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Help me keep my old boiler alive and well

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  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,639
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    If you can arrange the wrenches so you can squeeze the handles together instead of trying to pull on each separately with each arm sometimes that makes breaking things free a lot easier. Also makes it a lot harder to smack yourself or something else when it does break free.

    Make sure you seat the wrench on the pipe such that it is just touching the back of the jaw so it doesn't crush the pipe.
    Long Beach Edguzzinerd
  • guzzinerd
    guzzinerd Member Posts: 233
    edited January 2023
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    I'll give it a try... Do i need the shut off valve for each vent?
    Bryant 245-8 2-pipe steam in a 1930s 6-unit 1-story apt building in the NM mountains.  26 radiators heating up 3800sqf.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,835
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    Not really, but it can't hurt.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    guzzinerd
  • Dennis1679
    Dennis1679 Member Posts: 24
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    It would be a good idea to make a line drawing of the system that shows where the boiler is, where the radiators come off the mains, where the returns tie in etc. without the building details. I think that would make the comments here more informed, unless someone can really read that print.
    guzzinerd
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,845
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    > I was afraid years of steam would make them impossible to remove without cutting no? Steam is not magic, and steel pipes aren't afraid of it. Rust is rust. But even on my 2" original steam main pipes, I can get most of them loose with a couple 18" or 24" pipe wrenches, a 3 or 4 foot cheater pipe, a wooden board to hold the backup wrench and some swearing. And I'm a weakling.
    Define “Some” :)
    ethicalpaulguzzinerd
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,203
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    Cut and thread the old pipe or crack open the fittings. Use cast iron steam fittings to help the next guy.
    guzzinerd
  • guzzinerd
    guzzinerd Member Posts: 233
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    Cut and thread the old pipe or crack open the fittings. Use cast iron steam fittings to help the next guy.
    Is that the black pipe?  It's what I've been using.  I'll probably cut and thread, need to get a 3/4" die
    Bryant 245-8 2-pipe steam in a 1930s 6-unit 1-story apt building in the NM mountains.  26 radiators heating up 3800sqf.
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,265
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    @guzzinerd , The good news is you have a Bryant which is one of the best. Looks like a model 446. I am running a 446 size 7. I have 22 radiators very close to 1000sqft. I'm guessing yours is a size 8 or even a 9. I've attached the rating chart and the cover page to the installation manual.

    This is a two pipe system?
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
  • guzzinerd
    guzzinerd Member Posts: 233
    edited January 2023
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    PMJ said:
    @guzzinerd , The good news is you have a Bryant which is one of the best. Looks like a model 446. I am running a 446 size 7. I have 22 radiators very close to 1000sqft. I'm guessing yours is a size 8 or even a 9. I've attached the rating chart and the cover page to the installation manual. This is a two pipe system?
    ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️
    It is a two pipe system, I've already replaced the little vents with Gorton #2s on one end of the lines.  Glad to hear it's a good one, i read somewhere that is was just an old inefficient system.  I have a copy of the install manual but this is the first boiler I've ever touched.  

    I still need to install the other 2 Gorton vents in the east side of the circuit as soon as it warms up.  Right now it's been too cold and a couple of the units are Airbnbs so i can't risk people complaining about no heat.  

    I found this old shipping label nailed to a piece of a wood crate in the crawlspace, i wonder if it's for this boiler??


    Bryant 245-8 2-pipe steam in a 1930s 6-unit 1-story apt building in the NM mountains.  26 radiators heating up 3800sqf.
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,203
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    The proper fittings to use on steam jobs are cast iron. Black fittings are malleable iron. Cast iron fittings, also called steam fittings are more brittle than malleable iron and easier to break off for repairs or renovation.
  • guzzinerd
    guzzinerd Member Posts: 233
    edited January 2023
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    The proper fittings to use on steam jobs are cast iron. Black fittings are malleable iron. Cast iron fittings, also called steam fittings are more brittle than malleable iron and easier to break off for repairs or renovation.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Pretty sure most of the lines are black.  Should I use black to graft in the new vents or just order cast pieces from now on? (No local suppliers).

