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Removing Radiator Valve/Union/Spuds - Small Hole and No Spuds Inside

HandyFS
HandyFS Member Posts: 57
I'm replacing a few radiators with old used radiators I picked up, and I need to get new union's into the radiators, and the old ones out. I bought a spud wrench with hopes of either loosening and removing, or using the spud wrench to cut the union and use it as a support inside as I work it out. The 1/2" end of the multi-size spud wrench doesn't fit into the hole, so I'm assuming it is smaller than 1/2"? I also see some have spuds inside, and some do not.

The radiators are American Radiator Arco style thinner tube radiators, pretty standard and common radiators.

What's the best method to get these old unions out? I've seen some people cut them short, and then go inside and cut them with a hacksaw/sawzall being careful not to damage the cast iron threads, and then bend them out with a cold chisen/punch.

Mostly all the videos I see of people removing them, they first start by using a spud wrench on the inside as they work to get the brass union out to give it some strength. So I'm guessing I should find some type of metal rod that can go inside the existing spud as I try to loosen it up with a pipe wrench and extension bar. Or I'm stuck with the hacksaw method.

Am I on the right track?

Comments

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,278
    There are some other methods to install spuds.
    Depending upon the age, some used 3/8" square drive, and later some large Allen hex wrenches.

    Can you see inside if you might have either of those openings?
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 18,190
    Cutting out the piece is the last resort after you try wrenching. If you could create a socket, impact wrenches work as they vibrate and torque.

    It's useful to have a tap on hand to chase the threads if you decide to cut and split.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • HandyFS
    HandyFS Member Posts: 57
    edited November 2022
    JUGHNE said:

    There are some other methods to install spuds.
    Depending upon the age, some used 3/8" square drive, and later some large Allen hex wrenches.

    Can you see inside if you might have either of those openings?

    Thanks for the reply. For the new spuds/bushings, I'm going to buy the unions and valves from SupplyHouse.com and they look like standard style that should be compatible.

    So I just went and looked again and I can now see that some have normal spuds inside, and then others have this star style pattern. Any idea if that star pattern is common Allen
    style or something I'll never find?


    In this pic you can see that the spud wrench won't pass by the mouth of the bushing. I guess I can shave down the front of the spud wrench to get it inside so I can see if it grabs and I get lucky, or simply use as an inside support as I try to pipe wrench from the outside.

    Pretty standard looking from the outside and how they thread into the larger bushing into the radiator.


    I think my plan of attack will be on the ones with spuds inside, cut the large nut off and out of the way, and then I may cut the end off the bushing so the spud wrench can pass, or, shave the end of the spud wrench just enough to get inside. Since it seems most people don't have a ton of luck using a spud wrench itself, I'll then use the spud wrench inside as a support and get a pipe wrench on the outside of the bushing and try to break it loose. If that fails, I'll need to use the hacksaw cut and chisel method.

    For the one with the star pattern, I'll see if my larger allen wrench set somehow fits, or see if I can find something star patterned like that, otherwise it will be hacksaw method.

    Anyone know from the photo what the thread size is going into the radiator? Was it a standard size? 1/2" or 3/4"?

    All feedback and suggestions welcome. I'm dreading this task, but it must be done.


  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,278
    For that "star " opening, try a square drive for maybe 3/8" sockets.

    Spuds look to be maybe 1/2" IMO.

    These look like the trap outlets for 2 pipe steam.

    What system do you have, 1 or 2 pipe steam?
    PC7060
  • HandyFS
    HandyFS Member Posts: 57
    edited November 2022
    hot_rod said:

    Cutting out the piece is the last resort after you try wrenching. If you could create a socket, impact wrenches work as they vibrate and torque.

    It's useful to have a tap on hand to chase the threads if you decide to cut and split.

    Thanks for the extra tips, I'll plan to chase the threads if I need to go that route. I bought a smaller sized spud wrench that connects to a drill in hopes that its one more tool in my arsenal to try to get these things out. I am going to start out and see how far I get with what I already have around.

    Have you had good luck getting them out without needing to cut them?

    I shared a few more pictures in my previous response.
  • HandyFS
    HandyFS Member Posts: 57
    edited November 2022
    JUGHNE said:

    For that "star " opening, try a square drive for maybe 3/8" sockets.

    Spuds look to be maybe 1/2" IMO.

