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nicholas bonham-carter

nicholas bonham-carter

Joined on November 24, 2007

Last Post on April 17, 2014

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magic box

@ January 10, 2009 7:58 AM in Boiler not working today

you could try to see what that box is monitoring. probably watching the pilot, lwco, steam pressure etc. can you trace any wires to get an idea if there is any obvious electrical fault? if out on pressure check the a google search of that box with serial numbers and see if a description comes up as to what it is really doing. i agree that this may be a job for an experienced tech, but there is no harm in being the "eyes" for the tech, especially at this time of the year. i have seen plenty of lower level techs buying part after part too!--nbc

vent installation

@ January 9, 2009 11:56 AM in No main vents - how to deal with

a hole could be drilled and tapped for vents where the return comes back to the boiler. it's not too impossible a job, but i would wait until summer; then there will be no problem going without heat! or there may be a convenient union close to the end of the dry return which will allow their installation. so you are for the moment forced to use the rads for venting. check with pex supply, or patriot supply, or state supply for vent pricing. when the piggy bank has recovered you will greatly benefit from having proper main vents in the future.--nbc


@ January 9, 2009 11:46 AM in New to steam heat, need feedback!

it's sometimes useful to put a piece of tape on the pipes every 10 ft. or so, and using a level, make an arrow showing the direction of slope. that helped me in my "pipe room" which was even more tangled than yours. i discovered where the hammering started from, when i saw 2 arrows pointing towards each other! many boiler installation manuals will spec the steam to enter the TOP of a counterflow main. many pros here warn of too much venting on a counterflow, but i have no experience with that situation.--nbc

pigtail or no pigtail

@ January 9, 2009 10:32 AM in Weil McLain install questions

don't you need some form of water-seal, or syphon protection for every gauge, p-trol, and vaporstat to isolate it from the steam?--nbc

where to start

@ January 9, 2009 10:29 AM in No Heat

hard to remember what sort of system everyone has here, so trying to see if there is some sort of reset situation is a place to start for the ho. where it finishes is finding the cause, and professional rectification. resets have certainly fooled me from time to time.--nbc


@ January 9, 2009 9:48 AM in No Heat

try turning the power off and on, to make something reset, then look for a button on the low water cut off, or on the hi-limit pressuretrol. i think it could be a reset problem--nbc


@ January 9, 2009 8:41 AM in New boiler set up for power outage heating

what about repiping the water supply, so that draining it is a 5-minute job,[and putting some anti-freeze in the traps]. then the source of heat could be set to a lower temp, until return, when the co-gen set roars into life.--nbc

maybe not counterflow

@ January 9, 2009 8:23 AM in Main vent placement on \"counterflow\" main?

as long as it works, fine. this does seem to be a parallel flow piping arrangement, and although not in your case, would usually have the main vent at the end of the dry return, before it drops down to the boiler. one reason to have it so far to the end, is that the remaining air which has not been removed, can become a "wild card". when the burning stops and the vacuum develops. this remaining air then expands and tries to move to the vent, against the direction of condensate flow. if you have no problems, then it can remain as it is. if you have irregular condensate flow at the end then it would be wise to move the vent to its usual location.--nbc


@ January 9, 2009 12:11 AM in Main vent placement on \"counterflow\" main?

counterflows that i have seen pictured slope up as they extend further from the boiler until thy end after the last radiator take-off with a vent at that point. parallel flow systems start out high above the boiler, and are pitched down, as they extend throughout the area they serve; until they finally drop down to the floor, as the wet return, with their vent just before they drop. a cup of water poured into the steam main above the boiler should run out into the wet return. it's always better to have the vent as close to the end as possible[but protected from water-hammer]. this reduces the volume of air in the system, even beyond the last radiator take-off. air is more unpredictable than steam as far as expansion etc. as it is heating up. if there is any way to put a vent on its usual place it would be well worth the effort. maybe a hole could be drilled and tapped. the gorton # 2 only needs 1/2 in.--nbc

ancient boiler

@ January 8, 2009 11:54 PM in H.B. Smith 25 Mills

it looks even older than 25 yrs! not to worry, put a nipple and ball valve in that tapping you described. the mfgs. website, or dans book will have some directions how to procede with skimming. i don't see the hartford loop, nor do i see much height in the header above the waterline [a likely source of wet steam]. luckily the pipes are insulated pretty well-a plus. determining the pressure, and getting it down below 16 oz. would be my priority on this boiler, along with plenty of venting capacity.--nbc


