Lazy Servicemen

Now I bet with a title like that you are thinking ‘Oh boy, now he’s going to knock servicemen.” Not quite. As many of you know I have much more fun picking on manufacturers and oil company managers and owners, right?


I’m going to show you how this one group of technicians takes an easier way to get there than most. I consider myself a lazy serviceman, and also consider the best technicians I’ve worked for, with and had work for me, some of the laziest too. You see a lazy serviceman is a smart serviceman. He’s found out something that puts him above the others: you don’t have to work hard to do a great job, you just have to be smarter. I’m going to focus on two simple things, how we pipe pumps and the setting of burner fans.


First of all, the fans; have you read any of the OEM’s literature on the proper setting of a fan lately? If you have, you may have noticed that there is a correct dimension from the face of the motor to the back of the fan. The shaft end of a motor is called the shaft bell and the other end is called the end bell. Just about every motor used on powerburners (oil and gas) today is a PSC motor with a semi-enclosed end bell. That means there are some holes on that shaft bell, but very small and very well hidden behind the fan. Before the PSC, the last of the split-phase motors were closed shaft bell motors, no holes on the shaft bell at all.


What does this all mean? Higher fan velocity. The whole purpose is to move that primary air off the fan as quick as you can and send it down the tube. The higher and more intense the air flow, the better the fuel/air mix at the head.


The next things are the air handling parts around the fan. The turbulators, augmenters, air guides, static discs and baffles that also direct the air and determine velocity. All of these must be in the proper relationship to the fan.


There’s also the problem with frequencies, harmonics and the possiblity of sirening. Have you ever looked inside a siren? All that’s in there is a squirrel cage fan, a baffle and what looks like an air gate at the entrance to the siren. By pushing the air through the air gate instead of taking it in you get a siren. That also means that a bit of this sirening could happen in a burner, too. So, what do lazy servicemen know that you may not know? How to set that fan dimension. Many of you will guess or do it by feel, what is that anyway?


A lazy technician knows the key is to use a depth or feeler gauge, Figure 1. By using these gauges you can quickly and accurately set the fan. By simply selecting the right width/depth, you place the gauge against the face of the motor, lower the fan onto the gauge and tighten the fan. Simple, quick, lazy, but most of all professional. If you’re looking for gauges, most HVAC supply houses don’t carry them, but all auto parts stores do. On to pumps.


One of the things that a lot of people comment on is how I draw pumps for my books, articles and seminars. I never show the oil entering through the cover, it’s always through the body, Figure 2. The reason, more laziness. I pull every strainer every time I clean a burner and if there are fuel quality problems that have dirtied or plugged it. The problem is with those guys who bring the oil in through the cover.


Years ago the most used pump were the Sundstrand/Suntec J and H pumps. Easy to pipe through the body and easy to clean, but it has eight bolts. The A and B pumps have only four bolts and to us lazy guys, that’s half the bolts and so easier. But then we have to deal with the covers where the oil line comes in through the cover. It’s a pain to scrape the gasket, remove the strainer and so on, so you know what the really lazy burnermen do, nothing. They just ignore the strainer and kill the pump. Some of these lost souls actually think changing a pump is easier than cleaning it.


By coming in through the bottom, and my favorite way is with a Firomatic B104CFXL, Figure 3, I leave the cover hole open and my cover is easy to get off. On tune-ups, the cover comes right off. With the cover hole available, I have a place to easily install a vacuum gauge on troubleshooting calls. And with the cover hole available, I have a way to fill my pump before bleeding and power purging. You can read a lot more on pumps and such by going to and typing my name in the search box. You will find a lot of good stuff there.      


By the way, many charter life members of the beloved Moron Mafia will tell you I’m wrong to pipe pumps like this because you by-pass the strainer when you come through the body. Oh really, where do these stupid urban legends come from? Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups and the morons are a very large group, but do you really think that a pump manufacturer would put the hole there if that could happen to his product? Further, that he would show that hole in all of his literature and even put the location on the pump decal along with his Listing if it didn’t work correctly?


For those who would rather believe urban legends than fact, have you noticed Riello only brings the oil in through the body of their pumps and always has, way back to the MEC that first was introduced in 1959 in Europe?


Have you noticed that with the venerable J and H Suntec pumps that were preceeded by the Sundstrand S1 and S2 the oil always came in through the body? That with Danfoss it’s the only way? For those of you still using the Webster M Series pump, none of this article applies to you. The only way to get oil into the pump is through the body, just don’t forget the gaskets when you service the pump cover; and yes, the cover should be wiped clean every year or two. Pumps were developed by smart engineers for us lazy servicemen, and may all of us work lazy by working smarter.


As you can see this article is all about lazy servicemen and a ton of common sense. Common sense is where it’s at. Finally, I agree that many stupid installers put in the stuff we have to work on, but do you fix a mistake or keep punishing your customers by living with it?

See ya.


*George Lanthier is the owner of the Firedragon Academy a teaching and consulting firm. His Web site is

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