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Joined on March 11, 2004

Last Post on August 29, 2014

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Now that's some nice work

@ July 25, 2014 10:43 PM in new home owner from philadelphia

but we shouldn't be surprised, should we?

JStar, what turn-down are you using on that 2-stage valve?

I think

@ July 24, 2014 9:04 PM in What did it cost in 1960?

the Summit Inn had an oil-fired boiler for a while. Did you ever work on that? 

I'm assuming you're staying with oil

@ July 23, 2014 11:12 PM in Homeowner

Burnham's V8 series has been problematic, but their MegaSteam is the best residential steamer out there. I'd go with the MegaSteam over the Peerless.

That boiler started leaking

@ July 23, 2014 11:07 PM in Webster - Two pipe vapor with return trap: New Boiler

because it was taking in too much feed water. Some Webster systems I've seen have underground return lines. If yours does, they're probably leaking.

Where in PA are you located?

I think Clammy's right

@ July 22, 2014 11:23 AM in Just wondering about oil tanks

the oblong shape appears to have been chosen so you could get it thru basement doors, and the length and height so you could get it around corners. The resulting capacity worked out to 275 gallons or, if you could get away with a longer tank (72 rather than 60 inches) 330. 

The gas mains in this area

@ July 20, 2014 4:11 PM in Lovely Lane Methodist Church- A Steam Heating Museum

are still the old low-pressure variety, and probably date back at least to when the first part of the church was built. The original and second parts of the church did have gas lighting. No one ever expected using anything but coal for heating.

The city doesn't own the gas mains- BGE does, and they have done little if any upgrading since the deregulation scam went through. It would probably take a couple billions to replace all the old cast-iron low-pressure piping in Baltimore, which would take away from the CEOs', CFOs' and other bigwigs' paychecks and stock options.

You'd spend a lot less money

@ July 19, 2014 8:35 PM in Advice needed on heating system install

by fixing the steam. What exactly is wrong with it now, besides being oil-fired? 

What model boiler

@ July 19, 2014 8:33 PM in What about constant circulation and outdoor reset for an old high mass system

is in there now?

Boiler Room

@ July 19, 2014 8:27 PM in Lovely Lane Methodist Church- A Steam Heating Museum

showing the pair of Smith 19HE-6 boilers with PowerFlame oil burners. There is not enough gas in the street to run these on gas- they're stuck with oil for the foreseeable future.

So far, we've lowered the pump controllers (they were mounted too high, a common problem) fixed some screwed up pump relays, hooked up the zone valve end switches so they can start and stop the burners (boilers had been maintaining 5 PSI all the time, another common problem) and replaced the ballcock in the boiler-feed tank. There's more to do- we'll be back!

The Chapel

@ July 19, 2014 8:20 PM in Lovely Lane Methodist Church- A Steam Heating Museum

was the original sanctuary. The rooms opening off the chapel were probably the original Sunday school rooms. Here we see the same type of rads as in the museum below- these have had TRVs added, as well as Webster 522 traps.

The last pic shows how the Dead Men ventilated the restroom. That capped pipe in the duct fed gas to a small burner, which when lit created a draft to ventilate the room. This was standard procedure in the days before small electric motors became available to operate fans.

The newest section

@ July 19, 2014 8:13 PM in Lovely Lane Methodist Church- A Steam Heating Museum

covers the church hall, Sunday school rooms and gym. It's pretty much standard Webster Vapor with large-tube radiators, as seen here in the hall. 

Indirect Stacks & Main Sanctuary

@ July 19, 2014 8:10 PM in Lovely Lane Methodist Church- A Steam Heating Museum

I got out my regular camera for these pics- the cell phone would not have worked so well. Even so, some were underexposed.

This is one of about a dozen stacks of indirect radiation that heat the main sanctuary. Each has from four to eight elements which can be shut off individually. We think they were mounted high enough to provide a decent "A" dimension from the original boiler's waterline. This one still has one of the Webster F&T traps that were installed in the 1930s, changing it from 2-pipe air-vent to something resembling Vapor.

The second pic is in the sanctuary. It has theater-style seats, and you can see the outlets where the heat comes up under the seats.

The third pic is one of the pipe radiators in this section. It's different from the ones in the oldest part of the building, but we still can't find a name on it.

The last pic is the only column-type rad we found so far, in a sitting room. It's a 3-column American Rococo.

The Dead Men

@ July 16, 2014 11:54 PM in Steam Change-Out

who installed this system, are cheering!

Do you know whose equipment was installed originally (Dunham, Webster, etc.)

