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Is BoilerSaver snake oil?


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  #1  
Old 06-27-2018, 07:42:31 PM
Steven Wrigley Steven Wrigley is offline
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Default Is BoilerSaver snake oil?

Hey guys. I'm fairly new to the steam hobby and have questions on water treatment. Every one I have talked to has told me something different. Some people say this BoilerSaver stuff is the best treatment available but others think it is snake-oil. Others have told me water is water and will steam with any old water they can find. This seems ill advised to me. My questions are what does BoilerSaver do to the water that makes it safe to steam and what sets it apart from other treatments available? Why do most people swear by it and others don't like it? Are people getting different results from using it?
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Old 06-27-2018, 08:24:25 PM
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Jim Conte Jim Conte is offline
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Default Re: Is BoilerSaver snake oil?

I'm staying away from this until someone invites me in.
I'll just say " Ask the users. "
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http://www.boilersaver.com/
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Old 06-27-2018, 08:46:06 PM
GreasyIron GreasyIron is offline
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Default Re: Is BoilerSaver snake oil?

I think there are already several threads on it, but can throw out two cents here:

If you're lucky enough to have good water, your boiler may not be scaled up in the first place and the hardness control results wouldn't be as obvious over a couple day show, so there will be doubters. But it's still doubtful that the pH is quite high enough to reduce the water's appetite for steel as much as possible.

The BoilerSaver is pretty much self regulating on pH and even hardness control, a small dose at fill, and very small doses in the feed tank and it does the rest. Water testing equipment would be appropriate, but I'll admit that knowing the treatment is in there, I don't test.

Now it is so good at loosing scale that a huge overdose can clean a seam more than desirable - I'd seen one example first hand, and another from a pretty reliable source where a tiny leak snuck in after a large dose, and sealed itself after bit of running on fresh water - coincidence to a different cause maybe, but a good reason not to waste treatment if nothing else. Also, whether some kind of packing incompatibility, or adverse to a certain temperature or circulation situation, my cross-head pump gets a funny residue from it - I only run it in with the injector and have no issues. On that I originally thought just me, but had read about a RR that had a similar issue, so went back to "conventional" treatments. I think either of those issues so rare that neither are fueling the Snake Oil guys though. Some people are so paranoid about anything with less than instant and obvious results (if you have any scale lurking in your boiler though, the first time you drain, you will say the results are instant and obvious!) they'll claim it worthless.
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Old 06-27-2018, 09:41:10 PM
gibbykart gibbykart is offline
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Default Re: Is BoilerSaver snake oil?

I would see it being only mildly effective unless you do testing and use other treatments with it. I am doing the water testing and treatments for the boiler on the vessel I am on and we preform six test each morning and add 3 different treatments depending on how the test come out. We test for hydrate alkalinity, total hardness, deha(corrosiveness), conductivity, phosphates and chlorides. Is this all necessary for the boilers in our hobby? Not at all, but I think it would be hard to dose by the recommended doses without knowing where you are at. Just my two cents and opinion.
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Old 06-27-2018, 10:03:36 PM
Odin Odin is offline
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Default Re: Is BoilerSaver snake oil?

As they say, water is water and you can make steam from most any water you find.

However, that water also comes with a variety of possible contaminants, most of which are outright harmful to your boiler. Its what you can't see that does the most damage. The chemicals dissolved in that water are concentrated in a boiler until everything is either covered in scale or corroded away until a major repair is required or the boiler is ruined entirely.

A little time and money spent managing water quality as you run your engine can help prevent costly repairs down the road, as well as reducing how much effort you spend on maintenance. Monitoring water hardness and acidity both in the feed water being given and sampling the boiler contents allows you to make operational decisions such as when to perform blow down and what chemical additives are necessary to prevent scale formation and corrosion damage.

Boilersaver is one of many products on the market for boiler treatment, and is designed to be easy to use and understand so that steam enthusiasts operating engines for their hobby can enjoy the benefits of water quality management without needing to have a chemistry lab travel with the engine. A few simple tests from a sample cup is sufficient to get a pretty good benefit from it. Jim Conte is the local distributor for it and for an assortment of similar products that he makes available to individuals and groups operating preserved steam engines, so some mistake his experience with water treatment as a sales pitch to move more product with.

Properly treated, scale will become a soft mud that can be washed out with a hose or carried away by blow-down instead of hard stuck-on flakes that need mechanical scraping. Corrosion damage is kept to a minimum by regulating the water's PH to values determined as best back when steam was still in its heyday. Plus several of the solutions available to the hobbyist also have a metal-conditioning function that reduces corrosion further by forming a thin nonreactive coating on exposed surfaces.

