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Introduction and first question

CadillacPaul500
CadillacPaul500 Member Posts: 6
edited February 2020 in THE MAIN WALL
Hello. I've joined this forum today, and I'll soon be posting questions when I get to working on the furnace (I'm entering the parts gathering phase). I have a C.A. Olsen "Luxaire" A-125E... which appears original to the house, thus dating back to 1956. Product plate states 125,000 BTU. The system is Powerpile; the manifold has a small regulator, which uses a tube to hop over the gas valve. It connects to the gas valve with a tee fitting, which then connects with another line routing out to the heat exchanger, where it just sits open-ended. I guess that's a vent? The pilot gets a single tube from the main shut-off valve body, which goes directly to the orifice by where the millivolt generator hangs out. I hope this sounds typical, although it's been working fine for 64 years. Lately the valve seems sluggish, and can delay starting for up to 10 minutes after the call. By the measurements I'm willing to take, it seems to read .250 volts open loop, and .175 closed loop. The screws that hold the wires in are absolutely corroded and frozen in (so disconnecting for measurements is not an option), and I'm going to replace it with a .750 volt one and corresponding generator. Honeywell seems to make a new combination valve (vs820 or whatever it's called), and I'm anticipating a very different setup (probably no regulator, and no pilot supply tube from the shut-off).

Today's question: I'm trying to figure out if this vs820 deal would retrofit well before I drop the money on it. Also, if anybody has a concern about something I don't understand about this old setup, LMK. If it sounds fuzzy, I can take a photo later. I know it will make it through the last weeks of winter, so I'm postponing service until warmer days when the consequences won't be as dire. Thanks for reading, and any help/hints people can furnish.

Comments

  • icy78
    icy78 Member Posts: 404
    2 words.
    New furnace.

    Esp if the building envelope has been upgraded.
    That 50% (by now) efficient furnace has had its day.
    Run a load calc and go with that with a 90%er.
    Remember to factor in cooling coil resistance if you plan on AC at some point.
    ethicalpaulRich_LSTEVEusaPASuperTech
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,983
    1956? You don't want help with working on a quote for a new, modern, properly sized furnace?
    steve
    ethicalpaulRich_LSuperTechRobert O'Brien
  • unclejohn
    unclejohn Member Posts: 1,778
    Have you tried cleaning the power pile with it in place. Use fine sandpaper.
  • CadillacPaul500
    CadillacPaul500 Member Posts: 6
    Well I understand why a new furnace is better, but there's no way I can do that any time soon. This building has not seen an upgrade since it was built. It runs fine with the exception of a sluggish ignition, and it's in fair condition for its age.






    Some things need cleaning, but the gas valve is not something I want on there next winter. Internal corrosion is minimal, and most of the bolts look like they'll move if handled gently. I'm an experienced auto tech with professional experience, so this won't be an issue for me.

    First thing that sticks out to me is the candle-like pilot, but like I said, I don't see that valve letting go of those wires. If the heat exchanger ever cracks, then and only then will I accept help with that quote ha ha. Thanks anyway though, I appreciate it. :smile:



  • Jolly Bodger
    Jolly Bodger Member Posts: 209
    You are not doing yourself any favors keeping that old furnace around.

    You can upgrade as you suggest. Yes get rid of the external regulator, valve, vent. Get the VS820 and a new pilot assembly. You will need a Manometer to set the gas pressure and check the Delta T.
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 689
    When I first got into the residential heat & A/C business that furnace was a typical installation, that was 1968 and a good year. If the heat exchanger is in good shape, and it could be, I would remove the pilot and clean it . That yellow flame should be a nice blue color. Oh yes, make sure that you check the secondary heat exchanger for holes and cracks. I would never recommend rebuilding that very low efficiency furnace. A new style furnace will probably pay for itself in a couple years and be much safer than that old relic. That powerpile generator provides the electricity to open the gas valve so the leads should be kept as short as possible and the connections clean and tight. Those old B60 General Controls have been known to stick open which could also cause problems.
    SuperTechRoddy
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,170
    @retiredguy is right the pilot needs cleaning the flame should be blue not yellow.

    Also the wire connections to the gas valve are corroded.

    Need to budget for a new furnace your on borrowed time
    SuperTech
  • CadillacPaul500
    CadillacPaul500 Member Posts: 6
    edited February 2020

    Those old B60 General Controls have been known to stick open which could also cause problems.

    Exactly, and the vs820 can be acquired for a reasonable cost. I'm just fuzzy on the typical setup for that. Pilot tubing setup basics for this particular valve, should I plug the manual shut-off valve body pilot port, so on and so forth. Maybe a recommendation for a compatible mV generator.

    Furnace removal and installation requires a lot of interior demolition here. I'd lose a substantial portion of wood paneling... so not for a while.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,542
    edited February 2020
    Or you could loose all of the wood paneling and the structure as well.

    I mean to say for lack of safety on this unit, the danger of fire is greater.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • BillyO
    BillyO Member Posts: 276
    Lose the wood paneling? no one puts baby in the corner
  • CadillacPaul500
    CadillacPaul500 Member Posts: 6
    Well no; it's not like I bought a house and "oh gee, there's an old furnace here; let's play with it." I've been maintaining it for 25 years, leaving the fuel delivery chain alone since it always worked well, and I knew the wire terminals would not relent with that corrosion. I replaced the blower pulley when I was 15 years old, several belts since then, over the last 20 years. Changed the limit switch when I was 19. It's never been neglected, got officially inspected once, and always tests negative for CO in the plenum. It's fine. I'll start looking for deals on that valve.

    Been busy over the weekend, so thank you to those that contributed information. I'm a bit late with the thanks, so I apologize.
    luketheplumber
  • CadillacPaul500
    CadillacPaul500 Member Posts: 6
    As an update, I wound up removing the burner and pilot for cleaning. Due to the 2020 problems we've been having, a new valve isn't in the budget this year. So the ring burner around the generator was completely fouled. The photo shows the bench test and millivolt reading. It continues to climb if allowed to do so. The existing tubing is a soft white metal, but it's not steel; maybe zinc. I figured I'd use 1/4" copper. Still in the market for a vs820, just need a better price.


  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 689
    That soft white metal is aluminum. If that burner fails in the middle of the winter on a very cold day I doubt that any service company will have any parts available to repair that dinosauer. Also, many of the service companies will probably refuse to "make it work" just to provide heat. I saw that style burner on many of the furnaces when the cost to heat a house was pennies. If it were me I would update this system ASAP.

    My 2 cents
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,542
    Did you mention if it is propane or natural?
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • CadillacPaul500
    CadillacPaul500 Member Posts: 6

    Did you mention if it is propane or natural?

    'Tis natural gas, sir.

    That soft white metal is aluminum.

    I actually figured it was aluminum/magnesium alloy after writing this. Very soft.

    many of the service companies will probably refuse to "make it work" just to provide heat.

    That's perfectly fine. I've never called one in 30 years. :D

    I saw that style burner on many of the furnaces when the cost to heat a house was pennies. If it were me I would update this system ASAP.

    I hear ya, guy. It radiates a lot of heat into the basement, but it's a living space anyway so I don't mind.

    I have a wood stove, kero, and a gravity unit, just in case.