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Old Timken Burners

CarbonDaveCarbonDave Posts: 9Member
To update an older post, shown below, I've added a video of the furnace in operation. An old Peerless coal furnace #123 that was converted to burn kerosene or #2 using a Timken rotary wall burner.


  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,630Member
    Timken was an excellent burner and burned with high efficiency.
    Boiler looks to be in good shape and well cared for.

    Hope it holds together because parts for those burners are probably long gone. Vertical rotary burner
  • Intplm.Intplm. Posts: 681Member
    Thanks @CarbonDave . Sure did enjoy it. "Rotary motor", "swirl action flame". Can't help but think this is a predecessor to the modern day oil burner.
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Posts: 2,036Member
    edited April 27
    I've heard the name Timken but never saw one. Come to think of it, I still haven't seen one. Any video or pics with the mechanicals?
    Very cool though.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,868Member
    It was one of several types of burners offered in the early days. A variation of this type didn't use a hearth around the rim, but burned the flame in suspension just short of the walls.

    Then there were the vaporizing pot-type burners, which heated the oil so it would vaporize and burn like a gas flame would. ISTR these were very difficult to adjust so they burned clean, and would often create a lot of soot. Some of these relied on natural draft but others used fans.

    The burner configuration we know today was called the gun type. The high-pressure variation worked much the same as today's burners, and there were also a couple of low-pressure types. I fondly remember the Winkler, but Williams also had a low-pressure type called the Oil-o-Matic and there were a couple others too. Along the way, several improved burner head designs such as the Shellhead led to better efficiency and reduced sooting.

    I have read somewhere that Carlin was the first to offer the flame-retention head that we use today, about 1969. This type will run all year without sooting if it is set up properly. Think about that next time you're sucking soot out of a boiler with a current-model burner................
    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.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,630Member
    edited April 28
    I think Carlin was the first but they all jumped on the band wagon about the same time. I started in 73' and they had been out a little while so 69' is probably right.

    I think the shell head started it, also there were a few 1725rpm burners that were pretty good as well in the 60s. Some of the old stuff was a nozzle on a pipe with a little spinner or turbulator which didn't do much. Torrid Heat was another vertical rotary

    Iron Fireman was the first I think with forced draft flame retention back in the late 50s. They ran 3450 motor and 300# pumps back the. It took the residential market a long time (too long) to catch on...especially with the oil pressure. With and old burner that was the first trick to try to make it burn better drop the nozzle and raise the pump pressure. It was in Burkhart's book.

    My sister bought a house with a pot type burner in a furnace. I made her change it before the first winter. Those things had to burn #1 or kero. Had a customer at the oil company that moved and bought a house with a pot burner. He didn't know and ordered oil for it #2 oil. He didn"t live their for a month or so because he was traveling...what a mess when he came home.

    Both those furnaces were made by "Perfection" or "Perfection grate and stoker" something like that.

    They also used to put the 275s on really long legs. Pot burners had no pumps and relied on gravity flow
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,279Member
    The burner in the big (I do mean big...) HB Smith that was originally in Cedric's home was a Quiet May. So called. I wasn't paying too much attention at the time, so I can't tell you much about it -- except that it was anything but quiet. And the efficiency wasn't that good either (it burned 5 gallons per hour to do what Cedric does on 2.75).

    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
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,868Member
    Quiet May was based in Baltimore, and I frequently see buildings their burners once heated. They had their own emergency switch plate design, as did Esso. I recently found what looks like a complete wall-mounted primary control from a QM, and will try to sweet-talk the owner into letting me salvage it.
    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.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,579Member
    A few Timkens made it to this area. The dealer was a frequent traveler to the Eastern states and must have been impressed.

    "Silent Automatic" was another name for these units.

    I changed out the few I have seen, to NG or HP.
    Did the furnaces use a stack switch for oil safety control?

    There was one oil fired water heater I replace the ignition transformer on.
    The safety was an over flow spout inside the burner pan, if enough oil built up from not igniting, it would run out into a small cup attached to an arm/lever. The weight would then tip the lever that the other end was connected to the mechanical switch that would shut off the oil flow to the motor/pump. To reset you had to empty the cup and reset the small oil flow lever.

