Copper Boiler Wash

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mattmason
Posts: 516
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Location: Sacramento, CA

Copper Boiler Wash

Post by mattmason » Wed Dec 27, 2017 12:46 am

I am am steel boiler man. I have eight washout pugs in all my boilers; when I bought my Chole it only had two, I then drilled the rest of them in. I do yearly boiler washes before my boiler certs. I have built steel boilers, but not copper boilers.

So now my dilemma.

I am restoring an old 1' scale LE 0-6-0 back to life built in the 60's. it only has two access points for washouts that access the front and back mudring. I can see inside there is some debris/scale. It is loose and not on the side sheets.

I searched through the threads and got some suggestions for using vinegar for boiler washes. Does this break down the parts? Being a copper boiler, adding a washout plug does not look like it would be easy to do. Normally my washouts are physical, but does the vinegar break down the scale enough to wash it out with water afterwards?
Matt Mason

Harold_V
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Re: Copper Boiler Wash

Post by Harold_V » Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:10 am

Vinegar should fully dissolve scale, although that may be a factor of what the scale constitutes.

There are other options, including dilute hydrochloric (Muriatic) acid. It doesn't dissolve copper unless you provide oxygen, but it readily removes zinc from brass. For all practical purposes, it does NOT dissolve silver, so if the boiler is silver soldered, it should be fully resistant.

Vinegar is an acid (acetic), and is very gentle, but it can do damage when items are subjected to prolonged exposure. I expect it, too, would be hard on zinc, but I have no experience in that regard. Use any of these types of cleaners with due care.

Dilute sulfuric acid will NOT dissolve copper (it is commonly used to pickle copper), but it dissolves copper oxides readily. It also dissolve silver poorly, if at all. It has an enormous appetite for zinc, however. If you have issues with cleaning the boiler, you might consider its use. It's not expensive, and is readily available at auto parts stores as battery electrolyte. It eats cloth, eyes and other things, so, as in all cases where acid is used, wear protective gear and old clothing.

If you must dilute sulfuric, slowly pour the acid to cold water, all the while stirring vigorously. Adding water to sulfuric acid is an invitation to being splashed with hot sulfuric, as it flashes the water to steam almost instantly.

H
Wise people talk because they have something to say. Fools talk because they have to say something.

John Hasler
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Re: Copper Boiler Wash

Post by John Hasler » Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:30 am

Harold writes:
> Vinegar is an acid (acetic), and is very gentle, but it can do damage when items are subjected to prolonged exposure. I expect it, too, would be hard
> on zinc, but I have no experience in that regard. Use any of these types of cleaners with due care.

Yes. Weak acids such as acetic and phosphoric will attack zinc. They won't damage brass on short exposure.

cp4449
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Location: Granada Hills

Re: Copper Boiler Wash

Post by cp4449 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:48 am

I was told vinegar or CLR. Both will work. Do a search on this site, I know there is thread about this
C.P. Mahony
Former 1" Foreman
Los Angeles Live Steamers

mattmason
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Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: Copper Boiler Wash

Post by mattmason » Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:07 pm

I did the search, but I didn't know if it would break down the loose scale to then wash out of the washout plug. I have always done it mechanically with water and a scraper and could break down the pieces that way. It looks like with vinegar for 2-3 hours will break those down enough where i won't have to put in more washout plugs.
Matt Mason

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SteveM
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Re: Copper Boiler Wash

Post by SteveM » Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:53 pm

Would it be good to put a boiler into an ultrasonic cleaner to break things loose, assuming you had one large enough?

Steve

Santafescotty60
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Re: Copper Boiler Wash

Post by Santafescotty60 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:40 pm

Radiator hot tank cleaning at a radiator repair shop if you can find one the economics/ Chinese manufacturing and evirmentalist have kill The industry.

Harold_V
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Re: Copper Boiler Wash

Post by Harold_V » Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:01 am

Santafescotty60 wrote:Radiator hot tank cleaning at a radiator repair shop if you can find one the economics/ Chinese manufacturing and evirmentalist have kill The industry.
Sigh!
A couple years ago I had to replace the radiator in my little Kubota tractor. In spite of an extended search, I was unable to find a radiator shop equipped with a hot tank. All they want to do is sell you a new one.

I miss the "good 'ol days"!

H
Wise people talk because they have something to say. Fools talk because they have to say something.

darjeeling
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Re: Copper Boiler Wash

Post by darjeeling » Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:47 pm

Hi all

A very interesting subject on boiler wash for copper boilers.
Here in New Zealand we are able to add a liquid Poly Floc agent that can be used in copper and Duplex type boilers (NOT STEEL).
This addative will keep solids in suspension until the boiler is blown down at the end of a days running (I always use town supply water). I add about 15ml to the water tanks on my engine at the start of firing up. This in turn also keeps the injectors free of chemical solids also.
At our Nelson Convention a couple of weeks back I ran my Tamar engine for 18 hours over three days without blowing down. On the last day on preparing to pack up, I blew the boiler down with large quantities of lime being evident. Mike Massee, who most of you know, was present when this procedure was done and we were both amazed at what came out after a prolonged run. I think Mike may comment further on how well this product works at a later date.
Be aware that Poly floc will NOT remove existing solid build ups.

john heald, Rotorua, New Zealand

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