@ January 8, 2009 8:25 PM in Weil McLain install questions

your new boiler probably has provision for a different type of pigtail, or syphon tube. the tapping for the pressure controls and gauge, is piped down then along horizontally with "tees" for the various items. this traps some water just like a pigtail, and therefore protects the p-trol, etc. from steam. make sure the nipples the p-trols are mounted on are tall enough, so that the elevated skimming waterline height doesn't upset the vaporstat [if you get one]. maybe you have 2 p-trols because you have a 2-stage gas valve for a hi-lo-hi burner. they did you no favors when they included those early-style p-trols. they are very inaccurate at the low pressures suitable for steam. on mine when i set down low it became uncontrollable, and went up to 10 psi! if the piggy-bank has any more money in it, consider a vaporstat, and a 0-15 oz. gauge, then you will have the right gear for first firing.--nbc

new knowlege

@ January 8, 2009 5:37 PM in Dan, It's Time To Look To The Future

never heard that phrase before, but after you identified the situation, i was able to do a little research: best advice seems to be: "don't feed the troll"!--nbc

co-gen setup

@ January 8, 2009 5:28 PM in New boiler set up for power outage heating

this would be perfect for a diesel generator, which also produces hot water, a good place for co-generation.--nbc


@ January 8, 2009 3:38 PM in Dan, It's Time To Look To The Future

i certainly do not have the impression that this website is all about steam, and only steam. i come here for steam information, because that is my major system to maintain. there are many steam systems out there, which are unchangeable, either from a financial perspective, or a practical one. i also do not think that the boiler manufacturers will soon be discontinuing their lines of steam boilers. nor will hoffman and gorton give up on their steam related products. what contiues to make this site of CONTINUING importance is the possibility for steam users to restore their systems to proper running condition, either with the help of a steam professional, or on a do it yourself basis. as far as the existence of another steam forum, many people frequent the other "room" as well as here. i wonder which one they prefer? perhaps the new website will make it possible for people to register their systems as far as what type-steam [2 flavors], hot-water, etc. i think the steam system count would be surprisingly large. naturally it would be unusual to see a brand new steam system [not impossible], but for those of us with well-behaved steam, it's hard to make a change.--nbc

\"just slide it out of the way\"!

@ January 8, 2009 7:15 AM in weight of sectional steamer

what could be easier? just a little sliding! might be easier to slide an angle [with a tongue and lip to catch the jack] underneath on one side of the frame, and raise that side up, then the other. high enough, to put car wheel-stands under while the pad goes down. concrete pavers might make the pad job easier. it could be a challenge to raise it up carefully enough to avoid straing the push-nipples. however it seems like it couldn't be in worse condition than now. the other challenge is to estimate the cost of such a job. i am sure your reputation makes it easier for the client to accept a "time and materials basis", especially as you are probably the only one capable,and willing in your are. i don't know why, but this seems one of the most interesting projects here for quite a long time! i am just glad i am not involved, except vicariously! i hope you will post lots of pictures as this job goes on. maybe a sound recording of the water-hammer would be interesting.--nbc

hey that's when i was born!

@ January 7, 2009 11:36 PM in I seem to have a lack of oxygen in the house...

anyway, why not wrap the front of the fireplace, to seal it temporarily. could be quite likely you are are getting a cross-connnection, either from within the flue, or blowing down from the boiler flue. if you cover it, and the smell stops, then you have a better idea where it came from.--nbc

weight of the beast

@ January 7, 2009 8:33 PM in weight of sectional steamer

smith probably knows the weight, as they had to ship them. is the plan to raise the whole thing up and then level the floor, or just leave it on a new framework, maybe 8 in. higher? do you have dimension "A"to spare? sounds like an exciting project. they have pretty cheap [$40] non-hydraulic jacks capable of lifting about 6 tons-maybe one on each corner would move it up.--nbc


@ January 7, 2009 1:16 PM in Air vent sucking air with loud hissing

when the burner cuts off, a vacuum develops in the boiler, pipes, and radiators. the main vents not only have to get the air out when steam is coming up, but also let the air back in at the end of burn. each run shouls have its own main vent, and you are lacking 1 main vent. try putting another gorton on the the other run. it must have had one at one time. if you replace radiator vents, try to get gorton or hoffman. the cheapies may be unable to relieve the vacuum.--nbc

adjustable main vent?

@ January 7, 2009 10:49 AM in adjustable main vent?

would it work to put high capacity main vents, like gorton #2's on top of gate valves on the vent risers, so they could be throttled if needed? this might be easier for most than buying a selection of sizes, and changing them, until you find the right size. there would be less left-overs too.--nbc

strange smell

@ January 7, 2009 10:43 AM in I seem to have a lack of oxygen in the house...

sometimes the floor-drain trap can dry up, and release a musty smell. this would be on one far from a sanitary connection, so it would not have the "sewer gas" smell. a little "oil on troubled trap waters" cures that.--nbc


@ January 7, 2009 10:37 AM in Steam boiler pressure gauge

at the end of steaming, when the burner is shut off, the steam condenses quite quickly leaving a vacuum , which can be quite strong. the main vents have to let air back in to relieve this situation [a tough job but something has to do it] . the water-seal in the pigtail will not be pulled out because the p-trol, gauge, etc. are not open to the atmosphere. food preparation facilities use this steaming method to vacuum-seal cans of food.--nbc

new website news??

@ January 7, 2009 10:28 AM in new website news??

dan, is it too early to give us any news on how the new website is progressing?--nbc