    The shaft of the motor had spiral groves that would lift the oil and push it out the arm nozzle ends.
    IIRC, you could raise and lower the oil flow control physically to get the gravity flow just to the pick up point of the motor shaft.

    The rotating spray arm reminded me of a early Scotsman ice machine. (troublesome to service).
  • Pughie1Pughie1 Posts: 126Member
    yes, they required stack mounted primary controls, had to be careful though, couldn't use the Hwell Ra 117A's. had to use a control with a timed ignition sequence, the old general/perfex or the White Rodgers 610 series come to mind.
  • CarbonDaveCarbonDave Posts: 9Member
    Glad the video was enjoyed. I do all of the service / maintenance because I haven't found anyone that knows how to service this unit. Here are a few pictures of the rotary burner motor, vanes and distribution nozzles. The setup I have doesn't have the float shown in the pictures. It uses a solenoid controlled adjustable needle valve for fuel regulation. Gravity feed from a "day tank" mounted on the wall, pulling fuel from a storage tank.
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Posts: 2,036Member
    > @Pughie1 said:
    > yes, they required stack mounted primary controls, had to be careful though, couldn't use the Hwell Ra 117A's. had to use a control with a timed ignition sequence, the old general/perfex or the White Rodgers 610 series come to mind.

    I've only serviced one Iron Fireman burner. Residential. I dont remember the boiler.
    Middle of the night no heat call. I replaced the owner supplied belt.
    The next time I went there was to follow up on the install dept who that day installed a Buderus G215 with a Riello.
    The RA117A was an interrupted ignition primary as you know. The IF primary differs using sequential ignition. Does it use a standard burner transformer? Typical electrodes? Assuming the belt drives the fan, how does it provide the timed ignition? Switch somewhere on the fan assembly or shaft?
    What brand primary? 90 seconds?
    Do you or anybody have a schematic?
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,630Member
    The only iron fireman resedentials I remember they made some regular gun type burners which were pretty much the same as everyone else and they did have a "Mark II" ? burner that came on a steel boiler that they sold in the 60s...never really caught on...was some type of weird burner don't remember much about it could have been belt drive
  • Pughie1Pughie1 Posts: 126Member
    From my memory the iron fireman used a Honey well Ra 187 or RA 890 type electronic relay with a photo cell. yes they had a belt drive fuel unit. I was referring to the Timkens when I was talking about timing the ignition sequence. The RA 117's cut the ignition off as the helix on the stack control heated up as flame was established. Very often before the flame had made it all the way around the flame ring. this would cause the flame to snuff out. Wonderful burner when adjusted and running correctly. We used Kerosene almost exclusively since it was much easier to ignite and vaporize
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,630Member
    RA117A when it shut of ignition it meant the flame was proven. helix moved with the heat then the ignition shut off.

  • mattmia2mattmia2 Posts: 13Member
    I know Timken as a bearing manufacturer.

    When I bought my house it had a Perfection Stove Company gas furnace that said "approved for gravity use only" but appears to have been installed new with a separate blower cabinet. It was installed around 1950. It had another brand name on it which I don't remember now, it might have been Peerless.
  • RonnieJRonnieJ Posts: 25Member
    Thanks for the video @CarbonDave! My brother and I used to own a two-family home built in 1866. The 1st floor apartment had a Timken rotary burner in the base of a hot air furnace. That had to be the coolest thing I ever saw. It ran well for several years until we had a problem with a weak transformer where it wouldn't ignite. If I opened the door, and placed a paint stick against the outside rails, the oil and sparks would collect and eventually ignite, restoring heat until the tech arrived.

    It had a heat exchanger that looked like the containment dome on a nuclear reactor. When we finally replaced it, we found corroded transformer connections that were the ultimate cause of its problems. They were just spring clips on fairly thick gauge wire. If we knew what we were doing, we probably could have gotten a few more years out of it. Our tech had no idea how old it was - 1940's? It had clearly earned the right to die. Whoever designed them was creative, indeed!

