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Thread: Drain line on hydraulic sprinker system

  1. #1

    Default Drain line on hydraulic sprinker system

    I have an old hydraulic toro Custom sprinkler controller. The drain lines seems to be
    getting water from the control supply line. Is it possible this leak is due to some seal
    breaking that can be fixed by disassembling the controller ? Or is this a big headache
    that isn't worth the time.

    I found the drain leaking while trying to find where the control (supply) line goes. The supply
    line doesn't have enough pressure to keep the valves closed (off) so I'm trying to find
    where the line comes from and plumb a new line to clean that one out...
    (Unfortunately, the lines don't seem to terminate in an easy to locate box in the yard.
    [I haven't found it with all the poking around I have done.])

    Thanks.

    Adam

  2. #2
    DIY Senior Member SteveW's Avatar
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    I installed a couple of these controllers in the late 70s and at that time, the company owner I worked for would rig up a valve manifold out of galvanized pipe and hydraulic valves, and then we'd bury the whole thing without putting in a valve box - guess the thinking at the time was that these things should be so reliable as to not need service...

    As I recall, each valve has a 1/4" control line coming off it, each of which plugs into the controller. The valves are off as long as the controller does not allow water to flow out of each control line. The controller has a separate 1/4" drain line which will have constant water flow as long as a valve is open.

    I do recall that Toro also used to make a totally hydraulic controller, intended for use in highway medians, etc. where no electricity was available. It would have a constant flow of water from the drain line to run a hydraulic timer.

    Don't know if any of this helps or not but that's my limited knowledge of these valves/controllers.

  3. #3

    Default

    That sounds like the system I have, except the valves are normally open. Adding water
    in the control lines closes the valves. So the controller received water separate from
    the hydraulic valve manifold in your installations. It looks like all the control tubes go to
    the same place. What fun - dig up your yard until you find something...

    Thanks for the info.

    Adam

  4. #4
    DIY Senior Member SteveW's Avatar
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    The good news may be that if you can trace the hydraulic lines (look for where they exit your foundation, for example) you may be able to find the valves. Obviously will have to dig sort of carefully to avoid cutting the control lines.

    I think the valves I used to install were also normally open. The water for controlling them came from their own water supply (the valve manifold), not the controller - so the 1/4" control lines from the valves to the controller are under pressure, with the water originating at the valves, and flowing to the controller. To open a valve, the controller lets water flow from the valve, through the control line, to the controller, then out the drain line.

  5. #5
    Sprinkler Guy Wet_Boots's Avatar
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    The Custom controller would be a Normally Open type, with a separate supply line, usually with a separate shutoff valve. A break in one of the hydraulic tubes can relieve enough pressure to allow the normally-open valves to open. You get the fun job of finding the leak. Happy digging!

    It was actually possible to configure a hydraulic sprinkler system in a way to allow the winterizing procedure to also remove all the water from the controller and hydraulic lines. It was rarely done, however.

  6. #6

    Default Same Old Toro - Different Problem

    I have the same old Toro Controller. I want to rip it out and put in a new system. Where does the water that runs the controller come from? Does it come from one of the in line valves, or is there a separate connection for the 1/4 control line that hooks into the water supply? There is no manifold, just a line out from the supply. All the valves are in-line.

    I have located the shut off valve and the back flow preventer for the sprinkler system. There is a PVC line running out of the box, but there are no 1/4 lines in the box.

    If I cut all the 1/4 lines and take the box out, will I still have water running through the control tubes? How do I stop the water flow?

  7. #7
    DIY Senior Member SteveW's Avatar
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    Yes, if you cut the 1/4 " lines, water will leak out of them. The water for those control lines does come from the inline valves.

  8. #8

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    If you are taking out the controller could I pick it up from you ?
    I was able to get mine working, though the aged components makes it leak a bit
    much water out the drain line...

    Somewhere in the yard there are a set of valves and the water supply to send water
    to the controller. You'll have to find that to get rid of the tubing - or you can cap
    the tube and bury it. But you may want to find the valves anyways.

    Where in Dallas are you ? I'm NE in Lucas (near Allen)

    Adam

  9. #9

    Default hydraulic converter

    Hello,
    I had the same problem as you guys....I didn't know where my valves were, and I had to dig up the yard following the control tubes to find them. After 20 ft. of digging I said to hell with it.

    I ended up getting great service from the toro website for customer support.

