alternatasha a site to catalog random projects

"steam fitting"

removing a cast iron fitting

This steam pipe ran into the wall and stopped there.  It had no purpose, and I needed to install a main vent somewhere on that line.  Too nervous to tap a hole in its typical spot (at the end of the main), I decided to use this unused pipe at the top of the riser for a new Gorton #2.  All I had to do was unscrew this fitting and screw on a few couplings for the G2 instead.  Easy, right?  NOT.

First I took a 4 1/2″ angle grinder, with a type 27 blade for cutting metal, and cut through the back of the fitting.  The proximity to the wall and molding in the back, the radiator on the left side, and the other wall on the right side made it very difficult to maneuver.  And I should have put on a mask — black snot is quite scary!   However, once I cut through I thought I had it made.  Turn off the fitting, 1-2-3.  Well, it was more like 100, 101, 102…  I tried wd-40, liquid plumber, hammering the threads, heating and cooling from the steam, my neighbor’s pipe wrench, attaching another pipe at the end of the wrench for more leverage, pushing the handle with my feet while holding my body in place with the radiator — nothing worked.  I pulled a muscle in my back, turned off the heat for the night, and tried again the next day.  Still, nothing.  Instead of unscrewing, the pressure from my pushing simply moved the entire pipe towards the wall.  I even placed a metal object in between the pipe and the wall to support it, still, no rotation.  Not even a millimeter.

"second cut through fitting"Finally, I decided it was time to try something new.  I took out my angle grinder and cut off the top of the fitting.  (Before doing this I inserted a small rag into the pipe to catch the dirt and debris before dropping down into the steam system.) Then I made a small vertical cut on the side, taking care not to grind too much into the threads.  With the chisel at the top of the threads between the pipe and the fitting, a small tap with my hammer made one piece drop.  Another vertical cut on the other side, and the entire fitting fell apart into three pieces.  Why didn’t I just do that from the beginning?  I’d trade those 5 minutes of noise and metal dust for the 2 days of struggle any day.

"fitting threads broken off into 3 pieces"

"Gorton #2"

And the semi-final result (notice the rust stained wall from the steam and the slightly scorched molding….woops!):

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