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Any hope for my National Heat Extractor 100 series oil boiler?

My oil boiler conked out on me. I knew it was old--probably 1940s or 1950s, tops--but when I bought my 1922 house five years ago the house inspector said, "Could last you another 20 years, could go out tomorrow." Well, it lasted five more years. The gentleman from my oil company came out and did try to fix it--first they thought it was the stack relay (apparently not, because he put a new one in, and it still didn't fire up), then the wiring, then the oil burner motor. He tried to put in a new motor (if I remember correctly, the current motor was 1150rpms, or around there). He brought a new motor (3450rpms? I didn't write it down), but either it didn't fit, or he couldn't get it installed. So now my oil boiler is sitting in pieces, and I'm sitting in the living room in a 47-degree house (and that's warmer than it has been recently).

Here's my dilemma: I don't want to buy a new oil boiler, because eventually I'd like to convert to gas. I don't want to fool with gas conversion because I'm COLD and getting the requisite three quotes, then getting the work done, will take too long. Plus I have a 250-gallon oil tank that is full because my oil company loves to sneak in and fill up the tank at the end of the heating season each year, regardless of how many calls I make asking them to stop deliveries. So I'd like to try to fix the old warhorse, use up that oil, and then look into converting when it's warmer.

It's a National Heat Extractor 100 series, valve capacity 162 pounds per HR (hour?), Boiler # A105
The burner is an "Esso" Oil Burner No. A2540,
Gilbert & Barker Mfg. Co., Springfield, Mass.
Serial # H8-1853, Model # EBo-A8

I've been asking around to find an experienced oil boiler guy who would even bother to try to fix it, and coming up short. The guy from the oil company I used tried, and said that he could put in a whole new burner for about $800...but then said, "But it'll probably blow up your boiler" (meaning it would be too much power the old boiler, I guess).

Any ideas? I truly don't want to stick with oil any more than this heating season--think I should just chance it with the new burner?

Thanks to anyone who might be able to offer suggestions. I'm in suburban Maryland outside of DC.

Thank you,
Colleen Holt
[email protected]

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,754
    Your best bet is to contact @Steamhead up in Baltimore. He's one of the very best men around. Look him up under "Find a Contractor" -- "All Steamed Up" as I recall.

    But... he may come up with the same sort of answers you've been getting.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Colleen_Holt
    Colleen_Holt Member Posts: 5
    Jamie, thank you. After digging around for the "Find a Contractor" page, I found the number and left a message. Thanks very much.
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,424
    You need a better level of contractor. A new stack relay? Then a 3450 motor to replace a 1725? A new burner is your best bet, it won't "blow up" an old boiler.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    Hatterasguy
  • He may know of a used oil burner to get you by, as so many people have switched to gas.--NBC
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,695
    Colleen,
    You've got a duplicate thread going. Check the responses on the other one.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,026
    edited December 2016
    Going down to take a look at this tomorrow. Thanks for all the kind words.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,115
    @Steamhead will fix you up.

    Just from what your telling us I can tell you that your oil burner tech is a complete klutz. Not qualified to work on any oil burner if he couldn't fix that.

    I would recommend not paying him.

    Out side of that that old Gilbert & Barker was made 5 miles from me. My uncle and his father used to work there. Gilbert & Barker packed up and left The Springfield area and went down south in the early 60s I think.

    They used to be big in the gas station pump business, maybe they still are.

    Today's history lesson!!
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,026
    Well, this was one for the books.

    I had read in a couple Dead Men's Books about burners that used 1140-RPM motors but had never seen one until today. This thing still has its original Gilbert & Barker 1140-RPM motor, which has a capacitor in the junction box. Not sure if this is a very early PSC or the more-common capacitor-start type motor, but it definitely has a ground fault somewhere inside and that's what was tripping the breaker.

    So I'm going back on Monday with a Beckett AF, an extended pedestal, some baffles and a couple air tubes which will all come together to fix this lady up.

    The system is gravity hot-water, and the boiler looks to be in very good shape. We'll make it run as well as it can until she gets a gas line run into her house and can convert. Not sure what I'll do with the museum piece that's coming out...............
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    KC_JonesIronmanSWEISuperTech
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,695
    Get a pic, please.

    Thanks for helping her out.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    My Dad has a new motor still in the box...amazing what the old timer's kept... :/
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,115
    edited December 2016
    Gosh, I have seen a lot of old stuff but never saw an 1150 motor on a burner before. Condenser fan motors on air conditioners and some other stuff.