    Also, would i be able to use a pipe threader on cast pipes?
    Bryant 245-8 2-pipe steam in a 1930s 6-unit 1-story apt building in the NM mountains.  26 radiators heating up 3800sqf.
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,265
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    Today old is automatically equated with inefficient. And for some reason today's discussion is allowed to only include fuel efficiency. When you add in all the other costs and divide by years of service life your Bryant wins that race walking away.

    I don't want to make your life more complicated but in two pipe I would skip the venting on steam lines. I am one of the few here(maybe the only one)who agrees with George Hoffman that air is the enemy of steam system comfort and efficiency. I have one single vent opening on the dry return in my garage for the whole system which I open only when the system pressure is not in natural vacuum and close when the boiler goes off so air can't just rush back in. Never enough air coming out to hear a thing. Performance of my system improved dramatically since I did that years ago for the very reasons George wrote about. He wrote that all effort removing air was wasted effort - and that consideration was with the very few times it was required with a coal fire! I am quite sure he would be shocked at the volume of air being horsed in and out every cycle today in these systems.

    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
    Long Beach Ed
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,203
    edited January 2023
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    guzzinerd said:



    The proper fittings to use on steam jobs are cast iron. Black fittings are malleable iron. Cast iron fittings, also called steam fittings are more brittle than malleable iron and easier to break off for repairs or renovation.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Pretty sure most of the lines are black.  Should I use black to graft in the new vents or just order cast pieces from now on? (No local suppliers).

    Also, would i be able to use a pipe threader on cast pipes?

    Only the fittings are cast iron instead of malleable. Regular black pipe is used for steam.
  • guzzinerd
    guzzinerd Member Posts: 233
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    PMJ said:
    Today old is automatically equated with inefficient. And for some reason today's discussion is allowed to only include fuel efficiency. When you add in all the other costs and divide by years of service life your Bryant wins that race walking away. I don't want to make your life more complicated but in two pipe I would skip the venting on steam lines. I am one of the few here(maybe the only one)who agrees with George Hoffman that air is the enemy of steam system comfort and efficiency. I have one single vent opening on the dry return in my garage for the whole system which I open only when the system pressure is not in natural vacuum and close when the boiler goes off so air can't just rush back in. Never enough air coming out to hear a thing. Performance of my system improved dramatically since I did that years ago for the very reasons George wrote about. He wrote that all effort removing air was wasted effort - and that consideration was with the very few times it was required with a coal fire! I am quite sure he would be shocked at the volume of air being horsed in and out every cycle today in these systems.
    Oh boy... Ok, what about the tenant above the new vents I installed?  He tells me his radiators heat up much earlier and are hotter, no more hammer noise either.  Is that because it had small vents before i put in the #2s or should there not have been any vent in the first place?  Should I remove the vent on the steam line to see what happens?  
    Bryant 245-8 2-pipe steam in a 1930s 6-unit 1-story apt building in the NM mountains.  26 radiators heating up 3800sqf.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,283
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    guzzinerd said:


    PMJ said:

    Today old is automatically equated with inefficient. And for some reason today's discussion is allowed to only include fuel efficiency. When you add in all the other costs and divide by years of service life your Bryant wins that race walking away.

    I don't want to make your life more complicated but in two pipe I would skip the venting on steam lines. I am one of the few here(maybe the only one)who agrees with George Hoffman that air is the enemy of steam system comfort and efficiency. I have one single vent opening on the dry return in my garage for the whole system which I open only when the system pressure is not in natural vacuum and close when the boiler goes off so air can't just rush back in. Never enough air coming out to hear a thing. Performance of my system improved dramatically since I did that years ago for the very reasons George wrote about. He wrote that all effort removing air was wasted effort - and that consideration was with the very few times it was required with a coal fire! I am quite sure he would be shocked at the volume of air being horsed in and out every cycle today in these systems.


    Oh boy... Ok, what about the tenant above the new vents I installed?  He tells me his radiators heat up much earlier and are hotter, no more hammer noise either.  Is that because it had small vents before i put in the #2s or should there not have been any vent in the first place?  Should I remove the vent on the steam line to see what happens?  