    My whole system worked fine except the controller/timer was broken. They ended up selling me a kit to convert it to an electric system while still using the contol tubes.

    Email me at coug33@yahoo.com if you want the information.

  10. #10

    Default

    I have one of those old Custom's too (actually my second). I'm a little confused about the sequence of things. I have 8 zones. I have ony 9 tubes leaving the controller (and a 10th which is capped). All was well for several years. Then zone 7 stuck open a little tiny bit (dribble from heads). I replaced the valve and all was well for a year. Then last week, zone 7 stuck full bore open. I noticed a puddle outside the garage where the 9 tubes leave the garage. One tube seems sheared off. But while I have the end of the tube which ultimately attaches to the controller, I didn't find another end (in the dirt), so I surmized that maybe it is the discharge tube I've seen referenced. I capped it. Capping it keeps anything from turning on. So.... is that in fact the discharge? Is the discharge where pressure goes when the controller enables a zone by relieving pressure on the control tube? With only 9 attached tubes, would I assume that there is no "source" line - just the 8 zone valves picking up their water from the main feed at each valve and routing it through the control tube? This would seem to imply that in myh situation, the controller has completely failed in terms of sealing off zone 7's control tube from the discharge tube. Am I thinking right? Thanks for any insight! Thomas.

  11. #11
    Sprinkler Guy Wet_Boots's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acemueller View Post
    I have one of those old Custom's too (actually my second). I'm a little confused about the sequence of things. I have 8 zones. I have ony 9 tubes leaving the controller (and a 10th which is capped). All was well for several years. Then zone 7 stuck open a little tiny bit (dribble from heads). I replaced the valve and all was well for a year. Then last week, zone 7 stuck full bore open. I noticed a puddle outside the garage where the 9 tubes leave the garage. One tube seems sheared off. But while I have the end of the tube which ultimately attaches to the controller, I didn't find another end (in the dirt), so I surmized that maybe it is the discharge tube I've seen referenced. I capped it. Capping it keeps anything from turning on. So.... is that in fact the discharge? Is the discharge where pressure goes when the controller enables a zone by relieving pressure on the control tube? With only 9 attached tubes, would I assume that there is no "source" line - just the 8 zone valves picking up their water from the main feed at each valve and routing it through the control tube? This would seem to imply that in myh situation, the controller has completely failed in terms of sealing off zone 7's control tube from the discharge tube. Am I thinking right? Thanks for any insight! Thomas.
    There are two flavors of hydraulic valves from Toro, but both of them require the control tubing to be unbroken. One critter or tree root can kill a control line.

  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member Daniels's Avatar
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    Default Drain line on hydraulic sprinker system

    There is only one reason that a drain line on a Toro controller leaks when the system is not running. That is that the pilot valve is leaking. The best bet is to contact Toro support in Riverside CA or me for options. There are a few parts available and some rebuilt units and good used controllers. There is the option of a converter unit. Toro makes one and Bill in Phoenix manufactures another. I have found that individual actuators are a pain but they also come manifolded usually in fours, eights, etc. I have been working on hydraulics in Spokane for more than forty years and helping people who want to hang onto their hydraulics as long as possible. I have answers for all your hydraulic problems and techniques to make your job easier. I hope this helps.

  13. #13
    DIY Junior Member The Dickster's Avatar
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    I need to know what causes my drain line on my Toro Custom Eleven to leak 5 gallons of water per 1.5 hours when the system is off, not sprinkling. This has not happened in the 30 years I have owned this system. Thanx for any help to isolate this issue. The Dickster from Minnesota.

  14. #14
    DIY Junior Member SprinklerGuy's Avatar
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    Default Hydraulic Sprinkler Systems still in use

    Hydraulic systems were available in three configurations, Normally Open, Normally Closed and Pin Type. Although most of the Hydraulic manufacturers have discontinued the product line, Toro still participates in this area. I have been troubleshooting and repairing these systems for 29 years so I look forward participating in future discussions. Many after-market components are available to maintain the automatic operation of the Hydraulic system without having to install a new system. Most new controllers can be installed with the addition of an Hydraulic module/manifold or converter.

  15. #15
    DIY Junior Member simran's Avatar
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    That sounds like effective system. I heard lot about this system but never got any chance of using it. I want to know that what is the difference between all three configurations (Normally Open, Normally Closed and Pin Type) available in it. irrigation design

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