    Found this on the web - it shows the stainless ring and you can see the igniters at the 9 and 3 o'clock positions. You really have to appreciate well-built mechanicals - they are the fruit of genius.

    Energy Kinetics EK1
    SpacePak 3 ton Chiller
    Aircell Air Handlers
  • clammyclammy Posts: 2,211Member
    When I did oil we had one community just loaded w them all w remote wall mount oil pumps .usually always had oil supply issue when the furnaces where update mostly had to add on small tank tank set up or when we got luckily they had gas n we would do a conversion ,these where post war homes and all slab not good memories .i do have the timkin manuals giving to me by a ole timer many years ago peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • FranklinDFranklinD Posts: 393Member
    The original boiler in my folks’ house (gravity hot water) was a “Silent Automatic.” Still have the tin wall plate of instructions for it. That boiler is long gone, of course, but the “Day tank” and pump is still mounted high on the basement wall nearby. The original in-ground oil tank was removed about ten years ago...they thought it was a 1000 or so gallon tank, but it turned out to be over 3000! Wow did they have a helluva time getting it out from between my folks house and the neighbors. They started digging at the fill pipe and found an entire manhole cover of sorts 18” underground. The cover was bolted in place and sealed with what looked like lead & oakum, but I’m not sure. The contractor had to cut the tank into three sections to get it on his was riveted together, if I recall correctly. My mom took pictures of the whole process. And yet...the Day Tank & pump remain.
    Ford Master Technician, "Tinkerer of Terror"
    Police & Fire Equipment Lead Mechanic, NW WI
    Lover of Old Homes & Gravity Hot Water Systems
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,630Member
    Never saw a riveted oil tank before but I wouldn't doubt it. Must have dated back to the 1920s.

    The early 20s oil was just getting started. Welding also was getting started during WW I but didn't really get going until the late 1920s.

    Took out and old HRT steel boiler once the name plate was 1927 or 1929. When we got the covering off it we found the shell had riveted construction
  • FranklinDFranklinD Posts: 393Member
    @EBEBRATT-Ed - the house was built in 1892 or so (that’s one detail the title abstract isn’t clear on) and the boiler was originally coal fired. The oil burner system was installed in the 20’s to early 30’s but that’s as close as we can get to a date. I’ll be over there again tomorrow so I’ll snap a few pictures of the Silent Automatic instruction wall plate and the day tank. The tank and pump are in pristine condition and I’d bet they still operate (last in use for the winter of 1997-1998, then drained). I’m not sure if Mom has pictures of the old boiler; I’ll be sure to ask. I know she has an album of the tank removal.
    Ford Master Technician, "Tinkerer of Terror"
    Police & Fire Equipment Lead Mechanic, NW WI
    Lover of Old Homes & Gravity Hot Water Systems
  • FranklinDFranklinD Posts: 393Member
    As for riveted tanks, the house is about 3/4 of a mile from the local Frasier Shipyards (still in operation), so it doesn’t surprise me that a riveted tank was used - it probably originated from the shipyards. I live in Superior, WI, way over at the far western tip (“arrowhead”) of Lake Superior, “Where Rail Meets Sail” as they say. Lots of industries have come & gone here over the years, and a lot of history is literally just sitting around in piles in certain areas of the city.
    Ford Master Technician, "Tinkerer of Terror"
    Police & Fire Equipment Lead Mechanic, NW WI
    Lover of Old Homes & Gravity Hot Water Systems
  • Big Ed_4Big Ed_4 Posts: 1,118Member
    edited May 17
    Last Timkin I worked on was in the late 70's and the owners did not want to give it up . Timkins really were not safe . They relied on an old spill switch , old stack relays and no cracks in the man made hearth. It could be possible to be burning on one side and leaking out raw fuel on the other side or underneath the hearth. And those old supply tanks with a buried tank . Single iron pipe with a foot valve . Try freeing up a plugged foot valve on a cold winter night ,....They don't make them like they use to ,and sometimes you have to say thank God ....
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
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