The panels were repainted. The cast iron front door assembly was sandblasted, repainted, the original sight glass repaired, and gaskets added to the doors. Some vent holes from its coal days were sealed to stop any unwanted drafts through the boiler. The cast iron exhaust elbow had a crack repaired and an early unused damper sealed and new plate made for back cover. The expansion tank was flushed and repainted. I repacked the original valves, went over the old gauges and rewired everything. Most important, I added a local emergency disconnect on the side of the boiler and at the top of the basement stairs - both must be in the on position for boiler to operate.
With the main boiler reassembled and thoroughly cleaned inside, next was the oil burner. It's a Beckett burner, the Chevrolet of oil burners. I went through a complete rebuild making it like new condition. The tip was OK which I cleaned and reused - I wish I had noted the size as you'll see later though. With the burner done I needed to come up with a better mounting solution. My dad and I came up with a design and he fabricated it out of stainless steel plating. It's basically a big L, with a base plate with lock downs to hold the burner and a vertical plate that covers the opening of the boiler with a hole to allow the burner to poke through. Everything is sealed with high temp gaskets. An in line filter was then added and the assembly installed.
With everything fitting together as designed, the front disassembled one more time to install a new firebox, which was in desperate shape. I found a universal one on EBAY that worked perfect. I was able to center the new one better inside the boiler with just the tip of the burner entering. You don't want the flame to close to the back wall of the firebox which will disrupt the flame pattern.
Old and new fireboxes
So I'm sure at this point you're saying Hey, great, now it's nice looking ancient oil hungry beast. Well you'd be surprised. The paperwork with the boiler had the burner measured in the mid 80% range. But, then there's the efficiency of generated heat and transfer of that to the system?? Yes, I thought of that too. The biggest problem with these old coal units is you have this huge firebox that you throw heat into, which quickly is drafted into the flue and up your chimney taking probably 50% the heat you just made with it. So the question is, how do modern boilers slow this down and increase the transfer? Well one of the main ways is adding baffles, creating a "torturous path"for the heat and gases. Basically the longer the heat and gases created by the burner stay inside the boiler, the more that will get transferred to your water. Also the sizing of the firebox area is much smaller, concentrating the same heat to the boiler tubes at a much higher level than the early boilers - you don't need all that room for coal anymore. Well what we came up with was a self designed baffling system to obtain the same modern solutions. Firebricks were stacked in the corners supporting 1 inch square stock steel running across the front and back walls. Then two plates were made that sit above the firebox in the middle and lean against the outside "water wall" tubes - the initial and highest point of heat transfer in a boiler - basically creating a V shape. What this now does is re sized the firebox area to about 1/3 the original area, and forces the heat created against the sides of the boiler where the tubes are and then up to the secondary stages of the boiler. Also the small opening left for the heat to escape to the secondary stages slows down the draft. Will it work???? You'll see....
Baffle plates sitting above firebox