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old timken burners

sparkie Member Posts: 47
Greetings to all! I am in need of some info. I'm working on a thesis about the history of automatic central heating over the past 75 years. I would like some info on Timken wall flame burners. Ive heard they were great, and ive heard they were terrible and everything in between. Could someone tell me what was good and what was bad  and what special problems they posed to the service techs. Thanks


  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    They were

    The best if you knew how to set them up and work on the. They were the worst if you knew nothing about them. My opinion, if they still made parts for them, I would install and service them today. Along with the low pressure GE, they were the cat's meow. With a properly set up Timke, you could walk by it and never know it was running. They ran best on Kero, and at today's pricing, that alone is a killer
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385

    Hayward and Toridheet made rotary units too. Not as good
  • meplumber
    meplumber Member Posts: 678
    Setup was the key.

    It was all about setup. When they were dialed in they were hard to beat. If an unfamiliar technician had messed with it, it could take you forever to dial one in.

    They did not like cold #2 oil. Bill is right. Kerosene was the only way to go with them.
  • Ed N.Y.C.
    Ed N.Y.C. Member Posts: 73

    I Agree.Efficent quiet aslong as you knew what you were doing  ED N.Y.C.
  • CarbonDave
    CarbonDave Member Posts: 9
    Old Timken - Wallof Fire - Burner

    Probably to late to help with the thesis, but I thought you'd like to see some pictures of one still in operation. It's a coal boiler that was converted to the Timken Wall-of-Flame system.

    I can vouch for it's quiet, efficient operation, having performed the maintenance and repair on it for over 15 years. Setting the angle of the fire grates and the air inlet on the base of the motor spinning the nozzles that fling the fuel are key to the proper operation of the burner.

    And yes....she like A-1 kerosene the best.

    Just can't seem to get rid of her....

    System is totally thermo-syphon, no pumps for moving the hot water. Feeds about 10 cast iron radiators.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Timkin Rotary's

    Amazing things aren't they.
  • sparkie
    sparkie Member Posts: 47
    Thank you Carbon Dave

    Thanks so much for sending me those pictures of the Timken! They  are perfect! You are not to late for the thesis im working on, in fact the timing was perfect! Do i have your permision to print those pics out and use them as a visual aid ?

     Also thank you to Bill,Ice and all those who replied!
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    It is a pleasure

    to see one still in operation. I do miss working with them
  • meplumber
    meplumber Member Posts: 678
    Beautiful old Snowman.

    Thanks for the pictures.
  • CarbonDave
    CarbonDave Member Posts: 9
    The Old Snowman

    To all, glad you liked the pictures! I especially like the

    reference to the Old Snowman…Never looked at her, er…him, like that.

    If anyone knows of any old Timken burner parts, especially

    the motor and impeller I’d appreciate any leads.

    I did find this link which has additional info on the Timken



    Sparkie, you have permission to use any of the pictures in

    your thesis. Could you send me a copy of your thesis when it you’re done? I’d

    be interested in reading it. If you need the original pictures files just

    contact me and I’ll send them to you.

    From what I’ve been able to figure out, she was installed in

    the 30’s and converted to the Timken system in the late 40’s or early 50’s.

    One item that is not shown is the expansion tank, which is

    about 15 gallons and is located in the attic. I’ve added a few items over the

    years for safety and to improve efficiency. A mercury switch, over temperature

    shut off is on the hot water outlet and automatic damper are two improvements.

    I really noticed a reduction in kerosene use after adding the automatic damper.

    On the off cycle there was too much heat going up the chimney via. the 8” flue.

     The air inlet on the base of the Timken

    motor is quite large, and you can control the motor speed in addition to the

    air intake, by closing or opening the adjustment. Next to the furnace on the floor

    to the right is the oil control relay and valve. The primary control turns this

    on and there is a small needle valve to adjust the flow into the burner. There

    is also another fine metal mesh screen that needs to be cleaned periodically. I

    added a water and particle filter between the main tank and gravity tank, so I

    usually don’t see any debris on this screen.

    If you look close you may notice the boiler temp of 100 deg.

    F. I took this picture just after the burner shut off. The thermostat is set at

    65 deg.  and it’s 15 deg. outside this

    morning.  The system is heating a house

    built in the ’30’s (no insulation in the walls) and about 40 windows. Would

    make for an interesting heat loss calculation!

    A few years back I was having trouble getting A-1 delivered,

    no one wants to carry it, and I was close to looking for a new burner,  not to mention the price of kero which is

    above home heating oil in my area. Before I went that far I replaced all the

    single pane windows in the house with double pane energy efficient ones and

    added 12” of insulation to the attic. Next year fuel consumption dropped 30%.

