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Early 1900's Radiator Questions

CKNJ Member Posts: 51
I have a 1909 foursquare, one pipe system. I have to replace one of two radiators in the living room as one of them was replaced at some time with a smaller radiator not providing enough heat for the room. The existing radiator that is staying is an ARCO Roccoco model with a single "pipe" only across the bottom and the vent tapping is about 2/3 of the way up the side. Now, the one I sourced is a Roccoco that was also used in a steam system, but, it has a "pipe" across both the top and bottom of the radiator so slightly different. The vent location is about 1/3 of the from the floor. At first I thought I screwed up and it was for hot water, but the tapping at the top has never been drilled whereas the lower one was. I did some research and found that the one I sourced was pretty much made for both hot water and steam after 1905 (thank you heating help articles).

Now my question. Is there anything I should be aware of with this different design or will it work just the same as the single pipe radiators I have? I seems to me the new one will heat faster due to the pipes being across both top and bottom.


  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,541
    edited June 2019
    That radiator will work fine on a one pipe system. The speed at which it heats will depend largely on the vent you put on it. It sounds like it is one that can be used for either hot water or steam. Just be sure the supply pipe is large enough to supply the radiator EDR. You will also need to replace the current valve and spud in the radiator as they are a matched set and trying to use the current valve with the spud that is in the radiator will likely leak.
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 797
    I have found that the radiators that have connections at the both the top and bottom heat at a much quicker rate than radiators that only have connections at the bottom.
  • CKNJ
    CKNJ Member Posts: 51
    Thanks guys. I installed and tested the radiator and it works perfectly. Retiredguy, you are also correct, it does heat up faster than the other one in the room with a single pipe across the bottom.
  • gerry gill
    gerry gill Member Posts: 3,070
    The term that was used in the 'Johnson Handy Manual' from back in the day was 'improved circulation' when using a hot water radiator on steam systems. The 'improved circulation' was the death nail to the true steam radiator.
    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

  • CKNJ
    CKNJ Member Posts: 51
    Just to provide closure or more questions, yesterday I went down to city hall and checked the online records. The house was built in 1910, 5 years after they stopped making true steam radiators. Yet all the radiators in the house are the same style and design.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,236
    It may have been earlier than that. In some cases, the property was not entered into the tax records for several years after a house was built. Or, the jurisdictional boundaries may have changed, and the date shown was when the records were transferred.

    My own house was built in 1924- I know this because my great-grandfather had it built. That area was part of Baltimore County at the time, but it became part of Baltimore City a few years later. So the online property records show a date of 1930, the year the records were transferred. But anyone who knows they stopped making column-type radiators after 1925 or so would know the house was older than 1930.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,502
    Incidentally, here's a link to a scan of the 7th edition of Johnson's Handy Manual.
    Danny Scully
  • CKNJ
    CKNJ Member Posts: 51
    Thanks Ratio! I will definitely read through it.
  • mikeg2015
    mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,194

    The term that was used in the 'Johnson Handy Manual' from back in the day was 'improved circulation' when using a hot water radiator on steam systems. The 'improved circulation' was the death nail to the true steam radiator.

    I have a mix on the water and steam only radiators same as the OP (house built in same period). the steam only ones heat much better and more evenly. The other are ok us not too long, maybe 15 sections. One I have is 24 sections but short height and steam races across the top and mixes with air and it never heats the last 1/3 of the bottom before the vent heats up and closes. Furter, when it’s that long it’s harder to pitch it... one end nneds to be almost 1” higher, the floor sags because it’s 1000 lbs... etc. So I have a little bit of sizzling and popping when it starts heating up.
  • CKNJ
    CKNJ Member Posts: 51
    Mikeg2015: The radiator in question is only 12 sections and yeah they are heavy! this one weighed in at 512 lbs. I test fired a couple of times to check for leaks (none found). The first test I turned off all the other radiators in the house and boiler ran at a little under 1 lb. and I got exactly what you described. Top was hot and bottom not so much. I did get worried. But, second test was with all radiators open and running at 4 oz. of pressure. The new radiator heated up evenly and faster than my other "true steam" radiator in the same room and both had Gorton C valves on them.