Rad valve gland packing?

Hi all,
We are servicing Mums old CH system. It was a coal fired single pipe / gravity jobby but was modified a few years back (30?) to be a fully pumped system. with a wall mounted low capacity b/f boiler.
Today I tapped a 15mm draincock into one of the 1-1/4" brass elbows [1] and whilst the system was drained down and because most of the rad-valves were either showing signs of leaking or nearly impossible to turn (impossible for Mum to turn) we went round them today, removing, stripping, cleaning and re-fitting.
The only thing I'm not quite sure about is what to re-pack the glands with?
The seem to be filled with a string of some sort and most came out intact.
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/5772409/Radiator%20gate%20valve.png
Some of them are gate-valve design (as linked above and tend to be fitted at the tops of the rads) and the others are more like a stopcock but with a free rotating metal 'cone' instead of a rubber washer etc.
So, what to do about the gland packing. I've tried running the old stuff though some Boss White and it softens up a bit and I can carefully feed it back in (but can't get it all back in) and once the gland nut is nipped up it all feels much smoother and like it wouldn't leak, but is there a 'proper' solution please (and no, Mum doesn't want to replace the lot). ;-)
I used 'Plumbers Grease' on the actual screw threads (that's what they gave me in the merchants).
Cheers, T i m
[1] Whoever upgraded the boiler removed the ability to drain the system lower than the boiler return. ;-(
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On 27/09/2012 23:56, T i m wrote:

Ah, see the Leaking Radiator Valve thread of 19/9/12
In summary, you can repack with string, hemp, or PTFE (tape or string)
Here is one way:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqOF48XvkgA&feature=plcp

I do a variation of that and simply wind 15 turns or so around the spindle with the tape roll held in such a way as the tape ends up bunched rather than laying flat. Then snap it off, and force it down into the gap with the gland nut. Nip it up a little bit so the tap still turns freely, and that should do it. (you may need to experiment with the right amount of tape for your glands - it will also vary depending on if you rake out the old packing or just leave it and add some more on top).
--
Cheers,

John.

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On Fri, 28 Sep 2012 00:59:21 +0100, John Rumm

Ah, sorry about that. I do normally have a quick look but I assumed people wouldn't do this sort of thing any more. I forgot this was uk.d-i-y. ;-)

Yup, I got that <g> (and have stripped and re-done 4 of 7 valves so far) but as the local (old skool) plumbers merchant couldn't supply a 'new' replacement packing materiel (and he suggested I re-used the old as it was in good nick considering), that's what I started to do. However, preferring to do things 'right' if possible, I thought I'd ask here.

Hmmm, I'm not sure I'd want him fixing my stuff. Ok if there was an actual leak I guess or until you drained the system fully.

Understood.
After reading all the replies here I did a more specific Google and found quite a few people liking the 'Loctite 55'. This seems to be a PTFE 'cord' that is probably not far off what some PTFE tape might end up as once pushed inside the gland by the nut.
General thoughts though .....
These taps valves have been in use, potentially un-serviced for over 60 years and were obviously of good quality when they were made. Even to the point where the gland packing collar is separate from the tightening nut and you can adjust the nut over the top of the ferrule that covers most of the hardware when in place (and you don't even have to take the Bakelite knob off to do it). ;-)
Whatever was used for the packing hasn't marked any of the spindles *at all* in 60 years.
Whatever was once the 'lube' in the 'string' (?) has just dried out and therefore the 'string' hardened and therefore making the spindle prone to leaking, or, if when tightened to prevent the leaking, made the spindle much harder to turn due to there being no 'give' in the packing.
So, ideally and especially if it didn't cost a lot (in time getting the right stuff or money) to replace what was there with some of the same, that would be ideal.
Now, in the real world Mum is 82 and we have loads of more important things to do (for here and ourselves), so as long as she can turn these things on and of (she's not 'frail as such' atm) and they don't leak then I'm guessing that will 'do' (even though it goes against my grain to some degree). (Possibly) 'Spoiling the ship for a hapenth of tar' as my Dad used to say. Doing it right won't take any longer than doing it nearly right, once you have the right materials. ;-)
So, in case I can easily find some suitable 'string', any idea what lubricant I should use on it? ie, Is Boss White going to stay flexible long enough? Silicone grease ... Plumbers Grease (or as I believe I saw mentioned somewhere, a waterproof grease (I have some suitable white grease for marine propeller shaft bearings that I got when I savaged an irreparable washing machine (sealed plastic tub) 5 years ago). ;-)
It's one of these things where it seems to be good gear in a great condition and part of the reason for that condition is that it was designed to be right (and last) in the first place.
So, what about a decent quality parcel string? I'm pretty sure the sort of 'hot' that a radiator gets isn't hot enough to bother any type of old skool / cotton(?) string?
Cheers and thanks again for all the replies and heads up guys. I could end up using any of them. ;-)
Cheers, T i m
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On 28/09/2012 11:17, T i m wrote:

