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Antique cast iron boilers

Most of these boilers were assembled in place or ramped into the basement before the house was built. If it was converted to gas, the fire grate has been removed to make way for the conversion burner. Like I mentioned to you before, you will never get one apart and put back together again without it leaking like a sieve. There may be new coal or wood burning boilers available. Post that question here on the wall to see what you get.

Dave in Denver
Dave Stroman


  • Mitch MaderMitch Mader Member Posts: 4
    Antique cast iron coal boilers

    I am trying to find an old antique cast iron coal boiler from the 1890s to 1930s in good condition. I just don't want a new one that has to be replaced all the time. I am interested in the folllowing brands: American Radiator Company Ideal Red Flash Boiler, or a Mills Water Tube Boiler. If anyone can help I will appreciate it. Thanks so much.


    Mitch Mader
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 1,160
    One minor problem....

    The water drum on these beast is bigger than the door of the house...

    They were originally lowered into the basement prior to floor joist placement, for a REASON...

    That requires the boiler to be beaten apart or cut in half in order to get it out. By that time, its ready for the scrap pile.

    I know where there is one, on a job that were redoing right now. The wise HO realized what he'd have to do in order to get the boiler out, so he had it abated, and is leaving it right were it is. He connected it to the new heating system and it's going to be the heater for his dart/party room. It's on a TRV to avoid overheating the room. He's going to paint it up real purdy too..

    I'll take pictures and post them, but I don't think hes interested in getting rid of it.

  • Greg SwobGreg Swob Member Posts: 167

    I have a customer with an ARCO with a patent date of 1904 that still needs the thin layer of asbestos removed from the main body, then it will be ready for removal. This was originally coal, converted to NG in the 1940's. The last one we took out of service had asbestos professionally removed, but had to be destroyed as Mark said due to size and weight. The owner's college aged sons had a summer project of removing it. They literally beat it with sledge hammers, only to get small holes and bits of cast iron to break free. This wasn't like an old cast bathtub where a few good whacks turns it into a pile of cast shards. This casting was very thick, dense and did not come out without a fight. I wanted the shamrock decorated door, but asked too late. Maybe I can get the one mentioned earlier in the post. There are no doubt many out there still, but finding and removing them will be a challange. Also, you may want to tiptoe over to, as a pro there had some photos of very old and unusual boilers just in the last two days.
  • Dave StromanDave Stroman Member Posts: 759

    Dave Stroman
  • Mitch MaderMitch Mader Member Posts: 4

    Where on are the photos? I couldn't find them.

  • Mitch MaderMitch Mader Member Posts: 4

    Hi Greg,
    I just wondered if you know where the pics of the old boilers on hvac-talk are. I couldn't find them.


    Mitch Mader
  • Seattle NickSeattle Nick Member Posts: 64
    Not what you are looking for...

    but a neat photo none the less! Labelled "Firebox for first Copper River steamer" courtesy of Alaska's Digital Archive.

    Plus a few others I have been saving......

  • I'm tearing one out right now(American Standard Red Flash). Big old beast! end sections are 510 lbs., and the center sections are 386 lbs. This old boiler was well cared for and the red and black jacket had been waxed several times after being replaced 45 years ago with a gas fired unit. Now both of them are coming out! I'll try to post a picture this evening.
  • Mike T., Swampeast MOMike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928
    Can't Believe This...

    ...but two UNUSED American Standard Severn boilers available at ebay. 104 & 125 mbh net output.

    New Old Stock Solid Fuel Boilers

    Even comes with original setup/use/service instructions!
  • WeezboWeezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    Mitch. You certainly dont want one that \"needs\" to be...

    replaced all the time! Let me attest to that. those are some extremely HeaVy buggas. i have one or two that i have been "Given" they however are likely exactly where they were when i finished installing a new boiler. One Monster boiler i replaced with a 663, and the joke was the look in my buddies eyes when it indeed was installed and he returned to the Boiler Room.

    unless you are building a museum...i m really sure you wouldnt want to pay shipment from here....
  • jerry scharfjerry scharf Member Posts: 419
    I'm confused


    Is it that you like the look of it or is this a an issue of economy. If it's a look kind of thing, then it's personal taste. What type of fuel do you want it to burn?

    If it's economics, I'd do the numbers. Let's say that a new boiler lasts 20 years on average, and a new old boiler lasts 50 years on average (wild guesses.) So over 50 years, we're talking about an extra $1500 (1.5 boilers @$1000.) That old boiler is not going to run at the same efficiency as a new unit. Let's just say that a modern unit runs 15% more efficient than the old unit. If you spend $1000 per year on fuel, that would be a saving of $150 per year. Over the next 50 years, that would come to $7500 in savings. Even if you got the old boiler for free and the installation costs were the same (fat chance) the numbers still don't come out close.

    Finally, buying an old boiler that has lasted 80+ years doesn't mean it will last another 80. With the removal and reinstallation, it could well have a shorter life than a new one.

