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just pulled out of a 1926 kit house

looking to ID these and then list for sale. 5 rads from 1926 home. I think they’re American Raditors? any ideas welcome! we’re in Port Chester, NY. all have been working flawlessly for decades.

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,754
    If they have been working flawlessly, why on earth was the system destroyed (I see a tragic pile of pipe in the background)? And next time you wreck a system, it would be better to keep the valves with the radiators... since they are matched...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaulmattmia2
  • hvacfreak2
    hvacfreak2 Member Posts: 500
    Out with the old - in with the new , great job man !!!
    hvacfreak

    Mechanical Enthusiast

    Burnham MST 396 , 60 oz gauge , Tigerloop , Firomatic Check Valve , Mcdonnell Miller 67 lwco , Danfoss RA2k TRV's

    Easyio FG20 Controller

    solarconvert
  • solarconvert
    solarconvert Member Posts: 15
    thanks Jamie. we switched from oil to solar and yes, i (carefully and with full respect) removed the system and yes, I kept the values so no worries there. I paid some guys to carry the intact rads from the second floor - when I could have just as easily cut them up. so no wrecking here. BTW I found a very cool hack for rads recently - someone created a electric heating element that you insert on one end. that would have been great if we lived in canada where the cost of electricity would make economic sense to do the conversion - but where we are (ConEd country) the cost of electricity and for that matter oil is prohibitive compare to clean solar.

    that’s our story - if you have any leads on the manufacture of these units that would be super helpful. thanks!
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,550
    How does clean solar heat the house?
    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
  • solarconvert
    solarconvert Member Posts: 15
    heat pumps (heats and cools) 
  • I can't put my finger on it.








    Often wrong, never in doubt.
  • solarconvert
    solarconvert Member Posts: 15
    Alan! that’s huge!! thank you!!! They look a lot like the Thatchers. One thing I haven’t been able to figure out - where would you normally expect to find markings? someone said on the valves? seems odd to me as I would have expected a mark on the unit itself... 
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,429
    @solarconvert , you can use a water-to-water or air-to-water heat pump to operate radiators. That house will never be comfortable again with the typical forced-air distribution.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    mattmia2solarconvertkcoppluketheplumber
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,931


    ...BTW I found a very cool hack for rads recently - someone created a electric heating element that you insert on one end...

    I saw that up in Canada a lot. And in Scotland . Usually very decorative, restored/painted rads.
    steve
    solarconvert
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,879
    Isn't that basically an electric water heater element and some bushings?
    solarconvert
  • solarconvert
    solarconvert Member Posts: 15
    @StemheadHappy to provide more details but suffice to say “that house” is going through a top to bottom systems overhaul to address the known conversion issues and experiences of some. when you fold in all the facts including 19.36 cents per kwh in our county and spending a nontrivial amount on a system change without addressing AC we think we landed on the right choices for us. We did the work to design the new systems and renovation details (insulation, air sealing, etc) with a building sciences engineer which was very helpful - but we haven’t been through a heating season so the jury is still out. anyway, thanks for the info - anyone doing research on replacing their system should definitely look into it before making the leap to ripping out their rads. this article was useful for me https://www.achrnews.com/articles/143594-air-to-water-heat-pumps-advance-north-american-market
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,754
    mattmia2 said:

    Isn't that basically an electric water heater element and some bushings?

    Yes.

    The only real comment I have on really major changes to a structure -- whether a conversion to forced air from water or steam, or a total rebuild of the electrics, or whatever -- is that often the very first question hasn't been asked an properly answered: is this the right building for the intended purpose to begin with? And the corollary, if it isn't, why am I working on it at all, or if it is, how much am I willing to spend to make it fit for the intended purpose without pretty much destroying it?

    But... you all do have to remember that I work, and have worked, along these lines in two very different ways: historic buildings, where much if not all of the value is in the history and restoration is the name of the game, or entirely new buildings -- where, for instance looking at the OP's handle, getting as close to 100% passive solar for space conditioning (heating, cooling, air quality) is not only feasible, but just plain fun.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • solarconvert
    solarconvert Member Posts: 15
    Jamie, since you feel so strongly about it perhaps you want to do something to help me correct my transgressions? now that I have destroyed my house I hope you feel sorry for the these wayward rads and help me find them a new home. Let me know if you can help me ID them.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,754
    I'm afraid I really can't help much with finding a home for them. You may be able to sell them to a metal dealer; you'll not get much more than scrap value for them. You might also search (nothing like the internet...) for someone reasonably local who deals in old radiators; they do exist, but I regret I don't know of one in your area.