    Must have been a nice quiet burner!!

    The technician that was there was quite inept not to be able to figure that one out. He probably never saw a stack switch before.

    As far as what to do with the old burner, It probably weighs 200 lbs!!!!!!!!!!
  • Colleen_Holt
    Colleen_Holt Member Posts: 5
    @lchmb, is your Dad's motor an 1150, by any chance? ☺
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    edited December 2016
    pretty sure it's the 1140. and sorry he wont let it go. He has a number of items he collected when he was much younger than I am now..LOL your probably just as well off to drop a new burner in there. Trust me when I say Steamhead is one of the best out there and will not steer you wrong..
    IronmanbilltwocaseSuperTech
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,026

    Gosh, I have seen a lot of old stuff but never saw an 1150 motor on a burner before. Condenser fan motors on air conditioners and some other stuff.

    Must have been a nice quiet burner!!

    I dug up a Dead Man's Book ("Better Oilheating", a compilation of articles from the old Fueloil & Oil Heat magazine, which has a lot of John W. Schultz classics including his treatise on venting steam systems) and in one article it mentions different motor speeds and how they affect the way a burner works. Some burner makers used these different motor speeds to get different capacities out of the same chassis and fan. Higher speeds would of course move more air, resulting in a burner that could fire more oil per hour.

    A couple more recent examples of this:

    1- The Sunray Golden Cup flame-retention burners, where the same basic chassis were fitted with 3450-RPM motors as the industry moved to the higher speed. The capacity of a given chassis model (GC, HC etc) went up drastically when fitted with the higher-speed motor (GC-34, HC-34 etc).

    2- The Beckett "S" chassis. Several burner models have been built off this basic chassis, but the examples here are the SF and SR burners. These are both flame-retention burners, but the SR's capacity was 0.40-2.00 GPH with its 1725-RPM motor, whereas the SF with its 3450-RPM motor could fire 2.50-5.50 GPH. The two burners used the same chassis part number, and one of the two fans listed for the SF is the same as for the SR. The main difference was the motor speed. The SF sounds like a scaled-up AF when running, but the SR gets rid of a lot of the fan noise as compared to an AF.

    Too bad I'll never hear this old Esso burner running.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    I have a couple old motors for those, maybe even a new one? The tech should find a new trade. These were easy compared to some I've worked on thru time. Let's say, GE, Winkler, Petro, Gilbarco, Williams, and so on to name a few. I would upgrade the burner, and definitely the stack control, probably still has mercury aquastats, and baffle it. These were not fun to work on primarily because the burner entered opposite the doors. The flue was rear and above the burner, and guys loved to push them in nice and close to the chimney. Ah, memories
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    edited December 2016
    They were quiet soot makers Frank. This burner needs a proper burial. I will post a pic later today
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,115
    Yeah, @Steamhead I used to use the Beckett SR and liked that burner.

    Carlin also had flame retention with 1725 rpm 175 FR and others.

    But not sure if they used the same chassis with 3450 which was your point.

    @billtwocase Ah the old soot makers, Petro was one of the best at that and the odd motor with the two diameter step shaft. The old stuff was dependable, you could drop it off a cliff and it would still run.

    When the 100crd and the AF came out (about 1970?) we thought we had died and gone to heaven. Some complained about noise, lining the chamber helped and also standardized parts, the 100crd and AF used mostly the same parts.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,026
    Well, the lady is up and running. Good thing we stock 13-inch air tubes, nothing shorter would have worked.

    Between the baffles, the more-efficient burner, brushing & vacuuming, sealing the doors and proper tuning, we got the stack temp down by 150 degrees or so, and the combustion efficiency up from 72 to 79-and-change percent. The stack relay is gone- she now has a proper 15-second primary with valve-on-delay.

    I did take some pics of the Esso, but it's time for bed. I'll post them soon, probably tomorrow.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    IronmanSWEISuperTech
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    edited December 2016
    You are an asset to to all of us Frank. Thank you
    Ironman
  • Colleen_Holt
    Colleen_Holt Member Posts: 5
    Soooo happy to have heat! Many thanks to Frank @Steamhead, who came out the day after Christmas, with a wicked bad cold and cough, and spent the better part of the day installing the new burner and doing everything possible to make an old boiler run as efficiently as possible. And thanks to everyone for their suggestions and comments! Your interest and excitement in my poor ol' boiler and burner actually made the process more fun for me, and I learned a lot. I inserted a picture of the burner "label"--hope it comes through. Sorry if a pic of one of my dogs posts, too--not sure if what I did deleted it or not. Happy New Year, everyone!
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,115
    Good Job!
    Because the old boilers are usually oversized you can usually down fire, baffle, new burner, line chamber etc and get decent 80% or so running efficiency.