August looks pretty busy but we might be able to get together some Saturday.....

This is how it ended up

@ July 16, 2014 10:29 PM in Lovely Lane Methodist Church- A Steam Heating Museum

We tapped the tee for 1/2" pipe, and installed a plugged tee under that so if it ever clogs, we can clean it out. Gordon got out his MIG welder to attach a thread-o-let to the dry return- I took the photo before we put up the fire blankets. 

The cooling leg comes off the plugged tee in 3/4" pipe. The split-ring hanger around the cooling leg is 1", which allows the pipe to move as it expands and contracts. The trap is a Barnes & Jones #134S, and a flexible expansion piece connects the trap to the dry return. This allows the steam main to move as it needs to without straining the trap piping. The geometry of the piping turned out a bit screwy due to the way the pipe had to come off the tee tapping and dodge some other pipes while maintaining proper pitch.

This has almost eliminated the banging. There are some other issues- pressure too high before burners switch to low fire, boiler-feed pump controllers set too high, bad or plugged header-drip traps- which when solved will probably get rid of the rest.

More pics to come.

This week's big project

@ July 16, 2014 10:14 PM in Lovely Lane Methodist Church- A Steam Heating Museum

was to cure a very bad banging problem in the library/museum hallway. Some shifty-eyed Dead Man wasn't paying attention.

A 3-inch steam main travels from the boiler room thru a zone valve, then down the hallway. There were two drip traps along the way, one at a 3-foot rise and one at the end. But about halfway between them, someone installed a 3x2x2-1/2 tee to connect a branch main, and didn't use an eccentric reduction. This caused a water pocket, and everyone knew when that zone valve opened- BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG!!!!!

Our cunning plan was to drill and tap the tee, then run a cooling leg to a thermostatic trap. There was not enough available pitch for an F&T trap, unless we used an in-line trap which would have added extra weight to the line. In the next post you'll see why we wanted to avoid that.

The third pic shows what happened when we drilled the tee. Fortunately we had a bucket handy, having expected this.

Lovely Lane Methodist Church- A Steam Heating Museum

@ July 16, 2014 9:53 PM in Lovely Lane Methodist Church- A Steam Heating Museum

One of the things we love about this business is all the really cool buildings we get to explore. This was the very first Methodist church in America, first organized just before the Revolution. The first part of the present building was started in 1884, with the last part being built in the 1930s.

The original system was two-pipe air-vent, using what we think are Nason radiators. It housed a sanctuary on the main floor, which is now used as a chapel. The lower level was, I believe, used as offices and Sunday school rooms. It is now a library and a museum of American Methodism. Here is one of the rads in the museum- note how the rad was raised above the original boiler's water level on a hollow base that drew cold air from the floor level.

The second pic shows the overhead steam piping above the same rad. This wall is curved, and the Dead Men bent the pipe to conform to the curve of the wall. Where do we see this kind of craftsmanship today?

The main sanctuary has about a dozen indirect radiators feeding into a false floor. The heat comes up thru small mushroom vents under the seats.

The pastor's quarters, Sunday school rooms and gym were built in the 1930s. At that time, the whole system was "Webster-ized"- converted to Webster Vapor. This newest part of the building is pretty much standard Webster, but the two older portions have an unusual mix of old and new. Look closely at these pics and you'll see a Webster #522 trap on that radiator.

The boilers in this building also heated several buildings next door, which was the original home of Goucher College, named after the Lovely Lane preacher who organized it. At some point, the college installed its own boiler plant- I don't know what's in there now.

Good to hear from you, Dan

@ July 16, 2014 9:31 PM in Steam Change-Out

it's been a while. Nice work, as usual.

Try the Find a Contractor page of this site

@ July 16, 2014 8:36 PM in Long Island Steam specialists

you can search by state or zipcode.

Check out these two links

@ July 16, 2014 6:58 PM in radiator cover box design question

These are in the site's Library.

And according to WikiPedia

@ July 13, 2014 2:46 PM in Anyone else getting unwanted calls from Angie's List?

Angie's List has never been profitable. Gee, I wonder why?:

Anyone else getting unwanted calls from Angie's List?

@ July 12, 2014 1:05 AM in Anyone else getting unwanted calls from Angie's List?

We get them rather frequently no matter how much we tell them we won't pay to advertise on their site, and we don't want them to call anymore.

If this doesn't stop we may have to take some sort of legal action. Anyone else in the same position?

This needless death proves once again

@ July 11, 2014 11:35 PM in CO deaths because someone cut off the exhaust:


I'm glad that contractor is getting both barrels. He deserves it.
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