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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
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  1.  
    I've been looking for radiators (well, towel rails really) for a while. We only need a tiny wattage, but the towel radiators are either really ugly, or really expensive. Eg, this Italian site has some nice ones, but they're over £1000 each: http://www.sciroccoh.it/en/prodotti/design-collection-en/

    I was wondering how hard it would be to make one? Surely there's not much to them. I was wondering if I could ask a metal worker to weld one for me out of box sections of stainless steel or aluminium. Does anybody have any thoughts?
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2017
     
    how about buying one ?

    https://www.gumtree.com/p/plumbing-central-heating/radiator-towel-rail.-traditional-style.-/1278168062

    for example...

    gg
  2.  
    Thanks gg! I just don't like the look of most standard radiators. I was wondering if I could make something more interesting.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2017
     
    Whilst home made rads are theoretically possible, you may find in the end they cost more in labour.
    A while ago I asked a local, well equipped, very reputable, engineering company to do a radiator repair/modification. and they advised against it. They said they couldn't guarantee the welds would be pressure/watertight.

    What look do you like? Flat panel, artistic metalwork, there are literally 000s of designs.
  3.  
    I really like this one: http://www.sciroccoh.it/en/prodotto/snake-4/

    ...other than the cost!
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2017
     
  4.  
    Good call owlman! This one is not bad, and not too expensive: https://warmehaus.co.uk/delta-1380-x-600mm-sand-grey-designer-heated-towel-rail.html
  5.  
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2017
     
    If you intend to have an electric rad,- you didn't say, don't be put off by buying a standard one and doing a DIY conversion. It's dead easy, I've done it, and the insert heating elements and controls work really well.
  6.  
    Thanks @owlman - the plan is to have wet rads / towel rails, but thanks for the tip.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2017 edited
     
    Hi Pilgrim,
    Electric towel rads., ( in case you misunderstood ), are wet but their heat source is an insert heating element and thermostat. I directed the incoming 230V supply via a simple 24hr timer so it operates independently of my house CH. I find that especially useful in Spring and Autumn.
  7.  
    Thanks @owlman, yes I understood. Electric or dual system sounds useful in a range of circumstances.
  8.  
    Posted By: Nick ParsonsHome-made copper rads:

    https://www.google.co.uk/search?source=hp&ei=jIYlWoLeLMKNgAaXq4PAAQ&q=Home-made+copper+radiators&oq=Home-made+copper+radiators&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0i22i10i30k1.1621.11103.0.11432.26.26.0.0.0.0.252.3182.5j15j3.23.0..3..0...1.1.64.psy-ab..3.23.3176...0j0i131k1j0i10k1j0i13k1j0i22i30k1j0i13i30k1j0i8i13i30k1.0.zxcZasPrE5U" rel="nofollow" >https://www.google.co.uk/search?source=hp&ei=jIYlWoLeLMKNgAaXq4PAAQ&q=Home-made+copper+radiators&oq=Home-made+copper+radiators&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0i22i10i30k1.1621.11103.0.11432.26.26.0.0.0.0.252.3182.5j15j3.23.0..3..0...1.1.64.psy-ab..3.23.3176...0j0i131k1j0i10k1j0i13k1j0i22i30k1j0i13i30k1j0i8i13i30k1.0.zxcZasPrE5U


    Yes, this was what occurred to me first, but they all look a bit 'immediate' as my dad would say.
  9.  
    Posted By: owlmanWhilst home made rads are theoretically possible, you may find in the end they cost more in labour.
    A while ago I asked a local, well equipped, very reputable, engineering company to do a radiator repair/modification. and they advised against it. They said they couldn't guarantee the welds would be pressure/watertight.


    Have you seen the price of the ones linked above? It would be quite a bit of labour.

    Surely I just need a few pieces of steel box section, 3 threaded fittings, and mounting points?
    • CommentAuthorMikC
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2017 edited
     
    The radiator you first posted is very slick looking. You could make one yourself but it might be hard to get that level of finish.

    If you were welding one it would be better to go for stainless IMO, rather than aluminium. You can get box section SS with a gloss or matt finish and square edge corners rather than rounded corners like you would get with the standard mild steel. You then need to cut accurately to have nice mitres.

    If you can find someone locally with TIG welding skills the they could do the welding for you. I doubt whether they would pressure test for you though. Make sure you clean the metal thoroughly with thinners and abrasives as contamination will affect the weld.

    You can pressure test Diy. I have done this when I made a boiler a while back. You need to adapt the plumbing fitting to take an air compressor and pump it up to whatever your target value is. It's obviously better to have the welder available during pressure testing so that you can fix any potential leaks.

    Its doable, if there is a will. And don't underestimate the value of having made it yourself. :)
  10.  
    Thanks Mik. I've just had one quote for welding come back at £600! I don't know whether this means they are not interested.

    I've pressure tested the rest of the system, so if be fairly happy to pressure test myself.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeDec 13th 2017
     
    Posted By: ComeOnPilgrimThanks Mik. I've just had one quote for welding come back at £600!

    There's a reason that car factories (and others) use robots for reliable welding. :bigsmile:
    • CommentAuthorMikC
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2017 edited
     
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: ComeOnPilgrim</cite>Thanks Mik. I've just had one quote for welding come back at £600! I don't know whether this means they are not interested.

    ! That means they are not interested, or you look like a mug 😉
    Either way it's a lot.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2017 edited
     
    I've used square and rectangular section tube for furniture components. in fact I'm on with some now, (75 x 25 mm) tube made into coffee table ends. Going down the welded steel DIY route you'll have some problems.

