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1920's Vintage Steam Radiator Isolation Valve Parts

I have some 1-1/4" angle isolation valves that have small leakage past the seat. It looks like the valves have a logo of a circle with the letter "H" inside. My local plumbing store rep (in business about the same time) was not able to suggest any source for parts. He also cautioned me that I'm probably on a "Mission Impossible", which brought me back to Heating Help. Does anyone have any suggestions? The leaks are minimal and not an operational problem, except when I have to remove one for painting walls, trim and the radiator itself.

Another local plumbing store rep mentioned the discs are probably hard fiber. I wonder if a more modern material could be substituted, given the low operating pressure of residential steam.


Comments

  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 979
    I did some internet searching and was able to identify the manufacturer. It is Hammond Valve in New Berlin Wisconsin. They opened in 1911, which helps validate my search results. Milwaukee Valve bought the company in 1991. I came across the company name from ebay. There are two valves for sale, one is used and has the logo, the other looks the same, but has the Hammond name in the body casting. I called the company and am getting more details on the valve to see if what they sell today is compatible. However, the company rep mentioned the valves are outsourced and different lots may not be identical.

    I'll post more info as I get it in case someone is interested.

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,410
    What are you trying to accomplish? Did you open one up to see if it is anything weird like bellows or if it is just standard packing and and a washer?
  • AMservices
    AMservices Member Posts: 610
    Honestly, what you have is a very basic radiator valve. Its just old.
    If you can't repack the nut around the valve stem, its time to replace the valve. Nothing worth saving in my opinion.
    Throw some silver paint at it if you don't like brass.
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 880
    edited November 2020
    For any of you guys that are looking to repair/rebuild any valve that is too old to purchase and you want/need the exact same valve, not a replacement, you could call Portersville valve 724-368-8725 or Custom Valve Repair 1-800-513-2773 to see if they could repair what you have. They may also be able to guide you to a local company that does the same quality work. If it is a valve they can repair it. They are both located north of Pittsburgh, Pa and just south of New Castle, Pa.
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,226
    What's with all the phone calls and trips to the store? You need a new, basic-hardware valve. Life's too short to make this a project. https://www.supplyhouse.com/Bluefin-RVST125-1-1-4-FIP-x-Male-Union-Steam-Angle-Radiator-Valve

    Also, that looks like 1" to me. Maybe even ¾". But not 1-¼". Could just be the picture though.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
    Classes
    ethicalpaulDave T_2
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 979
    Two reasons for the escapade.

    First, the problem is leakage past the seat, not the packing, which can probably be remedied by replacing the disc, assuming a suitable replacement is available. The "disc" in the current version of the valve is EPDM, which is readily available and cutting one from thick gasket is simple. That also depends on being able to remove the retaining nut from the stem without ruining anything.

    It's simpler and less time consuming than trying to remove the valve from the system and, most likely having to change the union fitting in the radiator, since both are 1920s vintage. The threads on the union are not standard, just like so many other mechanical things in life. That's why I am getting valve details, which hopefully will prove or disprove compatibility with the existing union.

    Second, the valve is at the floor and I am not sure I have enough flexibility in the piping to raise the piping so I can get a wrench on the pipe or damage the pipe causing more work. I don't want to take any chance of loosening the other end of the pipe which is in a relatively inaccessible location in the basement.

    I know, I'm overthinking this, but if you read my other discussions you can see it's what I am...engineer.

    Plan for the worst and hope for the best.

    Keep it simple.

    Finally, I pride myself is finding solutions to things that come up. I have found many times that situations and solutions I come across are frequently discoverable on the internet. I am very wary of some of the hair-brained solutions some people come up with.

    Thanks for the generally good comments.


  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 979
    JohnNY, the marking is the logo. I found it on a used valve on ebay. New valves have the "Hammond" name in the casting.
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 979
    Oops, I already mentioned that in my first post in this discussion.
    JohnNY
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,226
    @SteamingatMohawk In other words, you just want to try to fix it because you'll enjoy the challenge. I get it. Caping a spud out of a radiator is a challenge too, but that's my preference.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
    Classes
    ethicalpaul
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,695
    The rubber coupling is my red flag . Call in a plumber and replace the valve and spud .
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    My guess is that rubber "Fernco" cap is to stop a small flow of steam because the valve does not shut completely off.

    I too would recommend just replacing valve and spud.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,230
    Hi, Can you take the top of the valve off so we can see the washer and seat? Maybe just resurfacing the seat and finding or making a washer is all that’s needed... or am I being too simplistic? :p

    Yours, Larry
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,410
    edited November 2020
    You can get teflon bib washers from mcmaster-carr and other sources.

    The unions aren't standardized. Each valve uses a different union.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,410
    edited November 2020
    If you really want to get serious about it you can get a deep well 6 point socket that fits the bonnet and an open end or line wrench that fits the body.

    Or maybe 4 point for the bonnet. I suspect it is the type where you need to remove that whole top cap to take the stem out.
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 979
    The Fernco is just to hold back the little bit of pressure while I have to work on the wall behind the radiator. It's a lot cheaper than trying to match the union threads. A black iron pipe cap threads are close, but not quite close enough.

    As soon as I have time, I will pop the top off the valve and figure out the next step, hopefully, the bonnet will be repairable at the seating surface or not damaged at all. The technical information on the valve says the disc is EPDM. I still haven't gotten the drawing from the manufacturer...

