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Dead Guys Gas Fireplace Insert

MarkReynolds1 Member Posts: 15
edited January 2020 in THE MAIN WALL
This may be just for fun, but I have an ornate gas fireplace heater, installed between 1901 and 1910. I think it used coal gas, which was the only piped gas in Detroit at that time.
It hasn't been used in decades, and I think a part or two may be missing, but I can't find any similar ones or good information online (searches are hijacked by too many ads for new stuff).
Anyone have any idea how this was originally set up, and it it can work on natural gas?



    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
    Could this have been a simple "Log lighter", on-off with no safeties at all?
    You place firewood above it and light the gas with the long match and after the wood starts you shut off the gas.....something you would not want to leave unattended.

    And you want to be certain the chimney drafts well enough.
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 913
    edited January 2020
    When I got married in 1968, the 1st apartment that my wife an I rented had 1 of these fireplace inserts. That apartment was in an area called Highland Park near the Highland Park Zoo just north of the city of Pittsburgh, Pa. and had a zip code of 15206. In the winter, we lit it and used it for supplemental heat since the apartment owners provided only a fraction of the heat required to keep our place warm. It worked great providing a lot of heat. I didn't know if it was vented I just knew it worked well. We turned on the gas valve (center bottom of top picture) and lit it with a "match". Haven't seen one since.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,888
    We've seen similar units in Baltimore. All the ones we've tested have produced high levels of CO, and we've removed several of them. I'd get that thing tested before using it.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    I had one in my last apartment in Boston 20 years ago. Very pretty to look at but the one I had was in a fake mantle with no chimney or vent. As @Steamhead indicated they are a CO issue and are out of code here.
  • JeffM
    JeffM Member Posts: 182
    If you're willing to replace the current unit but want something that looks period, you could think about a gas-burning coal insert such as https://www.coalbaskets.com/Aspen royal victor burner LG.htm
    I've got one of these in a circa 1900s house where I kept the old coal burning fireplace insert. Works very nicely (I did line the chimney for safety when setting it up).
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 355
    Is there actually a flue? I grew up in an apartment with a non-functioning gas fireplace and there was just a vent, and not sure that was even connected to anything. The gas ranges in my building were originally connected to chase from the ovens (town gas in Chicago, I assume - also took heat out in summer and helped ventilate).