|An update on my leaking boiler|
|Written by John Abbott|
|Wednesday, 22 December 2010 07:54|
People have been anxiously awaiting an update on my Traeger TPB-150 corn/pellet boiler. But, I don't have a lot of information yet. It goes back to the old saying, "You can have Good, Quick & Cheap, pick two" Well, I am going for Good and Cheap, so it is going to take a while before I get it back. I was happy with this because I wasn't sure how much the gas boiler installation last week was going to cost me. I needed to stay liquid in case there were big surprises. There weren't really, so now if we can just get through Christmas with nothing else breaking...
The last article was about the disassembly process. But what then? I had to do a bunch of calling around to find a company who was interested in repairing. And, one who would work on a small budget like I had. First off, I had to get it cleaned before anyone could evaluate it. Boiler shops were willing to take it in, but for the most part they farm out the cleaning process and mark it up big. So, following a suggesting of someone here, I tried calling auto body shops because they usually have a sand blaster. I got lucky on my second call. The guy there was willing to sand blast it for $50 if I could wait until the next sunny day. He does his sandblasting outside (That is the point where I plug my ears and say "lalalala". Hopefully he doesn't have any close silicosis breathing neighbors)
Finally a sunny day hit and the pictures here are after I got it sand blasted. Unfortunately the guy who I had do the sandblasting thought his blaster nozzle would go down the boiler tubes. Sadly, it was about an eight of an inch too big, so it wouldn't fit. So, he was not able to clean inside the tubes very well at all. He was able to clean the top and the bottom of the boiler well enough so we can see mine is one of the early generation of Traegers with welded rather than rolled boiler tubes.
I found this picture out on the net. It shows you an example, step by step of what a rolled boiler tube looks like. Rolled tubes are good. Sometimes they leak down at the end of the tube, you just re-roll them with the rolling tool to tighten up the seal. Lots of times without even removing the boiler. Even in the worst case, where the tube is leaking in the middle like mine is. Just undo the crimp at the end of the tube. Remove it. Insert a new tube and then with the rolling tool, make the rolled edge seal.
Welded tubes like I have though are a whole different deal. Much more work to remove the tube. Much more work to get the end caps ready for new tubes. Much more work to perfectly weld in the new tubes. More work means more money. A boiler repair place was quoting two hundred dollars "shop fee" then on top of that, six hundred dollars for the first tube, another three hundred dollars for each tube after that, plus inspection. No guarantee at all once it left their shop, if another tube began leaking tomorrow it all started over.
Then there is the inspection process and fee. Rolled tube boilers don't have to be inspected. Welded tube boilers do. The trouble with government is they have to do their best to make one size fit all. Understandable really, given the number of shysters and crooks out there. If government leaves one loophole open, a whole horde of rats will run through it. But boiler inspections are a really a pain in this small scale stuff. At the heart of it, the Traeger has what is called a boiler. Yet, I don't actually boil anything. We are not making steam here, just hot water. The whole system runs at the most, 20 psi. Yet my boiler has to pass inspection and testing of 125psi? The inspector lives a long ways away, either I have to wait until the company has a whole bunch of boilers to inspect, or pay the milage for the person to come here. Just the inspection runs about $1000. Not worth it.
So, just underneath the horizon there is another group of shops that take work in, not exactly under the table, but on a friend of a friend basis. In my case, my wife is friends with a woman, who's husband knows a guy, who takes in boiler repair work. Lets call them TNA Mechanical. A welding, plumbing and heating shop. They initially quoted the party line. But then, after some assurances I understood the risks, they were willing to talk about doing repair with no inspections, and of course no guarantee. It takes lots of calling around and talking to people to find these places. I think there is also a great deal of luck and chance involved. I just happened to get lucky and found such a place within ten miles of my house. There the boiler sits today. I haven't talked to them about it. I have been concentrating my time and energy into getting the gas boiler purchased and installed. At this point, with the new gas boiler in place, I really would mind if they waited until spring to fix it.
You can see on the boiler tubes the level of corrosion taken place. I really blame myself for this. Even back shortly after I got this burner I felt like the cleaning brush they included was insufficient to clean the corn residue. I should have gotten around to buying some scraper such as was suggested by Sting, the primary Traeger supporter here on this forum. I think I could have kept the tubes much cleaner. And, I think I wouldn't be having these problems now. Instead, I procrastinated and never got around to buying a stiffer brush and scraper.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 23 December 2010 00:43|