Sil-Phos Identification

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jscarmozza
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Re: Sil-Phos Identification

Post by jscarmozza » Thu Oct 01, 2020 5:52 pm

In the November 1977 issue of Live Steam Magazine there was an article ' Boilermakers consider the case for Phos-copper', by Tom Rankin. It's interesting how recommendations for a product change based on service experience, sometimes you just don't know until you try.
Jimmy, do you want me to cook you up some charcoal? :D
John

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Bill Shields
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Re: Sil-Phos Identification

Post by Bill Shields » Thu Oct 01, 2020 8:06 pm

Getting a soldered copper boiler apart and reusing the shell is more work than the copper is worth.
Too many things going on to bother listing them.

jmpharrington
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Re: Sil-Phos Identification

Post by jmpharrington » Thu Oct 01, 2020 8:11 pm

jscarmozza wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 5:52 pm
Jimmy, do you want me to cook you up some charcoal? :D
John
Gonna need a bigger retort...
:wink:

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Fender
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Re: Sil-Phos Identification

Post by Fender » Thu Oct 01, 2020 9:13 pm

jmpharrington wrote:
Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:33 pm
Thanks.

Now for the subjective question(s)...

How long does it take? Would this take many years say if running 20 times a year, a few years, a year?
I completely understand that there are many variables, but are there Sil-Fos soldered copper boilers running on coal that have been doing so for many years, or should one expect a short service life?

Fire away with the speculation...

-Jimmy
I think the the degradation is pretty fast. A friend has a LE American that was his father’s and was built in the 1960s. I don’t know the history of the original boiler, but a replacement boiler was bought from Little Engines later, which appeared to have used sil-fos. When I looked at it about four years ago, it was leaking steam profusely from the rear tube sheet. So I built a THIRD boiler from steel with rolled-in copper tubes. So far. so good.
Dan Watson

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Fender
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Re: Sil-Phos Identification

Post by Fender » Thu Oct 01, 2020 9:13 pm

jmpharrington wrote:
Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:33 pm
Thanks.

Now for the subjective question(s)...

How long does it take? Would this take many years say if running 20 times a year, a few years, a year?
I completely understand that there are many variables, but are there Sil-Fos soldered copper boilers running on coal that have been doing so for many years, or should one expect a short service life?

Fire away with the speculation...

-Jimmy
I think the the degradation is pretty fast. A friend has a LE American that was his father’s and was built in the 1960s. I don’t know the history of the original boiler, but a replacement boiler was bought from Little Engines later, which appeared to have used sil-fos. When I looked at it about four years ago, it was leaking steam profusely from the rear tube sheet. So I built a THIRD boiler from steel with rolled-in copper tubes. So far. so good.
Dan Watson

jmpharrington
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Re: Sil-Phos Identification

Post by jmpharrington » Fri Oct 02, 2020 5:20 am

Since the degradation of the sil-fos is due to exposure and the chemical reaction to the sulphur, what if the sil-fos was “protected”? What IF the the whole boiler (fittings plugged) was copper plated, isolating the sil-fos from the sulphur containing combustion gas?
Copper plating has been used on aluminum and stainless cookware, heat exchangers, etc...
Last edited by jmpharrington on Fri Oct 02, 2020 6:17 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Bill Shields
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Re: Sil-Phos Identification

Post by Bill Shields » Fri Oct 02, 2020 5:28 am

Interesting idea (copper plating). Assuming the plating does not get scraped off inside the firebox and it can be made to stick to the solder.

In realistic world would recommend just running it and begin building a replacement.

Based on known history and experience replacing these things -> would think 5+ years a reasonable life expectation
Too many things going on to bother listing them.

FKreider
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Re: Sil-Phos Identification

Post by FKreider » Fri Oct 02, 2020 7:57 am

jmpharrington wrote:
Fri Oct 02, 2020 5:20 am
Since the degradation of the sil-fos is due to exposure and the chemical reaction to the sulphur, what if the sil-fos was “protected”? What IF the the whole boiler (fittings plugged) was copper plated, isolating the sil-fos from the sulphur containing combustion gas?
Copper plating has been used on aluminum and stainless cookware, heat exchangers, etc...
That is an interesting idea...

Having it plated shouldn't be too hard and a lot less expensive than building a new boiler. There are usually metal plating guys that display and advertise at hot rod swap meets- I'm sure one of these smaller shops would be very reasonable to deal with.
-Frank K.

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gwrdriver
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Re: Sil-Phos Identification

Post by gwrdriver » Fri Oct 02, 2020 4:37 pm

I've never thought very much of the idea of plating a boiler interior in any way for protection. All it would take would be one inaccessible or "dirty" place where the plating doesn't take, and protective shield would be chemically or electrolytically penetrated and then you might as well not have it.
An external plating might be a different story.
GWRdriver
Nashville TN

jscarmozza
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Re: Sil-Phos Identification

Post by jscarmozza » Sat Oct 03, 2020 7:58 am

That is a very interesting idea, and it has the makings of a great experiment to see if the plating will cover the solder.

jscarmozza
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Re: Sil-Phos Identification

Post by jscarmozza » Sun Oct 04, 2020 11:36 am

I performed a little electro plating experiment overnight using copper sheet with silver solder and Phoson-0 samples applied. This wasn't the most rigorous application of the scientific method, but it appears that the silver solder sample didn't plate, the Phoson-0 may have, but it's difficult to tell since the color is that of copper. I'm guessing that the process, or lack there of, has to do with the nobility of the metals involved. Maybe a process with more than vinegar, salt and a 9v battery would produce different results.
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jmpharrington
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Re: Sil-Phos Identification

Post by jmpharrington » Sat Oct 10, 2020 6:51 am

Convinced that plating the Sil-Fos should work, I obtained a few Sil-Fos 15 rods to experiment with , and the first round of test is promising. The internet is an incredible source of information (some of it correct), and there are many DIY "recipes" for copper plating solutions. Professional plating methods use Cyanide, or Hydrochloric Acid. There are more aggressive DIY methods using sulfuric acid (battery acid, and very small amounts of hydrochloric acid).

I made a small batch of plating solution with Copper Sulfate Pentahydrate and hot water. I used an 8" length of stranded wire as my anode, and a short piece of the Sil-Fos rod as the cathode, to see if it would plate. I connected an old CPU power supply, which has output voltages of 3.3v, 5v, and 12v. I did some experimenting with the voltage and duration. You can see the results below.
IMG_2715.jpg
IMG_2716.jpg
One side shown is the rod just wiped off after the process, the other is after a vigorous scrubbing with a Scotch-Brite pad to make sure the process created a durable plating, not a coating. I apologize that difference in color of the rod and plating doesn't show well with the lighting in the pics. I consider this a success, and will move on to larger scale testing, with a few pieces of brazed pipe, and stronger solution, agitation, etc...

-Jimmy

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