Pipe joint compound

Interesting story, last night I went down the shop to do some work and found a small puddle on the floor. A solder joint where the copper hot water pipe was joined to a 3/8 NPT adapter into an old bronze valve had let loose and was leaking water onto the floor.

I took the opportunity to show my daughter how to do a sweat solder repair (per harold's and my discussion of a few days ago) and we had the water back on in an hour or so.

After that we took the leaking fitting and hacksawed it apart so that we could find the problem, and it was pretty apparent that the plumber who did it didn't clean it or flux it nearly enough so there were major voids inside the joint that were full of oxide. It lasted about 50 years, but I guess nothing lasts forever.

The interesting part though was that today I took the parts into work to give them the close hairy eyeball under a good microscope, and while looking at them, I realized that whoever made up the threaded fitting between the adapter and the valve, used some unusual compound in the threads - in fact, he had used nothing more than cotton sewing thread. It was all bunched up at the root of the male copper threads, but there were several layers of thread that I could unwind and inspect.

There wasn't any dope or tape or matrix material of any kind mixed in with the thread, all of the fibers were clear and freely visible.

I wonder if this was a common practice 'way back when,' using sewing thread to seal pipe fittings?

It seems to have worked just fine, as the only leak in evidence was at the copper-to-copper joint, all of the threads were leak-tight.

The bronze valve btw had a) no washer left in it, and b) the screw to hold the washer was mostly gone as well.

Ah the joys of old houses!

Jim

================================================== please reply to: JRR(zero) at yktvmv (dot) vnet (dot) ibm (dot) com ==================================================

Reply to
jim rozen
Loading thread data ...

It was Plumbers hemp not cotton unless he was a very unusual plumber.

There should have been what is now called plumders jointing compound, back the it was called all sorts of things depending on where you were.>

Yes

=====

Reply to
Neil Ellwood

It is still used, we used to refer to it as lampwick. They still have it at the plumbing supply, so someone else must be using it too. It is good for pipe carrying water, as it expands when wet, or at least that's what my boss told me. It should be used in conjunction with dope. It is the way to go if you want to make really sure something doesn't leak- part of a header, for example.

Reply to
ATP

This was real fine stuff, it looked like the plumber just raided his wife's sewing box. There was no dope in with it, because the individual threads, and the strands within the threads, are easily separated.

It obviously sure works great, because those valves never leaked. I still have two of the old ones in place, but give the state of the washer (rubber washers simply don't last any length of time in hot water lines IMO) I don't think I'll count on them to hold.

I'm sure some poor fool will be into that house in another hundred years, cussing me out. "goddam teflon seat ball valves. Those things are crap. Why didn't that guy use the unobtainium valves here??"

================================================== please reply to: JRR(zero) at yktvmv (dot) vnet (dot) ibm (dot) com ==================================================

Reply to
jim rozen

Last year my daughter's home lost heat (BB hot water) and she and her husband were about to call a plumber when she said "Wait a minute, we are both graduates of Norwich Tech and both college graduates. We should be able to figure this out ourselves". And they did.

Later my favorite daughter told me that all the times I had her hold tools and explained to her what I was doing and why paid off and she appreciated the lessons.

OK so she is my only daughter. She is still my favorite!

This is the same girl who used to jump the fence and go out on the catwalk under the local bridge across the river. About 150 feet to the water! When she told me this story I said I would have killed her had I know at the time. To which she asked, why do I think that she had waited some 20 years to mention it! No fool she.

Errol Groff Instructor, Machine Tool Department H.H. Ellis Tech

613 Upper Maple Street Danielson, CT 06239

860 774 8511 x1811

formatting link
formatting link

Reply to
Errol Groff

=8-O

Eeek.

Hmm. Well there's that. I never did tell my folks about some of the stuff that I did. I think it's best to still avoid that....

Jim

================================================== please reply to: JRR(zero) at yktvmv (dot) vnet (dot) ibm (dot) com ==================================================

Reply to
jim rozen

Quite right. I just suspect that at the time, that may not have been a make-do. And the threaded part of the joint was absolutely water tight, as I mentioned. That was not what went wrong there.

One of the original owners of this house was a plumber, so it has has some interesting features.

I strongly suspect that it had indoor plumbing at a time (right around 1900) when many houses did not. The cast iron waste lines are standard weight, very thin. But clearly he wanted to add on another bathroom, because there's a second vertical stack that ends up in the wall in the attic, and hooks over the sill down in the basement. Open at both ends. That was a puzzler until I found out he was a plumber, he knew it would be easy to put that in during construction, tough later.

