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blog on age of steam systems, P. Linhardt
Yesterday was my birthday, which means I'm one year older, which got me to thinking about aging, which got me to thinking about the age of some of the steam systems we work on or live with, which made me go looking in the collection of old steam parts we have here at work. I was looking for a trap or a vent or something with a patent date from 1905. Manufacturers were proud to announce their patent dates back when, sometimes cast into the body, sometimes stamped into a tag. I thought a 100 year old item would be fun to post here.
I checked a lot of the museum pieces on display at the sales counter, but couldn't match the '05 date. They were close, but no cigar. I started rummaging through some boxes of items not on display and found a true gem. It is not from 1905, but from 1915. Specifically, Feb. 16, 1915! It is a beautiful radiator handvalve from the C.A. Dunham Co. It has the wooden handle and the nickel finish and the packless design and the internal adjustment to match steam flow to radiator capacity and the patent date proudly displayed below the trademark of that era and the place of manufacture, Marshalltown, Iowa. It has it all, quite a piece of quality construction in amazing shape for being 90 years old.
I love this old stuff, and I know some of you do too. Thought I would share this little find and reflect on the age of the equipment. Most steam systems are from 50 to 100 years old now. Not much in geologic years but quite old in technology years. So much changed in the heating industry, but steam heating just kept on chugging along. Steam seemed to fall out of favor for a time, but I think it is enjoying a bit of a rebound lately. Heck, some guys are putting new systems in their own homes while others are lovingly restoring what they have. If this forum is any indication, there are plenty of technicians and homeowners commited to keeping this technology alive, despite its age.
Questions and comments always welcome.
Best regards, Pat