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Title: Elements of Plumbing

Author: Samuel Dibble

Release Date: May 1, 2008 [EBook #25269]

Language: English

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First Edition
6 & 8 BOUVERIE ST., E. C.
Copyright, 1918, by the
McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.


In preparing this manuscript the author has had in mind the needs of young men having no technical instruction who are anxious to become proficient in the art of Plumbing. As a consequence each exercise is minutely described and illustrated; so much so, perhaps, that an experienced mechanic may find it too simple for skilled hands and a mature mind. But the beginner will not find the exercises too elaborately described and will profit by careful study. Years of experience and observation have shown the author that the methods herein described are entirely practical and are in common use today.

The various exercises in lead work will acquaint the beginner with the correct use of tools and metals. The exercises in iron pipe work have also been detailed to show the correct installation of jobs.

Together with the study of this book the subjects of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Drawing and English should be taken. These subjects as they bear on Plumbing are invaluable to the mechanic in his future connection with the trade.

The author is indebted for the illustrations of fixtures in the chapter covering the development of plumbing fixtures, to the Thomas Maddock's Sons Co., Standard Sanitary Mfg. Co., and The Trenton Potteries Co.

Samuel Edward Dibble.
Pittsburgh, December, 1917.



Preface  v
I. Plumbing Fixtures and Trade 1
II. The Use and Care of the Soldering Iron—Fluxes—Making Different Soldering Joints 11
III. Mixtures of Solders for Soldering Iron and Wiping—Care of Solders—Melting Points of Metals and Alloys 21
IV. Making and Caring of Wiping Cloths 24
V. Preparing and Wiping Joints 27
VI. Preparing and Wiping Joints (Continued) 37
VII. Laying Terra-cotta and Making Connections to Public Sewers—Water Connections to Mains in Streets 69
VIII. Installing of French or Sub-soil Drains 82
IX. Storm and Sanitary Drainage with Sewage Disposal in View 86
X. Soil and Waste Pipes and Vents—Tests 95
XI. House Traps, Fresh-air Connections, Drum Traps, and Non-syphoning Traps 104
XII. Pipe Threading 110
XIII. Cold-water Supply—Test 118
XIV. Hot-water Heaters—Instantaneous Coil and Storage Tanks—Return Circulation, Hot-water Lines and Expansion 124
XV. Insulation of Piping to Eliminate Conduction, Radiation, Freezing and Noise 131
XVI. "Durham" or "Screw Pipe" Work—Pipe and Fittings 134
XVII. Gas Fittings, Pipe and Fittings, Threading, Measuring and Testing 141
XVIII. Plumbing Codes 153
Index  167



Plumbing Fixtures and Trade

Modern plumbing as a trade is the arranging and running of pipes to supply pure water to buildings, the erecting of fixtures for the use of this supply, and the installing of other pipes for the resulting waste water. The work of the trade divides itself therefore into two parts: first the providing an adequate supply of water; and second, the disposing of this water after use. The first division offers few problems to the plumber, little variety in the layout being possible, and the result depending mostly upon the arrangement of the pipes and fittings; but the second division calls for careful study in the arrangement, good workmanship in the installing, and individual attention to each fixture.

The trade had its beginnings in merely supplying fresh water to a community. This was done by means of trenching, or conveying water from lakes, rivers, or springs through wooden pipes or open troughs. By easy stages the trade improved and enlarged its scope, until at the present time it is able to provide for the adequate distribution of tons of water under high pressure furnished by the city water works.

In the early years of the trade the question of the disposal of the waste water was easily answered, for it was allowed to be discharged onto the ground to seek its own course. But with the increased amount of water available, the waste-water problem has enlarged until today it plays the most[2] important part of plumbing, and the trade has had to change to meet this waste-water problem.

The first simple system of a pipe running from the sink to a point outside the building was sufficient. As larger buildings came into use and communities were more thickly populated, the plumbing problem demanded thought and intense study. The waste pipes from fixtures had to be so arranged that it would be impossible for foul odors and germ-laden air to enter the building through a plumbing fixture. The importance of this is evidenced by the plumbing laws now in use throughout the country.

One of the first plumbing fixtures put into common use was a hollowed-out stone which served as a sink. It was with considerable interest that the writer saw a sink of this kind in actual use in the summer of 1915, at a house in a New England village. This sink had been in service for about 100 years. From this beginning the well-known fixtures of today have developed. The demand for moderate priced, sanitary closets, lavatories, and baths has led to the rapid improvement seen in plumbing fixtures. In the development of these fixtures, as soon as a bad feature was recognized the fixture was at once discarded, until now the market offers fixtures as mechanically fine as can be produced. Plumbing fixtures were at first manufactured so that it was necessary to support them on a wooden frame, and this frame was enclosed in wood. The enclosure made by this framework soon became foul and filthy and a breeding place for all kinds of disease germs and vermin. This bad feature was overcome by the introduction of open plumbing, that is, fixtures so made that the enclosure of wood could be done away with. The open plumbing allowed a free circulation of air around the fixture and exposed pipes, thereby making the outside of the fixture and its immediate surroundings free from all the bad features of the closed plumbing. Plenty of fresh air and plenty of[3] light are necessary for good sanitary plumbing.

Fig. 1.—Pan closet (English).
The materials of which the first open-plumbing fixtures were made consisted of marble, copper, zinc, slate, iron, and clay. Time soon proved that marble and slate were absorbent, copper and zinc soon leaked from wear, iron rusted, and clay cracked and lacked strength; therefore these materials soon became insanitary, and foul odors were easily detected rising from the fixture. Besides these materials being insanitary, the fact that a fixture was constructed using a number of sections proved that joints and seams were insanitary features on a fixture. For instance, in a marble lavatory constructed by using one piece for the top, another for the bowl, and still another for the back, filth accumulated at every joint and seam. Following this condition, developed the iron enameled and earthenware fixtures, constructed without seams and with a smooth, even, glossy white finish. The fact that these fixtures are made of material that is non-absorbent adds to their value as sanitary plumbing fixtures.

Another problem which is as important as the foregoing is the proper flushing, that is, the supplying of sufficient water in a manner designed to cleanse the fixture properly.

