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Thread: Bell joint

  1. #1

    Default Bell joint

    I had a drain pipe that broke off at a bell joint. I have removed all the lead and the broken pipe section. What a pain... My plan is to run an 18" piece of galvanized pipe out of the bell joint, then transition to plastic. Should I be running plastic right out of the bell joint? What is the best material to use in the bell joint -- the old oakum and lead, plumbers epoxy or the powdered plasti-lead? I would like to use the epoxy instead of melting lead or mixing the powered lead. If I did use the epoxy, should I ram some oakum in first?

    Thanks

  2. #2

    Default Bell joint

    Fernco makes a sleeve, or donut, that is explicitly designed to fit into the bell of cast iron pipe. You can then insert the plastic pipe directly into sleeve. They are a bit of a pain to install, especially the 4" ones, but the fit is nice and tight, IMX. A lot of dishwashing liquid as a lubricant is a big help.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member JASchneider's Avatar
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    Default Iron Bell to PVC Street 45 Problems - Help Anyone?

    Hello. I've seen plenty of threads on this forum about fitting PVC into iron bell hubs using either Fernco or other "donut" gaskets. Well, I went down to the bell (nominal 4") on my 100-year-old wye at basement floor level, intending to insert a 4" PVC (Schedule 40) 45 using one of these gaskets. I got two, one Fernco and one other brand which appears thicker. In either case, I'm having no luck, after sanding down the thickness on the street end of the 45 (to the entire depth of the bell) and lubricating with lots and lots of dish soap, I was not quite able to get the fitting into the wye to the depth of the bell. I had to whack forever at the fitting with a wooden mallet and small sledge, and it finally broke. Luckily the iron bell is intact. This was about 3 hours worth of work.

    Any suggestions as to what to do now? I got some oakum but assume I'd need a fitting with a flared end - not a street fitting - to hold against the packing, and then I'd have to figure out what to seal it with (plumbing supply suggested special water-stop cement or heat-free lead). I haven't seen such a 45 in PVC. If I add a straight flared piece for oakum packing, which I've seen available, and then attach a 45 to that, the offset to my old stack will be misaligned, and I'll have to throw in 2 more 45s as I go up. Or, can anyone give me tips for making one of these donuts work? TIA.

    Josh

  4. #4
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking bell joints

    their are a lot of ways to get the
    job done and not have to kill yourselves
    doing it.....especially with that compression type hub insert


    1. you can cut the bell off if you got room and use a fernco clamp
    if you got the room

    2. with the two inch galvanized pipe going into
    bell situation, its best just to run the pvc right down
    100% into the bell hub.....

    we have poured lead right on the plastic many times...


    3. I have seen this little trick and it works just as good
    and maybe better than the lead and oakum....

    instead of plumbers epoxy, or pouring a joint to the plastic,
    just go out and buy a large tube of clear silicone caulking...
    the nasty smelling stuff about $3.50
    the 100%waterproof kind that they use on boats,

    just plumb up everythign solid so nothing moves....
    then you can either pack a little oakum down into the
    bottom of the joint if you wish first , or just fill that puppy
    totally up with the water proof silicone. As long as everything
    is totally dry when you do the job its good forever.

    It wont leak in my lifetime and its probably good for 100 years.



    the other guy with the 4 inch stack...

    you might need to get some stranded lead and oakum
    and then just go about it the old fashion way...
    Last edited by master plumber mark; 06-23-2005 at 05:16 AM.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member JASchneider's Avatar
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    Default Followup to Bell Joint Question For Master Plumber Mark

    Thanks, Mark.

    A couple of questions.

    1st I'm not sure what you mean about 2" galvanized pipe. I'm talking about all 4".

    More importantly, with whatever solution I use other than the donut gasket, I'm not sure whether I can achieve a good seal with a standard PVC street 45 (which has a smooth, street end). The old iron, of course, was bell and spigot, so the old 45 had a flared end that sat at the bottom of the bell and held the fitting down when packed. Do I need to use some kind of fitting that has a spigot end if I can't work with the donut gasket?

    Thanks again.

