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Looking to repair old, rare seeming steam traps

Nearly every radiator in my house has what looks like the original steam traps with original parts. Since my house was built in 1920, I’m guessing they’ve all failed. Even in the rare chance they haven’t, I’d like to give the system a refresh anyway for peace of mind. 

All the traps are labeled Marsh Reflux Jr. Thinking the “Jr” part wasn’t a part of the model I ordered a small handful of Tunstall capsules for Reflux traps. I like their offering since it wouldn’t require a new cap. I get the capsules in and they’re too large plus the outlets don’t have threading to install them. I did some research trying to find this particular model and only found a couple magazine ads like this one: https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Heating_and_Ventilating_Magazine.html?id=ccQ7AQAAMAAJ on page 89. Looks like it’s a somehow smaller version of the Reflux. 

I haven’t called Tunstall yet, but I’m wondering if anybody here would know if I’d find any luck finding the capsules for this particular trap or if I’ll be stuck replacing all these things? If I had to replace them outright, I’m guessing any 1/2” trap would work in their stead, even though they were marketed as “smaller” than the Reflux? I mean, these things are installed even on my larger radiators so I don’t know what that ad copy could really mean. 

Appreciate any help, thanks!

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    edited December 2021
    I admire your enthusiasm. However, have you actually verified that the traps have failed? Unless they have been abused by high pressure, there is no particular reason why they should have.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,827

    I admire your enthusiasm. However, have you actually verified that the traps have failed? Unless they have been abused by high pressure, there is no particular reason why they should have.

    This.

    Do all the radiators heat up? Is there any banging? Do your dry returns get steam-hot?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,516
    @RedChops

    I would call Tunstall I am sure they will take them back in exchange
  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 857
    If you can, pictures of your trap would help.
    We've probably worked on this trap.
    If memory serves, it took a few tries with B&J to get the right cap and cage unit.
    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
  • RedChops
    RedChops Member Posts: 15
    edited December 2021
    @Jamie Hall @Steamhead well to be honest, there are only two, maybe three radiators small enough to actually heat all the way through in a normal cycle, both on the first floor, as far as I can tell for now. Those return lines do get very hot, even down to the basement. I’d have to check them with my IR thermometer. All the radiators have your standard boxes on them so it can be difficult to run around feeling them all at the end of a cycle. 

    I slowed many of the rads way down to try and diagnose two rads that aren’t heating properly. Not incredibly slow, we’re talking like a 20 minute full cycle with the working rooms nicely balanced. One (of three) on the third floor is cold, and one on the second floor is extremely slow and I can hear water sloshing from somewhere in the vicinity of it. The problem children aren’t vertically aligned, but they may share a supply/return. The way the risers leave the basement mains make it very hard to tell. I’m sure I’ll have to jack up Mr. Sloshy, since that seems more like a pitch issue. 

    Theres some pretty stiff water hammer, good deep banging. Not sure that’s coming from the returns though, it might be a mains pitch issue. Basically the optimist in me was hoping that some $40 trap parts would help so I wouldn’t have to resort to doing heftier mains pitching work. 

    @EBEBRATT-Ed I always feel bad calling places around the holidays, especially with all these shipping/supply problems going on. They seem like reasonable people though
  • RedChops
    RedChops Member Posts: 15
    @Gordo the traps have been painted pretty thick so I can’t get a good picture of the cap enough to make out the stamp without pretty specific lighting. This is the trap body though:

    It’s a standard 1/2” outlet there. 

    With the cap removed, this is the full assembly:


    On a trap that I know to have failed, I took the plunger assembly off the cap, it screws in to it. The screw part and alcohol disc broke apart with nearly no force, but together they would have looked like this:

    I don’t recall there being any alcohol inside the disc. 

    Since the small outlet isn’t threaded, I’d probably have to use a spring type replacement I’d figure?
    Gordo
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,516
    @RedChops

    Tunstall is pretty good. Funny thing is they are about 1 mile from where I live!!
  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 857
    edited December 2021
    Hi!
    Thank you for the pictures.
    Yes, you are right, since the outlet does not have a seat to be removed, a spring type capsule is needed.
    Fun fact about that trap: the logo in the hex cap is removable (more or less) and you could expose the top of the element so you could, in theory, adjust the element's height above the outlet with a slotted screw driver.

    We have this trap in our "petting zoo", and should be able to provide a B&J cage # for you very soon. I'm not sure if Tunstall makes a unit for this model.
    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
  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 857
    edited December 2021
    @RedChops : As best as I can see, The B&J's magic number for your traps, the "Jas. P. Marsh Reflux Jr. 1/2" trap is...#2074.
    It appears you'll need a new cap as well as a new cage unit.

    Tunstall's # appears to be TCBJ-1973 and may or may not need a new cap, but it is best to get one to signify that the trap has been rebuilt.
    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
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,627
    The hammer could damage your new traps too so be careful.
  • RedChops
    RedChops Member Posts: 15
    @Gordo thanks a ton! Very helpful, and surprised to see that there are more of these out in the wild with so little info on them. I had another C.E Squires Mouat trap that was made right here in Cleveland that I had to decommission completely unfortunately. The Squires family around here was apparently embroiled in some scandals around the turn of the century. Love this stuff. 

    @EBEBRATT-Ed so jealous of you Massachusetts guys. Between restoration window glass for the sheets I accidentally break while restoring my windows and all these steam parts, seems like I do all my business in that state these days. And shipping ain’t cheap on glass. 

    @mattmia2 that’s good point. I’m working on slowly repitching the steam mains. Got most of the hammer patched up but I’m waiting on a laser level to finish the job there. 
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,516
    @RedChops

    Don't be jealous of Massachusetts there is nothing any good here except Cape Cod.