    Usually stuck with higher than normal standby loss and a longer warm up time

    But the customer has heat and a safe system and can plan for a future replacement.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,026
    edited December 2016

    You are an asset to to all of us Frank. Thank you

    We need to add a "blushing" emoticon to this board.............. @Erin Holohan Haskell ?

    Here are the pics I promised. The first two are the burner still in place but with the motor removed- they turned out kinda dark:




    Here's what it looks like out of the boiler:



    Here it is in our shed, sitting next to another AF I had sitting around. Look at the difference in size, also note how the air tube gets smaller a few inches away from the chassis. This seems to reinforce the theory that they used the same chassis for several different capacities, and used higher motor speeds (and bigger air tubes) for the higher capacities:



    Finally, the combustion test. The most recent tag we found was from 2012, with what sounded like "rag-and-tags" in more recent years. This photo isn't downsized as much as I usually do so it may take a bit longer to load. But I wanted you all to see what was on the tag and also what was on my Wöhler's screen. Looks like I lied about the combustion efficiency, it actually got up slightly above 80%.



    The Esso had a 1.00x80B nozzle, which I'm assuming was running at 100 PSI. The firebox was what looks like a recent model Lynn bathtub type, which is rather shallow. Not sure if that B (solid cone) nozzle was slamming the flame into the back of the firebox. I really regret not being able to fire the Esso and see what it was doing.

    The Beckett is firing a 0.75x80A (hollow cone) at 140 PSI, for a rate of about 0.90 GPH. The flame neatly fits the firebox without impinging on it.

    The draft regulator resisted my attempts to adjust it, so I just went with what I had. The baffles certainly helped offset the excess draft.

    It's obvious there are some air leaks into this boiler, or it's downfired too far, or both. The nameplate shows a capacity of 1.35 GPH, which of course is with an old-style burner. Dropping this about 15% to accommodate the hotter flame from a modern burner takes us down to 1.15 GPH, so 0.90 doesn't sound excessively low. I suspect air leaks, but we don't want to remove the jacket on a boiler this old for obvious reasons. It's better than it was, and isn't too bad, which is what counts.

    Enjoy!
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    IronmanbilltwocaseSWEI
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    You are the man Frank. That is one of the newer Gilbert and Barker burners believe it or not. The first one I cut my teeth on was probably burner #1 that had a blast tube twice the diameter, and you removed a plate off the top of the blast tube to remove the gun assembly. Flexible Flame was the model. Flexible soot was more like it :) Great save there for her. Did you put a Quickie in it, line the brick, or was it in OK shape?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,026
    edited December 2016
    The existing firebox was in decent shape so I left it as is.

    I had suspected that the boiler was a later Heat Extractor version, since it has a wet base rather than a dry one like we usually see. What do you think- early 1950s on the burner?

    Those Sunray Golden Cup burners are the most flexible I've ever seen. With the proper nozzle spray angles and head settings, you could fire pretty much anything with them. I miss the Sunrays.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    billtwocase
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    Never mind, I see you said there was already a Quickie chamber in it
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    You did exactly as I would have with an AF, nozzle, pump pressure and all. Again, top shelf Frank
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,026
    edited December 2016
    Interesting that the AF was originally called the Beckett Bantam. Check this out- I haven't run into burner head modifications in the field such as those mentioned in this report- have you? (edit- finally figured out how to make the link work)

    EPA oil burner article
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Alan R. Mercurio_3
    Alan R. Mercurio_3 Member Posts: 1,617
    edited December 2016
    Steamead, what more can I say then, kudo’s to you and I’m so darn proud to be able to call you a friend and associate!

    And this is one of the many reasons this place is called “HeatingHelp” @Erin Holohan Haskell thanks for all you’ve done in the background over the years and now carrying on the tradition of helping others from all over the world, by stepping up to the plate as owner, host and administrator of HeatingHelp.com we are blessed to know you and have this resource.
    Your friend in the industry,



    Alan R. Mercurio



    www.oiltechtalk.com
    Erin Holohan Haskell