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Steam & Hydronic Alive & Well in North Dakota (Steamhead)

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The Boiler Dr.
The Boiler Dr. Member Posts: 163
I would have taken the 4hr drive to be part of that group! Unfortunately, there is not the will north of "the line" to try retain much of the old steam. I try to follow in your footsteps as best I can up here steamhead

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  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
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    Did my first steam seminar this past weekend

    for Preservation North Dakota, in Minot, ND. This also included some boiler room tours, but I only had the camera along for one: the old Berry Hotel in nearby Velva.

    Velva is a small community two towns southeast of Minot, and the hotel catered to railroad passengers as well as farmers wishing to stay in town during the 40-below winter. The hotel is now privately owned, used as a residence and is being restored. It was built in the early 1900s and has a one-pipe steam system.

    The original boiler is a coal-fired, brickset steel boiler of unknown make, fired by a coal stoker, and was in use until 12 years ago. It had a shell-and-tube heat exchanger for domestic hot water. In summer, a small coal-fired water heater was used.

    The brickset boiler was superseded by a Weil-McLain EGH boiler and a totally unnecessary boiler-feed pump and master trap.

    Note to those of you who travel by air: I was not impressed with the service rendered by Northwest Airlines. My trip included a total of four flights and two of them were delayed by mechanical problems. I would avoid Northwest until they get their act together.

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  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
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    More interesting hotel photos

    The laundry area, like most of the hotel, is a real time capsule. The machinery is all driven by a lineshaft on the ceiling, powered by an old motor that looks like Thomas Edison wound the coils. This machinery will be preserved.

    The electrical system pre-dates utility service in that area. The original system was a "Colt" which had its own generator. I believe this was marketed by the same Colt company that makes guns; I've seen their name on electrical equipment before.

    At some point, two unit heaters were added to the basement. These will probably be disconnected since the basement stays warm enough.

    The last pic includes the owners, Al and LoriMae Reynolds. Ms. Reynolds was the one who asked me to come to Minot. I hope she and her colleagues at PND found it as worthwhile as I did.

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  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
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    Pics of the hotel and system details

    Showing several views of the lobby, and a loop seal where the ends of the two steam mains join together. The Dead Man who put that in really knew what he was doing!

    The front desk also served as an answering point for the local fire company before 911 service began. The old phone and motor starting switch for the siren are still there.

    I was also able to tour the old Carnegie library in Minot, which has one-pipe steam, and a house on the west side of Minot that has gravity hot-water with the original early-1900s round boiler. All the equipment I saw was gas-fired, however the area does have fuel oil dealers. There was even a stoker manufacturer located in Minot.

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  • Christian Egli_2
    Christian Egli_2 Member Posts: 812
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    The unvented two pipe plane

    Haa, well, see, airplanes are not steam powered... maybe that's something that should be fixed.

    :)

    You made it forth and back safely that's about all I'd worry about but I have to agree the Pretzel packets are not up to it. The Minneapolis airport caught my attention a long time ago as it was (I believe) one of the first to go with a mall like design and feature it with real fast food joints. I first remember the Burger King there while the mainstream airports relied more heavily on shady operators who'd scam you for a dried up hot dog.

    Welcome home.


  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
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    Great audiences!

    all home and building owners though. Next time we hope to see some contractors!

    Credit for this group of photos goes to Ms. LoriMae Reynolds. Nice job!

    If you're ever in Minot, stop by the Reynolds' candy shop, Chocolatopia. There you will find some of the best home-made chocolate you've had.

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  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
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    The nicest part of the M/SP airport

    was the fact that the entire mall area, restaurants etc. were located in the secure area with all the concourses and gates. Unlike BWI, you don't have to go thru security again to get from one concourse or mall area to another.

    It was generally a good trip but I'm glad to be back- and so is The Lovely Naoko.

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  • [Deleted User]
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    Congratulations Frank!!

    Not only are you preserving history, you are teaching a dieing trade. Keep up the good work, and if you ever decide you need to come to Denver, let me know. I know all of the steamsters around here :-) I'm SURE we could all learn something from you.

    I see you're using the proven Holohan Road Sow presentation methods.

    Good on you.

    ME
  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
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    Welllllll

    since about the only thing that can go wrong with this method is a burned-out lamp, and there are office supply stores in the area, it seemed the best way to go.

    But I did get a laser pointer that can project a dot or an underline, and either one can blink. Have to have some bling-bling, eh?

    Seriously, if you want to put something together, get in touch. I need an excuse to take The Lovely Naoko to the Rocky Mountain area ;-)

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  • LoriMae
    LoriMae Member Posts: 13
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    Thank You

    Steamhead,

    Minot loved having you here! Your presentation was wonderful and several of the folks in your classes made it for the hotel tour and just HAD to see the old boiler. In fact, you converted several so that they will be preserving their systems and not switching to anything else.

    Can't wait to fine tune the system with your suggestions.

    Thank the lovely Naoko for loaning you to us up here in North Dakota. Hope the chocolate was a good "bribe".

    LoriMae
  • Brad White_9
    Brad White_9 Member Posts: 2,440
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    Tributes like that

    including the notion that because of Frank "Steamhead" Wilsey some systems will be restored, has some of us weeping openly.

    Good on you, Frank!

    LoriMae- how kind of you. You bet! :)
  • Dave Yates (GrandPAH)_1
    Dave Yates (GrandPAH)_1 Member Posts: 364
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    question???

    How comes you get a classroom filled with lovely lasses while the rest of us get sweaty tobacco-chewing guys?

    Question: what's the per-foot rating on the convector in the room where you spoke. Looks like 2x2 steal finned black-iron would be the order of the day for that unit?
  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
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    Probably bigger fins than that

    It's commercial hot-water fin-tube, but I didn't look at it that closely. As for the audience, they were the ones who were interested ;-)

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  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
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    My pleasure

    and the results are quite gratifying. I look forward to seeing you all again, and hearing of the savings you experience after installing seven Gorton #2 main vents!

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  • hvacfreak
    hvacfreak Member Posts: 439
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    \" Somebody say keep on rockin \"

    You are one of the greats in my book. -Mike
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
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    That is very cool :)

    That is doing what you are being called to do...it is amazing how doing more rather than less seems to be more rewarding .. it sounds like the people were considering keeping you there :))

    They must Love ya :)
  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
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    One reason to retain it

    is that it doesn't have the potential for freezing and bursting in an extended power or fuel failure, the way hot-water can. Except for the wet returns in the basement, and the boiler itself, all the pipes drain dry when the system shuts off. That's a highly desirable feature in the Great White North (antifreeze? We don't need no stinkin' antifreeze!).



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  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,151
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    Good for you, Steamhead

    for going to such lengths to help out a steam afficionado. Above and beyond the call of duty for you to travel so far and help a homeowner. And what a pleasant journey it turned out to be.

    I propose Mr. Steamhead Esq. :}

    hot rod
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Dennis
    Dennis Member Posts: 101
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    North Dakoda is like the Disney World of ancient hydronic

    heating?

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
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    Plenty of old stuff

    in the Minot area. I wish I had taken more pics!

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  • TK03
    TK03 Member Posts: 54
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    Shirt

    Kudo's Steamhead! Glad all went well on your first seminar. It is a great part of the country.You now know the personal high of educating others. By the way I like the t-shirt.
  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
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    That shirt

    was a good match for the slide showing the Mega-Steam!

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