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40 Year Old Boiler & Home Remodel....Replace or Keep?

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AdmiralYoda
AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 632
edited December 2021 in Strictly Steam
My 40 year old Weil McLain PEERLESS (Whoops) Series 61 and is in great shape and still running strong. I'm planning a house remodel and it would be a good time to replace the boiler but I've grown attached to the old girl.

It is currently ~45-50% oversized and I have managed to tame it pretty well. The near boiler piping is a mess, but due to luck works just fine. I DO NOT have a header...each riser goes to its own main but the risers are about 48" above the water line so I think dumb luck won out.

We will be adding a 2nd story bedroom on top of an existing 1st story addition. The room will be small at about 160 square feet but I'd like to put a radiator in it. I'd also like to put a small radiator in our living room as one corner is far from existing radiators and gets cold in that corner. The boiler would still be about 35-40% oversized even with the new rads.

Long story short...I'll have a steam pro here to pipe the new rads and correct the near boiler piping. It would be a perfect time to replace the boiler...but like I said I'm somewhat attached to it (and maybe a bit cheap).

What would you Steam Pro's do? Cough up the money and replace it with a new one? Re-pipe it and keep it? Or ditch steam altogether and go forced hot water?
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Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,452
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    Well, the last idea is flat no -- keep the steam! My own inclination would be to keep the old girl, since you have it running pretty well -- but make sure that your person doing the new piping does so in such a way that if you do have to replace it you can do so without major hassles.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    MikeAmann
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 632
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    @Jamie Hall One concern of mine is that the boiler was likely abused for the first 25 years of its life before I came along. Probably very little maintenance and excessive makeup water due to leaking radiators. That's all fixed but I wonder if I have 4 years left or another 40.

    I'm hoping the great guys who do my yearly maintenance ( @New England SteamWorks ) will do the piping and radiator install and if it comes to it...the new boiler as well.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,904
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    @AdmiralYoda , that must be quite old- I can't find it in any of my older W-M listings. Can you post a pic?

    Also, you can't go wrong with @New England SteamWorks .
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    kcopp
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 632
    edited December 2021
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    @Steamhead
    It gets even more confusing. The door on the front has a schematic from1987 on the bottom of it. Funny thing is that nothing matches the schematic. Then New England Steamworks came for maintenance and said that it was made in 1981. Must be a tag or stamping inside the case, where I never see.

    @Hap_Hazzard said in a post from discussion I started a couple years ago:
    You have a pre-1984 series 61 with 4 sections. When the company changed hands they rearranged the model numbers, so the G-461 became the 61-04. There were a few minor changes--notably the addition of a skim port--but it's basically the same boiler.

    EDIT!!! Just realized I confused you by saying Weil McLain at first. I have a PEERLESS!!! Whoops!!





  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 632
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    @mattmia2 I figured it would be good timing while the steam pro's are there anyway installing and piping the new radiators.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,633
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    @AdmiralYoda

    I would repipe the boiler and keep it. If @New England SteamWorks puts a nice new header up there (you have plenty of height) you will be in good shape.

    Repiping the new boiler to a new header in the future will be a snap and who knows how long the old one will run?

    And there is probably little efficiency to gain by installing a new boiler
    Hap_Hazzardethicalpaul
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,904
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    @Steamhead EDIT!!! Just realized I confused you by saying Weil McLain at first. I have a PEERLESS!!! Whoops!!

    That'll do it.............
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,452
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    Oops. Doesn't change my comment, though -- and if you have @New England SteamWorks working on it, you're just fine. Just nod your head from time to time and smile.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • JosephTonozzi
    JosephTonozzi Member Posts: 7
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    Hmmm are you still driving your 40 year old car around ? The boiler does look pretty clean still .I guess if you need steam instead of hot water you won’t gain a lot . Airbags and better crash protection .
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 748
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    Well, the JB-5 is pushing 60 and the Suburban is 22 this year. 😉👍
    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
    CLambMikeAmannEdTheHeaterMan
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,452
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    Hmmm are you still driving your 40 year old car around ? The boiler does look pretty clean still .I guess if you need steam instead of hot water you won’t gain a lot . Airbags and better crash protection .