    I just need the opportunity to take it apart. I have several "hand-me-down" pipe wrenches and some cheater bars I can gently use to coax the top off the bonnet. I'll post more info when I get into that part of the project.

    It's a bit weird that the body of the valve is referred to as the bonnet in some of the places I have searched. In my working years, the valve had a body (the bottom part containing the seat) and the bonnet (the top part containing the stem and valve disc).


  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 979
    mattmia2 Can you give me a specific reference in the McMaster Carr catalog? None on the sealing washer page mention steam, but some of the oil resistant ones have a higher temperature rating. However, a quick look at ID and OD reveals they might not be large enough or the hole is too big. Anything you can suggest is appreciated.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,410
    edited November 2020
    https://www.mcmaster.com/ptfe-faucet-washers/

    That is for the bib washer, assuming the size you need is a size they carry in teflon. It might not technically be rated for steam but it will do better than neoprene. You can also get different hardnesses of bib washers out of various materials or cut something from sheet gasket.

    For the stem you will have to use string packing.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,312
    There are two ways of thinking. Being a retired contractor I agree with @JohnNY , time is money get rid of it and put something new in. Contractors (try) avoid call backs the death of any business

    You could spend a lot of time on this and not get the result you want.
    STEVEusaPA
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 979
    mattmia2 Thanks for the info.

    EBEBRATT-Ed Right on. Being retired, to some extent, escapades like this are good for the brain. My biggest concern at times is "unintended consequences", like affecting something in another part of the system, especially inaccessible areas.

    If I can be successful with just sourcing needed parts (disc, stem, etc.) it will help me with other valves that will leak when shut. Almost all the other radiator isolation valves in the house are usually open, so there is no immediate need to do anything with them.

    This case is merely because of repainting the hallway/stairway and replacing carpeting.

    Jousting at windmills...perhaps.

    More to follow.

    To all, thanks for the feedback.

  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 979
    Update:

    Yesterday I tried to unthread the bonnet from the body using two decent size (hand-me-down) monkey wrenches without cheater pipes. No success at my strength level.

    I can only assume the valve has not been disassembled for the 95+ years the house has been alive. I certainly haven't tried in the 31 years I have owned the house.

    Is there some kind of penetrating oil that might loosen the mating parts? Since the valve doesn't leak between the body and bonnet, I'm not sure how/if anything could penetrate to the threads, etc. to provide some benefit.

    Ideas?
    My only choice might be what many of you have said about just replacing the valve.



  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    Yes, I would make my next challenge of removing the old valve, capping the riser for now and then getting the old spud out of the rad. (as JohnNY said above)
    Also finding a valve that is not too short, unless the pipe will pull up 3/8" of an inch.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,312
    Perhaps put some heat to it, and some tapping with a hammer vibration helps
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 979
    I wonder if unthreading the valve from the pipe is going to be any easier.

    I was going to make a comment about using a turbo torch to heat up the body and borrowing some dry ice from the vaccines to cool the top, hoping for some loosening.

    There's not a lot of room to swing a hammer, but it's worth a few whacks.

    I have some slack to raise up the valve, but it's only about what JUGHNE mentioned.

    The other alternative, if the valve won't come off is to destructively remove the valve. I've used that approach in other circumstances before and if the valve is bronze or brass it will be easier to cut out pieces than if it is ferrous material. But that is a Summer time job, not November. So, I have plenty of time to try any ideas that pop up.

    Keep the ideas coming, they are appreciated.

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,410
    Because the pipe is steel and the valve is brass it is very likely it would unscrew with appropriately sized wrenches.
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 1,135
    edited November 2020
    I’ve pulled a lot of radiators and have never had difficulty removing the valve from the supply pipe. Use a large pipe wrench and 18” or 24” crescent wrench. 

    I’ve have had the occasional challenge removing the spud but nothing a 18” crescent with a cheater bar on the spud wrench couldn’t solve. 

    You can get a spud wrench at supply house for under $10 plus shipping. 

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    I must not be living right, when removing spuds, 80% of the time the internal brass nubs will break off with the spud wrench.
    Then it is time the other methods.
    ethicalpaul
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 979
    Since I don't have any need to immediately to either repair or replace the valve, I'm going to take the deferred path (paint the valve so it looks good and don't worry, be happy for now) until after the heating season and revisit it in the spring.

    Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

    By the way, I found a company that sandblasts and paints radiators in the Albany, NY area. I will mention the company in the discussion on HH about painting radiators for anyone interested.
  • Dave T_2
    Dave T_2 Member Posts: 64
    It is very common to see old radiator valves that do not seat all the way closed. Many do leak by, but no one cares until they remove the radiator and cannot run the remaining system without steam leaking from the valve.
    Good news is, it does not need to be fixed if you are going to connect the radiator back up and open the valve.
    The easy (fast and inexpensive) way to stop the leaking valve while the radiator is disconnected is open the valve, cut a strip of rubber you can slide into the valve through the union end so that it covers the valve seat. Now close the valve to compress the new rubber against the seat.
  • SteamingatMohawk
    SteamingatMohawk Member Posts: 979
    Good idea for the future. I thought about that, but used a Fernco and hose clamp while the radiator is removed. it fit perfectly onto the union threads on the valve.