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Steam radiator fittings

Lev77 Member Posts: 55
Hi all,

I've had amazing help here in the past.
We have steam heat with the old cast iron radiators.
Recently, one of the radiators started leaking from a couple of the "ribs" at the bottom.
I tried different things, including JB Weld.
At the peak between heating and cooling off, water leaked despite the JB Weld.

Long story short, I gave up on that radiator and started looking for replacement.
Bought this other used radiator that seems equivalent, except:
The other radiator had a smaller diameter spud and valve connected to it.
Looks like 1/2" or 3/4", not sure.
Mine takes a 1-1/4" spud and valve (and pipe).

Is it feasible and possible and does it make sense to try and exchange the fitting between my radiator and the "new" radiator?

So far my attempts to unscrew those fittings have been unsuccessful - was going to use a torch/wd40-specialist etc next.
Would appreciate any help/advice.

Thanks very much!


  • jhewings
    jhewings Member Posts: 139
    I have tried a few times to get an old "spud" off a radiator - and they all failed because the "nubs" inside the spud just sheared off. In each case I resorted to removing the bushing behind the spud using heat and a cheater on the wrench with the radiator lying down on the porch. If this is the route you take then you have to replace the valve too because a spud from a new valve/spud won't match the old valve. Guess what? The new valve might not be the same height as the old one. Then you might have to replace the riser under the valve too or maybe raise the radiator on blocks.....This comment from a homeowner (3 flat) not a pro.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    Did you try to take the leaker apart? It may be that it is the type which uses push nipples -- in which case it is possible to repair them, even if you can't get replacement push nipples...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Lev77
    Lev77 Member Posts: 55
    @jhewings Thanks - I've removed a stubborn spud once before, had to get creative... you can see here if you have any interest:

    So I can remove the spud and then try to remove the bushing from the leaky radiator, and then remove the bushing from the "new" radiator, and screw the old bushing into the "new" radiator, then just get that 1-1/4 valve. There's a bit of a play in the pipe, hopefully it'll be enough to line up the valve with the spud, but I would be very happy to get to that point.

    @Jamie Hall Thanks, have not tried that. Might try taking it apart anyway because both these radiators weigh the same (and quite a bit, my back is seriously yelling at me right now, had to lug it to the 2nd floor), would be easier to take it out in pieces. But I'm concerned about trying to repair it further because I can see rust at the joints of those "ribs" that are leaking, and just wondering about the rest of the ribs.
  • Lev77
    Lev77 Member Posts: 55
    By the way, I wonder what size those bushings are, and whether it's a standard....
    For example:
    https://www.zoro.com/zoro-select-2-x-1-14-malleable-iron-hex-bushing-5p529/i/G3239756/?q=hex bushing 2" x 1-1/4

    If I can get the bushing off the "new" radiator and just buy the right replacement bushing for $4 (or even if it was $20), worth not wasting time getting the bushing off the old radiator.

    Any thoughts?
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,623
    edited January 2021
    Those are just standard iron pipe reducer bushings. I suppose you could try taking the bushing out of the old radiator with the spud, cut the bushing almost to the threads in a place or 2, split it with a cold chisel, and unscrew and re-use the spud with a new bushing.

    BTW, the through rod shows that your old leaking radiator is the push nipple type.
  • Lev77
    Lev77 Member Posts: 55
    Thanks everyone - @jhewings ,  @Jamie Hall , @mattmia2 , for your help.
    Using a pipe wrench with a "cheater", what the local master plumber called a "negotiator", I was able to remove the bushing, and replaced with new bushing and valve.
    New radiator is working well!

    Now, I'd like to separate the ribs of the old radiator so I don't have to deal with however many pounds again to remove from my house.

    I was able to unscrew the two nuts on the long screws, but so far the ribs are not separating even with hammer banging on them. Is there a trick to separating them? Or is it sledgehammer time? Or sawzall time?

    Thanks again!!
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    If you are reasonably sure that the sections are held together with tapered nipples -- and the fact that you had tension rods suggests that -- the best persuader I've found so far is a four wooden wedges between the sections (use hardwood -- maple is good). One pair at the top, one pair at the bottom and pound them in sequentially.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,513

    Good job on the replacement. You probably don't have to disassemble every section. Split into manageable sizes. @Jamie Hall method is the best
  • Lev77
    Lev77 Member Posts: 55
    Thanks @Jamie Hall! I'll try that.
    Appreciate the feedback @EBEBRATT-Ed.