[balloon-makers] homemade burners?

Donald L Piccard balloon at juno.com
Sun Apr 1 13:33:06 CDT 2001

On Sun, 01 Apr 2001 09:14:37 -0000 "Matt McKee" <flyboy_matt at hotmail.com>
> Just a thought along the lines of Valves, what about using a large 
> ball 
> valve? it would remove many of the seal problems, as long as you 
> used one 
> especially for high pressure/cold applications.
> just my 2 cents worth
In the early seventies Rego had a problem with O rings and their old
standby came into bad repute.  Don Piccard Balloons, Inc.  (Willie and  I
were not in the company) chose a high class helium valve from Nupro that
used balanced bellows to make it very reliable and absolutely leak proof.

The trouble with that was that the "Sales Engineer" from Nupro told the
Piccard engineering staff that while it was designed for up to 110
pounds, there would be a safety factor.  There wasn't.  The Nupro real
engineers had designed it to relieve itself at 110 pounds.  So on a hot
day, when the tanks got hot in the sun, the burner automatically opened
the blast valve.  Also, the flow rate was a little low, so one often had
to operate both burners.

So then they got Codecal in New Jersey to custom design the perfect valve
for the job.  It would have been perfect except that to be perfect the
quality control would have had to be absolute and instead of costing
about $400 each, they would have to have been over a thousand each.  The
ones that were right worked forever with no failure, but about ten per
cent failed in a few weeks of use.

About that time, the owners of the corporation made me an offer that I
couldn't refuse and I inherited the problem.  Even though the Rego 
valves were perfectly good by then, I wanted a better solution and
inquired of a research engineer friend of mine at Dupont's Pioneer Lab. 
He played it safe and routed an inquiry through two distinctly separate
areas of Dupont.  (Dupont is in the business of making a lot of various
petroleum and chemical processing plants.)

Both inquiries resulted in the same recommendation:  the Smith 3/8 inch
ball valve with Nylon seats and seals.    

We converted our Type Design to that and have had no problems since.  It
would appear to me that the Smith 3/8 ball valve is the way to go.

(I put a gallon of water in an eight gallon tank, filled it the rest of
the way with propane and ran the burner, shaking the tank to mix it up
mechanically with no alcohol.  At very low flow, the water would freeze
out at the ball valve and block it, but a quick couple of on and off
cycles and it would break free and continue the burn with no trouble. 
There was a lot of hot rain in the basket.)

Try them.  You'll like them.

Don Piccard, Balloon at Juno.Com,
1445 East River Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55414-3625
http://balloon.freeyellow.com/Homepage.html  www.thepiccardsociety.com
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