    The most reliable vehicle which we own is a 50 year old Chevy truck. The second most reliable is a 27 year old Chevy truck. There isn't much to go wrong, and you can pretty well fix anything that does -- at least on the 50 year old (the 27 year old does have one computer, which worries me) -- with a few cheap parts and a small tool kit. The moral: in my view if the older equipment still runs (and @AdmiralYoda 's seems to, and Ryan seems to agree) the only reason to change it is for more pizzazz. Which will cost more to buy, cost more to maintain, and not run as long.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    WMno57delcrossvMikeAmannBobC
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 530
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    Long story short...I'll have a steam pro here to pipe the new rads and correct the near boiler piping. It would be a perfect time to replace the boiler...but like I said I'm somewhat attached to it (and maybe a bit cheap).


    Much of the cost of a boiler replacement is the labor and fittings required for the near-boiler piping. The cost of a complete boiler replacement may not be as much as you think compared to a total repipe of the existing. A replacement would also give you the opportunity to correctly size the boiler.

    With that said, I understand the need to stay within budget. I repiped a 40 year old boiler in my own house last year for exactly that reason. :)
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    If the near boiler piping is done right, you'll be able to use it with a new Peerless or a SteamMax or just about any other similarly-sized atmospheric boiler you replace it with, as long as it's not something weird like a Dunham or Utica.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,346
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    Hmmm are you still driving your 40 year old car around ? Airbags and better crash protection .

    Joseph or anyone else, If you have a 30 year old or older vehicle that you would like to sell, please consider sending me a private message on this forum. I collect vehicles of that era, and will pay more (maybe a lot more) than a dealer or junkyard. Doesn't have to run. I do prefer trucks and SUVs, with low to no rust.
    I'm near the Chicago area, but will travel for the right vehicle. I will be in Colorado, Texas, and points in-between, this spring.
    Cash, payment at your bank, wire, whatever you prefer. I will not ask you to leave the title open, and will sign and give you a copy of the title and dated bill of sale.
    Thank you.

    I DIY.
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,346
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    Agree with @mattmia2 and @EBEBRATT-Ed. Age alone is not a good indicator of remaining life on equipment. If you do redo the header, you could remove the jacket to get a better look at what you have. That might make your keep or replace decision for you.
    I DIY.
    MikeAmann
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 748
    edited December 2021
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    I'm curious as to what the Dwyer pressure switch controls. (???)

    Looks like both mains are dripped- which is why it works. I'd just add the new rads and leave the rest alone.
    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 632
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    The boiler does still run great but is ~40% oversized even with a few additional small radiators so I would probably realize some savings just by having the correct size boiler. I just hate ripping something out that is running great.

    But it is 40 years old and boilers tend to fail at the worst time....so there is a bit of a gamble.

    My luck I'd have everything re-piped and then a few months later the boiler would die and I'd have to pay to have them out twice.
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 748
    edited December 2021
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    You'd have to live quite a while to make up the cost of a new boiler and repipe with some small gain in efficiency. ;)
    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
    EBEBRATT-Ed
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 632
    edited December 2021
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    @delcrossv
    My boiler being 45-50% oversized it tends to short cycle on pressure during a heating cycle. I don't use setbacks...just 66F and forget it.

    I installed a low pressure gauge 0-15oz and noticed that the pressure slowly climbs to 6oz and then takes off rather fast from there until the Pressuretrol kicks in. At 6oz my radiators are full of steam and pretty darn hot.

    So rather than let the boiler short cycle I installed an adjustable pressure switch that I set to about 8oz. When the pressure hits 8oz it kicks in an adjustable timer that interrupts the call for heat. This lets the radiators give some of their warmth to the house and often times the thermostat is satisfied during this pause period.

    I have the timer set for 5 minutes. After this has passed if the thermostat is still calling for heat the boiler will fire up and the cycle will continue.

    It's essentially a soft pressure limit. So far its been working great. Previously the radiators would get scorching hot and overshoot the thermostat by the time it was satisfied. This kind of tames the beast.