It has the original central heat, circulating hot water. But the pipes that carry heat to the second story radiators do not travel upstairs through the walls, they're exposed out in the open. So when the upstairs zone fires you get some head downstairs too.

The quality of the work is strictly middle-poor. I can see Mr. Frost saying to himself, 'this will hold it until I can get back to it later.' Ha.

Later on he went on to become a city cop, my neighbor to the south knew him then. He was a "mean" cop. Used to sit in the driveway and wait to catch speeders on the road out in front.

Jim

================================================== please reply to: JRR(zero) at yktvmv (dot) vnet (dot) ibm (dot) com ==================================================

Reply to
jim rozen

Using lampwick is not a make-do job. A wrap of lampwick followed by a coat of pipe dope will beat Teflon every time.

Reply to
ATP

Lampwick is fine, actually finer than thread. It probably would work without dope.

Reply to
ATP

LOL. Trust me, it does!

Jim

================================================== please reply to: JRR(zero) at yktvmv (dot) vnet (dot) ibm (dot) com ==================================================

Reply to
jim rozen

It may have been cotton, but I suspect it was not. The New Zealanders and maybe the Ausies ought to chime in here............ Could it have been Hemp?

Dan

Reply to
Dan Caster

On other topic - but 50 years ago, the brake systems used to be tied together with leather straps on 2 ton stake bed trucks!

I had a friend with one - and he lost the leather one day - He knew how to stop the truck without one rear brake.

The brake man had a fit! Finally after replacing the shoes, my friend tied it up with a new leather that he had just in case.

No wonder so many trucks crashed in those days :-)

Martin

Reply to
Eastburn

I though maybe somebody else with more knowledge would have jumped in here, but to me .......

The stuff Jim described in the OP sounds like Oakum. Not sure exactly what the fibre is/was, but it was used also in the joints of soil pipes. Came in a variety of shapes and sizes, and for let's say a 4" sewer line joint a 3/8" piece, long enough to do the circumference a couple of times, would be rammed into the joint first, like a gland packing, and then lead poured in to seal it. It also kept the lead from leaking into the pipe.

That's my recollection anyway.

Take care.

Brian Laws>>>

Reply to
Brian Lawson

I'm pretty sure the owner of the house did this repair - and he raided his wife's sewing basket.

You could take a look at the fibers next time you are in town - they're way too fine to be oakum or hemp.

Jim

================================================== please reply to: JRR(zero) at yktvmv (dot) vnet (dot) ibm (dot) com ==================================================

Reply to
jim rozen

I've heard of waxed dental floss being wrapped into the root of the thread to seal a "dri-fit" (tapered pipe) thread.

Reply to
clare

LOL! I used those ""goddam teflon seat ball valves" for all the shut off valves in this house. They've been in service now for about seven years with on failure - the plating on one ball failed and caused a slow leak through the valve. I do like easy to turn, quarter turn shut offs after fighting with the usuall shut off valves for most of my life.

Ted

Reply to
Ted Edwards

Hmmm. It could also be wick wool. I still have a ball of the stuff that was my fathers. It looks a bit like string, and was commonly used to pack the stems of water taps.

Steve R.

Reply to
Udie

Yeah, it used to be real fun making those poured lead joints on horizontal CI pipes. We used something a bit like a piece of a V-belt to temporarily block around the opening of the joint. It had a clamp holding it together at the top leaving an opening into which you poured the lead. I never saw one seal perfectly, we were always hopping around to avoid dribbles and splashing molten lead.

When the lead cooled we used offset "caulking irons" to whack the lead down into the joint to insure a good seal.

The guys who've never used anything except PVC pipes with glued joints sure don't know what they missed.

Jeff

Reply to
Jeff Wisnia

Are you referring to Norwich Regional Vocational Technical High School? Located in Norwich Conneticut? If so then what a small world! I went there back in 1973

-76 before we moved down south. Here they have what are called votechs and are in no way comparable to the schools up north. I took electricity with an ex-drill sargent by the name of Mr. Lonadelli and to this day I still hear him yelling " See that?! Pick it up! Smell it! Taste it! Put it in your pocket!" referring to all the dropped 8-32 screws and usual hardware often needed. I saved a lot of money on roofing nails and sheetrock screws and gobs of other things often dropped and never picked up.

Sorry to drift off the thread.

No1

Reply to
No1

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.