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86 year old Steam boiler!

Recently went out to a customer who was complaining about adding water to steam system more frequently then normal. Boiler was installed when her grandparents owned the house bought in 1930. It is approximately 80 - 86 years old. It has served the house for many years and finally has developed a leak above the steam line. The strangest thing was when I looked at the burners the were marking on the valve handles. I was shocked to see what I saw! Look at the pictures to see the images. It is really kind creepy and really I am interested in the history and how that came about. Does anyone know any of the history of this boiler and the manufacturing company?


Very curious.
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Comments

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,513
    edited December 2016
    The origin of the swastika

    It appears as a decorative element in various cultures since at least the Neolithic, and is mostly known as a symbol in Indian religions, denoting "auspiciousness", adopted as such in pre-WWI-Europe and later, and most notably, by the Nazi Party and Nazi Germany.

    Wasn't originally a sign of hate. The swatika is a 12,000 year old symbol. I think the emblem was used as a trademark by several companies, up until or shortly after WWI
    RomanGK_26986764589
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,491
    @Steamhead do you know anything about this boiler? Is it a pinner from the 1930s!?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,319
    Burnham had a line of boilers called Swasteeka. They cast swastikas cast into them.
  • Steve_Q1969
    Steve_Q1969 Member Posts: 5
    The boiler is manufactured by Bryant around 1930-1935.
  • John Mills_5
    John Mills_5 Member Posts: 935
    That's the Bryant brand that is still sold today! They don't make their own boilers anymore.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,319
    I think they bought those valves with the swastika handles from some other supplier- they pop up on the Wall every so often.

    The Nazis stole a lot of different things- I'm sure Franz Josef Haydn was spinning in his grave at the way they used his music for "Deutschland Uber Alles".
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,491
    Steamhead said:

    I think they bought those valves with the swastika handles from some other supplier- they pop up on the Wall every so often.

    The Nazis stole a lot of different things- I'm sure Franz Josef Haydn was spinning in his grave at the way they used his music for "Deutschland Uber Alles".

    So,
    Is that a pinner from the 30s?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,319
    Not quite a pinner, but not a 3-pass. National Radiator had a similar unit.
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,491
    Steamhead said:

    Not quite a pinner, but not a 3-pass. National Radiator had a similar unit.

    Is there a lot of block exposed to heat that is above the water line, like with a pinner?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,319
    I think so.
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,491
    Steamhead said:

    I think so.

    Strange that one lasted 86 years, but all of the pinners rott out because of chlorides eh?

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,182
    Maybe the fact the casting is 2 or 3 times thicker has something to do with longevity.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 8,480
    Yup, I my opinion the "modern" equipment is being pushed to hard and longevity is being traded for increased efficiency.

    Face it the stuff won't last. We used to replace boilers that were 40, 50, 60 or more years old. Now the stuff won't last 10 years
    luketheplumber
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,182
    We pay for it one way or the other,

    i just put a 45 year old Nikon 50mm f1.4 lens back into service on my D7100 DSLR. As long as I use the camera in Aperture preferred mode the exposure will be fine. That old lens can't autofocus and modern cameras have terrible focus screens that make it tricky to focus by hand but there is a focused icon in the viewfinder.

    The reason I'm using this old lens (and some others just as old) is because they are much better lenses than just about anything you can buy now. The materials and quality of build are simply amazing. I compared this old lens with a modern Nikon 50mm that I bought a couple of years back, the old lens is built better than a Rolex, the new is more like a Timex. I think I paid $120 for the new lens, to build the old lens today would probably cost a grand or more.They both work but would you like to guess which one will probably be working in 50 years?

    I also have a Speed Graflex 4X5 from the 40's that that is worn but still works the way it was intended to. That camera uses cut film and is completely manual. Film is tough to source but it can still do the job.