Last edited by Odin; 06-27-2018 at 11:51:53 PM.
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Old 06-28-2018, 08:09:46 AM
Dan Rossi Dan Rossi is offline
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Default Re: Is BoilerSaver snake oil?

My experience is navy and power generation. Now that I am retired, I help out with some operating steam museums, railroads and a liberty ship. Early on, at the navy training center at North Chicago, I remember the Chief saying that using plain water is like acid in a boiler. In those days, the navy, and I guess many other places, were using phosphate treatment and trying to control on both phosphate and pH at the same time. There was also sulfite oxygen scavenger and starch that had to be added and controlled.

Each ship had at least one Water King. His job was to keep track of the water in tanks and the water quality in the boilers. It was a full-time job on a little destroyer and it took a handful of men on a big ship. Boiler water was a big deal.

Before I retired, the navy started using a single treatment. That made a world of difference. There were a few oil-fired ships, and they changed-over. The nuclear powered ships and submarines had already changed, a few years before. What used to take hours of testing and mixing powdered chemicals into hot water and using a shot feeding tank, changed to two or three quick tests and a little liquid feed using a timer or meter pump like in a hospital.

Technology changes. We wouldn't hesitate to use an improved metal alloy or machining tool or lubricant, if they work and do a better job. It takes some learning to manage it.

Like with many things in this world, the more experience we gain and share, the better-off we are. Knowledge is power. I'm glad to have Smokstak as a place to share. I'm 67 and still learning about steam.
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Old 06-28-2018, 08:19:59 AM
GreasyIron GreasyIron is offline
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Default Re: Is BoilerSaver snake oil?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gibbykart View Post
Not at all, but I think it would be hard to dose by the recommended doses without knowing where you are at. Just my two cents and opinion.
That is the beauty of Boiler Saver. It does its job without the need for testing. Again, I'm not saying that some testing isn't prudent, just that conventional treatment requires testing while Boiler Saver is pretty forgiving. If I understand it's chemistry correctly, its not going to drive the pH into caustic territory even if overdosed, and under dosing just diminishes its it benefits rather than making you worry about the balance with three other additives.

If somebody wants to use conventional treatments on a traction engine, and do the testing, great, but I'd rather be working the engine or bs'ing than testing water. So boiler saver seems pretty cheap insurance to me.

Getting away from chemistry and into philosophy, I could be wrong here, but recall that Jim's repackaging of the Terlyn into single units, Boiler Saver, for traction guys and small rail-roads to use leaves little if any profit. You don't sell snake oil to break even on it.
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Old 06-28-2018, 08:50:06 AM
Brian Mann Brian Mann is offline
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Default Re: Is BoilerSaver snake oil?

Anyone who campaigns a Traction engine today will tell you if you want a clean boiler you need to use Boiler Saver. I wouldnt put too much stock into what someone who doesnt own and run one has to say. Also it's pretty easy to satisfy yourself. Look at the interior of your boiler. Run Boiler Saver through it for one season and look again.
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Old 06-28-2018, 03:48:27 PM
Mike McKnight Mike McKnight is offline
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Default Re: Is BoilerSaver snake oil?

I donít use boiler saver but I use a similar treatment. After running a few days in a boiler that hasnít had treatment you will be surprised at how much scale will turn loose the first weekend you use it.

I can tell you first hand the effects of running hard water in a boiler. I have seen a freshly rebuilt waste heat steam boiler destroy a brand new set of tubes in a matter of two weeks. Keep your water treated and circulating spaces cleaned out! Keep those ashes cleaned out, too! Keeping a clean boiler is cheaper than repairs.

Mike
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Old 06-28-2018, 08:22:16 PM
BoilerGuy BoilerGuy is offline
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Default Re: Is BoilerSaver snake oil?

Any one bucket boiler treatment is a compromise but likely better than nothing with proper dosage, the approach for treating a 100-150psi steam boiler changes depending on soft versus hard water, with hard make up water you need more caustic to keep the PH up where you want it. Regardless of make up water the product would likely have a Oxygen scavenger and a sludge conditioner, in the correct conditions the sludge conditioner keeps what would be deposited as scale in the form of a soft sludge that will flock together in the bottom of the boiler awaiting blow down.

To much chemical will also contribute to carryover.

Soft water is always the best bet with treatment.
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