The development of sanitary earthenware illustrates how the above problems were satisfactorily solved. In the city of London a law compelling the use of drains was enforced, and in the early 70's the effect of this law was felt in this country. The introduction at this time of the mechanical water closet, known as the "pan closet," and the English plumbing material which was brought to this country[4] was the beginning of "American plumbing," which today outstrips that of any other country in the world. The "pan closet" continued in use for some time until the "valve closet" was introduced as a more sanitary fixture. Closely following these closets, in 1880, the plunger closet became popular as a still more sanitary fixture. The plunger closet continued in use until the present all-earthenware closet bowl drove all other makes from the market. The American development of the earthenware closet bowl put the American sanitary fixture far ahead of the English improvements, as the American earthenware is superior and the sanitary features of the bowls are nearer perfection.

Fig. 2.—Pan closet (American).

Fig. 3.—Plunger closet.
When the washout bowl was introduced it was considered perfection. The hopper closet bowl, which was nothing[5] more than a funnel-shaped bowl placed on top of a trap, was placed in competition with the washout bowl. There are a number of these bowls now in use and also being manufactured. However, large cities prohibit their use.

Fig. 4.—Plunger closet.
To quote Thomas Maddock's Sons Co.: "In 1876 Wm. Smith of San Francisco patented a water closet which employed a jet to assist in emptying the bowl and the development of this principle is due entirely to the potter, who had gradually and by costly experiment become the determining factor in the evolution of the water closet." With this improvement it became possible to do away with the boxing-in of the bowl which up to this time had been necessary. Closet bowls of today are made of vitreous body which does not permit crazing or discoloring of the ware. A study of the illustrations which show the evolution of the closet bowl should be of interest to the student as well as to the apprentice and journeyman. The bath tub developed from a gouged-out stone, in which water could be stored and used for bathing purposes, to our present-day enameled iron and earthenware tubs. The development did not progress very rapidly until about 25 years ago. Since then every feature of the tub has been improved, and from a sanitary[6] standpoint the tubs of today cannot be improved. The bath tub has become an American custom, as the people in this country have demanded that they have sanitary equipment in their homes, while in the European countries this demand has not developed.

Fig. 5.—Modern low-tank closet.
The first tubs used in this country were of wood lined with copper or zinc, and were built in or boxed in with wood panelling. The plumbing ordinances of today prohibit this boxing as it proved to be a breeding place for vermin, etc. As the illustration shows, the woodwork encasing the tub was in a great many cases beautifully carved and finished.

The placing on the market of a steel-clad tub, a steel tub with a copper lining, which did away with the boxing, was a big improvement as far as sanitary reasons were[7] concerned as well as a reduction in cost of tubs. These tubs were set up on legs which permitted cleaning and provided good ventilation all around. With these features they drove all other tubs from the market. The copper and zinc were found to be hard to keep clean and they were soon replaced by the iron enamelled and earthenware tubs. The finish on these tubs being white and non-absorbent makes them highly acceptable as sanitary fixtures. A study of the illustrations will show how progress has been made in design as well as in sanitary features.

Fig. 6.—Encased bath tub.

Fig. 7.—Steel tub on legs.
The Wash Bowl.—Succeeding the hand basin the first wash basins used in this country were made of marble or slate, with a round bowl of crockery. The bowl was 14 inches in diameter originally, but later was changed to an oval bowl. Like the bath tub these wash stands were[8] encased in wood, the encasing being used to support the marble top. Ornamental brackets were introduced and the wood encasement done away with.

Fig. 8.—Modern built-in tub.

Fig. 9.—Encased wash bowl.
About 1902 the iron-enamelled lavatory appeared on the market and drove all other kinds from the market at once. The reason for this is clear. The marble stands were absorbent and were made with three parts, top, back, and bowl; the enamelled iron lavatory is made all in one piece of material non-absorbent. A study of the illustrations will show clearly how the lavatory has been improved. Strange to say, in all plumbing fixtures, and especially the[9] lavatory, as improvements were made to make them more sanitary a reduction has been made in the price of an individual fixture.

Fig. 10.

Fig. 11.—Bath room of early 80's. All fixtures are enclosed.
The development of the urinal, showers, wash trays, drinking fountains and other fixtures I will not attempt to cover. As the demand has been evident for fixtures of certain types, the plumber has been alert to anticipate and supply it. There is need, however, for improvement in[10] all our fixtures, especially that part which connects with the waste pipes, also the hanging, that is the arrangement or lack of arrangement for hanging fixtures to the wall. The waste and overflow of all fixtures need considerable change to make them sanitary. The opportunity is, therefore, before anyone who will apply himself to this development. Much money, thought, and time have been spent by the manufacturers of iron enamelled ware and by the potteries to gather suggestions made by the plumber in regard to fixtures, and then to perfect them. To these manufacturers is due the beautiful design, stability, and perfect sanitary material which make up our plumbing fixtures of today.

Fig. 12.


The Use and Care of the Soldering Iron. Fluxes. Making Different Soldering Joints

The Soldering Iron.—The soldering iron is one of the first tools a plumber has to master. This tool is sometimes called a "copper bit" as it is made of copper; and so throughout this book the words "soldering iron," "copper bit," "iron," and "bit" are used synonymously. There are several different-shaped irons in common use today, but an iron shaped like the one in Fig. 13 is the one for use in the following work. Take the iron as it is purchased, having a wooden handle and the copper exposed on pointed end. Before it can be used the point must be faced and tinned. To do this, proceed as follows:

First, heat the iron on the furnace.
Second, place in vise and file the four surfaces of the point.
Third, run a file over edges and point.
Fourth, heat the iron until it will melt solder.
Fifth, put 6 or 8 drops of solder and a piece of rosin the size of a chestnut on an ordinary red brick. (This rosin is called a flux.)
Sixth, take the hot iron and melt the solder and rosin on the brick.
Seventh, rub the four surfaces of the point of the iron on the brick keeping the point in the melted solder.
Fig. 13.—Copper.
The solder will soon stick to the copper surfaces and then[12] the iron is ready for use.