    Is this one of the Sears Kit Homes? If it is (there are a number of web resources to help you identify it) you may be able to determine who made the radiators -- or maybe not. The records on the Sears homes are, to put it mildly, sketchy.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,879
    If it was a sears kit they were probably bought with the house and are sears branded. i think there is a sears heating catalog from the 20's or so in the library.
  • solarconvert
    solarconvert Member Posts: 15
    the plans appear to be a Bennett Home. I identified the house - at least from the floor plan - and managed to acquire the physical catalog, millwork catalog, and the hardware catalog. but still not clear if the house was built from the kit, or if the builder purchased the plans and it was built from locally available materials - it’s missing some of the signs that it was actually from the kit - for example Bennett notched and numbered the studs at the sill plates and had the Bennett brand on the chimney ash door. if you’re interested have a look at this https://archive.org/details/BennettHomesBetter-builtReady-cut/page/n67/mode/1up

    a few mods have been made to the inside of the house over the years and the interior isn’t  going to be restored to its original / but we do plan to remove the vinyl siding to reveal the original clap board and replace the vinyl window inserts with real sash and storms. before we start all that we need to work out the insulation and membrane. we’ve already sealed up the attic and gables with closed cell - but the house walls will probably get blown-in Rockwool, but that’s all on hold until the spring. hopefully this gives some of you a better idea of why the term “destroy” is so toxic when we’re doing what we can to enjoy and old house while carefully updating the systems to be more efficient. And next time a newbie like me asks for help don’t be so judgmental - it’s precisely what’s wrong with the world today.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,754
    Sorry about being judgmental. It's in my nature; please accept my apology. So often the "upgrades" are not well thought out and integrated, and sometimes people have not done enough research (you seem to have) to know what is worth restoring, and what needs to be upgraded.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    solarconvert
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,550
    @solarconvert
    I was hoping for a little more detail on how you're heating the house in regards to storing power. At night time etc..

    Are you just backfeeding the grid during the day or are you using a setup like the Tesla battery?
    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
    solarconvert
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,879
    There are a lot of houses that were built from plan books and a lot of kit houses that were a very simple floor plan so it is possible that the kit house floor plan just matches up.
    solarconvert
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,268
    In one of the Sears houses that I worked in, I noticed the back side of the pre-cut treads and risers for the staircase were stenciled/labeled etc. Don't remember all the details but perhaps some info could be there.

    I too am curious about your storage and heat pump details.
    Any info available on that?
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,257
    I would imagine it will be a grid-tie solar setup. You put energy on the grid during sunny times, and use that energy either directly (at the time) or use your credits you earned. This works well if the utility allows it. 

    Batteries still have not proven to be a cost effective way to economically store power. But we are getting there....I guess.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,590
    edited October 2020
    mattmia2 said:

    If it was a sears kit they were probably bought with the house and are sears branded. i think there is a sears heating catalog from the 20's or so in the library.

    Here's the Sears heating system catalog from the 1920s: https://heatinghelp.com/heating-museum/modern-plumbing-and-heating-from-sears-roebuck-and-co-philadelphia/
    President
    HeatingHelp.com
    mattmia2
  • solarconvert
    solarconvert Member Posts: 15
    all - i’ll pull the design docs and Manual J etc to share with anyone that is interested. but the net answer is that, yea, it is a grid tied system where we ‘bank’ credits. Installed in April we’ve generated 20% more power than we’ve used to date. Winter will change that but we think we’ll keep annual purchase of grid power to a whisper. For what it’s work we used natural gas for cooking, clothes dryer, and will be converting domestic hot water to gas from oil as soon as our utility gets the new meter installed. Batteries (including Tesla) can’t store enough power to take me off the grid at a price point that makes any sense. The short version is that ~$10,000 to buy and and install a battery system that can only paritially power our small house for about one day.

    The biggest challenge we’ve faced in converting the system is how to insulate the walls - it’s surprisingly complicated to preserve plaster walls, original t&g backer board, and original clapboard/lap siding. Like so many across the country, our place is covered with vinyl siding and a 1/2” of EPS between the original siding and the vinyl. When we unveil the place we’ll need to determine if we save the old boards, manage the lead abatement, blow-in Rockwool, add a vapor barrier, and put the clapboard back on - or replace it with something else (none of the options hold a candle to the appearance and durability of the original old growth lap on there today) It’s not something we’re looking forward to figuring out. any advice (aside from being flamed again) would be most welcome.
    SkyBluePink
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,133
    Hi @solarconvert , A good place to look for info on wall systems and what works is Building Science Corporation: https://www.buildingscience.com/document-search . Good chance you already know about Dr. Joe!

    Yours, Larry
    solarconvert
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 487
    A good insulator can blow cavity insulation in from the outside -- but, that typically requires new siding to make it fully work. It's the lesser of two evils with an old house ... do I destroy the inside or outside. How wide are the claps and are the beveled? ... this may seem like heresy ... but with wider flat claps I find the pre-painted Hardie works very well on an old house with large bold trim. Some of the early siding was quiet and the new stuff has a big shadow line.

