Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.

Lamp Wick for Sealing Threads

Brad White_44
Brad White_44 Member Posts: 27
Thanks for the journey. What you said about thread taper makes sense and wish I had realized that on my Monitor MZ. I had to disassemble and reassemble the threads three times to get them to seat. Used gas-grade teflon and Blue Magic before it "took". The DWH cold water connection at the bottom of the DHWH was in a word, ugly. Took a lot to disconnect it all (All four top connections) because the CW bottom inlet did not leak until a week into service.

Wish I knew then what I am just learning now...

Best,

Brad

Comments

  • Brad White_43
    Brad White_43 Member Posts: 26
    Lamp Wick Question

    Basic question gang: I have finally gone out and bought a roll of lamp wick, to me an old-timey material that is seeing a resurgence thanks to recent posting on The Wall.

    The fact that Patty at the supply house knew what I was asking for was reassuring.

    Dumb-A-- question when using it: Full width of strand or do you peel it open and use a thinner strand for threads? Does it depend on size? I am talking 3/4" to 1-1/4" only here. At first it seems too thick to use.

    I was planning on using Blue Magic or Rectorseal (what I have kicking around), brushing on male threads then embedding the lamp wick "uphill" in the threads. This is all for low temperature hot water by the way, not steam.

    TIA!

    Brad
  • Adam_21
    Adam_21 Member Posts: 3


    Gauze bandage works fine , I usually apply it in the order dope ,t tape ,dope , gauze bandage .
  • bob young
    bob young Member Posts: 2,177
    quick wick

    sounds like you have a " ball " of wick. that is used for packing slip joints, valve stem packing etc. you need spool " quick wick " for threaded pipe 1/2 " --2 " range. looks like a spool of sewing thread & your days of leaking joints are over. make sure you start at beginning of thread & not too much or it will walk out. give it a schmear and you are good to go. and proper torque with proper size wrenches bob n.y.c.
  • Brad White_43
    Brad White_43 Member Posts: 26
    Thanks, Bob

    Old material to you, new material to me...
    I suppose the wick ball I have will be of interest to the cat. Thought I had the right stuff, it was only $2.80 for the ball. Looks like linen or soft cotton twine, very soft and a light cream color. The strand is made up of probably 20-25 fine thread strands. That is why I had to ask if this was the right stuff! Seems way to thick even on 1.25" MPT...

    Thanks!

    Brad
  • T-O
    T-O Member Posts: 29


    I also use it for packing slip joints, valve stems, etc.. always keep a couple of lampwick balls around with other thread sealants. I have use it a few times to cover up a cut or slight damage on threaded pipes, but it is a little more time consuming than using teflon tape. I think, in my opinion, it is the best slip joint sealant. In 1-1/2" drain slip joints I use four strands and wrap it around four times. I see it was used as the the only way to seal threaded water supply pipes in all older (40-65 years old) plubming jobs that I have encountered. I have seeing many brass threaded pipe / fittings, done in the 50's, that the threads were sealed using lampwick and they are in excellent shape even now and all of them have no leaks, unless the structure / pipe shifted and cracked the threaded pipe of a fitting. When I have taken some of the fitting apart on a 3/4 or 1/2 size brass pipe , it appears to me that they only used about two strands and wounded it tighly against the thread for about 1/2" without overlapping them. Next time I'll try to open one carefully and let you know.
    T-O
  • Brad White_43
    Brad White_43 Member Posts: 26
    So it seems that the ball of wick

    I have may aslo serve the thread sealing service? That is good news. Interesting, it being used by itself, with no dope do I gather?

    I appreciate your obervations- Thanks!

    Brad
  • Anthony Menafro
    Anthony Menafro Member Posts: 180
    Wick

    You have to back it up with dope(teflon paste,etc.) or it will leak. If you still have the ball of wick, you could use an approx. two foot piece and separate the strands.

    Anthony Menafro
  • Brad White_43
    Brad White_43 Member Posts: 26
    Absolutely going to dope it. Anthony.