    Josh

  6. #6
    Plumbing Contractor srdenny's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JASchneider
    Hello. I've seen plenty of threads on this forum about fitting PVC into iron bell hubs using either Fernco or other "donut" gaskets. Well, I went down to the bell (nominal 4") on my 100-year-old wye at basement floor level, intending to insert a 4" PVC (Schedule 40) 45 using one of these gaskets. I got two, one Fernco and one other brand which appears thicker. In either case, I'm having no luck, after sanding down the thickness on the street end of the 45 (to the entire depth of the bell) and lubricating with lots and lots of dish soap, I was not quite able to get the fitting into the wye to the depth of the bell. I had to whack forever at the fitting with a wooden mallet and small sledge, and it finally broke. Luckily the iron bell is intact. This was about 3 hours worth of work.

    Any suggestions as to what to do now? I got some oakum but assume I'd need a fitting with a flared end - not a street fitting - to hold against the packing, and then I'd have to figure out what to seal it with (plumbing supply suggested special water-stop cement or heat-free lead). I haven't seen such a 45 in PVC. If I add a straight flared piece for oakum packing, which I've seen available, and then attach a 45 to that, the offset to my old stack will be misaligned, and I'll have to throw in 2 more 45s as I go up. Or, can anyone give me tips for making one of these donuts work? TIA.

    Josh
    Grease the inside of the rubber donut (Crisco was the grease of choise when I was a kid), then take a piece of 4" pvc (about 12" long) and pound it in with a rubber sledge hammer (in the old days they used a lead hammer formed by setting a piece of 3/4" gal in a coffee can and filling the can with moulten lead, letting it cool and removing the can). Then cut the pvc to about 2" past the CI bell and use a hub by hub 45.

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member JASchneider's Avatar
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    Default Crisco Tip

    Thanks, srdenny.

    I'll look into this, since I have the straight 4" already around. The only problem with this solution, again, is that I have to meet up with my old stack near my second floor (2 floors up). I guess a 2" offset, approximately, won't necessarily make that much difference over 15 to 20 of vertical, and the no-hub connector I'll use to connect to the iron stack stub at the top might take care of the slight offset.

    Josh

  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member JASchneider's Avatar
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    Default No Luck

    Well, just a couple of minutes into trying your tip, srdenny, and I can tell it's working no better. I think my 105-yr-old wye bell must just be too much off today's 4" standards. I can't even start the PVC into the gasket when the it's fully seated inside the bell, and if I seat it part way each on the pipe and inside the bell, the pipe just slips around. Yesterday, after having reduced the thickness of a street 45 by almost 1/2, I managed to get the thing partially seated, but then I couldn't whack the gasket in with a wedge. Nothing would budge. I think the whole idea of doing this with the gasket is a wash. I'll have to use oakum and some kind of packing. I'm not sure whether silicon is code, so I'll have to see what my local alternatives are (maybe lead wool or plastic lead).

    Josh

  9. #9
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking oakum always works well

    useing the oakum is probably the best way to
    pack the fitting well into place .....

    just use come caulking or cold chisels to tamp it down tight

    then you canfeel indise the pipe to be sure it isnt

    pushing out into the inside flow of the fitting....


    what you do from there is your choice.....

    string lead, (if you can find it)

    epoxy bond....lots of it

    black silicone -one large tube...


    whatver you feel most comfortable with.

  10. #10
    DIY Junior Member JASchneider's Avatar
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    Default Thanks, Master Plumber Mark

    Well, I've got the joint setting now with an iron 45, packed with layers of oakum and plastic lead. I'm not too sure about the plastic lead, but I'll let it set and see how it feels. If it still seems iffy, I might remove some of the packing and repack with one of your recommended options. I figure I could use a top layer of something else. My local plumbing supply nixed silicon, but I'm sure it'd be okay as a top layer sealant, as long as the joint is well packed with oakum and something more substantial. I have one spool of pure lead solder, and I might be able to wrap that around the joint many times and hammer it in. A lead rope, like you suggest, sounds better. Actually, I hope what I've done seems good enough in eight hours.

    Even though the iron 45 changed the offset, I managed to meet up with my existing stack on the second floor, where I inserted a no-hub coupling.

    Thanks for your help.