Another way to tin the iron that is in common use is to rub the point of a hot iron on a piece of sal-ammoniac, or dip the hot iron in reduced muriatic acid, then rub the stick of solder on the iron. The use of muriatic acid in tinning the iron is not recommended. In the first place, it is not always possible to carry it, and in the second place it eats holes in the surface of iron, which makes it necessary to file and smooth the surfaces again. The constant use of muriatic acid on the copper soon wears it away and makes it unfit for use. Rosin is easily carried and applied and is by far the best to use in regular work.

Points to Remember in the Care of the Soldering Iron.—

First, proper tinning is absolutely necessary for rapid and good work.
Second, do not allow the iron to heat red hot.
Third, keep the point of the iron properly shaped.
Fourth, use the same flux in tinning as is to be used in soldering.
Fifth, when filing iron, file as little as possible.
Sixth, keep in use two irons of the same size.

A flux is used to clean the surfaces of joints and seams to be soldered, also to keep them from oxidizing and to help the metals to fuse.

The following list gives the names of various fluxes in common use, how they are applied, and on what material they are most commonly used:

Flux How applied Used on
Rosin Sprinkled on Lead, tin, and brass
Tallow Melted Lead and brass
Muriatic acid (reduced) With swab Copper, galvanized iron
and brass
Muriatic acid (raw) With swab Dirty galvanized iron
Rosin.—Rosin is purchased by the pound and comes in[13] chunks. It is very brittle and powders easily. Plumbers generally take a piece of 11⁄4 N. P. brass tubing, solder a trap screw in one end and a cone-shaped piece of copper on the other. The point of the cone is left open. Rosin is put into this tube and is easily sprinkled on work when needed.

Tallow.—A plumber's tallow candle answers the purpose for tallow flux. Some plumbers carry a can for the tallow, making it cleaner to handle.

Muriatic Acid.—Muriatic acid or hydrochloric acid is used both raw and reduced. Raw acid is not diluted or reduced. Reduced acid is made as follows: Put some zinc chips in a lead receptacle and then pour in the muriatic acid. The acid will at once act on the zinc. The fumes should be allowed to escape into the outer air. When chemical action ceases, the liquid remaining is called reduced acid.


It is necessary when soldering or wiping a joint to cover the parts of pipe adjoining the portion that is to be soldered or wiped so that the solder will not stick to it. There are a number of preparations for this. The one used by the best mechanics today is paste, made as follows:

8 teaspoons of flour.
1 teaspoon of salt.
1 teaspoon of sugar.
Mix with water and boil down to a thick paste.
The advantages of paste as a soil are many:

First, it is made of materials easily obtained.
Second, solder will not stick to it.
Third, if pipe is thoroughly cleaned, the paste will not rub off easily.
Fourth, poor workmanship cannot be covered up.
Fifth, when the work is completed, a wet cloth will wipe[14] it off and leave the work clean.
Another soil used is lampblack and glue. A quantity of glue is melted and then lampblack is added. This needs to be heated and water added each time it is used. This soil is put on pipes with a short stubby brush. The work when completed with the silvery joint and jet black borders appears to the uninitiated very artistic and neat, but when the black soil is worn away the uneven edges of the joint appear, disclosing the reason for using a black soil that covers all defects. The mechanic of today who takes pride in his ability for good workmanship will not cover his work with black soil.

It can readily be seen that the use of lampblack soil encourages poor workmanship, while the use of paste forces, to a certain extent, good workmanship on the part of the mechanic.

Before soil or paste is applied, the pipe needs to be cleansed. Grease and dirt accumulate on the pipe. The methods employed to remove all foreign matter are simply to scrape the surface with fine sand or emery paper; sand and water will also answer for this purpose. This cleans the surface and allows the soil or paste to stick to the pipe.


The tools used in making the different solder joints as described and illustrated in this chapter are shown in Fig. 14.

Cup Joint.—The materials necessary for the work (Fig. 15): 12 inches of 1⁄2-inch AA lead pipe, paste, rosin, 1⁄2 and 1⁄2 solder.

If a gas furnace is not on the bench to heat the iron, then a gasoline furnace is necessary.

Each of the following operations must be done thoroughly to insure a perfect job:

First, with the saw cut off 12 inches of 1⁄2-inch AA lead[15] pipe from the coil. When cutting off a piece of lead pipe from a coil or reel, always straighten out 1 foot more than is needed. This leaves 1 foot of straight pipe always on the coil.
Fig. 14.—Tools used for making solder joints.
Second, with the flat side of the rasp, square the ends of the 12-inch piece of pipe. (A good way to do this is to hold the pipe at right angles with the edge of the bench, run the rasp across the end of the pipe, keeping the rasp parallel with the edge of the bench. Apply this to all work when necessary to square the ends of pipe.)

Third, cut the pipe with the saw, making two pieces each 6 inches in length.

Fourth, square the ends just cut.

Fifth, rasp the edges of one end as shown in the cut. Hold the work in such a way that the stroke of the rasp can be seen without moving the pipe.

Sixth, take the other 6-inch piece of pipe and with the[16] turn pin spread one end of it. The turn pin must be struck squarely in the center with the hammer, the point of the turn pin being kept in the center of the pipe. The pipe should be turned after each blow of the hammer. The pipe must not rest on the bench but should be held in the hand while using the turn pin. If the pipe bends, it can be straightened with bending irons. If the pipe is spread more on one side than the other, the turn pin should be hit on the opposite side so as to even the spread.

Fig. 15.
Fig. 16.—Cup joint.
Seventh, when the pipes are properly fitted, moisten the tips of the fingers with paste and rub the paste on parts of pipe marked "paste." Put the pipe aside to allow the paste to dry.

Eighth, put the soldering iron on to heat.[17]

Ninth, with the shave hook scrape off the paste and surface dirt as shown in the figure. The inside of the cup will look bright, but must be scraped.

Tenth, place the two pieces into position as shown in Fig. 16, sprinkle rosin on the joint, melt a few drops of solder on the joint and with the iron melt the solder on the joint, drawing the iron around the pipe keeping the solder melted around the iron all the time.

Eleventh, fill the joint with solder and continue to draw the hot iron around the joint until a smooth and bright surface is obtained. To master the correct use of the soldering iron in this work, considerable practice will be necessary.

