copper tubing suppliers for boilers

Discussion in 'Boilers' started by rhankey, Jan 22, 2013.

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  1. Jan 22, 2013 #1

    rhankey

    rhankey

    rhankey

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    I am starting to acquire some of the raw materials for an upcoming Stuart HA Taylor Undertype build for which I have some questions for you guys. This will be my first boiler build, so I'm guessing you will be hearing more from me as the time comes. I have already read up on our local state boiler code and it would appear I only need to make a couple minor modifications from plan to have it meet local codes.

    I am having a little difficulty finding sources for some of the various sized tubing and fittings I will need. With some vendors it is not clear whether they are truly quoting OD or ID as they seem to use the words 'tube' and 'pipe' as interchangeable. My understanding is that OD is generally used for tubing and ID for pipe. While I can fudge some dimensions, I can't be fudging the OD of some of the tubes else I will have a heap of problems.

    That leads me to my questions:

    Can anyone recommend sources for:
    - 5" OD 12s.w.g. copper tubing. I need a 12" long piece. Heavier gauge should be fine.
    - 7/16" OD 22s.w.g. copper tubing. I need 17 pieces that are 12" long each. Heavier gauge should be fine.

    I will make or have found sources for most of the boiler fittings, but am still looking for sources for:
    - 3 cock sight gauges

    The plans call for a number of 3/16" diameter gunmetal stays (6-8" long) to be bolted between the boiler walls. I am not sure where I would source gunmetal as I have only worked with gunmetal castings before, but question whether that is the most appropriate material. Any thoughts or concerns if I were to use similar dimensioned copper stays instead? If gunmetal is spec'd, would brass be a reasonable option too? If I should stick with gunmetal, then any suggestions on where to obtain gunmetal stock?

    Lastly, has anyone had experience dealing with Macc Models in the UK? I tried ordering the 5" and 7/16" copper tubing from them a couple weeks ago via their website, but I have heard no signs of life from them and can no longer check the order status online. I even tried calling them, and their number immediately hangs up. They may still be processing the order and all will be well, but it is time to start looking elsewhere just in case. They were the only place I've found who appears to have the 5" and 7/16" tubing, so long as they were quoting OD (which they did not specify).

    Thanks in advance.

    Robin
     
  2. Jan 22, 2013 #2

    Jasonb

    Jasonb

    Jasonb

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    M-Machine list the 7/16x22swg and have 5" in 10swg.

    Don't use brass, copper or bronze would be a better option, unfortunately M-Machine don't do GM rod that small

    http://www.m-machine-metals.co.uk/mm/website/metals_menu.html

    I got a 3 cock water gauge from MJ Engineering but it took Alan a while to get it in and they are not cheap, you could also try Bruce eng and Reeves

    http://www.mjeng.co.uk/

    EdIt College also do the same copper sizes as M-Machine
    http://www.collegeengineering.co.uk/CopperTube.htm

    Reeves have 7/16x20 and the 10g in larger size
    http://shop.ajreeves.com/copper-tube-seamless-drawn-201-c.asp
     
  3. Jan 22, 2013 #3

    rhankey

    rhankey

    rhankey

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    Thanks very much Jason or the several suppliers who appear to have all the copper tube dimensions I will need and are very clear with specifying OD. I will give the current vendor a little more time in the event my order does appear.

    Reeves appears to only have single cock water gauges. I will dig deeper on Bruce Eng. I have come across one or two very pricey 3 cock gauges that had me figuring I might have to try making my own. I also want to check with Rob Barker and Dave Noble who potentially make slightly more afordable options.

    And thanks for validating that copper or bronze is better than brass for the stays.

    Robin
     
  4. Jan 22, 2013 #4

    lensman57

    lensman57

    lensman57

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    Hi,

    Macc models have a good range of copper tubing for boilers and are good to deal with. I have no association with them but the service has been good. I have also dealt with M machines and college engineering suppllies and these are all good pro traders.

    A.G
     
  5. Jan 22, 2013 #5

    Jasonb

    Jasonb

    Jasonb

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    Rob retired a couple of years back though the company was sold on, though I think their offerings will be too large, mine is threaded 1/4x40 but did not get much change out of £100.

    http://rabarker.sharepoint.com/Pages/WaterGaugesGlass.aspx

    Blackgates list 3 cock ones in small sizes, MJ may have some in stock if you are not worried about the handing
     
  6. Jan 22, 2013 #6

    lensman57

    lensman57

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    Hi,

    I have just tried to log in to my account with Macc Models and I can't log into my account. They have also revamped their site and these maybe related.

    A.G
     
  7. Jan 22, 2013 #7

    rhankey

    rhankey

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    I noticed they have changed the look of their site in recent days. I ordered back on Jan 12th. Imediately after ordering I was able to check the order status, but was unable to do so the next day and still can't now. The site had not changed its look over those two days, but does look somewhat different now.

    I received no response when I submitted an enquiry to their form based contact us web page. I also received no response when I sent an e-mail to their sales@ e-mail address. And this morning I tried calling the phone number listed on their website and the line was disconnected each time after about one ring. I noticed the 4 digit region or city code does not match the 4 digit code of the city/town their website says they are located in. I'm not sure what more I can do from the other side of the pond.

    Good to hear I am not the only one with the problem. I will give them another couple weeks in the event they are still processing my order. They have not charged my credit card yet, so it is possible the order fell into the 'bit bucket', in which case I'll order the copper tubes from one of the other vendors provided in this thread.