    My main goal of this whole thing was:
    1. Maybe save some fuel costs.
    2. Less cycling of the boiler which I would hope may increase its operational life.
    3. It operates at a lower pressure which hopefully will also help its lifespan.

    I also use Rectorseal 8-way to keep the ph around 10 or so like the installation manual says to do. I use about 6oz for my boiler. Its crystal clean, no sludge and no dirty water during blowdowns.
    delcrossvMikeAmannswassbac
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,750
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    So you reinvented the vaporstat...
    ethicalpaul
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 632
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    @mattmia2
    A vaporstat with a time delay yes, otherwise it would be a 2 minute cycle or less cycling with just the vaporstat.

    And it was fun.
    MikeAmannethicalpaul
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 748
    edited December 2021
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    Seems like you've tamed it pretty well. I'm just saying your gains may be fairly marginal numerically, but if a new boiler and correct repipe gives you peace of mind, well, that's worth a good deal. 👍😀
    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
  • MikeAmann
    MikeAmann Member Posts: 998
    edited December 2021
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    Hmmm are you still driving your 40 year old car around ? The boiler does look pretty clean still .I guess if you need steam instead of hot water you won’t gain a lot . Airbags and better crash protection .

    Airbags and better crash protection now NECESSARY because no more real frames and tin foil thickness sheet metal. NOT BETTER IMO. 40 year old car still around - 20 year old car long gone. What does that say to you?

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,633
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    @AdmiralYoda

    I like your timer idea. I would bet you could stretch it out to 8-10 min & see what happens.
  • cross_skier
    cross_skier Member Posts: 201
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    @AdmiralYoda

    I also like the timer idea and ordered the controller.  I was thinking of trying longer intervals as I live in brick house with lots of thermal mass.  I only cycle on pressure on really cold days.  @ethicalpaul also has this timer.

    Running a "young" 23 year old slightly oversized Peerless 61-05.  Got to keep those old Peerless boilers going!
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 632
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    @EBEBRATT-Ed @cross_skier
    One thing I have noticed is even when operating the boiler at low pressures the radiators get hot enough, but not screaming hot like hey used to. With longer intervals the radiators tend to be hot on the supply side and just warm on the vent side.

    The thermostat is still satisfied but on a cold day the thermostat is calling for heat most of the day with longer intervals.

    By near boiler piping is not correct and one main is essentially just a very long runout with no main vent. It needs to be re-piped and fixed. The system is balanced and the house heats evenly.

    The timer is essentially reducing the cycle time which helps reduce run time but it is just a bandaid for a grossly oversized boiler.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,633
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    @AdmiralYoda said
    " The system is balanced and the house heats evenly."

    That's the goal. Sounds like you did a good job. It's working a lot better than most of the hack installs
  • cross_skier
    cross_skier Member Posts: 201
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    @AdmiralYoda

    You might check your burners and combustion if you haven't done so.  They do age, need to be cleaned, and can mess with efficiency.

    Put anti-seize on the pins before replacing.

    If they look terrible you can buy a shiny new set for about $400
    Hap_Hazzard
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 632
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    @cross_skier the wonderful steam pro's cover that during the annual maintenance. It says on the little card they left that I'm operating at 81.8% efficiency.
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,265
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    @AdmiralYoda,

    I'm still running a 1957 boiler, so I side with those saying keep yours.

    Really nice to see your timer setup. Your solution to discover just when radiators are just starting to get full and then waiting is a good one and surely a big improvement. Filling radiators even that much though and with the size boiler you describe I would be quite sure you would be happy with an even longer wait before the next burn.

    I worked with timer solutions for many years. If you are interested to tinker more my investigations led me to a system where the wait time between burns is adjusted by the conditions. I put a temperature switch on the feed pipe of a remote rad and set a timer to stop the burn some amount after steam gets to that point. This lets me control every burn to the same fill amount of my choice well short of complete fill(burning hot) which is never needed. The next burn if needed can start a timed about after that same switch opens again. In this way radiators are just more gently warm for longer and the heat is more even and pleasant. With this system the wait time adjusts itself as the conditions change. With temps near 40 waits will be 20-25 minutes. As it gets colder waits drop down to more like 15 minutes. The nice thing is that the burn cycles stay evenly spaced and the number of them per hour adjusts automatically, all based on the actual current conditions. I use a cheap PLC to configure the timers but the hard wiring with relays and timers would not be that bad.