    Josh

  11. #11
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking silicone

    remember its going downhill and its pretty doubtful
    you are ever going to have anything trying to climb
    back up once its past that point unless you have a stopped
    up sewer.....

    also they use silicone on large boats to waterproof joints
    and seal up gaps that could literally come close to
    sinking the boat in a storm.....

    so I think it will work just fine to water proof
    for this one little 45

  12. #12
    Plumbing Contractor srdenny's Avatar
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    Default

    Have a plumber who knows how to pack and pour a joint and has a relatively new running rope come out and give you a starter stub. It will be quicker and safer then trying to do it yourself.

  13. #13
    DIY Junior Member JASchneider's Avatar
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    Default Quicker and Safer

    I'm going to go with Master Plumber Mark over srdenny at this point. Of course, I already have everything back together, including the stack. I'll be checking for leaks very shortly. But after spending two days trying to fit a PVC 45 into that old bell, quick was alreadly a lost option. Also, given that the majority of the main is 105-yr-old iron, I'm not even testing for air-tightness. So safety isn't really a concern (and I already used a MAPP torch for 30 minutes to free up that bell).

    Just to recap, for anyone else reading this thread, here are possible ways of transitioning from DWV PVC to an old iron bell:

    Use a Fernco or Tyseal "donut" type O-gasket lubed liberally with liquid soap (or maybe shortening - I'm not sure about this). Use a sander or file to taper the end of the PVC fitting or pipe.

    If, as for me, this doesn't work for you because the fitting's just too tight, you're best to use either a PVC Soil to DWV adapter (with a flare on one end and a PVC bell on the other) or an iron fitting or piece of pipe to create a new stub. If you use iron, the new stub will connect to PVC with a rubber no-hub coupling. If you use the PVC adapter, obviously your next connection would be cemented.

    One other option offered to me, which also didn't work, was to use a 5"-to-4" rubber Mission (no-hub) coupling, with one end on the bell and one end on my street 45. This would probably work on a straght tee or a lone iron bell, but a bell on the arm (angled inlet) of an old iron wye is too close to the bell of the straight inlet, making it impossible to get the street end of the PVC 45 down to the bottom of the bell and keeping the 5" side of the Mission coupling from sitting fully over the bell.

    If you're using a PVC Soil to DWV adapter, theoretically you can pack this with layers of oakum and plastic lead, epoxy putty, or a final layer of marine-grade silicone. Using all silicone, as some have suggested elsewhere, would result in a loose joint.

    If you're using an iron fitting or pipe stub, you can pack it as above or get a plumber to do it with molten lead. I suppose if you're really enterprising, as I was almost tempted to be, you could buy lead ingots, a pot, etc, and melt your own. I'm not advocating this, however. As Mark and srdenny have pointed out, there are also lead alternatives in the form of a rope/string or a wool, which would get packed down with the oakum.

    Finally, a few people told me I could directly pack a PVC fitting into the bell with one of the methods above. I was wary of this advice. When the supply guy finally told me to use iron in the bell for the best joint (leaded or otherwise), I felt like this was the best advice. The problem using anything other than a purpose-made rubber gasket for transitioning from an iron bell to PVC is that packing materials weren't really designed for plastic. Or at least that's my interpretation. I read somewhere that molten lead could even be used on a transition to PVC, but that sounds scary to me.

    I hope this helps someone else and keeps them from spending two solid days repairing their main or stack.

  14. #14
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking in hindsight

    It sounds like you have found a happpy medium
    and I doubt it will ever give you any problems what-so ever
    especially if you filed that joint up with silicone.

    now honestly --in hindsight, after beating your braines out for
    two days, do you think it might have been better
    to have just paid a plumber to pour a joint for you??

  15. #15
    DIY Junior Member JASchneider's Avatar
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    Default What's it worth?

    Can't say whether I would've been better off hiring a plumber. I bought an old house with the intention of doing all kinds of work myself, as a way of learning. Really pretty stupid, but I have learned a lot. Thing is, I thought the job was going to be easier than it was, and if I had been able to use a gasket to go straight to PVC, I wouldn't even have been writing this. It was only at the end of my travails that I got the suggestion to go to iron first. Ah, well.

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