  • Red Flash Pix

    Sorry that there are not better pictures available. It took a crew of 5 7 hours to rip out two boilers and all the related piping. Now comes the fun, I have to have the replacement fired up by Friday 4PM!
  • AlanAlan Member Posts: 64

    having hit the big 50 this week ,and 25th anniversary this summer it's nice to see some of this stuff still running strong.The Crawford is coming out soon, but the severn and weil mclain are running strong.
  • AlanAlan Member Posts: 64

    having hit the big 50 this week ,and 25th anniversary this summer it's nice to see some of this stuff still running strong.The Crawford is coming out soon, but the severn and h.b. smith are running strong.
  • AlanAlan Member Posts: 64

    Having hit the big 50 recently, and 25th anniversary this summer,it's nice to see some of this stuff going strong.The crawford is coming out soon, but the Severn and hb smith are still cranking out the heat. About 30 years ago ,my father in law told the owners of the smith boiler it might not last much longer.He has joined the " Dead man's club", but that boiler is going strong. P.S need brushes for Ridgid # 400 threader motor.
  • SqueakSqueak Member Posts: 1
    Trojan cast iron coal boiler

    I have a 75 year old friend who has a Trojan coal boiler setting in the ground floor of his warehouse/shop. It was built by W.A. Case & Sons Mfg. Co. in Buffalo, NY. The unit rests atop a 10" high concrete riser, is in excellent condition, and still has the insulated water pipes attatched. It is a #85 series  J-1.

    I cannot find anything on the internet referencing this.

    He deals in antiques and would like to dispose of it. He needs the floor space.

    I would be glad to take some pictures and post them.

    Thank you.

  • redflashredflash Member Posts: 4
    edited February 2011
    American Standard? Ideal Redflash Boiler


    First of all, I'm so glad to have come across your site.  It seems like there are many knowledgeable people here and I've had such a hard time finding info on my RedFlash Ideal Boiler

    So, from what I've gathered, this is a converted coal unit now running oil.  Today, I was messing with it and discovered that the water level (it's a water unit, not steam) must have been very low.  I added enough to the point that the overflow (in the basement) overflowed. 

    However, I want to be sure I did the right thing.  There is an altimeter (not a tridacator) on my RedFlash,  One needle is fixed to 50 (don't know why), another hovers at maybe 20-25ish and the largest needle moved around while I filled it.  I chose to fill it slowly rather than open the valve wide.   When the overflow began I ran it an extra minute to maybe flush anything nasty out.

    I plan to bleed the radiators tomorrow, starting from top down, as that is what I've been told to do.

    I would just really like to know if I'm doing the correct things.  As well as any advice on operating this beast.   Anything is appreciated!

    Aside from all this, I also plan to shut the unit down and give it a good cleaning, there is plenty of ash build up internally and I can only imagine that really inhibits it's conduction.  I have yet to really check out the expansion tank in the attic but I'd imagine it's not really serviceable?

    I'm a younger guy that really wants to understand this thing. I really would never want to replace it with some new unit that'll have issues and fail in 15-20 years.  I'm also kind of a cast iron freak... I have an antique house in northern nh that is heated only by antique cookstove and parlor stove, the heat is amazing! 

    Any input, any advice, anything you can tell me about this thing... how to clean it, what to do... is GREATLY appreciated!   Help save this old boy!!! I'm sure my RedFlash will last another 90 years!!!!!

    Also, I'm told I should buy extra jets for the oil burner, is this something that should be left to the oil service company or am I ok to take a couple of wrenches to the burner?   These are all questions my father could answer in a second, however, he's no longer with us.  The craftsman that are knowledgeable enough to answer these questions are in short supply, it's really, sadly  a lost science.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,337
    Well, you have the right idea

    but there's more to it than that. Take a pic of the gauges you have. The fixed hand on 50 might be there to show you when the system is full. Where did the other hand end up when the water came out the "overflow"? Is the expansion tank in the basement, or at the top of the house?

    Oil burner service is best left to a pro. But, what make and model burner do you have?

    Where are you located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • redflashredflash Member Posts: 4
    Here are pics...

    Hello, thank you for your reply!

    Sorry for the bad lighting in the pics, I have yet to add lighting to that part of the basement yet.  I've added a link to pictures too:[email protected]

    On the altimeter, Red needle did not move during filling, nor did the smaller black needle

    fixed at 50. The larger black needle fluctuated and settled at 24 when I

    stopped filling.

    The expansion tank is located in the attic.

    The thermostat reads 130 and the Aquastat is set just below 160.

    I did clean out a lot of ash from it last night, trying not to scrap the bottom are where it looked like there could be some asbestos.  I also stayed clear of the firebox which must have been added when it was changed over from coal to oil, I want to get that area gently with a wet/dry vac as it looks kind of brittle. 

