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Huge ball valves, worth to refurbish? Answered

I have now already two of these huge ball valves we have on a machine at work.
Soon I will have one or two more...
The replacements always cost well in excess of $500, just for the part, excluding labour.

If I am correct than even these big guys can be dismantled like their small cousins.
Screw the screwed side open, remove the turning mechanism and them push the actual valve out.
Please correct me if that might be different!

The actual problem with ours is that after a few years of 24/7 use they start to leak through - not out in anyway.
A visual inspection without taking them apart show build up on the ball part.
No scratch marks or other damages that I can see.
Where there is no build up it is shiny like a mirror.
The seal are blue and clearly show the same abuse as the ball.
I tried with some aluminium poking tool I made up and the debris is really hard and baked on onto these seal rings.

My assumption is that only the seals started to fail.
And as they are consumables I am starting to wonder if it is worth trying to find replacements and to clean up the valve after taking it apart.
With only a manufacturer (from the machine, not the valve) part number but no markings or anthing on the valve itself I struggle to find any online place to check for genuine rebuild kits :(
Any links for sites with lots of balls valves pictures (to be motorised) so I might one that looks identical?

Last but not least: How to unscrew the damn thing?? LOL
I tried in a vice with the largest set of plumbing pliers I could boorow but it won't budge at all.
Would need an about 48mm spanner to grab the "nut" part of the valve.
The pliers are almost a meter long but even swearing like the worst guy in town did not help to make anything move.
Before cutting a custom made spanner from some re-inforcing steel plates: Is there any proper way of unscrewing a big ball valve?

Discussions

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Jack A Lopez

5 weeks ago

I am surprised it resists both a meter length of lever arm, and strong swearing together.
;-)

One trick that is sometimes overlooked, is the case where they put a backwards left-hand thread on the thing, but that is more common on things that turn a lot, like the nut that holds down a fan blade.

The next thing to try is some kind of penetrating oil.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penetrating_oil

Spray it on. Leave it alone for an hour, to let it ooze and diffuse its way in between the threads. Then try again.

Also for stuck nuts, I have witnessed strange rituals involving fire, and candle wax, usually for nuts made of steel, rusted stuck. But those rituals always seemed like voodoo to me. I think it was kind of the same thing as penetrating oil, except with liquid paraffin, candle wax. Heating and cooling the nut was supposed to do something too.

Finally, since you mentioned, "custom made spanner", I thought I should upload a picture of a homemade adjustable wrench ("wrench" is the American word for "spanner") that I made years ago, and only use occasionally. It is simply a small bench vise, that has been bolted to a piece of wood.

Also for anyone who wants to see more pictures of wrenches, I recommend the Wikipedia article for, "Wrench". It has a nice gallery of different kinds of wrenches. You know, for anyone who is into hot, explicit, pictures of wrenches and spanners.
;-)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrench

homemade-adjustable-wrench-01.jpghomemade-adjustable-wrench-02.jpg
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Downunder35mJack A Lopez

Reply 5 weeks ago

This is the closest I can find for the valves in question:
https://www.geminivalve.com/documents/ISL103-87-Se...

But unlike these a different actuator is used and the connections are not threaded but with o-rings.
The valve basically just resides on two pipe ends, you can turn it around and move it up and down on the pipes as well.
But the actual body and mechanics are the same.
Well, apart from the fact that it is a 1 1/2" diameter for the attached pipes and ball inside....

Took one of the valves to my local bearing shop to check for replacement seals.
They recommended RTV seals due to the use with hot oil and durability.
But even they failed to unscrew the thing LOL
Righ thread, nothing locking it but not turning either - and they tried with two big Kiwies (The strong guys from New Zealand).
They suspect the oil over the years made it into the thread and turned into a rubber like substance.
Mind you the externals of the valves are totally dry and clean ;)
All shall be stainless steel, except for the seals and if the blue color is the right type then they should tolerate over 220°C.
-Next move is trying to make a sturdy mount for my vice, a custom spanner and then the longest damn pipe to extend I can find.
Put the valve in the oven for a good hour then give it a whack looking like I try to lift a truck in my garage ROFL

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Jack A LopezDownunder35m

Reply 5 weeks ago

Well, that sounds like a plan.

I am hopeful you will get those two pieces unscrewed from one another, and then from there, figure out how the ball, and the stem, and the seals, and all that other stuff, comes apart.

Regarding the seals, you might be able to 3D print those, or print some forms, or molds, into which a castable material, perhaps RTV silicone, could be poured.

I know the seals have to withstand some kind of high temperature, because you said the material flowing through the valve was, some kind of, "hot oil".

I mean, if the temperatures the seals have to withstand is close to the temperature the 3D printer extrudes them at, well that is probably bad news; i.e. these seals would just melt, or go squishy sideways, minutes or seconds, after touching the hot oil.

By the way, it occurred to me the impetus that is driving this project forward, is the really high, like $500, replacement cost of the valve. I think, some places you can buy a car for that much. ;-)

I guess what I am saying is, if you happened to find someone selling a similar valve, for only $50, or someone who refurbished these valves for that much, then things would look much different.

The final thing I was going to mention was, when you get those two pieces unscrewed, perhaps, when putting them back together, using some PTFE tape, the kind ordinary plumbers use, on the the threads, will make the valve easier to take apart in the future.

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Downunder35mJack A Lopez

Reply 4 weeks ago

Well, I had another go with a mate of mine and his toolbox.
This time we did it all in the right order and amounts!
So first a few beers while the valve heats in the oven.
Then some swearing as there is always dumb enough not to use proper gloves when handling the valve.
Last but not least another quick beer and then some long pipe on heavy duty automotive spanners - the kind used ofr wheel hubs and such.
Note to self: Do not try again to use two spanners on something that is NOT secured in some vice or similar....

After several painful moments we dicided to try the vice again and of course we pulled the screws through the workbench once the pipe was added.
There must be somthing preventing movement.
Or it is just a great way no one ever tries to fix these things LOL

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Jack A LopezDownunder35m

Reply 4 weeks ago

There is a line heard at wedding ceremonies, something about, "What God has joined to together, let no man take apart...", and I am not sure how well that line applies to actual married couples, but perhaps it does apply to the two pieces of your valve.

Maybe they were meant to be together. Ha! ;-)

By the way, if you are seeking a cheaper replacement valve, I have seen pages of a Chinese eBay seller, named "valve-control", selling a 1+1/2 inch NPT, SS304, motorized ball valve, here:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/New-1-1-2-to-2-2-Way-SS30...

Also note, I DO NOT know this seller, and I cannot vouch for his or her reputation, or the quality of the valves or the little motor box that sits on top, or how easy or difficult these valves are to take apart. Actually, the only thing I am sure about regarding these valves, is they are being sold for a lot less than the circa 500 USD price you mentioned for your valve.

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Yonatan24Jack A Lopez

Reply 4 weeks ago

I recently heard of someone making rubber gaskets with a Cricut CNC knife machine thing, but I think it's pretty small. It was one of the prizes in the contests here a few months ago. Just anidea for others.

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Downunder35mYonatan24

Reply 4 weeks ago

Won't work as these seals in ball valves are quite sturdy.
I even copied paper and rubber gaskets with my laser cutter, but can't really recommend that anyone dares to do it with rubber.
It is a huge mess both in toxic fumes and cleaning up the machine :(