Plumbing Part V - Fittings
There are no Live Steam suppliers in the local area (central Ohio) where one can go and examine various products. There are several Live Steamers in the area and they have been more than willing to explain the choices they made in selecting various components. The data these guys provided has been very useful. I've found the plumbing fittings particularly fascinating, more so after I was able to examine the variations in detail. The purpose of this note is to share with others photos of some of the fittings because there seems to be no other source of comparison data.
A general plumbing plan was developed several months ago (Plumbing I ). Next, each plumbing run was sketched and all the required fittings itemized. The fittings were then ordered ---- several months before they were required in case some were temporarily out of stock ---- which indeed turned out to be the case.
The fittings are from LS Manufacturing, Coles and Superscale . There are differences in the fittings supplied by each which is why the multiple sources were selected. During this process I had a conversation with John at LS Manufacturing and several conversations with a gentleman at Coles (I failed to write down his name --- my fault). Both LS Manufacturing and Coles expressed a genuine interest in satisfying my needs and I plan to deal with both in the future. I'll make references to these conversations as I discuss the specific fittings. After the initial purchase from Coles, LS Manufacturing and Superscale I became aware of the PM Research line of fittings and bought a a few for a comparison--- and to cover those fittings that were out of stock at Coles.
I had no direct communication with anyone at SuperScale. However, they shipped my order quickly and all fittings were as described in their catalog. The SuperScale prices are a bit higher than the other two suppliers and they charge both a shipping and a handling fee that comes to $22.25 minimum per order. That seems a bit steep ---- but I was willing to pay it because I wanted some things that only they supply. Hope the fitting count was accurate ---don't want pay the fees on a second order
The following photos show the water feed on Cass No 5 on the left and the fittings I plan to use to duplicate Cass No 5 on the right. The street elbow and short nipples are from Coles, globe valve and union are from LS Manufacturing and the check valve is from SuperScale. None of the fittings have been tightened --- once that is done the setup on the right should be nearly identical to the Cass No 5 water feed. The only remaining difference is the Valve handle. Live Steam Models Ltd (UK) carries several sizes of lost wax casting 5 spoke hand wheels very similar to the handles on Cass No 5. Live Steam Models lists a number of other interesting sounding parts, but there are no photos so a visit to get a hands-on view would be very helpful ----- and I have scads of frequent flyer miles. Hmmmm, wonder if she'd notice if I was gone for a week or so??????
One of the concerns I had is that the top port is threaded 1/4" 32 TPI and not tapered. Further, I don't have a 1/4"-32 die to make a mating fitting and didn't want to buy a die. One solution is to drill out the hole to 1/4" and solder in a piece of 1/4" tube and then thread the end of the tube 1/4" MTP. After looking at the top port I decided to just rethread it 1/4" MTP. If it doesn't seal, I'll solder it with 550 degree soft solder.
When the gauge arrived the little drain cock was missing. The water gauge had been on back order and I surmised that the gauges were supplied without the cocks and Coles added the cocks since they carry the cock (straight nose cock) as a separate item. I called Coles and that was exactly the case. They said they'd ship the missing cock immediately.
A couple hours later Coles called and said there was a problem ---- the port in the bottom of the water gauge is threaded 10-32 and the cock is threaded 3/16-40. The guy said that he assumed the manufacturer of the gauge had used the wrong thread but indeed the drawing said 10-32. (I assume the drawing will be changed to 3/16"- 40.) I though about it a minute decided that since the #10 thread is 3/16" diameter I could rethread the cock 10-32. The 32 TPI thread is deeper than the 40 TPI so strength shouldn't be a problem. Since the threads are straight rather then tapered an aluminum or Teflon sealing washer is required in either case. (The Teflon washer didn't work very well --- it just squeezed out when tightened . A thin aluminum washer worked great.)
Note that both LS Manufacturing and Coles gave quick response to questions and were able to satisfy my needs. I will not hesitate to deal with both in the future. Also, I was very satisfied with the unions and check valves I obtained from SuperScale.
Some of the problems encountered involved the various thread standards. It could have been much worse if metric standards were added to the mix. On the other hand we should count our blessings that we don't have to deal with units such as furlongs and stones.
I'm an Electrical Engineer --- an area that had used the metric standard from WWII or before. It's a shame that the US didn't officially follow through with the plan to convert to metric in the 60s. The conversion has in fact taken place in many areas such as the auto industry. (The auto industry still has a problem with which side to mount the steering wheel). The major holdup was probably some powerful old folks who didn't want to have to deal with a new system.
I've observed one nonscientific not-so-young woman who has been able to cope when necessary with metric units when traveling outside the US. For example she has a simple approximation (double and add 30) to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit to determine whether she is hot or cold. The national conversion to metric would have happened overnight if the advocates had explained that a 150 pound person would weigh only 68 after the conversion.