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Sears homes

j a_2
j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
Just doing a little research about Sears and Robuck, never knew that sears sold house kits back in the early 1900s..They shipped them by train to the customers, it has me fascinated.....They offered 3 types of heating systems....Anyone know of a book that may cover the stories
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Comments

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    edited July 2017
    j a said:

    Just doing a little research about Sears and Robuck, never knew that sears sold house kits back in the early 1900s..They shipped them by train to the customers, it has me fascinated.....They offered 3 types of heating systems....Anyone know of a book that may cover the stories

    I don't have much info, but we almost bought a "Sears" home back in 2011. Sadly, our Realtor found out there had been a fire and the building had a lot of internal damage. I believe it was from the 1920s, looked really nice from the outside.

    What amazes me is, Sears, "The Catalog company" can't compete now that many sales are shifting towards online, aka "mail order".

    You'd expect them to be in their Prime now! Instead, as online sales grew, they became worse and worse.

    I can only assume piss poor management.

    Their tools used to be fantastic, now, I don't want any part of them.
    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
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    @ja.......Have you tried to look for archived Sears and Roebuck catalogs? A lot have survived, believe it or not. We have a house in my town, that I was told, was a Sears & Roebuck house.
  • danFromNJ
    danFromNJ Member Posts: 21
    There's a Sears archive site where you can see all the different house designs sold over the years. It also has links to books about building a Sears home.

    http://www.searsarchives.com/homes/references.htm
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,987
    When I was a kid we always had Sears, Montgomery Ward and Speigel catalogs. I would spend hours going through the Sears & Wards catalogs drooling at the tools and fishing equipment.

    there was an article a while back in Popular Mechanics (within the last year) where they had the son of the original owner of a Sears house his father had built back in the 50s as a vacation home & all the changes they made to it.

    All the Craftsmen tools (wrenches & stuff)used to be made right here in Springfield, MA by Moore Drop Forge. Used to deliver oil there back in the 70s
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    Thanks guys I am going To do some research..I have fond memories of sears, as it once was...
  • FranklinD
    FranklinD Member Posts: 399
    My house is a very early Sears Catalog Home...as are 4 others on my block. They are pretty common in this area (Duluth MN/Superior WI).

    Common enough that eventually they faced stiff competition from local builders...Lagae Homes, Humphrey Houses, and a few more. They all have very distinct looks and layouts. Some had more "options" added than others.

    It's interesting to note that around here almost every Sears home was built with hot water heat.
    Ford Master Technician, "Tinkerer of Terror"
    Police & Fire Equipment Lead Mechanic, NW WI
    Lover of Old Homes & Gravity Hot Water Systems
  • Harvey Ramer
    Harvey Ramer Member Posts: 2,221
    My first gravity job was in a Sears & Robuck home. The house sits on the the river front with a spectacular water view. Back in those days, I still did carpentry, and was tasked with building a large addition on the river side of the house. The addition had a cathedral ceiling and large picture windows facing the river. It also had to tie in seamlessly with the rest of the house. The original house came with a trim style called "Classical Craftsman". It is a wide boxy trim style from the early 1900's late 1800's era. I fell in love with it and have it in my own house now.

    The house was heated with an old coal boiler that had been converted to oil at some point. The boiler was sitting in a hand dug section of basement. The rest of the house had crawl space. You could see, by the marks on the concrete, they used what ever scraps of lumber they had left for concrete forms in the dugout section. They poured the concrete directly against the dirt. And the conctrete was super hard! There were to large mains coming off the boiler and running along each side of the house to feed the cast iron rads. They also had returns piped right alongside. The first takeoff tee had the branch coming off the bottom and each successive tee had the branch rotated further and further upward till at the end of the line, the branch came off the top of the main. The system was well balanced.

    I converted the system to circulation and added radiant to the new addition.

    It was a fun project!
    Gordy
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,750
    I know of 2 Sears houses out here. Neither one had hot water heat.
    In the one I remodeled there was no evidence of gravity hot air, no large floor cuts, wall stack or floor furnace floor cut.
    They might have been heated with owner furnished wood burning stove in the living room and cook stove in the kitchen. Sears sold these items also and perhaps they were included in the package on the train. There was no electricity available for that house until 1950.