    With boilers we have traded ruggedness and reliability for efficiency and reduced lifespan. With oil shocks of the 70's it was important to make things more efficient and we have accepted the reduced lifespan of boilers and a lot of other things as well.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,591
    Didn't Nazi s reverse the swastika? Those in the photo look like Nazi orientation to me but I'm a bit dyslexic that way.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,513
    I, for one, don't believe we have traded ruggedness/longevity for efficiency. I believe most manufacturers have designed/engineered lifespans and obsolescence into most of the products they produce and sell. They offer warranties that, for the most part reflect the "designed" life of the product or they reduce the warranty period and sell an "extended" warranty that, when combined with the original warranty, still reflects the designed life and, in many cases, they sell a Consumer" grade, "Professional" grade and "Commercial" grade product, each having an incremental cost (with higher profit margins) for some incremental additional life. That's the way I see it anyway.
    MilanDluketheplumber
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,072
    Why doesn't the efficiency discussion ever seem to be about total annual cost? When you include the frequent total replacement the new ones don't come close to these old buzzards on overall efficiency. There is a good chance my 60 year old Bryant would outlast anything I might replace it with today. That is pathetic.
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,513
    PMJ said:

    Why doesn't the efficiency discussion ever seem to be about total annual cost? When you include the frequent total replacement the new ones don't come close to these old buzzards on overall efficiency. There is a good chance my 60 year old Bryant would outlast anything I might replace it with today. That is pathetic.

    I agree 100%! I have a 34 year old Burnham that still runs as well as anything that might replace it and I have no intentions of pulling it out for a new one that may (or may not) be a little more efficient on fuel consumption until the thing blows a hole in it. When you have to replace a boiler every 10 to 15 years, all you did was save a few dollars for five or six months out of the year that doesn't even come close to the overall expense of replacements.
  • NormanC
    NormanC Member Posts: 12
    I made that mistake 18 years ago, now I'm onto my 4th new boiler. I figure it's costing me on average $1500/year in replacement cost.
  • ColinFarquhar
    ColinFarquhar Member Posts: 16
    Crane Valve Co. had swastikas cast into valve bodies and some tags in the 1920's (pre-Nazis).
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,072
    > @NormanC said:
    > I made that mistake 18 years ago, now I'm onto my 4th new boiler. I figure it's costing me on average $1500/year in replacement cost.

    Incredible. Up front cost lower, ongoing annual cost higher for everyone.

    It is the same story whether it is a roof, a furnace or boiler, or a refrigerator. And technology is improving I'm told. Hmmm.
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,328
    PMJ said:

    > @NormanC said:

    > I made that mistake 18 years ago, now I'm onto my 4th new boiler. I figure it's costing me on average $1500/year in replacement cost.



    Incredible. Up front cost lower, ongoing annual cost higher for everyone.



    It is the same story whether it is a roof, a furnace or boiler, or a refrigerator. And technology is improving I'm told. Hmmm.

    Or a truck. My 1970 C10 runs just about as well as my nearly new truck -- and I can tune it myself with a couple of wrenches, a screwdriver, a good ear and a dollar bill (for the points gap).
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.
    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,726
    But, but...Newer is better, more efficient, looks better & is NEWER and BETTER. All those old things are inefficient & look bad, they must be upgraded to newer, more efficient, better things.

    Uh, lol. I think? Maybe sstm instead.

  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,159
    Just curious: didn't the old Williamson Co. go out of business by creating equipment that ran for ever? At some point, when new steam/water equipment only replaces the old and virtually no new construction uses the steam, and hot water is minimal against the extent to which hot air is used, boiler companies don't have an incentive to create a lasting product. They would have to price it so high that noone would purchase it and face going out of business. Thus, obsolescence is engineered along with fuel efficiency. Wfiw.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,513
    edited December 2016
    @MilanD , it has become very apparent that no company/industry has an incentive to build a quality product designed to last 30, 40 or 50+ years. The benefits of building cheap and replacing every 10 or 15 years ensures market stability and in most cases, growth. There was a time when people bought new because they wanted a better technology or truly better efficiency. Now they buy to replace failed systems and take whatever gimmicks come packaged with the newer units (like TV's on the refrigerator door). That's across the board on virtually everything that use to be considered "durable goods". Granted steam systems don't have a lot of growth potential (right or wrong) but one would think a couple or three of those companies would strategize and conclude that if they build a stand out product with a 50 year life, that they could drum all their competition out of the business and have a greater market share, of the replacement market, in the process.
    The government goes after companies that engage in price fixing but they fail to look at how (or if) those same companies engage in collusion to shortening product life and/or reliability in order to create a false market. If they truly want to improve the ecology, take us back to a time when products don't have to be replaced every few years. We all know it can be done. It's the business environment we left behind.
    MilanD
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,194
    Apropos to this topic, I offer this:

