clogged oil tank whistle

Hi there,
Does anyone have any sort of miracle solution to unplug a clogged up oil tank whistle? Mine is plugged up by what I'm assuming is flies and ladybugs (We got plenty of those this year). Air still comes out of the vent pipe when the tank is being filled so is must be going around the whistle.
The last time the oil delivery guy was here, the tank was empty so he had no problem filling it by watching the meter after confirming there were no leaks (since it's a 1 year old tank). He indicated it was a one-time deal however and that I need to get that whistle working again.
From what I can see to get the whistle out of the tank involves dismantling the entire vent pipe. The vent pipe has about 3 joints that would all have to be undone and involves going underneath a very shallow (18" in some spots) deck to take it all apart. The tank installer cursed the entire time he was under there. Now there is -20C freezing temperatures and snow to contend with so I doubt I'd get anyone to go under until spring time.
Is there some way to clear the blockage without pulling the whistle? There are 3 elbows between the top of the vent and the tank.
-- Steve
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Steve wrote:

How about a remote-reading overfill gauge? http://www.ksentry.com/overfill.htm
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Whistle???????
I have lived in several houses with oil heat, and never heard a whistle...... I just had a fill guage in the tank center, and a 2 inch fill pipe, and 1 inch vent pipe. I was in WI. Is this something local to your area? What state?
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On Wed, 7 Jan 2004 23:20:59 -0500, "Steve"

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snipped-for-privacy@my.com wrote:

The whistle is so the guy who is filling the tank gets a warning before it overflows.

The original poster was posting from Canada-- but I'm from NY & it has been required here for at least 30 years.
They appear to be required in Wisconsin these days -- http://www.commerce.state.wi.us/ER/ER-BST-ResTk.html
They are usually part of the vent pipe &unless you're right there and listening for it, you might never associate the whistling with the vent.
Jim
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Funny you should ask that. I've lived in this house for almost 15 years & never thought my oil tank might have a whistle. I had the same thing in my head when I had my oil tank filled yesterday. As I'm standing there, sure enough, the oil tank was whistling. So I asked the truck driver why the oil tank had a whistle. When the whistle stops, the tank is full. It's to prevent overflows. Learn something new everyday.
Joe F.
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Usually the whistle is located in the vent pipe just above the tank. As the tank is filled the oil level rises and air is forced out of the vent pipe past the whistle. When the oil begins to rise into the vent pipe it submerges the whistle and the whistle stops making a sound. My guess is that insects aren't the problem since the vent cover has a screen in it. Since the tank is only a year old I'd get the fellow who installed it back out. Removing the vent line can be a major production but that's the way to the whistle. Do you have an unused opening in the top of you tank that would accept a level sensor?
RB
Steve wrote:

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RB wrote:

Your answer is close, but not quite right.
I'm qualified to pontificate about this subject as 20 some years ago I spent a dozen years of my career as the Chief Engineer of the Scully Signal Company. That company was the original promoter and manfacturer of the whistling tank fill signal, (The "Scully Signal") which it brought onto the market in the early 1930s. That device made "automatic unattended oil delivery" possible. The company still makes those whistling fill signals, along with lots of other mechanical and electronic equipment associated with fuel oil and gasoline delivery and storage.
Prior to that invention, if the fuel oil tank was inside a house, oil delivery required access to the inside to check how much the tank could accept and sometimes even a second person in there watching a tank gauge, or just looking in an bung hole, ready to bang on the vent pipe with a wrench to signal the guy outside to stop filling.
The whistle has a hollow stem extending down from it about 5 or 6 inches into the tank. When the rising oil level reaches the bottom of the stem, the venting air/oil vapor stops flowing through that tube and blowing the whistle, signaling that the tank is filled to a safe level, and leaving enough head space to accomodate the expansion of the possibly cold oil warming up to interior temperature.
If as you said, the oil had to be all the way up to the vent pipe to stop the whistle, then the deliveryman would have to act super quick to shut the nozzle before oil came spraying out of the vent pipe, and there'd be no head room left in the tank for expansion of the oil.
The whistle and it's tube are "loose" and form a mushroom shaped gravity operated presure relief valve which acts to keep the air/vapor pressure above the oil relatively constant over a wide range of filling flow rates. As the flow rate increases, the whole whistle and it's stem rises to spill the excess pressure around it. And the whistles have a "bug screen" built right on them, because not all vent caps are screened.
The whistling fill signal is a very simple device that almost never fails, and if it does, it "fails safe", as the deliveryman is trained to stop filling if he doesn't hear a whistle from the ventpipe within a second or two of starting to fill the tank.
NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS!
You won't have to dismantle all the vent piping. You can just cut the pipe and rejoin it with a double ended compression coupling after you remove and replace the whistling fill signal. There are even fill signals made with a compression fitting on thier top ends, which you could use if you hacksaw the vent pipe right at the top of the existing signal, providing there's enough spring in the ventpipe to accomodate things.
I'd lean on the original installer to replace that fill signal.
Let us know what happens...
Good Luck,
Jeff -- Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
"If you can keep smiling when things go wrong, you've thought of someone to place the blame on."

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Is there a way you could take a digital picture of this device and post it somewhere (alt.binaries.pictures) or something. I want to see what this thing looks like. I never knew they existed, nor have I ever heard one when my tank was filled (about 15 years ago). I have gas since then. (the older I get, the more gas I get) :)
Thanks
Mark
---------------------------------
On Fri, 09 Jan 2004 15:07:48 -0500, Jeff Wisnia

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snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:

I've noticed that too...Furthermore, as I get older, everthing either dries up or leaks...<G>
Try this, first one I Googled up:
http://www.controlsdepot.com/scully.html
Happy New Year,
Jeff
--
Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

"If you can smile when things are going wrong, you've thought of someone to
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On Wed, 7 Jan 2004 23:20:59 -0500, "Steve"

...snip
Here the whistle is just mounted at the end of a vent pipe. The key word is "mounted" - it isn't part of the pipe. You just take it off and replace it with a new one. Here it's a 10 minute job.
--
Larry
Email to rapp at lmr dot com
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replying to Steve, Rickyd61 wrote: A much easier way, I have found,although depending on how blocked your whistle is, is to switch the hose on your shopvac so that its blowing, not sucking, and alternate blowing air down the vent,and fill pipes alternately. This may free up the obstruction. This has worked for me in the past, and also not worked,again, depending on what's obstructing the whistle. Good luck
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