    An indication of it being a Sears house was the factory writing on the back of the stair tread and risers. Also markings on the back of the trim millwork which was pre-cut.

    The stories I heard of them was that everything was included except the basement which the owners had to furnish.

    And it was said that that business dried up during the 30's with the great depression. So it was assumed that these were built during the 1920's, (for this area anyway).

    Later in the 50-60's forced air furnaces were added in the basement.
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    Thanks all, I am appreciative of the stories....Already ordered a book for doing some digging into the era of homes like these....Gonna try and find one that was built up here in the local Boston area...IDK it just sparked my interest
  • MikeL_2
    MikeL_2 Member Posts: 369
    j a,
    I consider myself fortunate to live in a Sears home. Mine ( model - " concord " ) was delivered from the train station by horse drawn wagon in 1905 and assembled on a hand dug basement and field stone foundation........
    MilanD
  • bob_46
    bob_46 Member Posts: 813
    Who remembers Homart furnaces ,boilers and water heaters ?
    bob
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    bob said:

    Who remembers Homart furnaces ,boilers and water heaters ?

    The house I grew up in had a Homart 1/2HP submersible sump pump from 1958 that was absolutely insane. Was still in use when the house was sold in 2006 and it was able to keep up with 2 typical 1/3HP pumps that were in the other pit during bad storms.

    It was also very quiet with a very unique sound to the motor as well.
    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
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    MikeL said:

    j a,

    I consider myself fortunate to live in a Sears home. Mine ( model - " concord " ) was delivered from the train station by horse drawn wagon in 1905 and assembled on a hand dug basement and field stone foundation........

    Thanks Mike just loving the stories and history behind them...I can only imagine how it was back then...must of been tuff...I read that mostly it was the home owners themselves that ordered and assembled the homes...
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,750
    Our utility company unearthed and capped an unused sewer line.
    I had heard the stories about how our sewer system was installed in the late 1930's through the WPA program. The utilities man told me they knew where this line was located because of the original map.
    And the rest of the story...I had assumed they had a "steam shovel" for the main line, no it was mules pulling a drag/scoop to make the main trench....some down to 15' deep. And the laterals were hand dug, this one was 10' deep and maybe 75' long. The names of the diggers are written on the map. 4" clay tile was laid for the lateral with tar joints....(think root invasion).

    I take my 15 year old grandson to look at these things, it is really beyond both his imagination to think about doing this. (mine also).
    They were paid 1 to 1.5 dollars per day....some say .20 cents per hour.

    As I mention in another thread that this was considered "welfare work"..........Now that must have tough!!

    We have been "fat and happy" for a long time because of that generation.....and rarely ever shot at.

    My parents dug their 26 X 28 basement the same way in 1940 with the drag/scoop......there is a proper name for that, don't know it.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    edited July 2017
    My wife's grandparents lived in a Sears home in Canton, IL, their entire life. Grandpa Gene built it after WW2. It's quite small by today's standards, but really well laid out. They raised 2 kids in it.

    It's the one on the left.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@40.5586922,-90.0213567,3a,60y,76.67h,88.27t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sbdU1Snd2-ZMaddBEOZC2rQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    Sadly, grandpa passes in 2007 an grandma in 2010... there were swell people.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,306
    Those people made this country what it was 50 years ago, I have a tremendous amount of respect for them

    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
    MilanDNY_Rob
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,173
    Drag bucket...
    JUGHNE
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    BobC said:

    Those people made this country what it was 50 years ago, I have a tremendous amount of respect for them

    Bob

    I agree Bob. I wish I had more time with them to learn about how things were. Grandpa Gene ran his own candy vending business, and my late father in law helped out as a kid. That was it for workers. Canton, IL. Grandma stayed at home. They had a comfortable life, and kids went to college. In retirement, they lived modestly but had no debt and paid all the bills, including all the medical stuff as they got older (gpa died at 86, gma at 88). And a new car every 3 years. Grandpa didn't like fixing them, he liked working at his church and helping those less fortunate. But he did fix all around the house and was an avid carpenter... Just amazing.
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    I think it started going down hill when homes became investments as opposed to a HOME
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    j a said:

