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Copper boiler water treatment

Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 9:29 am
by mbrusso39
I just finished an engine with a copper boiler. What do you recommend as a boiler water treatment? I have been using lsb8000 in my Hudson’s steel boiler with great results. Water here is on the hard side. Thanks

Re: Copper boiler water treatment

Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:40 pm
by darjeeling
Without treatment most copper boilers have the issue of gradual solids build up in the water legs, base of the barrel and tops of the tubes. I have cut up 4 copper boilers in the last 10 years with the bottom half of the water legs solid with mineral deposits from using not only tap water but in some instances rain water also. A boiler filled with Citric acid will to some extent descale if the layer is relatively thin.
However LSB8000 is normally associated with the treatment of carbon steel boilers and does a great job in most cases. However there is another avenue for treating copper boilers with probably a greater success.

Our local club here in New Zealand and to some extent in Australia, have been using a liquid Polyfloc agent in both copper and Duplex boilers with excellent results. This product keeps solid mineral and other deposits in suspension until a blow down can be achieved at the end of a days running.
The club Tamar locomotive fitted with a Duplex boiler has been running for 4 years on just household tap water. The dome has been removed last weekend for its annual re inspection with the internals just like new.
The same locomotive ran for 20 hours over a 3 day International Convention in Nelson in January without a full blow down completed. On the last day, on packing up, a full blown down was done with a large amount of lime coming out and was astounding to see. Mike Massee, well known on this forum, was on hand to witness how well this product works.
Most chemical companies selling this product can advise on the ratio of the chemical to be used depending on the water volume of the boiler.

Safe steaming, John Heald, New Zealand

Re: Copper boiler water treatment

Posted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:46 pm
by Bill Shields
on the other hand, I have a copper boiler in my shop that ran for 50 years on city water (not well water) with absolutely no water treatment and there is no buildup of any type inside the boiler (I cut the boiler in half for giggles after a soft solder joint failed)….

you should treat what you get in the water, not blindly treat for something that you may not have...

Re: Copper boiler water treatment

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:45 am
by B&OBob
The boiler Bill referred to was always blown-down after every run day. Boiler was filled to top of glass and pressure raised to just below pop-off, then the blowdown valve at bottom of one water leg was fully opened. Turbulance causes any solid accumulation to be dislodged and expelled with water and steam.


Re: Copper boiler water treatment

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:28 pm
by Marty_Knox
Mike, can you soften the water? That's the usual first step in water treatment.
Then, as Bill S. said, test the boiler water and treat for what you find. Just remember most treatment is aimed at reducing corrosion in a steel boiler. Th pH is usually held between 10 and 11 in a steel boiler. Copper doesn't like high alkalinity.

Re: Copper boiler water treatment

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:49 pm
by Pontiacguy1
in the smaller scales, a lot of people use distilled water. I plan on doing that in my 1/2" scale stuff. I don't know what scale you are dealing with, so it could get rather expensive trying to run a 1 1/2" pacific all day when water is about $0.80 per gallon! On the other hand, if your boiler holds a half gallon or less, it might be the best thing for you. Use distilled, do not use deionized.

Some have also suggested that you save your water from your dehumidifier, or something like that.

Re: Copper boiler water treatment

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:10 pm
by Bill Shields
for those Bob described....

cutting this up was an interesting experience....

for reference, the firebox is 5" x 5" with a 5" diameter main shell on a 1" scale loco

Re: Copper boiler water treatment

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:40 pm
by mbrusso39
Thanks everyone for the advice on this. Marty I can soften the water at my house, but it’s when visiting tracks I want to protect this boiler as best I can. With my 1.5” Hudson no problem, however this little 1.5” American is my first experience with copper and I want to do all the precautions I can :)

Re: Copper boiler water treatment

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:52 pm
by Builder01

Is this the copper boiler that ran for 50 years on city water? Looks quite clean all the way down to the foundation ring. Did the owner do yearly or every other year serious clean outs, or, just the normal blow down after running each day?


Re: Copper boiler water treatment

Posted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:11 pm
by Bill Shields
It is the subject boiler...with one blow-down valve in the front left corner of the mud ring.

B&O Bob's father built the loco in 1966.

He described what has been done with it since it was built...which was a BIT before my live steaming days. (I was 14 when the loco first steamed).

I have no reason to not believe him...he's a very solid citizen!

Re: Copper boiler water treatment

Posted: Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:15 pm
Friends on the List,
I tried to send a message earlier but never saw it here.
Could someone tell me what brand of liquid Polyfloc agent you use, please.

Regards Göran Rosén

Re: Copper boiler water treatment

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2018 4:27 am
by Fender
I don’t know of anyone who uses such a product for their boiler water treatment.