    I was just remarking how the older joints may not have been doped. (Graphite, whiting -white lead- and linseed oil I have seen on old pipe too.) Could not imagine not doping it.

    How many strands, maybe half the thickness it comes in? More for larger pipe? It is by feel and experience and this is a new material for me. Want it to be right.

    Thanks for your insight!

    Brad
  • Big Ed
    Big Ed Member Posts: 1,117
    Quick Wick

    We still call it Lamp wick the new and approved version is Quick Wick . The new and approved came out before my time..

    You can use yours but its time consuming pulling it a part...

    To imply it on the threads ......Run the thread first across the dry thread from the last to the starter thread, we will call this section a tail.. Hold with thumb and run it in the starter thread grove, around and over the tail , around and over the tail again and again until your back near the last set of threads. The tail will hold it in place when screwing in fitting. Now apply your brad of pipe dope for less of a mess..I'am a Magalock guy , easy clean up I find.....



  • Big Ed
    Big Ed Member Posts: 1,117
    The Old Dopes

    Years and Years ago they used plumber grease and lampwick. When the greased dryed out the joint relied on the wet expanding sealing cotton. But the drying-wetting -sealing drying-ect action was rotting out the threads. Then they used this lead base hard setting dope ....was like a paint..Their version of Leak Lock .Thank God for cast fittings..... After that alot of oil base pipe dopes with quick wick...Then the famous Permatex soft set.... The days before latex gloves .that stuff was so messy the place looked like a crime scene after a install.... I started out using that stuff with Quick Wick...Then the Apollo missions brought us teflon.....
  • Brad White_43
    Brad White_43 Member Posts: 26
    Great lesson, Ed

    Short of an apprenticeship, where else would I learn that?

    Thanks!

    Brad
  • G Lyons
    G Lyons Member Posts: 36
    Cotton Wick

    I have used cotton wick for 50 years. I take one strand and roll it on my pant leg untill it is a tighter thread so it can be pulled into the thread tighter. Start in the starting thread as mentioned previously, locking it in as stated. Then a layer of pipe dope will help smooth it down. You should get several rounds with the fitting before it catches and starts to push the wick and dope off ahead of the fitting, but the seal should be good. I only use it now in problem areas. I now use a good quality teflon pipe dope which is also suitable for plastic fittings. Confession, I also use a very small amount in the female Thread, I wipe it with a rag to insure there is not enough to be pushed into the fitting. george!
  • Jerry_15
    Jerry_15 Member Posts: 379


    If you have trouble finding lampwick, take some teflon tape, double up a 1' piece, or triple, quad whatever, and roll it on your knee. Voila, intstant packing rope to any size, and it's right there on the truck. Don't leak, don't rot, requires no lubrication. Good luck.
  • Jerry_15
    Jerry_15 Member Posts: 379


    If you have trouble finding lampwick, take some teflon tape, double up a 1' piece, or triple, quad whatever, and roll it on your knee. Voila, intstant packing rope to any size, and it's right there on the truck. Don't leak, don't rot, requires no lubrication. Good luck.
  • Jerry_15
    Jerry_15 Member Posts: 379


    Whoops, wasn't important enough to say it twice. It was my evil twin.
  • Brad White_43
    Brad White_43 Member Posts: 26
    Jerry, does

    Teflon tape applied normally not serve the same function? My concern with that was when disassembled, I'll be damned if I can find the tape as it was, but it does seem to be in the thread troughs. But I like your idea in that is is inorganic afterall.

    Part of the lampwick appeal is that it is hygroscopic and can swell when wet. Then rot of course...... multi-pronged approach seems to be the way here.

    Thanks!

    Brad
  • Christian Egli_2
    Christian Egli_2 Member Posts: 812
    Hydrotourism

    While traveling a while back, I was in Frankfurt-on-the-Main, at the airport, which is big, modern, and futuristic looking. It has a people mover just like downtown Detroit has, it has many moving stairs, it also has a local connection railway station. As you can see, to me, such places are like amusement parks.