    What are you using for heat now with air to water ? Radiant -- panel?

    Have looked into solar -- it will not work in PA (cost) ... in NJ it does after about 15 years. Part of me can't get past the panels. Cost ends up being same with geo -- at my current place the wells would cost way too much due to rock. Air to air heat pumps are getting very good --

    I'm surprised with NG that was still not the cheapest

    ethicalpaul
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,754
    On the wall insulation (a problem I've faced in several buildings!). You can, successfully, with that style of house blow cellulose into the walls. You really shouldn't use dense pack, though -- there is a possibility of damaging the keys which hold the plaster to the lathe if the plaster is over lather. I'd avoid foam in place.

    You should have very little problem with odd pockets in the framing, though it's still wise for the installer to check that there are no odd horizontal boards part way up a wall. It's happened.

    And I'd go from outside. Particularly as you may be taking the vinyl off it and adding a vapour barrier and infiltration barrier. Much easier than repairing plaster! Before you commit to taking the old clapboards off, though, look them over. They may be in better shape than one might expect, depending mostly on how good they were when the vinyl was put on!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaul
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 487
    I would stay away from foam as well ...

    Properly done the blown in is nice -- it's quite tight. It requires a good installer. My old place in Cape May NJ was done this way -- and I grew up in a house that we unfortunately saw how well it was done after a fire. It was a fiberglass product

    I'm always worried with VB on the outside in a cold climate.
    solarconvert
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,754
    @TAG is right about the vapour barrier -- it should be on the inside in a cold climate. This is a good deal easier said than done on a retrofit if one wants to retain the interior plaster or even interior wood walls. However, an infiltration barrier -- Tyvek, for instance -- on the outside is a very good idea, and doesn't have the same problems.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,879
    What about sealing up the penetrations in the interior, the electrical outlets, the trim to the floor, the area around the sill in the basement and just leave the walls uninsulated. How much does infiltration contribute to the loss compared to the lack of insulation in the walls?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,754
    mattmia2 said:

    What about sealing up the penetrations in the interior, the electrical outlets, the trim to the floor, the area around the sill in the basement and just leave the walls uninsulated. How much does infiltration contribute to the loss compared to the lack of insulation in the walls?

    This is basically what I do with very old (like... 1750) structures when restoring them. Do I have any useful hard numbers? No... but a rough estimate, based on several I've done, suggests that getting rid of infiltration -- including really good inside storm windows -- eliminates more than half the heat loss.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    mattmia2
  • solarconvert
    solarconvert Member Posts: 15
    gee - thanks all! very helpful!!! Some responses below.

    @mattmia2 - thanks. that gave me an idea. I'm searching https://archive.org/ to see if I can find a plan book from the period before the house was built that matches what we have. Looks promising. And yes, we've been going off on penetrations - and yes, we're probably going to do the rim/band joists this season and see how we go - to your point if it's comfortable and we don't get crushed by ConEd we may not have to add the blown-in at all. When I post the manual J I'll include the numbers we calculated. But until we do the rim joist and redo the blower door we won't have a new baseline.

    @larry - yes, Dr Joe is the man. greenbuildingadvisor.com has been helpful too. The good people at https://www.energyvanguard.com/ helped us design (and redesign) our system as we went through some of the learnings. So far it pretty well balances without dampers - and very quiet too.

    @tag - the boards are 8", and 6" to the weather. They're believed and have a nice shadow line. We were thinking about using LP siding but the profile just isn't there. We're ~700 sqft per floor. the new heat and a/c are Mitsubishi heat pumps. 2nd floor has one ducted unit on its own compressor. The air handler and ducts are in the attic which has closed-cell on the gables and roof deck. Since installed it's only gotten to be 84 degrees up there. A long way from the 130+ it was in summer before. The 1st floor has two-floor units at 9 BTUs each and one 6 BTU wall unit in the basement. NG would have been an option but when you add up the work to convert from oil to NG you end up with an expensive proposition - but with no air conditioning. We fell into the camp of "if we're going to spend $XXk then we have to get AC too". Once we did the math on heat pumps solar become a viable option because Westchester, NY rates are like .20 cents per KwH. On the solar, we got 26% fed deduction and a $5k NYS deduction. We installed in April and saved $900 since then. We also got some incentives for the heat pumps. We're on a 7-10 year payback plan. Geo fell into the "no AC" category, otherwise yes, it's about the same in this area too. It's not perfect but we have a black backer on our panels with low profile mounts (SunPower) so they look a little cleaner than some.