    No, you shouldn't. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If what you have done made it work better, don't even think of fixing it. @PMJ 's system -- and mine, which is very similar in many ways -- are set up to use single master vents. They work splendidly well, but there are other ways to do the job, and since yours is working at the moment well, leave it alone.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • guzzinerd
    guzzinerd Member Posts: 233
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    PMJ said:
    Today old is automatically equated with inefficient. And for some reason today's discussion is allowed to only include fuel efficiency. When you add in all the other costs and divide by years of service life your Bryant wins that race walking away. I don't want to make your life more complicated but in two pipe I would skip the venting on steam lines. I am one of the few here(maybe the only one)who agrees with George Hoffman that air is the enemy of steam system comfort and efficiency. I have one single vent opening on the dry return in my garage for the whole system which I open only when the system pressure is not in natural vacuum and close when the boiler goes off so air can't just rush back in. Never enough air coming out to hear a thing. Performance of my system improved dramatically since I did that years ago for the very reasons George wrote about. He wrote that all effort removing air was wasted effort - and that consideration was with the very few times it was required with a coal fire! I am quite sure he would be shocked at the volume of air being horsed in and out every cycle today in these systems.
    Oh boy... Ok, what about the tenant above the new vents I installed?  He tells me his radiators heat up much earlier and are hotter, no more hammer noise either.  Is that because it had small vents before i put in the #2s or should there not have been any vent in the first place?  Should I remove the vent on the steam line to see what happens?  
    No, you shouldn't. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If what you have done made it work better, don't even think of fixing it. @PMJ 's system -- and mine, which is very similar in many ways -- are set up to use single master vents. They work splendidly well, but there are other ways to do the job, and since yours is working at the moment well, leave it alone.
    Ok good.  I'll continue with my plan to vent the other end of the system then. 
    Bryant 245-8 2-pipe steam in a 1930s 6-unit 1-story apt building in the NM mountains.  26 radiators heating up 3800sqf.
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,265
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    @guzzinerd,

    I was just saying what I would do having experienced the difference. Sadly, there is no experience today with keeping air out and the solution is to poke breathing holes everywhere. My house had vents everywhere on some radiators and mains and returns when I moved in. I removed all of them. The system is quieter by a lot, the heat more even, and more efficient. Not to mention a whole lot fewer moving parts.

    @Jamie Hall is right though - tenants and all - just make do with what you got.

    I just put a plug in here and there as much out of respect for the dead men as anything else. George Hoffman called air "The Heat Thief". I agree with him. And I don't think intermittent fire changes any of the fundamentals of that.
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
  • guzzinerd
    guzzinerd Member Posts: 233
    edited January 2023
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    But aren't the vents just one-way exits for the air to make room for the steam?
    Bryant 245-8 2-pipe steam in a 1930s 6-unit 1-story apt building in the NM mountains.  26 radiators heating up 3800sqf.
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,265
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    guzzinerd said:
    But aren't the vents just one-way exits for the air to make room for the steam?
    No. That's the thing. They let all that air you just pushed out right back in.
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
  • guzzinerd
    guzzinerd Member Posts: 233
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    PMJ said:
    guzzinerd said:
    But aren't the vents just one-way exits for the air to make room for the steam?
    No. That's the thing. They let all that air you just pushed out right back in.

    -------

    I see.  Biggest problem with your system for me is that i don't live in the building so i need things to be relatively automated. 

    This summer I'm going to go through the system with you guys to see if/what improvements can be done while it's off season.
    Bryant 245-8 2-pipe steam in a 1930s 6-unit 1-story apt building in the NM mountains.  26 radiators heating up 3800sqf.
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,265
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    guzzinerd said:
    PMJ said:
    guzzinerd said:
    But aren't the vents just one-way exits for the air to make room for the steam?
    No. That's the thing. They let all that air you just pushed out right back in.

    -------

    I see.  Biggest problem with your system for me is that i don't live in the building so i need things to be relatively automated. 

    This summer I'm going to go through the system with you guys to see if/what improvements can be done while it's off season.
    Understood. Definitely harder to make changes and monitor what is happening.
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
    guzzinerd