The Day The Oil Burner Died

It was the worst that could happen....
or so we thought.

On July 19, 2005 our oil burner developed a fatal problem after 53 years of faithful service. A leak in the coil caused the pressure to climb resulting in steady drip of water from the relief valve. This would have gotten worse if I hadn't caught it. Our last relief valve incident a few years earlier resulted in a lot of water on the floor and wet feet. Fortunately, thanks to well poured concrete, the floor of the room dips in the center and any water collects there. There is also a large, absorbent area rug which helps too. Anyway, the simple fix of replacing the feed/relief valve was tried first but I had a bad feeling in my gut. The serviceman said if it was the coil it wouldn't be economical to repair if they could get the part. I went on "oil burner death watch" for the next 24 hours. At first things looked OK but by the next morning we were in trouble again. I did some research and made the phone call to our local heating contractor. The burner ran for the last time and was shut down Sunday morning, July 31st. On Monday, August 1st it was replaced. At the end I was draining 12 gallons of water a day out of the expansion tank, 6 in the morning, 6 at night.

I post this in hopes that somebody somewhere will get something from it. And it is a piece of WA2FNQ history.

The WA2FNQ Flexnet node and terminal/internal switch computers (left) with the back up node/BBS computer
and a maintenance computer located next to the old furnace. Cables to the TNCs and main BBS computer ran
along the conduit to the furnace. The monitor for the OTS/in-house network server computer can be seen in the
background of the left picture. Without a lot of room things were placed where ever there was space available.

The old burner and its nameplate.

The node had to be relocated to the work bench so it would be out of the way. First the back up and
maintenace computers were removed leaving the mess of wires in the top picture. The monitor was
temporarily placed on top of the oil burner. While my wife lifted up the Flexnet computer I moved
the terminal/internal switch computer to the workbench.

That left just the Flexnet computer sitting alone on top of the bookcase, on the air, still running the node.
The wire harness was cut loose from the furnace conduit and pulled back to the workbench. I then grabbed
the Flexnet computer with the switch boxes and their wiring and made a run for the workbench.

I plugged everything in, booted up the computers and the node came back to life. Total down time was @15 minutes.
This is what the node looked like re-located to the workbench.

The burner looking the way it did when we bought the house.

The old oil burner would have to be removed through the studio. It would come through the door on the left and
leave through the door on the right. The new burner would have to come through the other way.

As seen above, a lot of the equipment in the studio had to move. Even in this condition everything was 100% operational. In fact these pictures were taken just after I got off 75 meters with Pete, WA1SOV and George, KA2UWH on Sunday afternoon.

The next morning just before 10 am the crew arrived and laid down tarps in preparation for the work.

With its outer housing and plumbing removed, the old burner sits naked in the transmitter room.

Ron and Tony remove the old burner. It was out the door by 11 am.

The new burner (or "Little Blue" as we call it) installed in the transmitter room. Now there's more room.

New shelving was installed for storage and to hold the packet equipment. This is the node and the associated
equipment in its new location. Off air time for moving the node was @ 30 minutes. Cleaning up the wiring took
days. But it was worth it. Now the node is right next to the BBS and the rats nest of wiring that was behind the
old bookcase is gone.

As far as the studio is concerned, everything moved back to where it came from without much trouble. The only casualty we had was the plug from the keyboad of one of the editing computers got pulled out.

With the new burner we have really "hot" water for the first time and the oil consumption is a lot less. That's the difference between 1952 and 2005 technology. A whole bunch of equipment had to be moved or re-located. The rest of the basement and garage had to be cleaned up to make a clear path for the oil burners to come through. It was a lot of work but it was worth it.

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