    @Jamie - thanks for that. I didn't think the keys would get messed up but now that you mention it, I can see that's something to consider. It's a ballon frame so I was somewhat concerned about settling. We'd use rockwool/roxul instead of cellulose as an extra measure of safety for moisture accumulation - - but either way, the outer membrane should allow drying to the outside. From what I understand, the multiple coats of paint over plaster (especially lead paint) it's already a pretty solid VB on the inside. yes, blown in from the outside for sure. But how do you put a new membrane under the lap without removing it? And once it's off the house we'll have a lead issue that will require a chemical strip or a refinish of the lap boards (https://paintshaver.com/ ?) or both. In the end we need to remove it to apply the barrier - and if it doesn't come off nice it's either milled cedar or back to hardy or LP or whatever. That and repairing the damage that the vinyl installer did to butcher the sill ears is all a painful thought. Talk about destroying! LOL.

    BTW, the windows were replaced with vinyl in the 80s but besides the sills, the old casings are still intact. We're going to get traditional storms made up and insert those first and then eventually pull out the replacements and reinstall the traditional sash. All the pockets and pulleys are still sitting there waiting for us. : )
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,754
    You are quite right -- several coats of paint and real plaster make a pretty good vapour barrier, at least in my experience. Then chasing around on a nice windy day and finding the electrical outlets and pipe penetrations which were never properly sealed and you'll be in really good shape that way.

    Loose blown in does settle, unhappily. Nature of the beast. But it takes uite some time to do it -- and balloon framing makes life so much simpler. You'd be astonished where the older framing techniques put braces and struts and what have you...

    The work you're doing on the windows sounds very promising indeed. You'll like it. Funny thing is that it's not that hard to get the older windows remarkably tight. Just takes some time and patience. I have no advice on the sills, though.

    You are quite right, too, about the can of worms involved in taking off the old clapboards under the vinyl -- for which reason I'd be very much inclined to either leave them in place, if they aren't in too bad shape, which they might not be. That you won't be able to judge until you get there. The outer infiltration barrier house wrap or whatever isn't really all the necessary, so I'd think hard about it.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    solarconvert
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,879
    I would do spring balances on the replacement windows. they are a little more durable than cords and weights and don't have penetrations to deal with. the replacement wood sash with vinyl jamb liners work really well.

    There was a this old house where they replaced the horns of the sill that were cut off. Maybe yo could mill a strip of it off and just cut off pieces to glue/screw on.
    solarconvert
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 487
    I'm a sucker for an old house and a serial remodeler .. can't stay away! You can go around and around trying for perfection -- it's not achievable. Have to pick battles .. that's why I mentioned pre-painted Hardie. It's seems incompatible with "restoration" -- but it's often a reasonable solution when a project is looked as a "whole" . Boral briefly made a bevel product with a nice shadow line -- discontinued and never available pre-painted. It's sort of like buying a TV .. in the store you can see small differences .. once in your house no memory remains. Same with siding .. you can chase perfection when clean and tidy is most important.

    Air sealing is the most important factor with an old house in the winter ... It's like outdoor camping in a tent or putting up a plastic sheet room in a house under construction .... neither have an "R" value ... holding and stopping air movement keeps them warm. It's why I always use foam (carefully) where I can. I'm restoring the original 1870's gothic windows on my current project -- understand the challenges. They will not be perfect ... but -- that's what is so nice about old houses.

    Buildings need to dry -- all building leak and get wet .. the ones that dry survive. Most building wrap is not installed properly -- but It can make a big difference if done correctly on an old building with board sheathing .. but ,,, it's difficult. People get hung up with VB's IMO. Plastic ..OSB .. caulk .. stay away from the first two and used the last with care.

    I like the Mitsubishi HP's -- they really work. Have 3 in my new project as well as a ducted Carrier unit. Have done multihead systems in other projects. Have used wall/ceiling/ducted ... never used the floor units .. but wanted to on this current project (could not make it work and went with a wall)

    Nothing is as comfortable as hot water .. my first thought when radiators are in place is always ---- switch to gas. Use a suitable boiler w/ indirect and mini split for AC. It's seemed you did all the calculations .. radiators provide that "radiant" that can overcome a somewhat drafty space that other delivery methods just can't match. It's all BTU's.

    The cost is crazy .. I'm guilty of wanting it all and sometimes getting ahead of myself. My current system is no exception and getting it all piped in with the proper pumps is a math challenge
    solarconvert
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,550
    @solarconvert

    Would you be willing to share some pictures of the project?
    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
    mattmia2
  • solarconvert
    solarconvert Member Posts: 15
    here are a few docs for those interested - welcome your thoughts. I will take some photos this weekend and post those as well.
  • solarconvert
    solarconvert Member Posts: 15
    @ChrisJ - a few pics of the attic. the design docs tell the story. let me know if you have any questions.

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