Overcast Joints.—(Fig. 17.)

Note.—Each operation must be performed thoroughly.

First, saw off from a coil of 11⁄2-inch D lead pipe a 10-inch piece of pipe.

Second, square the ends with the rasp, as previously explained.

Third, take a 11⁄2-inch drift plug and drive through the pipe (Fig. 18).

Fourth, saw the pipe into two pieces of 5 inches each.

Fifth, square the ends of the pipe with the rasp.

Sixth, rasp off the outside edge of one end of the pipe as shown.

Seventh, rasp off the inside edge of one end of the pipe.

Eighth, finish rasped surfaces with a file. Both surfaces should have the same angle.

[18]Fig. 17.

Fig. 18. Fig. 19.—Overcast joint.
Ninth, with a shave hook scrape the outside surface of[19] each pipe for about 1 inch from the end.

Tenth, put the soldering iron on to heat.

Eleventh, paste paper on the joint as shown in the cut.

Twelfth, fit the pieces together and lay on the bench. Drop some melted solder on the joint and with the hot iron proceed to flow the solder around the joint by turning the pipe. Use plenty of flux (rosin). The pipes must be tacked in three or four places at first or they will have a tendency to spread.

Thirteenth, to finish the joint, lift the iron straight up.

This joint when finished will have a bright smooth finish. The two foregoing joints need considerable practice and should be perfectly mastered before going on to the next job.


A description of the making of wiped seams for lead-lined tanks will not be attempted as very few are made now. The plumber, however, is often called upon to make a seam joining two pieces of sheet lead. The beginner will do well to go over the following exercise carefully and practice it thoroughly.

Fig. 20.—Flat seam.
Materials.—Two pieces of 8-pound sheet lead, 6 by 10 inches each; one bar of 1⁄2 and 1⁄2 solder; paste, paper, and rosin.

Tools.—Rasp, shave hook, and soldering iron.[20]

The 10-inch side of each piece is rasped and fitted together. The edges are cleaned and paper is pasted on leaving 1⁄4 inch for solder. Paste without the paper can be put on. This will make a joint 1⁄2 inch wide.

Apply the rosin to the joint, then with the heated iron and some solder tack the seam on the top, then on the bottom and middle. This will prevent the seam from spreading when the lead is heated. Solder and rosin can now be put on the full length of the joint. With a hot iron proceed to float the solder down the seam. The soldering iron must not rest at full length on the pieces of lead or it will melt the lead and render the work useless. The solder will flow and form a clean neat seam, if the iron is at the right heat and the right amount of solder is put on. If the iron is too hot, the solder will flow instantly when the iron is laid on it and the solder will disappear as it runs through the seam. If the iron is too cold the solder will not melt enough to flow. Too much solder on the seam will cause it to overflow, that is, the solder will spread beyond the papered edges. After a little practice this surplus solder can be drawn in on the seam with the iron and carried along the seam to some point that has not enough solder. When the seam is completed the edges should be perfectly straight and even. The iron is carried along the seam with one stroke which makes the seam appear smooth and bright.



Mixtures of Solders for Soldering Iron and Wiping.
Care of Solders. Melting Points of
Metals and Alloys

The importance of good solder, that is, solder correctly mixed and thoroughly cleaned, should not be overlooked. Work is more quickly and neatly done and the job presents a more finished appearance when solder that is correctly made is used.

The solder used in the following work with the soldering iron is called 1⁄2 and 1⁄2. This means 1⁄2 (50 per cent.) lead and 1⁄2 (50 per cent.) tin.

In the mixture of solder, only pure metals should be used. The lead should be melted first and all the dross cleaned off. The tin should then be added and mixed.

The solder to be used in wiping the joints in the following chapter is a mixture of 37 per cent. tin and 63 per cent. lead. This is called wiping solder.

The following table gives the melting points, etc.:

Metal Melting point Mixture
Sulphur............. 228 Pure
Tin.................... 446 Pure
Lead................. 626 Pure
Zinc.................. 680 Pure
Fine solder........ 400 50 per cent. tin, 50 per cent. lead (wt.)
Wiping solder.... 370 37 per cent. tin, 63 per cent. lead (wt.)
To recognize fine solder, run off a bar into a mold and let[22] it cool. If there is a frosted streak in the center, the metal has not enough tin. The surface should be bright. To recognize wiping solder, pour some on a brick. When this is cool, the top should be frosty and the under side should have four or five bright spots. The amount poured on the brick should be about the size of a half dollar. If poured on iron, the metal will cool too quickly and show bright all over the under side.

To Make 1⁄2 and 1⁄2 Solder or Plumber's Fine Solder.—The possibility of getting pure clean metals to mix solder is very remote. Old pieces of lead pipe, lead trap, old block tin pipe are used to make solder when pure metals are not at hand.

First, in a cast-iron pot melt the lead to about 800°, or a dull red.

Second, clean off the dross.

Third, add (to a 15-pound pot) 1⁄2 pound of sulphur in three applications. Each time mix the sulphur thoroughly with the metal with a long stick.

Fourth, add tin before the last application of sulphur. Mix thoroughly.

Fifth, pour off two bars and look for the frosty streak in the center. Add a little more tin, if necessary.

To Mix Wiping Solder.—

First, proceed as described in 1⁄2 and 1⁄2, melting the metals and burning out with sulphur, adding the percentage of tin according to the preceding table. Then test the solder for bright spots on the under side.

Second, keep the metal thoroughly mixed when burning and keep all dross cleaned off the surface.

The working heat of wiping solder is 500°F. Sulphur is used to collect all zinc and dross. The sulphur should come in contact with all parts of the metal. This is why the metal should be stirred when the sulphur is put in.

A few good points in the economical care of solder are[23] listed below.

Care of 1⁄2 and 1⁄2 Solder.—

First, do not drop melted solder on the floor or dirty bench.

Second, use all small ends by melting on a new bar.

Third, put clean paper under work and use droppings.

Fourth, have the mold free from dirt when pouring.

Care of Wiping Solder.—

First, do not heat red hot.

Second, do not file brass where the filings will get into the solder.

Third, do not allow lead chips to get into the solder.

