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Cleaning Out Old Giant Boilers From The Inside?

D107
D107 Member Posts: 1,814
edited June 2022 in Strictly Steam
Family lore has it that my grandfather, who worked as a maintenance man for one of NYC's skyscrapers (The Continental Building, 1450 Broadway) originally built in the early 1930s––was short enough––about 5'4"––to fit inside their boilers for cleaning when he worked there from the 1940s––60s. Is that possible? The building has almost 400,000 square feet. I'm assuming it had steam heat but not sure.

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,487
    Yes indeed it was. Even in ship based water tube power boilers the drums were entered, inspected, and cleaned by hand. By all accounts it was not a particularly pleasant job.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    D107
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 912
    edited June 2022
    Yes, I can imagine it wasn’t  fun. I recall cleaning the inside of a cement truck cylinder  as a teenager in the 1970s using a hammer and chisel. Of course no hearing / eye protection was required or used.  It was during the winter shut down at a prefab concrete place where I worked. It was either clean cement truck cylinders or not get paid. 

    @JUGHNE - The company and location where I worked was the Gerhold company at the Columbus concrete redimix plant. Although not in heating ( ;) ), it was (and is) a well known Nebraska company formed 1869. 
    D107
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,130
    edited June 2022
    When did OSHA start requiring confined space permits? Cement trucks and boiler certainly sound like they meet the criteria. O.o
    PC7060D107
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 686
    In my younger years working for CS&E of Pittsburgh, Pa. I climbed into the fire box of many boilers, both fire tube and water tube. We had a skinny kid that could even fit through the 11"x15" manway cover at the top of most firetube boilers. The first time I heard of a "confined space permit" my reaction was ???. At a later date I was thankful for the requirement.
    D107
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 839
    We used to have a pressure washer trailer with 6 cylinder diesel drive to clean energy boilers drums and tubes with 10,000 psi water. Cleaning was done from inside of the drums. But we are not doing it anymore. Sold power washer to the company in New Zealand.
    D107
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 912
    Followed up on @JakeCK information on confined space permits and found a 22 page safety procedure for cleaning of cement truck cylinders!

    https://depts.washington.edu/silica/pdf/gatech.edu_chipout_files_docs_eng-manual.pdf
    JakeCKD107CLamb
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,381
    i guy got killed in the 70's cleaning out a large Trichlorothane storage tank a few towns away from me. His buddy got out and was found passed out half way out of that tank, no respirators and a ventilation jan had popped it's breaker.

    Companies back then played fast and easy with safety, they were all for safety till it cost them money or time. There's was a shipyard a few miles from me where a crane operator was told to move a load from one ship building bay to the other. He told the boss he thought the load a bit heavy but was told to move the load or quit. The guy did as he was told and that crane and it's load plummeted 100 ft into a bay - they tried to pin it all on the dead guy.
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
    D107
  • D107
    D107 Member Posts: 1,814
    edited June 2022
    Here's a few illustrative photos. Some of these look like a small parking lot.






    bburdPC7060
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,487
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    D107PC7060CLamb
  • flat_twin
    flat_twin Member Posts: 331
    My Dad told me about having to clean boilers while he was in the Navy. My claustrophobia kicks in a little just thinking about it.
    D107JakeCK
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,381
    A navy buddy worked on aircraft carriers in the early 60's and said they used to look for high pressure steam leaks using broomsticks and even those could be cut off by the steam jet.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
    CLamb
  • Pat K
    Pat K Member Posts: 88
    Yes, common practice to enter and clean ships boilers at a thousand steaming hours, the Navy had gone to chemically cleaning watersides by the time I was in, but you removed all the drum internals and cleaned the fire sides with wire brushes.
    Later I worked at a hospital that burned 6 oil fireside’s were VERY messy. We also manually cleaned the water side tubes. Sending a Goodway Tube router down 6 hundred tubes made for a long day.
    Have you hugged your Boiler today?