Saturday, November 18, 2006

Testing Ballcock, Liner, Spud, and Float

Working with plumbing is hard enough when it’s all new. When you add in the dynamics of 100 year old plumbing built before standardization, you never know what you’re going to be dealing with. Today’s challenge was to test the oak high-tank for the toilet.

The high-tank works exactly the same as the low-tank only it’s mounted 6 or 7 feet up on the wall. I needed to make sure a few things worked properly before I started buying parts next week. First there is a copper liner I needed to make sure didn’t leak. The oak won’t hold water so the tank has a copper liner inside that holds the water. The liner passed with flying colors.

Next, there is the ballcock and valve system that fills the tank with water and then shuts off at the proper time. This works with a floating ball, in this case also copper, that is raised with the water level. As the ball raises it slowly closes a valve. Once the ball gets to a desired height, the valve closes, and the tank is ready for the next flush.

Finally, I needed to make sure the spud was in good shape and could seal properly. The spud is a threaded pipe with a flair at one end. It goes through a hole in the copper liner and the oak tank. There is a rubber gasket inside the tank that creates a seal when a nut is tightened down from the outside of the tank. Essentially, the oak, copper liner, and then the rubber gasket are squeezed between the nut being screwed on to the pipe underneath, and the flair at the top of the pipe inside the tank. Next, the flush tube attaches to the threaded spud under the tank and it leads to the toilet.

Artists Rendition

The gasket was shot, but that was easy to replace. The problem arose when I tried to get a slip nut that would screw to the spud. I would need a slip nut to attach the flush tube. I still need to buy the flush tube, and it will come with it’s own slip nut, but I had to make sure the threads are modern standard plumbing threads. They are not.

The spud looks just like an inch and a half threaded pipe but the spacing on the threads is a little different. A new inch and a half slip nut will make it about a half of a turn before it binds up. I had a very similar problem with the other toilet I installed upstairs. I think it was in the 20s or 30s when threaded pipe for plumbing became standard. Anything before that seems to be a shot in the dark.

So, this was a good exercise. When I order plumbing parts in a week or so I can add a new inch and a half spud for the toilet tank.

The tank

What ever floats your float

Rube Goldberg would be proud


ben said...

do you have a tap and die set? if so you could try to make your own nut with the same thread count. then add metalwork to the list of handyman capabilities.

Greg said...

I toyed with that idea very briefly. I would need an inch and a half tap (or is it die). That is probably more than a new spud. I found someplace that said they could make me a custom nut for about $50.

Alicia said...

I think I am related to those lumber folks, second or third cousins. The patriarch was named Johann and moved out from Minneapolis in the 1890s.