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  • Steamer Cap Stuck! Help!

    This is the second of these pesky boogers I have run into in the last couple of years; The steamer cap that will not budge! Last night at a working structure, I bent a hydrant wrench on the steamer cap. I have used a cheater bar on a 24' adjustable hydrant wrench in the past to break a cap loose. THIS TIME, the bends. We have a truckie pry bar with the hydrant hex cut into the side of the bar. Super strong bar, but if the hydrant has any paint on the plug nut then the dang thing wont fit on it. Anyone run in to this? I'm leaning towards putting a 48'' pipe wrench on the engine for a possible solution.
    A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments

  • #2
    We only recently started using LDH. Consequently, we have some steamer caps in our district that have NEVER been removed in the 50+ years that the hydrants have been there. So Job +1 when we got the LDH was to visit every hydrant and break loose the steamer caps. Most of them were a real PITA

    I was going to suggest the 24" pipe wrench with the cheater pipe, but I see you already tried that. On most of our really stuck ones, this alone did not work. What you'll need to do is have one guy put all his weight on the cheater pipe (like literally stand on it) and simultaneously have someone else beat on the cap with a maul. Bang on it from the front, the sides, all around the circumference of the cap, while pressure is being applied with the pipe wrench. Might take a couple of minutes of hammering but eventually it will come off....we have not failed to get one off yet using this method.

    Obviously this is something you will want to go out and do BEFORE you have a fire, as part of your regular hydrant inspections.

    Then put some Never-Seize or something similar on the threads so you don't have this problem again!
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    • #3
      Try a large ball peen hammer all around the cap to help break free the rust and tight fit. It is like a pickle jar cap that has set up. A little help is needed. Use the hydrant wrench with a longer pipe 48" as someone hammers at the cap.

      Once you do get it and all other caps off, use some 30 weight oil and graphite on the threads. Also oil the operating nut!
      Stay Safe and Well Out There....

      Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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      • #4
        At a fire I would resort to a K Saw. We had some new ones that were stuck. Broke a 3 foot ratcheting wrench. Called the water company to be told to hit the cap on the notches. We hit that thing everywhere we could think of. They showed up and muttered that we didn't know what we were doing. We drove around the block to find them using a K Saw to remove it anyhow. Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do.
        Jason Brooks
        IAFF Local 2388
        IACOJ

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        • #5
          try two ball peen hammers, one in each hand. hit the cap with the hammers at the same time, one on each side.

          or, just try one of the other caps and use an adapter to get the hose on. you would have a bit less flow due to the diameter restriction, but its better than nothing and certainly better than a busted hydrant.

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          • #6
            I've heard of breaking the cap off with a sledge, although I'm not sure how to break the cap off without damaging the threads. Maybe if you hit the cap on the nut it would cause the cap to crack enough to remove it from the threads.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Golzy12 View Post
              I've heard of breaking the cap off with a sledge, although I'm not sure how to break the cap off without damaging the threads. Maybe if you hit the cap on the nut it would cause the cap to crack enough to remove it from the threads.
              We've them found stuck during hydrant testing, just use the sledge to hit around the sides of the cap. So far all have came right off and haven't damage threads ... Just watch using the sledge on older hydrant as we still come across some with leaded in nozzles.

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              • #8
                done the above with a cheater pipe on a hydrant wrench while tapping all around the cap with a small sledge, finally the cap cracked in half, was a on a private high pressure system that never got maintained....

                if you (the fire department) are responsible for the hydrants, i would definitely suggest trying them all and once opened putting a good coat of anti-seize on the threads
                "If you can't be a good example, the you'll just have to be a terrible warning."

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by TAFD00367 View Post
                  We've them found stuck during hydrant testing, just use the sledge to hit around the sides of the cap. So far all have came right off and haven't damage threads ... Just watch using the sledge on older hydrant as we still come across some with leaded in nozzles.
                  When you hit the sides of the cap do you hit to break them off, or just hit them to loosen the cap?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Golzy12 View Post
                    When you hit the sides of the cap do you hit to break them off, or just hit them to loosen the cap?

                    In our case anyway, just hammer on the cap while applying pressure with a very long pipe wrench or a normal pipe wrench with a 3-4 ft. cheater pipe. It will eventually come loose. We have not had one yet that could not be removed with this method (although there were quite a few where we had our doubts )
                    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
                    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
                    Paincourtville, LA

                    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
                    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Cheater Bar & strike the cap w/maul or flat headed axe like the others have recommended. Does not hurt to also double check to make sure the hydrant is "off" (yes off). A couple of times I have found that the hydrant was "on" and it caused a lot of pressure within the hydrant and made it difficult to remove the cap. Very rare occurence, but it has happened.

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                      • #12
                        We used this to free a cap on a 2.5" outlet the other day that had become stuck. Don't see why it couldn't work with LDH connections also. We took our air chisel, put the dullest blade on it possible, and then used it to make the initial break. Depending on your hydrant wrench, you might need to fabricate something to act as a cheater bar and give you a place to strike with the air chisel. Not ideal, but the cap's already stuck so you can't really make it any worse.

                        Since you all just started using the steamer port, I'd go around to as many as you can before winter and perform maintenance on them. At the minimum, at least break the seal and lube the threads. Labor intensive, but should be done.

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                        • #13
                          Thank you for the responses.

                          Scouting hydrants is a bit dicey here because the city controls the water system. The water department is exceptional at opening, testing, and lubricating 2 1/2 ears on the hydrant system. FFs from the city fire department haven't reported this problem with steamer caps.
                          However, on the outskirts where we operate, well, it has happened a couple of times on fires and a couple of times during training. Unless it is emergency ops the water department tries to nail our tails to the floor for opening a hydrant. They just don't communicate as well with us as they do the city department. (opps, did I say that?)

                          If I can organize it, we will go on a stuck hydrant cap hunt and bust some caps loose. I just can't flow the steamer to test it. I have to take care and not destroy the caps (again, hell to pay unless it is under emergency ops).
                          A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments

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                          • #14
                            Even if you cannot schedule guys to go out and check them, check the nearest 1 or 2 hydrants to the incident on every response. If you are mostly a hydranted area I would hope that at least one engine stands by at a hydrant for a reported structure fire or automatic alarm.

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                            • #15
                              We have a small percent of hydranted areas. We do a lot of drafting and a little (other than tanker fill) hydrant work. I have a tough time teaching pond mokeys to use a hydrant because thier first instinct is to drop a pond.
                              A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments

                              Comment

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