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Very old GE burner- replace or keep?

tomcas
tomcas Member Posts: 1
My sister has a very old Thatcher boiler with a GE burner. The company that services it recently had to make a no-heat call that I think was caused by an oil fill the day before. They are telling her to replace at least the burner and preferably the whole boiler even though it seems to be working OK now. What do you guys say?





Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,039
    You have got to be kidding. It may run -- after a fashion -- and heat the house, but that old puppy has served its time and needs to be retired. If nothing else, it's probably burning twice as much fuel as a new one would.

    I might add that the white stuff on the boiler almost certainly has asbestos in it...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    B_Sloane
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,302
    edited January 2020
    I think you got your money’s worth, and you’re getting about a 40%-50% overall efficiency.
    It’s just the original burner motor that’s a GE, not the burner itself.

    Time for a new, modern, efficient, properly sized/installed boiler.

    I honestly wouldn’t even put my tool bucket down to touch it.
    steve
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 10,244
    If it's running ok, you should get some quotes and budget for it's replacement this summer if at all possible.

    Measure the radiation and calculate the connected EDR. Then find a good contractor Check "find a contractor" on this site
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,188
    1928. That's awesome but its gotta go.

    Its gonna hurt the wallet with asbestos removal and a quality new installation so I don't envy your sister. Personally, I would have to borrow on it, which is common with any major household upgrade. So I would definitely replace the whole system.

    Where is your sister located?
    The best steam guys are right here.
  • BDR529
    BDR529 Member Posts: 197
    #1 It's gotta go.
    #2 Find a good local steam guy and don't nickle and dime him. His knowledge is priceless. Anyone can swing a Stilson.
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,100
    edited January 2020
    That's gotta go. Even if for the only reason is that her fuel bill will drop by half, if not more than, half. That boiler is living on borrowed time.

    I'll bet the fuel savings will pay for a new boiler install in five years.

    STEVEusaPASuperTech
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,834

    You have got to be kidding. It may run -- after a fashion -- and heat the house, but that old puppy has served its time and needs to be retired. If nothing else, it's probably burning twice as much fuel as a new one would.

    I might add that the white stuff on the boiler almost certainly has asbestos in it...

    I think you got your money’s worth, and you’re getting about a 40%-50% overall efficiency.
    It’s just the original burner motor that’s a GE, not the burner itself.

    Time for a new, modern, efficient, properly sized/installed boiler.

    If it's running ok, you should get some quotes and budget for it's replacement this summer if at all possible.

    Measure the radiation and calculate the connected EDR. Then find a good contractor Check "find a contractor" on this site

    HVACNUT said:

    1928. That's awesome but its gotta go.



    Its gonna hurt the wallet with asbestos removal and a quality new installation so I don't envy your sister. Personally, I would have to borrow on it, which is common with any major household upgrade. So I would definitely replace the whole system.



    Where is your sister located?

    The best steam guys are right here.

    BDR529 said:

    #1 It's gotta go.
    #2 Find a good local steam guy and don't nickle and dime him. His knowledge is priceless. Anyone can swing a Stilson.

    SlamDunk said:

    That's gotta go. Even if for the only reason is that her fuel bill will drop by half, if not more than, half. That boiler is living on borrowed time.

    I'll bet the fuel savings will pay for a new boiler install in five years.

    These.

    Where is this located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    SuperTech
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,948
    It think that the asbestos is in bad shape is what concerns me most about this.

    Better to plan ahead and replace it in a controlled manner than have it be an emergency when it leaks (which could be next week or could be 50 years from now).

    Probably getting one of Dan's books and reading so you know what questions to ask and how it should be done would be a good idea to help choose someone who can do it properly. There will be some retrofitting to make it work with a modern boiler and that will have to be done properly for the new system to work as well as the old system does.
  • PerryHolzman
    PerryHolzman Member Posts: 234
    I recognize that style of boiler.... You likely have the 2nd burner assembly. The 1st one was a stoker fed coal pot (and I've replaced those burner pots when they needed it in my youth as I worked for the heating contractor that delivered coal and cleaned and serviced coal boilers and furnaces).

    Someone retrofitted an oil burner into it. Likely in the 1950's or 1960's (possibly later; but most home heating coal use was gone by the end of the 70's unless you lived in coal country). This was a common retrofit in its day.

    Estimated efficiency of that boiler with an oil burner is likely less than 33%, and perhaps as low as 25%.

    The people discussing asbestos are also correct. You will need to get quotes from an asbestos abatement company unless you have a friend who works for one (or other connections). I did the asbestos abatement on my brothers old furnace when he purchased his current house so he could install a new furnace because I knew all the requirements and could borrow all the equipment and purchase the supplies from an asbestos abatement contractor I used in the Power Plant I managed back then (most of my adult life has been as an engineer in power plants - and I was an experienced Asbestos Worker at that time). I'm not a heating contractor; but am an educated homeowner (who benefited greatly from this site, although I rarely post).

    While in theory you could just clean up the asbestos, re-insulate with modern insulation, and install a burner (assuming you can find a contractor who knows how to do that right for your boiler). I believe that things will be much better off just replacing it with a modern boiler.

    Unfortunately, you may spend more money on the Asbestos abatement than the boiler itself, depending on how much other asbestos is in bad shape and on the piping.

    Perry
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,948
    Those were originally installed with a stoker? I had assumed it was just hand fired.
  • PerryHolzman
    PerryHolzman Member Posts: 234
    Hand fired would have had a bigger upper firebox door (larger than where the stoker opening on the bottom), which would have allowed "chunk" coal to be shovel in. Hand fired chunk coal/wood boilers would have been much larger in diameter as well.

    This was a stoker boiler. They were very reliable, and you only usually needed to fill the stoker every day to every 2 days. Hand fired boilers/furnaces had to be typically tended every 6-8 hours.

    Perry
    mattmia2SuperTech
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,362
    I remember the day when I would install a Lynn Time Saver Chamber and a Carlin CRD burner with a new-fangled primary control that has an EYE.

    We would patch that asbestos with struc-o-lite and put a coat of white paint on the insulation, paint the doors silver, new smoke pipe and draft control and get a whopping $600.00. for the day. "A Complete Modernization" My uncle used to call it.

    ...and it would get 75% steady-state efficiency

    save you 20% on your oil bill and the oil customer did not switch to gas
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey Shore.
    Cleaned & services first oil heating system at age 16
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,362
    And to be accurate That is not a GE Burner. The burner motor was made by General Electric The fuel pump was made by Sundstrand (now Suntec) and the ignition transformer was probably an Allison or Webster Electric. (Not visible in the picture) The actual burner brand could have been one of over 100 oil burner manufacturers from the 1940s and 1950s.

    The actual name brand of the burner would be on a sticker that may have peeled off long ago.
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey Shore.
    Cleaned & services first oil heating system at age 16
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,362
    By the look of the "Fire Door," your heater expired in 2002 LOL
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey Shore.
    Cleaned & services first oil heating system at age 16
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 1,775
    I remember working on those burners , thinking Silent Heat , not sure it's been years . The name would be on the burner access door .. I am not surprised it is still running , But surprise to see one again .. How many gallons a year on average does it burn?
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,362
    Quiet heaT was another brand name. The quieter you made it The more oil it would burn, And how many customers looked at the nozzle assembly with the fan blade design electrode holder would ask "Does that thing spin inside there?"
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey Shore.
    Cleaned & services first oil heating system at age 16
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,188
    On Long Island by me, Robot Heating Equipment burners were popular. Many were Shell Head. The Fireball!
    Fuel companies would also put there own stamp on it.
    SuperTech