Fourth, clean the solder occasionally.

Fifth, learn to distinguish solder from lead by its hardness.

Sixth, have different-shaped pot for lead and solder.

Seventh, do not tin brass by dipping into solder.

Eighth, do not put cold or wet ladle into hot solder.

A pot holding about 15 pounds of solder is the size commonly in use.



Making and Care of Wiping Cloths

A good wiping cloth is essential for wiping joints. The exact size and the flexibility of the cloth depend a great deal upon the mechanic who handles the cloth. Some mechanics like a stiff cloth, but the writer has always used a flexible cloth. The sizes, shape, and methods of folding and breaking in as shown in Fig. 21 below have proved successful. Cloths made of whalebone ticking are inexpensive and make the best for ordinary use.

Fig. 21.—Folding a wiping cloth.

Size of cloth open   Size of cloth folded
141⁄2 by 141⁄2 inches equals 31⁄4 by 31⁄4 inches
131⁄2 by 131⁄2 inches equals 3 by 3 inches
  81⁄2 by 121⁄2 inches equals 2 by 3 inches
For the joint-wiping jobs to follow, the above sizes are[25] the best. The largest size, 141⁄2 by 141⁄2 inches is used for catch cloth. The 131⁄2 by 131⁄2 inches is the wiping cloth. The 81⁄2 by 121⁄2 inches is the branch cloth.

Proceed as follows to cut and complete a cloth:

First, lay the ticking on the flat bench and square the sides 141⁄2 by 141⁄2 inches.
Second, the ticking should be cut off with shears and not torn or cut with a knife.
Third, fold as shown in the cut.
Each fold should be moistened with a little water and pressed with a hot iron. The cloth should not be pulled or stretched, but should be kept as square as possible.

The first and second folds require a little care; the corners when folded to the center should be kept in a little, thus making the outside edge slightly rounded. If this is done, the corners will not stick out when the cloth is finished. After the cloth is carefully folded, pressed, and dried, take a needle and thread and sew the open corners about 1⁄2 inch in from the edge of the cloth. By carefully studying the cut, one can readily see each operation and, by following directions, make a perfect cloth.

When the cloth is done, an amount of oil sufficient to soak through about three layers of cloth should be applied and then rubbed on a smooth surface. The oil should be rubbed in well about the edges. It will not be necessary to apply anything else to the cloth to prepare it for wiping. Paste, soil, chalk, etc., are not needed and do not benefit the cloth. When using oil on the cloth, it must not be used too freely, that is, the cloth must not be soaked in oil, as oil is a rapid conductor of heat and the cloth would soon become too hot to handle.

Care of Wiping Cloths.—The ticking will burn if allowed to become too hot. If hot solder is poured directly on the cloth, it will soon burn and be destroyed.

Keep the surface on both sides of the cloth well oiled.[26]

Use both sides of the cloth.

Use both wiping edges of the cloth.

Fig. 22.—Wiping cloth folded has 16 thicknesses of ticking.
When the cloth is not in use, it should not be thrown in with the other tools and allowed to curl up into all sorts of shapes, but should be kept in some flat place. A good way to keep the cloths is to have two pieces of wood between which the cloths may be kept and held there by means of a strap. The length of time which a wiping cloth can be used depends a great deal upon its making and upon the care which is given it.



Preparing and Wiping Joints

When the writer first started to carry the tools for a plumber and to prepare joints for wiping, the remark was often heard that joint wiping would soon be a thing of the past. I have heard this many times since from many different sources. Personally, I fail to see the passing of the wiped joint. More lead pipe is being made today than ever before, which goes to show that lead pipe is being used and the only successful way of joining is with the wiped joint. Some plumbers' helpers of today seem to think that joint wiping is of no account. To a certain extent, I can sympathize with them. Most of these boys are learning a trade in large cities and working for concerns that do nothing but a large contracting business. This large work is carried on differently from the small work. Wrought-iron or steel pipes are used to a great extent in this work and a very small amount of lead is used. Sometimes the job will be completed without the use of lead. The boy who works continually on this kind of work soon comes to think that lead pipes are no longer in use. The writer has found that a boy who has learned to do nothing but screw-pipe work is absolutely lost and cannot perform the duties of a plumber, other than screw-pipe work. It must be borne in mind that lead pipe and cast-iron pipe work are being used today in all parts of the country and in some parts more than in others. Therefore, the boy must grasp all branches of the trade that he has chosen to follow and not be a one-sided man. Joint wiping belongs to the plumber alone. The plumbing trade differs from all other trades in that it has[28] joint wiping for its distinctive feature.

A few attempts at joint wiping will convince the beginner that it is not the easiest thing in the world to learn. Let me caution the beginner not to get discouraged. He must have patience and a firm resolve to master the art of joint wiping and not let it master him and keep him back.

So, as we now start on exercises of joint wiping, let the beginner constantly keep in mind that all boys must become perfectly skilled in the art of joint wiping before they can be considered plumbers. Keep in mind also that the examination that one must take to get a plumber's license contains an actual exercise in joint wiping. The one word of advice is not to get discouraged. Continued practice is the only way to success.

The soldering iron is, or should be, conquered by this time. As joint wiping is the next exercise, I shall go over a few general points that experience has taught me and cannot fail to be of assistance to the beginner if they are heeded. In fact, to become proficient, the beginner should remember all the points suggested under this heading. It is necessary in wiping to have good solder. In the chapter on solder, I have given the correct mixtures and how to recognize the proper mixtures. The place where wiping is to be done should be considered. No draught should be allowed to blow across the work as it tends to chill the solder and pipe. Proper support for the work should be procured. If gasoline is to be used for fuel to heat the solder, make sure that the tank is full before starting, otherwise the fire may go out just when the heat is needed most and the solder in the pot has become too cool to wipe with. Have a catch pan and keep all the solder droppings to put back into the pot, otherwise the solder will pile up and the fingers are likely to be pushed into the pile and badly burned. Hold the ladle about 2 inches above the work, the catch cloth about 1 inches below. Do not drop the solder in the same[29] place. Keep moving the ladle. Do not pour the solder on the pipe in a steady stream, but drop it on. It is not a large amount of solder that is wanted on the joint at first, it is heat that is needed. This can be secured better by dropping the solder on than by pouring a large quantity on the pipe. The edges of the joint cool very quickly; therefore heat the edges well and keep them covered with molten solder until the joint is ready to wipe. When preparing joints for wiping, always do the work thoroughly and fit the pieces together tightly so that no solder can get through.