    My luck had it that the long distance railroad station was just completed and being given the last finishing touches. Many of the ceiling panels were not installed yet... leaving the columns, the I beams and the pipes bare naked for me to ogle.

    The building's shape tells you this place is modern. It's a giant flattened glass bubble that squats over the long distance rail tracks, the whole thing is supported by columns that grow at an angle. You can wait for your long distance train while sipping a beer under the shade of a potted palm tree. Most definitely exotic.

    Behind the glass and stainless steel panels, there was a plumbing crew connecting together some hot water heating pipes. I watched them work. When it came time to join some fittings, out from the toolbox came this anachronistic looking bundle of wick. (Oakum or hemp, not cotton here)

    They first scratched the thread with a hack saw, scandalously putting kinks on the crest of the thread. Then they wrapped the fiber many times around the pipe until it looked like a bandaged sore thumb. No threads were distinguishable anymore. Then, to hold the bandage together they applied a heavy dose of paste. This paste, I believe, is an olden mixture used as well for sealing wine casks, beer barrels and the other pipe thread. It can be made of hard beef suet, sulfur flour, copper sulphate and perhaps some kind of fine magnesia powder. Appealing concoction, no? Anything oilier would melt away. Mmmm-mmm

    Now comes the time to shove this pipe with its brillantine hair do into its female fittings. They tighten real tight. The goo that did not go in, they chop off with the hack saw. Finished. No leak.

    They tell me the main reason for using this antiquated procedure is to allow for a possible turn backwards. This, of course, in Europe is something you can absolutely not do with teflon tape or pipe dope. And to have a tight seal, you must tighten everything with the strength of Superman.

    They do not have taper thread on female fittings. Just straight.

    The male thread is taper, so things are half good, but just not good enough to permit a tight seal on the thread. Pipe dope does not work for them, and they would never get away with just three turns of teflon tape. They apply tape until half a roll is gone, and when tightening, there is no question about turning back - that's a guaranteed leak.

    Isn't this nightmare enough to make you invent pex fittings?

    I do not know why Europeans do not use taper female thread either.

    That said, I think the sturdiest way to have a good pipe fitting is to keep the thread nice and sharp, use reasonable amount of any choice sealant and tighten moderately. Our taper - taper thread connections make life good.

    How do we plug a hole in a beer keg on this side of the Atlantic? Easy, you just place a glass under and drink.

    See, there is no dumb question.

    Cheers
  • bob young
    bob young Member Posts: 2,177
    caveman plumbing

    you sure you were not in Poland ? over there they have some real strange pipefitting techniques. but if material is hard to come by you sometimes just gotta make it work with ya got.
  • FredR
    FredR Member Posts: 62


    Jerry,I have used the "rolled" teflon under O-rings,it makes the ring a little bigger.
  • Jerry_15
    Jerry_15 Member Posts: 379


    Maybe it does, but I've never tried, or had to roll it into the threads. Enough regular and megalock seems to do the trick, specially if I dope, tape dope. I also use a good mil thickness tape, not the cheap shtuff; the gas tape will cure damn near any ratty fitting without a zillion wraps. I use teflon rope for valve stem packing and other screwball stuff when I don't want to get out the sawzall. I love the idea of bumping up the o-ring, I'll use that one some day fer sure. Beam me home Scotty.
  • Sean Smith
    Sean Smith Member Posts: 4
    During a stint

    In Ireland, working for a plumbing company there, came across the straight threads on everything; Fuel piping, radiators, etc. Christian's observations in mainland Euro held true in the British Isles, we used copius amounts of hemp (called it flax), looks like a wig in a bag at the supply house and this nasty paste called 'Boss White'. Smelles like the crypt- messy, but always worked. I'm trying to get my pappy to send me a can or two for emergencies. But the yellow tef tape and tru-blu are great in a straight threaded bind!
This discussion has been closed.

Welcome

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!