    Robin
     
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  8. Jan 22, 2013 #8

    lensman57

    lensman57

    lensman57

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    Hi Robin,

    I hadn't noticed the telephone no code before, 0161 is the code for Manchester where I am, and their phone no starting with 4 means they are somewhere is south Manchester, Stockport area perhaps, macc models are based in Macclesfield, south of stockport ( about 20 minutes drive from me ) and I think it should be a 01625 telephone no. Very strange.

    A.G
     
  9. Jan 22, 2013 #9

    GWRdriver

    GWRdriver

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    Robin,
    The stuff to use is phosphor bronze, the US designation is C510000 (or simply C510) but I don't know what the UK designation is. P-B turns and threads like steel but silver solders like copper and it should be easier to find and less expensive than GM.
     
  10. Jan 23, 2013 #10

    rhankey

    rhankey

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    Thanks Harry. I am in the US. I will give priority to sourcing phosphor bronze for the stays.

    Robin
     
  11. Jan 23, 2013 #11

    GWRdriver

    GWRdriver

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    Robin,
    There are numerous industrial supply sources here, in addition to the usual on-line metals outlets, although some industrial suppliers may have prohibitive minimum orders. I tend to buy in larger quantities than are economical from the usual on-line metal marts but it's been some years since I made a large order (The last one has lasted me.) Here is a batch of phosphor-bronze firebox stays for a 7.5"ga locomotive boiler presently under construction. It's very nice stuff to turn, nothing special was done in the way of finishing, except for a sharp lathe bit, and they came right off the lathe looking like that.

    Stays.jpg
     
  12. Jan 23, 2013 #12

    pkastagehand

    pkastagehand

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    McMaster-Carr has copper tubing in lots of sizes and wall thicknesses. I put some in my boiler. They may not be the cheapest but they have lots of inventory and you usually get it the next day. (At least where I am which is only a couple hours from Chicago.)

    Paul
     
  13. Jan 23, 2013 #13

    rhankey

    rhankey

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    As soon as you mentioned phosphor bronze, I was sold, as I've made a few phosphor bronze parts for my current engine build, and it was very nice to work with.

    Robin
     
  14. Jan 23, 2013 #14

    rhankey

    rhankey

    rhankey

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    Thanks Paul. I'd checked McMaster-Carr previously. The largest diameters they seemed to have were around 3", which is a tad smaller than the 5" I was looking for. I think I'll work with one of the three UK suppliers that were mentioned earlier in this thread that appear to have exactly what I have.

    Robin
     
  15. Jan 23, 2013 #15

    GWRdriver

    GWRdriver

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    Robin,
    My assumption is that that the project calls for 5.000"OD copper tube and that size you will probably have to obtain from England (or perhaps Canada.) A 5" (nominal) US Standard copper tube will have an actual OD of 5.125" and is now very scarse on this side of the pond. IF 5.125"OD will work I think I know of a source. Virtually everything else, if not right on size then close to it, can be had here in the US. I use a mixture of sources, depending upon availability, quantity, material size, and price, all the usual factors.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  16. Jan 23, 2013 #16

    rhankey

    rhankey

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    The plans do call for 5.000"OD copper tube. The roughly 5.250"OD or 5.375"OD smoke box slides over one end of this boiler tube. The two ends of the smoke box are gunmetal castings, as is the smoke box door, and the smoke box sits on a cast iron saddle. If I were to use 5.125"OD tube, then there would be too little left of the smoke box gunmetal casting, and by the time I lagged the boiler, the boiler would be of similar or larger diameter than the smoke box. Increasing the diamter of the smoke box would become a large undertaking. There are some dimensions that I can and will fudge, but the OD on this main boiler tube doesn't seem to be one of those.

    As you suggest, there are lots of suppliers in NA for 5.125"OD copper tubing but for 5.000" tube to need to come from the UK.

    With the UK copper tube suppliers, it looks like I can get all the dimensions the plans specify, though in some instances I need to go with a slightly heavier gauge. I don't mind going with heavier gauges.

    Robin
     
  17. Jan 30, 2013 #17

    mckdavid

    mckdavid

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    if you're looking for copper pipe / tube, and only need small quantities, you need to chat up your local Air conditioning / refrigeration repair shop. They'll usually have off cuts in stock, most sizes, even small bore, such as capiliary tubes for thermo stats etc.

    The advantage of the refrigeration copper is that in terms of purity it's usually high grade copper, it brazes, silver solders nicely, especially "K - grade". Haven't personally tried machining it though so can't comment on its machinability, but as it's relatively high copper content, it should be ok..

    Might be worth looking, sort of thing that a few beers for the boys might be enough of a contribution.

    Dave
     
  18. Jan 30, 2013 #18

    GWRdriver

    GWRdriver

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    All US domestic copper pipe, at least the pipe we will most likely encounter, will be essentially 99+% pure copper and Type "K" indicates a wall thickness relative to diameter rather than a grade or alloy. Type "K' will work and silver solder about the same as any other domestic copper but it can machine better than other types simply because there is more mass to resist the forces of cutting without deforming. Machining copper, especially turning, can be an absolute pig because of its toughness and tendency for tools to dig in. A copper dig-in will result in a ruined part almost 100% of the time. The secret to turning copper without tears is a sharp tool, light cuts & feeds, and a little cutting fluid.

    I have also gone begging to my local heating A/C or mechanical contractors and much more often than not with very good results. I can certainly recommend it. The problem nowadays is that many contractors don't allow loose copper to lay around very long before selling it for scrap. Otherwise the trick is to be very umm . . humble (for lack of a better term) and NEVER mention that you are trying to build a boiler! Seriously, that will often wave a red liability flag and you'll be shown the door. I tell them I making a table lamp base.:rolleyes:
     

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