In 2015, the city of St. Louis began renovations on the Museum of Westward Expansion as part of its $380 million CityArchRiver 2015 project. Located under the famous Gateway Arch, the museum project was deemed high-profile due to its association with the national monument. Time and safety were of the essence, and it was vitally important the products used on the project were dependable, quick to install, and cost-effective.

SystemAire Inc., a Missouri-based full-service mechanical contractor and long-time partner of Victaulic on heating and chilled water applications, was contracted to overhaul the HVAC and saturated steam piping systems for the museum.

In October 2015, Victaulic released their System Solution for Saturated Steam, a grooved solution for saturated steam and condensate piping systems. This product line, which includes the Style 870 rigid coupling and a full line of fittings, was designed for use on both commercial and industrial steam applications to eliminate the need to weld steam piping, resulting in easier installation and maintenance, compressed construction schedules, reduced downtime, and a safer worksite. Additionally, the Style 870 coupling was designed in accordance with ASME B31.1, 31.3, and 31.9 to ensure technical confidence and reliability.

Having heard of the new Style 870 coupling and corresponding fittings from their Victaulic contacts, SystemAire and the project’s engineer of record, KJWW Engineering Consultants, specified the coupling due to their success using Victaulic products on previous projects. As a result, the museum’s steam piping system was installed using Style 870 rigid couplings and fittings, making it the first national monument to use Victaulic’s new steam solution.

SystemAire knew that if they decided to weld, they would need to procure hot work permits and factor in an extended fire watch, prolonging the project schedule and incurring additional costs. These concerns led them to conclude that Victaulic’s System Solution for Saturated Steam was the best fit for the job. According to the company, the product line has increased inherent safety and installation time can be up to five times faster than welding. This allowed the team to avoid unnecessary steps, minimize costs, and keep the project on schedule.

“We reduced our installation time dramatically and eliminated a three-hour fire watch,” said Brad Stearns, SystemAire’s project manager. “The museum’s piping system is suspended 15 ft in the air, and it would have been extremely difficult and hazardous for a welder to access with heavy equipment.”

In addition to these benefits, officials said the Style 870 coupling and visually verified installation provided assurance to the installers, the general contractor, and the engineer on the high-profile project.

“The innovation of Victaulic’s Style 870 coupling brought improved safety to our project, and that was a key priority,” said Neil Hadigan, the lead foreman for SystemAire and a member of UA Local 562. “I am pleased to say the line was commissioned with absolutely no issues, and we consider the installation a complete success.”