That particular vid was a tad kack handed, however he does do some interesting things - with a rather "warts and all" production method.

There should be no need to drain for work on a top gland if the tap itself still shuts off ok. They normally only leak when the tap is "on".

Yup, cord is probably easier for this task, but ordinary tape works as well... (I normally go for tape since I have copious reels of it and no cord - which makes the decision making process easy ;-)

[snip]
and if it lasts another 60 years that will save doing it again in a hurry ;-0

Boss white tends to hardern IME... So a grease would be better. Not sure it matters much what sort in this application since there are no rubbers or plastics to degrade, and you won't be drinking from it.

A string twisted out of some traditional hemp would probably work well.

or all at once, that should do it!
--
Cheers,

John.

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Complete bollocks from begining to end.
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harry wrote Complete bollocks from begining to end.
But then harry generally does.
--
Ineptocracy

(in-ep-toc’-ra-cy) – a system of government where the least capable to
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On Fri, 28 Sep 2012 16:19:12 +0100, John Rumm

I understand there are some (many?) taps that effectively isolate the gland when the tape is in the fully 'open' position but I'm not sure if these are they.

<snip>
Quite (and sorta my ethic on stuff in general, even if I'm never going to appreciate my efforts). ;-)

That was my background thought (but I wasn't sure how long it would take to harden).

True.
Ah. ;-)

Any idea what 'Jute' string is?

Well, funny you should say that. I'm now trying different solutions on different taps and keeping a record of what I did where. ;-)
Cheers, T i m
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On 28/09/2012 23:17, T i m wrote:

Possibly not - yours look like more of a gate valve design than a more traditional tap arrangement. Only way to be sure is to try and see. (gate valves have a bit of a habit of allowing seepage at the best of times, although for this application that does not really matter unless you want to remove a rad for decorating).

a n other natural fibre - similar to hemp and flax etc.

Report back in a decade, which worked best!
--
Cheers,

John.

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On Sat, 29 Sep 2012 04:10:57 +0100, John Rumm

Like I said elsewhere, 50% of them are gate valve design (these are fitted at the top of a rad) and the others are a 'cone' pressing into a seat, more like a conventional tap / rubber (but without the full 'seal' as such). These are only fitted to the bottoms of the rads.

Ah, again not that straightforward as there is only one valve per rad. [1]

<snip>
Ah ok, and no better / worse properties for this role than help then?

I will do. ;-)
Cheers, T i m
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On 29/09/2012 10:09, T i m wrote:

Sorry must have missed that bit - I was assuming one of each per rad.

A rad valve (in the lockshield role) is a pretty undemanding application. It rarely gets "used", and just has to contend with some thermal cycling between predictable limits. Spose you could swap em for TRVs, but then you would be stuck with plumber style rad balancing (i.e. let the TRV sort it out!)
--
Cheers,

John.

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On Sat, 29 Sep 2012 15:20:17 +0100, John Rumm

As would be the norm these days.

I'm not sure you could, I think these might be bigger than today's offerings?
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/5772409/Top%20valve.png
Cheers, T i m
p.s. We fired the system up tonight and so far all is water tight. ;-)
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On 29/09/2012 21:30, T i m wrote:

The tap stem is taller - not sure that would make a difference. Or do you mean the pipe to rad spacing would be too large?

Nice when it all works first time ;-)
--
Cheers,

John.

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On Sat, 29 Sep 2012 22:08:31 +0100, John Rumm

I'm thinking the whole valve assembly is much bigger than today's systems? For a start it's sitting on 3/4" rather than 15mm pipe?