    I think it started going down hill when homes became investments as opposed to a HOME

    You mean the Victorian age? late 1800s?
    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
    Canucker
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    ChrisJ said:

    j a said:

    I think it started going down hill when homes became investments as opposed to a HOME

    You mean the Victorian age? late 1800s?
    Ya know, shame on me, I at 65 am just now learning and apricating what the greatest generation really did for us...very few of them really reaped the benefits from what they accomplished...they were to tired and exhausted ....
  • Dave in QCA
    Dave in QCA Member Posts: 1,776









    Very interesting thread. In addition to being a student of old heating systems, for a much longer period of time, I have been a student of houses.
    Sears and Montgomery Wards both sold kit "pre-cut" houses. They were perhaps, not the highest quality amongst the rest, but they were pretty darned good. Yes, they offered hot water heat systems, also steam, and hot air octopuses. If you already had a house, you could buy systems for your own house.

    I have a 1970s reprint of a 1906 Sears catalog, it is just great! You can buy anything for cheap prices.

    In addition to Sears and Wards, there were some other companies that specialized in pre-cut homes. Aladdin was a great one and Gordon Van-Tine, which was right here in Davenport. Google them and you can find plans and elevations. They had some pretty handsome houses! And of course, Geo. F. Barber often gets incorrectly identified as being in the pre-cut business. He was not. He was the first person to provide mail-order architectural services for some pretty spectacular house plans starting around 1892. Google G F Barber and you will find several of his catalogs available on PDF downloads.

    Attached are some photo shots of my Sears catalog pages. Enjoy!
    Dave in Quad Cities, America
    Weil-McLain 680 with Riello 2-stage burner, December 2012. Firing rate=375MBH Low, 690MBH Hi.
    System = Early Dunham 2-pipe Vacuo-Vapor (inlet and outlet both at bottom of radiators) Traps are Dunham #2 rebuilt w. Barnes-Jones Cage Units, Dunham-Bush 1E, Mepco 1E, and Armstrong TS-2. All valves haveTunstall orifices sized at 8 oz.
    Current connected load EDR= 1,259 sq ft, Original system EDR = 2,100 sq ft Vaporstat, 13 oz cutout, 4 oz cutin - Temp. control Tekmar 279.
    http://grandviewdavenport.com
    MilanDChrisJj a_2
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    I also have great respect for the older generation... It's amazing what men and women did themselves back in the day!

    Men built tube radios (including the wood cabinet) from scratch with plans from Popular Science magazine, they built their own TV's from kits, they built rowboats, powerboats , lawn furniture, sheds, full-size garages from scratch, etc...

    Women made their own cloths... and cloths for their kids, they were the family barber and doctor in addition to growing their own vegetables in the back yard. They also kept the household running, etc...
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    I have a 2-tube rad, similar to the one from the catalog -- spare in the basement, been there for a loooong time... kind of in a rough shape now...





  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    NY_Rob said:

    I also have great respect for the older generation... It's amazing what men and women did themselves back in the day!

    Men built tube radios (including the wood cabinet) from scratch with plans from Popular Science magazine, they built their own TV's from kits, they built rowboats, powerboats , lawn furniture, sheds, full-size garages from scratch, etc...

    Women made their own cloths... and cloths for their kids, they were the family barber and doctor in addition to growing their own vegetables in the back yard. They also kept the household running, etc...

    Nice, I believe your talking about heath kits, correct?
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    j a said:

    NY_Rob said:

    I also have great respect for the older generation... It's amazing what men and women did themselves back in the day!

    Men built tube radios (including the wood cabinet) from scratch with plans from Popular Science magazine, they built their own TV's from kits, they built rowboats, powerboats , lawn furniture, sheds, full-size garages from scratch, etc...

    Women made their own cloths... and cloths for their kids, they were the family barber and doctor in addition to growing their own vegetables in the back yard. They also kept the household running, etc...

    Nice, I believe your talking about heath kits, correct?
    I've done my share of Heathkits, as well as other brands. Building a tube radio isn't difficult.