    https://heatinghelp.com/blog/seven-years-tops/
    Retired and loving it.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,513
    @Dan Holohan , LOL! And so it goes....
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,591
    Even for commercial and industrial applications longevity was difficult to sell in latter part of XXth century. This century has different business conditions: low interest,high labour costs,&scarcity of skilled craftsmen. But there's less industry these days.
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,072
    > @jumper said:
    > Even for commercial and industrial applications longevity was difficult to sell in latter part of XXth century. This century has different business conditions: low interest,high labour costs,&scarcity of skilled craftsmen. But there's less industry these days.

    It seems to me that because people really don't expect to stay anywhere very long it becomes much harder to "invest" any money in any property. It also at the same time true that on average people have saved less and truly have less to actually invest anyway. In short there simply is no long term view. So in these conditions the lowest up front cost that will get the job done today wins out. So to some extent manufacturers simply provide what the customer is asking for and is obviously accepting.

    At the same time, I confess a personal frustration with the fact that the end result of this is that we all live increasingly surrounded by junk. That it should cost more annually than several decades ago to heat the same structure because just because the equipment is so inferior I think should embarrass us all. The fuel cost has very little to do with it.
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
    MilanD
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,513
    It just seems odd to me that people will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for a home that they only expect to live in for a relatively short period of time and that that home doesn't come equipped with systems that reflect the reasonable life of the home, which today, a house is constructed with a fifty year life expectancy. Electrical systems typically do, plumbing/sewer systems typically do and heating systems use to.
    I can appreciate that someone may want different technologies and upgrades but those upgrades shouldn't set the stage for cheap, lower quality products from that point forward. It's people that don't stay in the same place very long. The house remains and should have an infrastructure that reflects its life, not the anticipated turn-over of its occupants.
    You put quality systems in a house, the appraised value of that property should reflect that. You put a 10 year heating system in a house, the appraised value of that property should also reflect that. I know it "is what it is" but I still think we are letting the manufacturer's of these products off the hook and they are taking it all the way to the bank while we say " that's what people want". Pisses me off. I want quality and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,159
    I think people have been sold on the idea that everyrhing is soooo complicated, that they shouldn't even attempt basic maintenance on anything.

    You can't instal your own water heater, prv, replace anode rod, or run nat gas line for a new appliance, or fix a water/gas leak, or clean those burners yourself on your furnace/boiler... Or vacuum up the blower area, or clean condensate trap on your central ac/heater coil, or, for some, even replace a thermostat on your hvac system... Replace a recepticle or the light switch, or add a plug? Naaahh... You now change oil on your car when the light goes off telling you to (bc we can't even keep track of mileage!?), and don't even try to drain/refil coolant, break fluid, steering fluid... Driving a manual transmission? Forget about it.

    Fridges now have computer circuit boards (?!), washers and dryers too... Stoves are push-button electronic...

    We are systematically being turned into idiots. And with the 30 years of overall decline of family's purchsing power, combined with engineered obsolescence and dumming down the common sense and basic home maintenance knowledge of our kids in schools (there used to be shop class), little person is set up to be on the receiving end of a bad deal, left and right, on all levels: things can't be easily and economically fixed to last longer, people are discouraged from doing things themselves, and those who have skills and the know-how are few and far between, as we can see on this board over and over and over again with systems installed by knuckleheads.
    HatterasguyBobC
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,159
    @Fred

    You nailed it with home construction issues: people used to live in the same house a life time. Now, 10 years, 15, and, you move. New owner is almost expected to update it... New kitchen, bath, furnace... What the heck... And most can't replace or repair a dripping faucet or toilet fill valve.