Points to Remember.—

First, good solder.
Second, place of wiping.
Third, support.
Fourth, full tank of gasoline.
Fifth, drip pan.
Sixth, ladle 2 inches above the work.
Seventh, cloth 1 inches below the work.
Eighth, move the ladle continually.
Ninth, drop the solder.
Tenth, heat, not solder wanted at first.
Eleventh, heat the edges.
Twelfth, careful preparation.
Thirteenth, clean grease from the pipe.
Fourteenth, cut clean straight edges on paper.

Preparation.—Take 12 inches of 1⁄2-inch strong lead pipe and square off the ends with a rasp. Take the shave hook and scrape the center of the pipe perfectly bright; a space 3 inches each side of the center is correct. The size of the joint when completed should be 21⁄2 inches long. If we should undertake to wipe the joint with the pipe in the[30] present condition, the solder would adhere to all the pipe that was shaved bright. Therefore, we take a piece of paper sufficient to encircle the pipe twice and after putting paste on one side of the paper wrap it around the pipe so that the edge that is cut straight and even is 11⁄4 inches from the center of the pipe. Another piece of paper is pasted on the other side of the center leaving a clean, bright space of 21⁄2 inches. All the pipe should be covered with paper except the 21⁄2 inches in the center.

Fig. 23.
To Put the Pipe in Position for Wiping.—The most practical way is to take two common red bricks with the 2 by 8 face down and place them 9 inches apart. Lay the pipe on the bricks and place a weight on each end. The solder will drop on to the bench, so it is best to place a piece of paper or a pan of black iron under the pipe to catch the solder that drops. The pan or paper can then be taken up and the solder put back into the pot without waste. A cast-iron[31] pot holding 15 pounds of solder is then placed on the furnace. When the solder has melted and has reached 500° it is ready for use. This can best be determined by putting a piece of paper in the solder. If the paper scorches, the solder is at the right heat; if the paper catches fire, it is too hot.

Now take a 3-inch ladle and heat it over the fire and then dip it into the solder and skim off any dross that may have collected.

Wiping.—With the ladle full of solder in the right hand and the large cloth or the catch cloth in the left hand, begin to drop the solder on the joint. The cloth should catch all the solder as it falls off the pipe. If hot solder is held against the bottom of the pipe, it is heated to the proper heat. Always begin to drop the solder on the paper edges, then drop the solder on the joint itself. Bear in mind that the solder should not be poured on, but dropped on slowly. After the first few drops do not drop the solder directly on to the lead pipe but on to the solder previously put on the pipe. This will save the pipe from burning through. The pipe must be the same heat as the solder before the proper heat is obtained for good wiping. The beginner should practice dropping the solder on the joint, catching the solder and working it around the pipe. By doing this, one becomes familiar with the feeling of hot solder, which is the secret of successful wiping. When the solder works easily around the pipe, drop the ladle and take the smaller wiping cloth in the right hand and with both cloths draw all the solder on top of the pipe. With fingers on the corners of both cloths, clean off the left-hand edge and with the right hand draw the surplus solder across to the right-hand edge. Next, clean the right-hand edge of the joint pushing the surplus solder onto the cloth in the right hand. Work this solder on to the bottom of the joint. Now discard the catch cloth. Holding the wiping cloth with the index[32] fingers on lower opposite corners, shape the under and front side of the joint. With the middle fingers on opposite lower corners of the cloth shape the back and top. Keep the index and middle fingers on the edge of the cloth and the edge of the cloth on the edge of the joint. This position together with the size and shape of the cloth will give the joint the desired form and appearance. Particular attention is called to the position of the fingers as shown in the figure.

The last wipe should be a quick stroke coming off of joint on a tangent. If the solder is at right heat, the cloth will not leave a noticeable mark. If, however, the solder is too cold, a ragged edge will result. Sometimes a cross wipe is made for the last stroke and a good finish obtained.

Points to Remember.—

First, width of the joint, 21⁄2 inches.
Second, allow no soil or paste to get on the joint.
Third, a 3-inch ladle should be used.
Fourth, 500° is the working heat of solder.
Fifth, paper test for solder heat.
Sixth, position of wiping cloths.
Seventh, do not drop solder on the lead pipe.
Eighth, hold the ladle 2 inches above the pipe.
Ninth, wipe the edges of the joint first.
Tenth, wipe and shape the joint quickly.
The above procedure of wiping will be found to work out very easily if followed closely. Do not pour the hot solder onto the cloth as the cloth will burn through and soon be useless. A little more oil should be put on the cloth after using it for awhile. The cloth should be turned around and the opposite side also used. The cloth will last considerably longer if sides are changed frequently. The solder should not accumulate on the pan, but should be continually put back into the pot. The "metal," as solder is sometimes called, should never be allowed to become[33] red hot.

The above method of preparing pipe is suggested for beginners only and will be found to be a great help to them. In actual practice the joint must be prepared differently. The method used in trade is as follows:

The joint is used to join two pieces of lead pipe. Take two pieces and rasp the four ends square. With the tap borer clean out the end of one pipe a trifle, then with the turn pin enlarge this end just a little as shown in the figure. Then rasp the edge off about 1⁄8 inch as shown. Take the other piece of pipe and rasp one end as was done in the cup joint, making it fit into the first piece. Then place the two ends together and with the bending iron beat the pipe, making the joint as tight as possible.


The next position in which the beginner is to wipe a joint is on an angle of 45° to the right.

Preparation.—To prepare this joint, proceed as in the horizontal round joint. I will enumerate a few of these points. A piece 12 inches long of 1⁄2-inch pipe is cut off and the ends squared. A strip in the center, 6 inches long, is shaved clean. Paper and paste are put over the pipe except 21⁄2 inches in the center. Grease can be put on the pipe in between the pieces of paper and will keep the lead from oxidizing.