    I also know plenty of guys that work on cars, build computers and other electronics.

    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
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    ChrisJ said:

    j a said:

    NY_Rob said:

    I also have great respect for the older generation... It's amazing what men and women did themselves back in the day!

    Men built tube radios (including the wood cabinet) from scratch with plans from Popular Science magazine, they built their own TV's from kits, they built rowboats, powerboats , lawn furniture, sheds, full-size garages from scratch, etc...

    Women made their own cloths... and cloths for their kids, they were the family barber and doctor in addition to growing their own vegetables in the back yard. They also kept the household running, etc...

    Nice, I believe your talking about heath kits, correct?
    I've done my share of Heathkits, as well as other brands. Building a tube radio isn't difficult.

    I also know plenty of guys that work on cars, build computers and other electronics.

    That's really great Chris.... Who was saying it was difficult?
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    Thing is they did it with out DIY sites, google, or websites like HH. Along with the multitude of suppliers around every corner, and via internet.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    edited July 2017
    Gordy said:

    Thing is they did it with out DIY sites, google, or websites like HH. Along with the multitude of suppliers around every corner, and via internet.

    Yeah,
    They did it with easy to build kits that came with instructions and the parts packed in nice separate bags etc.

    If you could solder, you could do it.

    I've built a few, it's not hard.
    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
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    Most of the radio, phono's and TV sets were built from scratch from PM magazine articles. You got a few drawings, maybe a schematic... and you ran down to the local radio supply house with your parts list then got to work.

    You needed to be proficient in electrical, wood and metalworking to complete the projects.





  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    I was referring to anything they did on their own as @NY_Rob was touching on.

    Yes Chris the kits would be easy, I'm sure the instructions were by far better written back then. Along with owners manuals etc.
  • NY_Rob
    NY_Rob Member Posts: 1,370
    When I was a kid, our neighbor had stacks of old (1930's -1950's) Pop. Mec. and Pop. Science magazines in his basement...

    I used to love to look through them... some of the electronic projects were very involved and could literally take months to build, especially the TV sets with a almost a dozen vacuum tubes. But a factory built TV was out of reach for most people early on... so if you were handy... you collected the parts and built your own!

    Every month there were plans for practical items you could build for everyday use... although I don't know about the plans for airplanes they used to publish :o
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    NY_Rob said:

    When I was a kid, our neighbor had stacks of old (1930's -1950's) Pop. Mec. and Pop. Science magazines in his basement...

    I used to love to look through them... some of the electronic projects were very involved and could literally take months to build, especially the TV sets with a almost a dozen vacuum tubes. But a factory built TV was out of reach for most people early on... so if you were handy... you collected the parts and built your own!

    Every month there were plans for practical items you could build for everyday use... although I don't know about the plans for airplanes they used to publish :o

    I was/and still am a licensed aircraft mechanic..as well as hold my avionics FCC license..I honestly stayed away from the build your own airplane....Some guys were really into it, not sure where they got the kits....On a side note I dispise the airlines...and refuse to ever fly again...They cut our pay back in 2002 and I walked out...
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,750
    I think the main point is that many would actually do it themselves...rather it be a entire house or a 2 tube radio.

    Today we all know of many who can't change an air filter, wash out a cond coil, change light bulbs and other things that the previous generations took for granted and would never consider hiring done.
    And this is with all help and instructions available online.

    But there are some who do watch the Utube and are dangerous, that I think comes from not watching their fathers/uncles etc when younger and growing up without any hands on experience.
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    It's nice not having to defend my age group, or feeling the need to.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    edited July 2017
    Paul48 said:

    It's nice not having to defend my age group, or feeling the need to.

    Yes.
    Oddly enough, that doesn't just apply to your age group, but all.

    I know plenty of Millennials that could build a house and many others that could design and build a computer from scratch.

    I'm not a Millennial, I came just before them. But I constantly seem them getting beaten down on here and it's not warranted.