    These look like the trap outlets for 2 pipe steam.

    What system do you have, 1 or 2 pipe steam?

    I'll see how I make out with a square drive socket, Allen socket, or whatever seems to make inside well.

    I have a hot water system, and I'm almost certain these came from hot water setups but I'm not fully certain. They have the coin vent to relief air at the tops. Will I have issues using these with a hot water setup?
  • HandyFS
    HandyFS Member Posts: 57
    JUGHNE said:


    Depending upon the age, some used 3/8" square drive, and later some large Allen hex wrenches.

    hot_rod said:

    Cutting out the piece is the last resort after you try wrenching. If you could create a socket, impact wrenches work as they vibrate and torque.

    Is it ideal to try to put a little heat with a torch to see if it helps loosen up, or is that not ideal with the cast iron? Just laying out all options as I plan to start my attempts soon.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 7,143
    edited November 2022
    That star shape looks like it it 8 point so it fits a square drive, not 6 point like an allen wrench.

    You could try an inside pipe wrench and see if that can grab it and unscrew it as well.

    If you can get a rod or pipe that fits fairly tightly inside and there is enough sticking out to grab with a pipe wrench, I think that is likely to succeed.

    You could also try unscrewing the bushing and replace the bushing and spud.
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 711
    You can go to a local metal shop and have square bar stock purchased. They will cut you a length that you want. Pretty cheap. If you have never cut out and chiseled out a tailpiece before it would be safer this way. For the inexperienced i don't know if the first try should be on a radiator. Can be an expensive mess up.
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 912
    edited December 2022
    Cut the nut off with an oscillating saw (partial cut each side then snap off).  Then you can grab the spud with a pipe wrench. 


  • MikeL_2
    MikeL_2 Member Posts: 392
         We've had very good luck carefully cutting off the companion nut only.
          Next, we'll drive a tight fitting wooden dowel into the protruding nipple; this will prevent crushing it out of round with a pipe wrench.  You can heat the nipple / spud and let it cool before applying the wrench.....
  • HandyFS
    HandyFS Member Posts: 57
    Great tips and ideas everyone, much appreciated! Plenty of ammo to go at it keeping my fingers crossed. I have 5 radiators to go, I'll let you know I make out.
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 681
    edited November 2022
    I was rarely able to remove the union spud end with a spud wrench, especially in the smaller sizes. Most every spud wrench that I saw had the 1/2" end broken off. My recommendation for removing a union spud in a rad was to use a spud wrench and a 6" Ridgid pipe wrench and a cheater pipe on the pipe wrench. Turn the spud wrench and the pipe wrench at the same time. If this doesn't work, you cut off the union nut and grab the end of the union and turn it out. If you are using this method, first find something you can stick into the union end to keep it from smashing when applying pressure to the pipe wrench. If the spud breaks off then you will have to cut it out the piece that is left very carefully.
  • HandyFS
    HandyFS Member Posts: 57
    edited November 2022

    I was rarely able to remove the union spud end with a spud wrench, especially in the smaller sizes. Most every spud wrench that I saw had the 1/2" end broken off. My recommendation for removing a union spud in a rad was to use a spud wrench and a 6" Ridgid pipe wrench and a cheater pipe on the pipe wrench. Turn the spud wrench and the pipe wrench at the same time. If this doesn't work, you cut off the union nut and grab the end of the union and turn it out. If you are using this method, first find something you can stick into the union end to keep it from smashing when applying pressure to the pipe wrench. If the spud breaks off then you will have to cut it out the piece that is left very carefully.

    Thanks for the extra added little details. I'm going to go at it and see how I make out. I'll try to match up a metal tool to fit into the spud to keep it from collapsing, or I'll use a piece of wood like someone suggested since I can go grab that at the store. I have an assortment of extractors and tools from other projects I've worked on over the years, so I'm bringing out all the tricks this round and hoping to succeed on each of them. Hope to report back success in the next few days.
  • HandyFS
    HandyFS Member Posts: 57
    UPDATE:
    I went in with all my tools by my side. I used 2 different sized extractor bits and managed to get all the spud unions out of 5 different radiators successfully. Today was a good day. Thanks again to everyone for all the knowledge, I was ready to tackle just about any hang up I encountered after all this great advice. On to my next questions in different new threads.
    mattmia2