now thinking I'll be in this house a few more years. So one thing that remains is to take bets on how long the JB Weld patch will hold up. The system is performing so well now, I'd be a fool to not use it until it breaks again.

    My bet is, it will hold up for another 3-4 years, at least.
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
    ethicalpaul
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,265
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    Yea I forgot about your patch. Here's to hoping it lasts a long time!

    Anyway, for reference for others the time to steam improvement you just experienced goes to yet another level with natural vacuum and in two pipe is basically effortless.
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
    Precaud
  • Precaud
    Precaud Member Posts: 370
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    Hope everyone is doing well. I thought I'd come back and give a report on how this repair is holding up. It's now in year 3 after the crack was repaired.

    And it is working flawlessly. I examined the patch while doing pre-season maintenance in October and it looks the same as it did three years ago. The rest of the system also continues to work well. I did have to replace the lower pipe to the sight tube and low water cutoff (someone had used galvanized and it rotted at the joint). I replaced it with brass and all is well again.

    In retrospect, because this patch is above the water line, I shouldn't have been so apprehensive about the efficacy of the repair. My sense now is that this repair will be much more robust than I'd imagined, and should hold for many years. If not, the same procedure can be used to patch it again.

    Considering that a new boiler comes with at best a 10-year warranty, I'd say this repair has been an unmitigated success. Many thanks to the folks here who gave me help and encouragement to tackle it.

    IIRC, we figgered that this Bryant boiler is a year newer than @PMJ's 1957 model. So this guy turned 65 years old this season. Not bad... not bad at all.
    1950's Bryant boiler in a 1-pipe steam system at 7,000 ft in northern NM, where basements are rare.
    WMno57guzzinerd
  • guzzinerd
    guzzinerd Member Posts: 243
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    Good to know another New Mexican keeping their old Bryant alive thanks to this forum.  Cheers 
    Bryant 245-8 2-pipe steam in a 1930s 6-unit 1-story apt building in the NM mountains.  26 radiators heating up 3800sqf.
    Precaud