    And at the same time, as @PMJ said and I also noticed: overall wealth of a family has declined to the point that the cheapest in the short term does it.

    I heard somewhere that 80% of families in the US woild be hard pressed to come up with $1,000 in an emergency.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,159
    edited December 2016
    I stand corrected: 2/3 of families on the average, 3/4 of families living on less than 50k/year:

    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/965e48ed609245539ed315f83e01b6a2
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,159
    There is a poverty crisis brewing in this country and noone is talking about it. We're all going broke, but heck - it's all about hacking of them emails...
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,072
    MilanD said:

    @Fred



    You nailed it with home construction issues: people used to live in the same house a life time. Now, 10 years, 15, and, you move. New owner is almost expected to update it... New kitchen, bath, furnace... What the heck... And most can't replace or repair a dripping faucet or toilet fill valve.



    And at the same time, as @PMJ said and I also noticed: overall wealth of a family has declined to the point that the cheapest in the short term does it.



    I heard somewhere that 80% of families in the US woild be hard pressed to come up with $1,000 in an emergency.

    Whatever the combination of reasons how we got here, the results can't be a sign of progress. The inferior equipment with the low up front cost makes all the homes actually less affordable for everyone. It becomes then even less likely that average folks can afford to have a home. Think of it - inferior and less expensive up front construction, inferior and less expensive up front equipment inside, and yet actually higher annualized costs to own and operate. Something is truly wrong with this picture.
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
    MilanD
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,072

    MilanD said:

    There is a poverty crisis brewing in this country and noone is talking about it. We're all going broke, but heck - it's all about hacking of them emails...

    If there is a poverty crisis, kindly explain to me how the latest fads including $700. I-phones, $2,000 televisions, $3,000 refrigerators, $1500 front load washers, $4,000 granite countertops, $1000 one piece toilets, $400 towel warmers, $600 vacuum cleaners, $50,000 vehicles, and a bevy of $200. electronic gadgets continue to be sold with reckless abandon on a daily basis?

    The "crisis" is the inability to manage money and procure items that one can afford and avoid the procurement of items that your neighbor believes he can afford (but obviously cannot).
    You are correct. The cash for all this stuff comes from what used to be put into actual home equity and actual retirement funds.

    But I will point out that the the ability of the average citizen to manage this was never there. In the not too distant past banks required homeowners to build equity - homeowners were not given an option. Corporations managed the retirement benefits. Now that the institutional structure for both are gone and all is up to the average Joe he has no equity, no pension, and one hell of a lot of cool (and ultimately worthless) stuff.
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
    Hatterasguy
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,072

    PMJ said:

    Now that the institutional structure for both are gone and all is up to the average Joe he has no equity, no pension, and one hell of a lot of cool (and ultimately worthless) stuff.

    It's only "cool" for about two months until the neighbor buys it. Then we need to move onto the next "cool" as the previous "cool" is now, effectively, worthless.

    I drive a Mercedes-Benz six cylinder automobile that was "cool" in 1989. It gets me to the same destination at the same time as a "cool" 2016 Porche Cayman. It does not, however, have heated seats, a heated steering wheel, and it certainly cannot park itself. I'm really troubled by that.
    Agreed.

    For what it is worth, I think your '89 Benz is cool.
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
    MilanD
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,513
    edited December 2016
    On top of the lack of home equity and a lack of ability to manage one's own pension planning, banks/lending institutions have made unsecured loans with huge interest rates commonplace and people use it to buy all the "cool" junk which means they are paying anywhere from 25% to 50% more than that junk wasn't worth when they bought it. Not to mention the fact that they are still paying for it long after they have thrown it away, in favor of more "cool" junk upgrades! AND, we've made sure those poor planners have access to home equity loans so they can ensure they tap every penny (and often more) of equity they might have built, out of their homes.
    MilanD
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