Placing Pipe in Position.—There is no need of an elaborate system of holding the pipe in position. Take a red brick and place the 4 by 8 face down. This will do for the bottom pipe. For the top of pipe to rest on, place two bricks one above the other; this will give the correct position. Place the pipe on the brick and with a ladle full of half molten solder pour a clamp of solder over the end of the pipe. This will hold the pipe firm for wiping. Place a[34] catch pan under the joint for solder to fall in.

Wiping.—The method of wiping this joint is practically the same as wiping the horizontal joint. The catch cloth should be held parallel with the bench tilting a little from front toward the back. The ladle is held the same and solder is dropped on as before. The ladle should be continually moving while dropping solder, not allowing the solder to drop twice in the same place. When the solder has been worked around the pipe and is at working heat, the solder is drawn up with both cloths and the top edge wiped first, then the bottom edge; the surplus solder is put on the underside of the joint, and then with three or four wipes the joint is made symmetrical and finished.

Things to Remember.—

First, prepare like the horizontal joint.
Second, use brick to place in position.
Third, hold tools as in horizontal joint.
Fourth, top edge cools first, therefore, wipe it first.
Fifth, hold the wiping cloth at an angle of 45° when wiping, with fingers placed as noted in previous joint.
Sixth, make solder clamp for holding the pipe.

When the preceding joint is well mastered and a number of good joints have been wiped, turn the pipe on an angle of 45° to the left.

Preparation.—The preparation for this joint is exactly the same as for the horizontal joint. The beginner should turn back and read carefully concerning the perfection of the joint. Bear in mind that the pipe must be correctly prepared or a good joint cannot be made. The edge of the paper must be cut not torn.

Placing Pipe in Position.—This pipe can be placed in position the same as the preceding one. If heavy weights are placed on the ends of the pipe, a bad habit may be[35] formed by the one learning to wipe. That is, the habit of pressing hard on the joint when wiping. In the preceding joint, if the beginner presses too hard, the pipe will fall off the bricks.

Wiping.—Proceed as described for previous joints. The top edge must be favored a little. The hot solder will run down to the bottom edge; therefore less solder should be dropped on it than on the top edge. When the solder is at the proper heat for wiping it requires only a light touch to wipe the joint. If it appears necessary to press hard on the joint to wipe off surplus solder, it shows that the solder is not at the correct wiping heat.


Preparation.—This joint can be prepared exactly like the preceding one. In fact, the same piece of pipe can be used throughout. When preparing this joint the end that is to be on the bottom should be well covered with paper.

Placing in Position.—The best way to hold this joint in position for wiping is to stand the pipe upright on one end with the pan underneath. A piece of furring strip should be run from the top of the pipe to the wall. Secure the strip to the wall and drive a nail through the strip into the bore of the pipe. Place a weight on top of the strip and the pipe is ready.

Wiping.—The procedure of wiping this joint is entirely different from that in the other positions. The solder is thrown onto the joint from the ladle. The catch cloth is held up to the pipe and as much solder as possible is held on to the pipe. Move the ladle around the joint, throwing a little solder on as the ladle is moved. Notice now that all the solder runs to the bottom edge, leaving the top edge cold. The solder that accumulates on the bottom edge should be drawn up to the top edge with the cloth. Then[36] splash more solder on to the top edge and as the solder runs down the pipe catch it with the cloth and draw it up again. The solder can be worked around and up and down the joint, but always keep the top edge covered with hot solder. The solder is likely to drop off the joint entirely unless watched closely. When the correct heat is obtained, drop the ladle. Take the wiping cloth in the right hand and with the fingers spread, clean off the top edge quickly, then shape the joint with the one cloth. With a little practice you will gain this knack. The joint can then be wiped. The left hand can steady the pipe. Spread the index finger and third finger to opposite sides of the cloth and wipe around the joint.



Preparing and Wiping Joints (Continued)


Materials.—The beginner should continue wiping the vertical round joint until he is able to obtain a symmetrical bulb. A joint should be wiped in each of the foregoing positions for exhibition purposes, so that the beginner can have before him the best work and strive to make the next joint better. This next joint, the 2-inch brass ferrule, is wiped in an upright position. The materials necessary are the 2-inch brass ferrule, 6 inches of 2-inch light lead pipe, paste and paper, 1⁄2 and 1⁄2 solder, rosin, wiping solder, catch pan, and supports.

Fig. 24.
Tools Required.—The tools necessary for this work are as follows: the saw, rasp, drift plug, dresser, file, soldering iron, bending irons, wiping cloths, shave hook, and ladle.

Preparation.—The lead pipe must be fitted into the brass ferrule. The brass ferrule has to be tinned first. To do[38] this, proceed as follows: file the ferrule for about 2 inches on the tapered end. Do not file too deep, but just enough to expose the pure bright metal. Now measure from the small end 11⁄4 inches down toward the beaded end. From this point to the bead, cover the brass with paste and paper. No paste must get on the 11⁄4-in. filed end. This end should not be touched with the fingers. If paste gets on it, the process of filing must be done over again as the solder will not stick where there is paste. If the brass ferrule is filed while the paper is on the brass, the filing will destroy the straight edge of the paper and an even joint cannot be made. It would therefore be necessary to re-paper the brass. Take some powdered rosin and cover the filed end of the ferrule with molten solder using the rosin as a flux. Do not dip the end of the ferrule into the hot wiping solder to tin it or pour wiping solder on the brass ferrule. This method of tinning the ferrule will spoil the wiping solder. Always use the soldering iron to tin the ferrule as explained above. A little practice will develop the use of the iron in the hands of the beginner so that this tinning process will be done very rapidly. The iron should be put on to heat when the paper is being pasted on the brass; the iron will then be ready for use when needed.