Well, that is always my plan. I'm in the process of making good all the issues created by someone who was probably 'doing his best' but where nearly *everything* he did carries with it the consequences of someone who isn't interested or practically skilled in anything (as it turns out).
Maybe I have learned the hard way .. 'Too much haste, not enough speed' ... ;-(
I have also learned that some people can't picture things (not here), even when it is spelled out and agreed.
Me: (from previous experience) "Ok, so you are happy to do X <that way> and so I'll leave you to it.
<next day, looking at some completely different and ruined solution>
"So, do you remember that chat we had yesterday about what we agreed would be the best way to proceed ... why do you appear to have done something completely different?"
<sigh>
Cheers, T i m
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On 30/09/2012 17:00, T i m wrote:

You can get 22mm TRVs although they are far harder to find.
Myson certainly used to do one:
http://www.myson.co.uk/products/trv_2_way.asp
However, given the amount of space you have, you could probably include a reduction fitting in there without any difficulty.
--
Cheers,

John.

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(snip)
Gland packing (string) 99p per metre on Ebay.
Derekg
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On Fri, 28 Sep 2012 01:07:17 +0100, DerekG

Thanks for that Derek but I can't seem to find anything that looks small enough. I'm guessing what is in there now (when you find a good bit) is between 2 and 3mm diameter?
Cheers, T i m
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Thin garden twine (hemp, and usually green) works well. Best to dig out some of the old grot first, and also lubricate with silicone grease (or other thickish grease).
--
Ian

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On Fri, 28 Sep 2012 19:57:36 +0100, Ian Jackson
Mum had a tin of 'Garden twine' but it was brown and looked the same as a roll of stuff I bought earlier from Homebase as 'Jute' heavy duty parcel string?

Yeah, I'm stripping the whole valve down to clean a lube in any case.

I've tried 'Plumbers grease' and a heavy white waterproof grease so far.
Some Googling suggested 'wool' and 'petroleum jelly' as well. ;-)
Cheers, T i m
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A pretty patterned green tin? My wife bought me one for a Christmas present! It's fine for tying up plants etc, but it's hardly heavy duty parcel string. I think it only has three strands.
It's actually a bit too thick for radiator valves, so simply separate the strands, and use one of them. [You can do two more valves with the other two strands!]

Good man.

What about KY Jelly? Probably not, as I think it's water-soluble.
--
Ian

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On Sat, 29 Sep 2012 08:44:14 +0100, Ian Jackson

Yeah, could be! ;-)

Hehe.
You are probably right. The roll I bought from Homebase was the strongest of three options. The first two was white and the last this brown Jute stuff. However, I was looking more for the tightness of construction rather than its parcel tying strength as such. ;-)

Ah, maybe these rad valves are bigger (as it's all mostly a 1-1/2" ex gravity system) so even the largest stuff goes in easily. And it's things like that that get me wondering when folk suggest stuff that *might* be more appropriate for the sorts of sizes you encounter today. These fittings are pretty big. When I do the next one I'll take the picture next to a rule. ;-)

I generally can't do it any other way I'm afraid Ian. ;-(
The valve on the towel rail is of the gate valve type and they seem to have a bigger / external type flange and even with my 18" adjustable, are nearly impossible to move (I've done one so far). You might be able to see it here.
Imagine where the chrome cover screws over the top, that lip you see at the joint between the cover and the body is the diameter of the flange. (the pip going to the rad is 3/2" and the pipe going up the wall is 1-1/4").
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/5772409/Towell%20rail%20valve.png
The bottom valves (on the cast iron rads) are internal to the tap body (and they share the thread with the chrome nut cover etc). I've taken the hot air gun round Mums and will try a bit of heat in the hope that might get it moving a bit. The one on the towel rail is exceptionally 'graunchy' and probably could do with both threads lubing (the gate itself screws into the spindle on a square cut thread, as the spindle screws into the body on a square cut thread. Some of these have come out with the signs of some lube but this one feels very dry).
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/5772409/Towell%20rail%201.png

Shame as I have a tub of that in the be.... no, as you were ... ;-)
Cheers, T i m
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