    If you honestly believe building a radio, from scratch out of a magazine was "the norm" in the 1940s-1960s you're sadly mistaken. Most couldn't do it, few could build the easy kits, and less could do it from scratch. I've restored some kit radios, and knew guys that built them. Most people, couldn't do it.

    Is the percentage of those that can, lower now? I suspect it is, but things are also not only harder to build, but far cheaper to buy so the incentive isn't there. I've done a ton of point to point wiring, and I also do surface mount work, as small as 0402 and trust me, SMT work is far harder to do than point to point. So now, not only is the stuff much harder to build, but since prices are so low there's no incentive at all. In fact, it'll most likely cost you a lot more to build it your self.

    Just as more people could repair cars back then. My dad was a mechanic in the late 1960s-early 70s. He can't fix cars now. He won't even try. And yet, he's the same person, with the same knowledge. The cars aren't the same. He used do 100% of the car work in our house,never took them anywhere, and would also fix friend's cars up into the 1980s. Pretty much as the computers took over, he gave up.

    Not only were the cars easier to fix back then, you had a far bigger need for people to know how to do it. They broke a lot more. When you had cars that would break down and leave you stranded often, it paid to know how to fix it.

    The same exact thing falls on homes.
    You're not going to have people assembling kit comes when modulars are so affordable. It doesn't matter how skilled the person is.

    For me, I like to build everything. I wish I could buy a kit TV now. I'm hoping to get my son into RC cars because same thing........you can build them.
    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: 5,306
    The problem with building electronic projects now is easy access to parts. Try buying a tuning cap for a Am or FM radio or a multisection electrolytic capacitor. Just finding components with leads on them gets harder every month, some IC's are only acvailable in the SOIC package and at my age soldering those ain't easy.. Metal film resistors are great but some applications need the surge capacity of a bulk carbon resistor, a metox resistor just opns under a heavy load.

    I've spent a fair amount of money buying surplus parts from eastern Europe since the whole system imploded around 1990. There were a few sellers that got their hands on spares inventory that was really primo, I've got some rmultideck ceramic rotary switches tare much better that those that used to be made by centralab.

    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
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    On the contrary. I think now days with all the abilities to research through the internet. There are far more people doing their own projects around the house, on cars, name it.

    You can google about anything, and find a site on how to do it. Look at you Chris. Where would you be with out the resources via internet you have pulled on.

    Bottom line there are certain types of people.

    People who have the money to hire everything done.
    People who have the money, and knowledge/ability, but not the time to do it themselves.
    People who have the money yet want to do it themselves.
    People who don't have the money to hire it done. Do it themselves. Whether, or not they have the aptitude.
    People who don't have the money to hire it done just let things go.
    People with absolutely no ambition to even try.
    Feel free to add.

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    Gordy said:

    On the contrary. I think now days with all the abilities to research through the internet. There are far more people doing their own projects around the house, on cars, name it.

    You can google about anything, and find a site on how to do it. Look at you Chris. Where would you be with out the resources via internet you have pulled on.

    Bottom line there are certain types of people.

    People who have the money to hire everything done.
    People who have the money, and knowledge/ability, but not the time to do it themselves.
    People who have the money yet want to do it themselves.
    People who don't have the money to hire it done. Do it themselves. Whether, or not they have the aptitude.
    People who don't have the money to hire it done just let things go.
    People with absolutely no ambition to even try.
    Feel free to add.

    Not sure.

    Before 1993 I had a lot of books on electronics and such. For my 8th birthday I got all of the mini electronics books Radio Shack sold at the time and somewhere around there I got a bunch of those "144 projects in one" things. They had a bunch of components on cardboard wired to spring terminals and you could connect them to build miniature circuits like timers etc.

    I also had a very good neighbor that was big into ham radio and worked for ABC TV.

    But, I don't know where I'd be without forums and guys on the net as well as books and endless information. Look what it's done for the monitor top even. 2012 they were basically considered unrepairable. Now, there's a bunch of guys fixing them all over the world and they're running on everything from R134A to Propane.

    Getting information on how to "do anything" was very slow, often impossible pre-internet. I don't know how people managed. I guess often things just didn't happen.
    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
    Gordy
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    Radio shack was the go to for sure. Now they have met their maker.....