    1. Furniture grade tube is not cheap
    2. Getting it cut super accurate-and it needs to be, i.e. not in 'yer average smithy shop with a reciprocating hacksaw, will be a challenge unless you know where to go. The places with CNC laser or plasma tube cutting facilities are not that common. and whether they'd be prepared stop some production, to cut 5 or 6 bespoke mitres is another problem.
    3. Then you'll have to get it welded, by a pro, who won't cake the stuff everywhere, and fit some mounting brackets and drill and fit valve lugs.
    4. Then you'll have to get it fettled and the welds nicely cleaned, especially internal corners.
    5. Then primed and ideally powder coated. Or chrome plated.
    6. Plus all your time running around doing it, oh and the tube cutters and the pro welder may want drawings.

    Sorry to sound negative, but as a cabinet maker, and bespoke interiors designer and fitter, I'm faced with this type of problem all the time. You obviously have an eye for nice design hence your original rad choice. Trying to replicate it's precision and flawless finish in your back shed will not be easy. Your skill levels may be good but easily procuring the stuff and knowing the right contacts may be challenging, and, as a first attempt the end result may not be quite right.
    There are numerous nicely designed towel rads that don't have a £1000 price tag and after all most of the time it's covered up with towels. :bigsmile:
    • CommentAuthorskyewright
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2017
     
    Posted By: owlman
    4. Then you'll have to get it fettled and the welds nicely cleaned, especially internal corners.
    5. Then primed and ideally powder coated. Or chrome plated.

    Many years ago I worked for a firm that made (& tested/calibrated) industrial thermocouples & all the kit that goes with them. In some cases this included SS sheaths. IIRC the welding & heat treatment processes caused quite a bit of surface 'bluing'? As well as normal fettling they had a 'burnishing' machine that produced a very nice finish on plain SS.

    The guys in the workshop there would probably have had no trouble producing a rad[1]. As to the economics of such a job, I've no idea., but it would probably work out quite expensive?

    They are based just outside Sheffield. I'd be happy to share their name if anyone wanted to see if they'd consider such a project.

    [1] Since my day I know the firm has moved into pressure testing too, so they might even be able to handle that?
  11.  
    Thanks @owlman! You make some very good points. I'll probably pursue this a bit further to see how feasible it might be, but I can see that a 'one-off' bespoke radiator that looks elegant rather than 'knocked up in the back shed' could easily cost a significant amount!

    @skyewright, I'd be interested in the details of your contact outside Sheffield. Do PM me, or post the details here.
    • CommentAuthorskyewright
    • CommentTimeDec 19th 2017 edited
     
    Posted By: ComeOnPilgrim@skyewright, I'd be interested in the details...

    Whisper sent.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeDec 19th 2017
     
    You obviously like the angular precise look of some towel radiators, but why not consider a different look.
    For instance using thick wall copper tube and standard capillary fittings, ( not just 90 degrees too), you could maybe give it a "steam punk" look. Fittings for valves etc. are readily available, and you may even be able to get it chrome plated or powder coated, or polished and clear lacquered. Wall fixing brackets may be a bit of a problem but not insurmountable. The addition of something wacky like a brass bib tap as a coat type hook could add to the look. :smile:
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeDec 19th 2017 edited
     
    Posted By: owlmanWall fixing brackets may be a bit of a problem but not insurmountable
    Not at all - trad brass pipe stand-off brackets
    https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=brass+pipe+bracket&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiT4YjtgJbYAhVMJsAKHS12DnkQ_AUICygC&biw=1413&bih=627&dpr=1.13
    are versatile and useful for many things, like curtain and wardrobe rails ...
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeDec 19th 2017 edited
     
    Tom, I frequently have used Munsen ring fittings, ( the ones that use a length of studding to connect the back-plate and the pipe ring ). Although useful I'd be a bit wary of those in this instance for several reasons.
    Standard brass stand off rings usually have limited distance, wall to pipe, although longer ones are available but not so easily, and you'd need a good distance to allow for towel bulk. A wood batten could help I suppose.
    Personally I'd go down another route.
  12.  
    Posted By: owlmanYou obviously like the angular precise look of some towel radiators, but why not consider a different look.
    For instance using thick wall copper tube and standard capillary fittings, ( not just 90 degrees too), you could maybe give it a "steam punk" look. Fittings for valves etc. are readily available, and you may even be able to get it chrome plated or powder coated, or polished and clear lacquered. Wall fixing brackets may be a bit of a problem but not insurmountable. The addition of something wacky like a brass bib tap as a coat type hook could add to the look.http:///newforum/extensions/Vanillacons/smilies/standard/smile.gif" alt=":smile:" title=":smile:" >

    Thanks @owlman. One of our neighbours have gone down this route, for their whole house! I liked the way all the pipes were run on the surface, but it looks a bit too much in the bathroom to have all the taps and radiators made this way!
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeDec 19th 2017
     
    Yes, less is more, so they say; but one item, say your towel rad, in an otherwise simple environment and it then becomes a bit of artwork, and stands out. Go for it.
  13.  
    I thought I'd update this thread. Getting a radiator made was silly money, so I left it. In the meantime, it seems that another UK company have started making a similar radiator to the Italian one (link above) at a fraction of the price. So similar, I suspect it won't be long before the lawyers get involved! For those interested, the link for the copy is here: https://www.radoxradiators.com/products.html#!/Serpentine/p/87414722/category=23875721
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