Fig. 25.—Two-inch brass ferrule.
Preparing the Lead.—The ends of the lead pipe must be squared with the rasp. All kinks and dents are taken out by using the drift plug and driving it through the pipe. Take a piece of smooth pine stick and start to beat in the end of the lead pipe to fit the brass ferrule. The pipe should be beaten in starting about 3⁄4 inches from the end. It should be beaten in very slowly until it fits the ferrule. The pipe is held in the hand all the time and considerable time should be spent on this as it is the first time the beating in of lead pipe has been called for. The knack of doing this comes only by slow and continued practice. The lead must be "humored" into shape and not "driven" into shape.[39] The end of the pipe is tapered still more by rasping off the end. About 3⁄4 inch should extend into the brass ferrule. With the bending irons, the lead extending into the brass ferrule is beaten against the inside wall of the ferrule. A good way to do this is to wedge the lead pipe in as much as possible at first, then lay the work flat on the bench, in which position it is more easily worked. The sketch should be thoroughly studied and each notation be perfectly understood, before proceeding with the work. Now that the lead pipe is perfectly fitted into place, it is prepared for wiping. The joint overall will be 21⁄2 inches. As we have already allowed 11⁄4 inches on the brass ferrule for the joint, the lead will have to be cleaned that much more. With the shave hook, shave the end of the pipe that has been fitted into the brass ferrule. A space about 4 inches should be cleaned. This will give a cleaned surface free from dirt and grease for the paste and paper to adhere to. Next paste the paper in place. The lead pipe can be entirely covered, or 3 or 4 inches only, above the 11⁄4 inches allowed for the joint. The space between the paper on the brass and the paper on the lead should now be 21⁄2 inches. The paste and paper should now be allowed to dry.

Supporting the Pipe.—This joint is wiped with the ferrule down on the bench. A flat pan is laid on the bench and the ferrule stood upon it. A weight on top of the lead pipe is all that is necessary. If this does not make the pipe rigid enough for the beginner, then a support similar to the round vertical joint support can be used. The beginner is advised, however, to practice the wiping of this joint with only the weight to hold it in position. The beginner will then be required to wipe the joint while the solder is hot, when it does not require a heavy pressure against the solder to wipe it in shape. These wiped joints should be supported in place near the furnace that heats the solder so that the solder will be handy for[40] wiping.

Wiping.—Wiping this joint brings in some of the methods of the round vertical joint. If that joint was thoroughly mastered, this joint will be wiped considerably more easily. The ladle is held in the right hand and the solder splashed on the joint. The catch cloth is held in the left hand and some of the solder is caught and brought up on the top edge. The top edge cools quickly as all the hot solder runs down to the bottom edge and into the pan. As the solder accumulates on the bottom edge, it is drawn up on the top edge, and in this manner the top edge is kept hot. When the solder can be worked freely around the pipe and the edges are hot, the joint is ready to wipe. The ladle is laid down and the wiping cloth is taken in the right hand and the top edge of the joint cleaned on one side. Then the wiping cloth is changed to the left hand and the other side of the top edge is cleaned. Holding the cloth in one hand with the index and the third fingers spread to the outside corners of the cloth, the cloth is passed around the joint quickly. To get an even and symmetrical joint, it is necessary to make two or three passes around the joint holding the cloth first in the right and then in the left hand. The free hand is used to steady the work. This joint should be wiped very slim to allow room for the caulking irons to pass by it and get into the hub of the pipe. Constant wiping on the brass ferrule will[41] result in the tinning on the brass ferrule coming off. The ferrule will look black when this happens and will thus be recognized. The wiping should then be stopped and the ferrule filed and tinned in the same manner as it was done at first.

Points to Remember.—

First, material—6 inches of 2-inch light lead pipe and one 2-inch brass ferrule.
Second, tin ferrule, using soldering iron.
Third, use a soft pine stick for a dresser.
Fourth, fit the lead into the ferrule.
Fifth, clean and paper the lead.
Sixth, secure the pipe into position.
Seventh, using the catch cloth and ladle, splash solder on the joint.
Eighth, keep the top edge covered with solder.
Ninth, wipe the top edge first.
Tenth, shape and finish wiping with a few strokes.
Eleventh, tools used.
Twelfth, wipe a slim joint.
Thirteenth, steady the work with the free hand.
Fourteenth, re-tin the ferrule, if necessary.

The 4-inch brass ferrule joint is the same as the 2-inch, except for size. The materials needed for this joint are 6 inches of 4-inch, 8-pound lead pipe, and one 4-inch brass ferrule, one full pot of solder, some paste and paper, rosin, and 1⁄2 and 1⁄2 solder.

Tools Necessary.—The tools required for this joint are as follows: saw, rasp, file, ladle, soldering iron, dresser, bending irons, shave hook, and wiping cloths.

Preparation.—Lead Pipe.—With the saw cut off 6 inches of 4-inch lead pipe. This pipe comes in lengths and should[42] be for this work about 8 pounds to the foot in weight. The pipe may be dented badly, but these dents can be taken out as follows: Take a piece of 2-inch iron pipe and put it in a vise. The lead pipe can be slipped over this iron pipe and any dents taken out easily by beating with the dresser. One end of the lead pipe is beaten with the dresser until it fits into the ferrule. The end is then rasped a little. Then, after the brass ferrule has been tinned, the pipe is fitted into it and beaten out against the inside wall of the brass ferrule and a tight joint is made. The lead is next cleaned with the shave hook and paper is pasted on as explained under the 2-inch brass ferrule, the description of which should now be read over.

Fig. 26.—Four-inch brass ferrule.
Brass Ferrule.—The first thing to do with the brass ferrule is to file the end that is to be wiped. When the brass ferrule is filed, it should be done away from any part of the room where the filings are likely to get into the solder. After the filing has been done, paper is pasted on all of it except the part that is to be tinned and no paste must get on to this part of the ferrule. If any paste does get on to it, the filing will have to be done over again. When using paste and paper, neatness must be cultivated, or paste will be spread over parts of the pipe that are supposed not to have any paste on them. Next, take the soldering iron and heat it. Take some rosin and put it on the exposed part of the ferrule. With the hot soldering iron[43] proceed to tin the brass ferrule, as explained before, with 1⁄2 and 1⁄2 solder, using rosin as a flux. Now the lead pipe that has previously been prepared is fitted into the ferrule.

Fig. 27.—Four-inch brass ferrule.
Supporting.—Set the brass ferrule on a catch pan. The lead pipe is upright. A weight placed on top of the lead pipe will steady the pipe for wiping. When the joint is wiped the free hand can hold the pipe if the weight is not sufficient to support it.