    Anyway, your solution is surely a good one. Many ways to approach this. Nice to see the activity.
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 632
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    @PMJ Thank you!

    There probably isn't enough demand but it would be kind of cool to have some smart wi-fi battery powered sensors we could be applied anywhere on the radiators to measure their heat.

    Add an outdoor sensor and it all could report to a device wirelessly to control the boiler based on outdoor conditions and there you go. Then the control box would attach to the boiler and control wait time. Essentially what you did but as a more an easy wire free solution that is plug and play. I'd buy it.
    cross_skierCLamb
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,265
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    @PMJ Thank you!

    There probably isn't enough demand but it would be kind of cool to have some smart wi-fi battery powered sensors we could be applied anywhere on the radiators to measure their heat.

    Add an outdoor sensor and it all could report to a device wirelessly to control the boiler based on outdoor conditions and there you go. Then the control box would attach to the boiler and control wait time. Essentially what you did but as a more an easy wire free solution that is plug and play. I'd buy it.

    If more folks experienced first hand the improvement you made there would be more interest/demand.

    When the fire was continuous there was real time continuous pressure feedback about current conditions to the damper control. This was unfortunately replaced with single point feedback at the thermostat which is too little information way too late in the cycle to control a boiler running on high. You identified pressure information earlier in the cycle to stop your boiler well before your thermostat or vaporstat had a clue - a very good idea. You also realized that your boiler didn't need to restart again as soon as a pressure device would have started it.

    In the situation where the fire is not continuous pressure is too volatile a variable for finer control. But there is lots of real time information in the temperature out at the radiators about what is actually happening. Reliable WIFI sensors sure would be helpful. Who knows, there may be more interest in this yet.
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
    cross_skier
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    @AdmiralYoda

    You might check your burners and combustion if you haven't done so. They do age, need to be cleaned, and can mess with efficiency.

    They should definitely be cleaned at the start of every season. A lot can happen to them over the summer. Dirt and rust particles rain down from above, spiders build tiny webs inside, etc. Anything that impedes the flow of air and gas through the tube and the slits on top can cause "Helmholtzing."

    I'm not sure how Hermann would feel about having his name turned into a verb, but that's what they call it when the combustion occurs inside the tube rather than above it. It makes a really strange squealing or howling noise, and when you look at the burners and see one where the flame seems to be coming right out of the manifold spud, you'll want to shut down the boiler as quick as you can and clean that burner, and maybe the rest of them while you're at it.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • AdmiralYoda
    AdmiralYoda Member Posts: 632
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    @Hap_Hazzard the great guys at New England Steamworks do that for me :) Part of the annual maintenance.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,117
    edited December 2021
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    Hmmm are you still driving your 40 year old car around ? The boiler does look pretty clean still .I guess if you need steam instead of hot water you won’t gain a lot . Airbags and better crash protection .

    I can beat all of you,
    1923 Ford will be 99 years old next year

    @AdmiralYoda, did I read earlier that you wired in a pressure switch with a 5 minute delay? Now that is some smart electrical engineering! How long is the "on cycle" last after the 5 minute delay? If you have a 5 or 6 minute or longer run cycle, then you have unlocked the mystery of short cycling on your system! ...and the fact that you may satisfy the call for heat during the 5 minute delay on milder days... I just can't think of a better design to cope with an oversized boiler!

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

    EBEBRATT-EdPC7060WMno57
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,633
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    @EdTheHeaterMan

    I like your awesome service truck!!!
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,117
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    @EdTheHeaterMan

    I like your awesome service truck!!!

    Thanks,

    If you look on the top shelf to the right of the Ford, You can see some old oil burners too.
    1980-1990 vintage

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

    PC7060
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
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    I can beat all of you,
    1923 Ford will be 99 years old next year

    Nice! Do you have the tool kit? The adjustable wrenches they put in those kits are really handy.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,452
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    That's gorgeous! Did you do the restoration?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England