    I'm going to leave the burner to the pros...
  • Mike KusiakMike Kusiak Member Posts: 604
    Interesting gauge

    That gauge looks like it reads altitude in feet with the main black needle. The red needle is manually set to indicate what the normal water level should be. It won't change in operation.

    The fine black needle at 50 actually appears to be a stop spring, which restrains the needle from going above 50. If you look carefully, the scale becomes nonlinear after the 50 marking, as the next marking is at 70 and the scale is compressed compared to the lower pressure graduations.

    Never saw one like that before!
  • redflashredflash Member Posts: 4
    reply: Gages

    I believe you are correct, the couple of extra feet i'm over must be in the expansion tank (in attic) and will overflow to the basement if it becomes a problem.  If I allow more water into the system, it just overflows from the attic (3ed floor) into a basin sink in the basement anyway.  

    Also, this system is open atmospheric, so I'm not concerned about building up excess pressure. The expansion tank has a 6' pipe out the top of it to allow air in. 
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Antique CI Radiators: New thread:

    First, you should start a new thread. It is hard to find where the current place is in a posting as old as this is.

    If you bought a new tridicator gauge for this boiler, one needle would show the system temperature. The other pointer would show two things. The system pressure and the altitude of the water above the gauge on the boiler. There are two scales. One above the other that will be corresponding. Multiply the pressure times 2.31 and it will give you the height above the gauge that the water is. When it gets into the tank, it will overflow when the tank is filled. Then you shut off the fill valve. It is considered an "open" system. If the Altitude gauge doesn't show the correct height, the gauge may have frozen and may not read correctly. Usually, the black pointer is moved to the point where water overflows from the tank on the gauge. Then, when the red pointer gets up to the black one, the system is filled. If you check the boiler and see the level is low, you add water. If you forget to shut it off, it will overflow.
  • Mike KusiakMike Kusiak Member Posts: 604
    Sight glass?

    Check and see if the expansion tank in the attic has a sight glass on the side to indicate water level. If it does, it would show the proper fill level. Then you could go downstairs and reset the red needle on the gauge to make the altitude reading correspond to the indicated level.

    If there is no sight glass, you could fill to the overflow point, and reset the red needle to this altitude reading. A Ice suggests, this will indicate a fully filled system and any drop in reading will show that you need to add more water.

    Remember to refill after you bleed the radiators, as the displaced air will cause the water level to drop.

    If you can, post some pictures of the boiler, as it looks like you have a completely original system except for the replacement oil burner. Seems to be in great shape for its age.
  • redflashredflash Member Posts: 4
    pic of system

    I'll get some pics of the system up tonight, I want to dust it off a little...

    Is it possible that the red indicator is the minimum that the system requires?  I'll check for a sight glass on the expansion tank.  The tank is the size of a water heater and wrapped in fiberglass insulation.
  • Mike KusiakMike Kusiak Member Posts: 604
    Could be

    The present red pointer setting could be the minimum water level. It is a relative reference set by someone years ago, so its hard to tell. How tall is the tank? The gauge shows 3 feet above the red reference pointer. If the overflow is 3 feet above the middle of the tank, it could indicate when the tank was at its nominal half filled level. The water level on the tank will rise when the water is heated in the system, so the tank should usually be less than completely full.
  • Ben3522503555Ben3522503555 Member Posts: 3
    American Radiator Company boiler Mint Condition

    I have a American Radiator Company Coal fired boiler that is in near mint original condition. As it has spent its entire life in Florida it has Bradley been used.

    Is this "beast" worth anything?..... It is on the ground floor and is ready for pick up.

    This thing is beautiful and real clean on the inside and out is just dusty.
  • Ben3522503555Ben3522503555 Member Posts: 3
    American Radiator Company boiler Mint Condition

    I have a American Radiator Company Coal fired boiler that is in near mint original condition. As it has spent its entire life in Florida it has Bradley been used.

    Is this "beast" worth anything?..... It is on the ground floor and is ready for pick up.

    This thing is beautiful and real clean on the inside and out is just dusty.
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,535
    What a treasure

    It would be difficult to move, from your Deep South (what part of Florida?)

    Are you counting on global warming so as not to need it for winter heating from now on?--NBC
  • sopcopotoptopsopcopotoptop Member Posts: 1
    Arco Ideal Boiler

    Nice looking boiler.  How many square feet is your home?  Mine is 2,850 and I'm in Ohio.  Wondering if this boiler would keep up on the coldest day of our winters.  Do you have rough dimensions of this boiler?  Height, width, depth?

    Thanks for the info.
  • antique_boiler3antique_boiler3 Member Posts: 1
    We have a Gorgeous Antique Boiler made in the 1930's. Excellent Condition. We are looking for someone who is looking to buy it from us. Texas
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 6,535
    Have you tried Craigslist?
    It gets cold in Texas.
    Post some pictures of it in the for sale section here.
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