    So here I am, still cleaning and keeping the old girl

    running. Takes me about two hours to fully clean the furnace, I wire brush the

    main burn chamber and open the two access doors above the main chamber and do

    the same. Fuel filter gets replaced, electrodes adjusted, stack control cleaned,

    impeller nozzles cleaned, impeller painted, gravity tank motor and mechanism

    oiled, access doors sealed with furnace cement, and then I wash the carbon off


    When everything is adjusted right I get a nice blue flame

    with orange tips and you can’t hear the burner running upstairs.

  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    one thing

    very important on these are keeping all doors, flue access covers tightly sealed. That is a big boy with 2 ignitors, and the distributor most likely both tubes are feeding. I have some parts still kicking around for these. I would also be mindful of the hearth. I see a crack? Any air leaks will affect it's operation. Next to a gas unit, there never was a quieter unit.
  • CarbonDave
    CarbonDave Member Posts: 9
    Important Things


    You've got good eyes, yes there are two cracks on the hearth. The hearth is about four inches thick and supported by a metal pan. I can't even get a piece of paper in them so I've avoided chipping a "V" in them and filling them.

    Would it be better to just put a think coat on the hearth, or just leave it alone? For a thin coat, would a refractory cement do?

    The ignition transformer is about 12"L x 6H" x 4W" and is under the hearth. It looks like an old neon sign transformer with two porcelain knobs at one end. Wiring goes from each knob to the ignitors.

    Did have a problem starting a few years back, with it not starting. The porcelain tubes that hold the ignitors had filled up with carbon and were shorting out. I make it a point to clean them out every season.

    If you have any parts that would fit the burner, such as the small grates inside the burner, motor, or impeller, I'd be interested in a price.


  • CarbonDave
    CarbonDave Member Posts: 9
    Burner Setup

    One thing I have wondered about is the flame location in the burner. I can open up the fuel valve and adjust the air so the flame move up the side of the chamber.

    The pictures that show the burner running were taken through the glass in the main door. The top of the flame is about 8 - 9" up the side burner.

    Is the flame to small or to far down the side of the burner?

    The fuel valve can be adjusted to completely shut off fuel, or opened so far that if floods the burner, even with the air intake at the bottom open fully.
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385

    I would use some furnace cement to fill the cracks, that will do the trick. It sounds like you are changing your firing rate with adjustments, that may be why some creosote is showing up just above the burners. Sparky, lean burning flames are no good. One thing that is good to do when you are servicing, is to clean the pipes on the distributor. This we had always done with a speedometer cable insert. They are like arteries that close down in time. Even though you are using kero, there can still be build up. Although I am surprised and happy to see at least one of them still in operation, finding qualified techs, and parts have closed the door to those, and it may be best to look towards replacing it with a newer system. I don't want to say more efficient, because that is primarily a boiler design thing, and not the burner in my eyes. 
  • CarbonDave
    CarbonDave Member Posts: 9
    Cracked Hearth

    Thanks for the suggestion on the hearth. I'll take care of it during the fall tuneup.I usually run a coat hanger down the distributor pipes on the impeller, but an old speedometer cable sounds like a better tool for the job.

    A few years back I had a Burner Tech look at it, because I had no idea how to set it up. He took a CO reading, flue temp., measured the draft, and looked at the soot / smoke generated I think. At the end of the season I had about 1/8" of soot covering the inside of the burn chamber.

    From then on I did some research into how to set it up and have had better results. Used less oil and it was much cleaner at the end of the season. I found one trick is making sure the grates at the bottom of the burn chamber are set correctly. Still not 100% sure if it is setup properly.

    I know I should be looking at a newer unit, but it runs so good, and replacing it would cause me to deal with the asbestos containment and disposal. I had one price of $2500 just for the that issue.

    Thanks again for the advice,

  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    You are probably

    more suitable to work on that than most guys i see out and about that are servicing. The asbestos is always an issue, and if you are doing anything that disturbs it, at least hit it with a water spray bottle. It is not good to get it air-borne.There should be very little to no soot if it is running right. The burners, depending on the boiler, can be facing either way. The flexibility if the speedo cable is the key. The coat hanger will have a tendency to score the inside if the distributor tubes. A lot of these were replaced with Shell head Verti-Flame burners years back. They proved to be more of a challenge
  • CarbonDave
    CarbonDave Member Posts: 9
    Timken Burners

    To all,

    One last item of the Timken system, the thermostat.

    Also, I ran across these two charts comparing heating costs for different fuels.

    I think I'm going to look at adding a  wood pellet fireplace insert for next winter. From the recent kerosene price I got the insert will pay itself off in two years.

  • CarbonDave
    CarbonDave Member Posts: 9
    Burner Pictures

    I sealed up a few cracks around the base and bottom door that were leaking air per billtwocase's suggestions. Seems to be running quieter now.
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    I had a thermostat just like that, but

    mine said GE on it. It has 120 VAC contacts. Instead of a heater for the anticipator, it had a magnet. The gap could be adjusted to control the size of the dead zone. My boiler was a GE.
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    can always

    see the difference in those when there is excess air from an unsealed door, etc.  Looks nice and blue
This discussion has been closed.