Convector Parts (and help/advice) Needed!


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Old 04-22-10, 05:04 PM
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Convector Parts (and help/advice) Needed!

Long-time reader, first-time poster...

Anyway, recently bought an estate (built in 1948) equipped with a Weil-McLain PFG (Series 4) Boiler.

Everything is well and dandy till I spot a small water leak on the corner of one of the convectors. I pulled the cover off and find the following part broke:



No clue where to get parts for this thing. Here are two pics of the outside...





So, is there somewhere online I can purchase parts? How do I even begin learning the ins and outs of this system? Should I just keep reading this forum?

Thanks for any help in advance, fellas.

-Bill
 
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Old 04-22-10, 05:28 PM
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Hi Bill, welcome!

I don't think you'll be able to find an exact replacement... how the heck did that get broke?

You can probably adapt something though...

can you get a closer shot of the point that tube was connected to?

One thing you definitely wanna do: clean the dust outta them fins. You knew I was gonna say that though, didn't ya!
 
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Old 04-22-10, 05:43 PM
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How do I even begin learning the ins and outs of this system? Should I just keep reading this forum?
Yeah, that, and ask as many questions as ya want.
 
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Old 04-22-10, 05:46 PM
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Ahh, the myth, the legend--NJ Trooper!

Thanks for the quick reply. Here's my reply:


"how the heck did that get broke?" When I pulled the cover off the small line was kinked, and it must've been leaking for a while and was corroded.

"can you get a closer shot of the point that tube was connected to?"

Here's a closer shot of what that tank was connected to:



And another shot of the line below the fins. Any idea what that screw is for?

 
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Old 04-22-10, 05:50 PM
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By the way, that thing appears to be some sorta air bleeder, the likes of which I've never seen.

So, when I say you can adapt something, what I mean is that you will need to find a way to attach a modern bleeder to the existing fitting on the convector, which is why I'd like to see it close up.

Does it look like a fitting is screwed into the cast iron end pieces that that part came off of? If so, you can replace it with an 'automatic' variety (which I personally don't care for, because they can leak for a long time, undetected, and cause lots of damage... for example, if that thing was leaking, it would drip on that subfloor inside the cabinet, and run underneath it, soaking and rotting the subfloor, and you might never know it because it would be hidden by those freshly refinished floors) or a 'manual' type which would obviously be opened to bleed air, then closed again.
 
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Old 04-22-10, 05:57 PM
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HA HA! yeah, the 'myth' is right! ...

OK, we crossed in the mail...

That looks like a compression type fitting screwed into the end block. If it is, there will be a brass 'ferrule' on the end of the copper tubing.

I would recommend you replace it with a manual bleeder, or with an automatic type, but when all the air is out, screw the cap shut on the automatic so you don't have to worry about leaks in the future, then just open the cap at the start of the heating season each year and let the air out, and close it again. You can leave the cap open for a while when you restart the system so you don't have to keep fiddling with it.

That fitting will come out, and there will be standard pipe threads underneath. Pick up a brass nipple about 3-4" long, that fits the pipe threads in the convector, and screw it in. On the top of the nipple, install a 'reducing coupling' that will adapt down to (usually) 1/8" threads that you can screw the new vent into.

more will follow later...
 
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Old 04-22-10, 06:00 PM
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This page has pics and graphics... this is more or less what you would use if you decided to go automatic. Notice that there are several models, and threads. The threads on your convector are 'probably' 1/4", and you may find that the #68 will screw right in without having to use the nipple.

Maid-O\'-MistŪ - Automatic Air Valves - Jacobus Steam Vents - Float Control Valves - Saddle Valves - Illinois

Maid-0-mist isn't the only manufacturer of course... Bell & Gossett, Taco (Hy-vent), and many others. Home Depot around here carries a couple of the M-o-M parts...

Here's the Taco in 1/8" male at PexSupply.com

http://www.pexsupply.com/Taco-400-3-...Vent-3542000-p
 
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Old 04-22-10, 06:23 PM
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Wow....that's a lot of info for me to digest, Troop. I hope I can handle this!

Anyway, yeah, I think it is some sort of bleeder, b/c the thin tube was connected to a screw on the outside panel, and before I even removed the panel I turned the screw to see what it would do and water and air came hissing out...

In the meantime, so water doesn't leak, I wanted to get some type of cap to thread on there, but unfortunately the thread size is 5/16 (not 1/4 like Lowe's carried). So, at the moment I have the main valve in the basement closed to this particular section of the home. Is that OK?
 
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Old 04-22-10, 06:46 PM
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Without being able to see the valve you have closed in person, and trace out the pipes and such, it's difficult to say if it's all right or not.

By the way, that screw slot on the radiator is also a valve, when the slot is vertical, the valve is open, when it's horizontal, it's closed. But I would NOT recommend turning it... it hasn't been turned in decades, it's best to leave it be.


If you take that fitting out of the radiator that the tube was connected to, you will find probably a 1/4" thread under that. You can temporarily put a plug in there, or a nipple with a cap on top.
 
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Old 04-22-10, 06:47 PM
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I hope I can handle this!
You can. Almost everything is much easier than I make it sound!
 
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Old 04-23-10, 07:01 AM
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Troop:

"the screw slot on the radiator is also a valve, when the slot is vertical, the valve is open, when it's horizontal, it's closed."

I actually already tried turning it, and it works. I kep turning and turning, and of course, it didn't stop, so I didn't realize that it works just by being vertical or horizontal. That being said, is that a way to turn off the water going to the radiator? I'm just worried about water leaking out of the broken bleeder before I get the air bleeder fixed...

Temps are supposed to go down into the 40s this weekend, so the boiler will probably be running, ya know?
 
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Old 04-23-10, 07:15 AM
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Some suggestions.

Somewhere between your house and Lowes, there is probably a long-established local plumbing supply house. There will be 2-3 guys behind the counter. One of them (probably the older guy who's been there for 25 years) will be able to look at pictures of what you've got and suggest parts for this system. And maybe if you time it right he'll ask one of the long-time plumbers who happens to be in the store picking up some stuff if he can ID the convectors and give some pointers on maintenance and potential problem areas to look at.

Point being that your local supply house can be a great resource, particularly when it comes to the care and feeding of a vintage heating system. Open an account there. Often they'll give you a discounted price on everything -- like the toilet parts you'll need someday, stuff for the kitchen sink, etc. etc. -- that makes them quite competitive with the big box store. Plus you get all their knowledge, and they will stand behind what they sell.

If you really want to clean out the convectors, this one at least appears to have two unions. Shut off the water to the convector, undo the unions, take the fin assembly out in the driveway and powerwash it. Maybe a little gentle wire brush to clean off all the corrosion, too. Reassemble and enjoy much increased output next winter.

Given all the corrosion and staining of the nails in the flooring, this looks like a long-term leak. Might be worthwhile to have the system cleaned and flushed at some point. Could be a fair amount of rust and junk in the system.
 
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Old 04-23-10, 08:16 AM
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Xiphias:

'Preciate the advice. In fact, yesterday I swung by one of these local plumbing stores, and I walked in the lobby and saw all these old vintage black and white photos of big water boilers, etc., so I figured I was in luck. Met with an employee, showed him my broken part, and we proceeded back to the workshop. I told him the part I needed was 5/16", and he sighed. "Oh, we're phasing out all of that old stuff, and it doesn't appear I have anything that'll work. Sorry."

On to Plan B, uh, C.

Does anyone know if there is anywhere online to purchase this old stuff?
 
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Old 04-23-10, 03:40 PM
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Just pull that compression fitting from the convector, go to home depot or lowes and pick up a 3 or 4 inch nipple of the same thread as that in the convector. Also a 'reducing coupling' that goes from the thread on the nipple to the correct size thread for the air vent... and they should have the air vents also... the ones around here carry the maid-o-mist brand. Get a roll of teflon tape while yer there... don't go crazy with the tape, one or at most two wraps is more than enough... don't run the tape all the way to the end of the nipple, leave about two threads exposed... screw the stuff together and yer done...
 
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Old 04-27-10, 07:42 PM
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Troop:

Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I hit up a local plumbing store and found some parts to fix my convector. I really appreciate all of your help/advice. This forum is really great!

Thanks again,

-Bill
 
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Old 04-27-10, 08:18 PM
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Good for you Bill! Glad ya got it fixed up... it's REALLY cold here for the end of April... 45° right now. I had to turn the system back on.
 
 

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