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Flue question - old Bastian-Morley boiler

We recently bought a 1928 house in Colorado with a two pipe steam system. The currently-fitted gas boiler is a massive Bastian-Morley unit that still seems to run strong. Based on the serial number (photo below), I am guessing it was manufactured in 1960. It appears to be fitted with a newer gas valve. It also has a McDonnell-Miller series 47 mechanical water feeder installed 4 or 5 years ago.

I'd love any input on how I should care for and maintain this device. I'd really like to keep it running as long as possible!

One specific question: what do you make of the flue pipe? As you can see, it runs to the chimney. It's probably about 25-30 feet from the top of the boiler to the top of the chimney. There's definitely a decent draft. But it's open to the room, with just a grate! It appears to have been installed this way and has probably been like that for decades, so I assume this was intentional? Should I be concerned? I have a CO detector in the basement and it hasn't picked up anything. Should I consider having this changed? Would I see any benefit from adding a barometric damper?

Thanks for your input!


  • EdTheHeaterManEdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 1,061
    It is just fine. Looks like a draft hood for what is known as an atmospheric burner. That means the combustion air for the flame comes from the atmospheric pressure around the burner. As opposed to a combustion air fan on a power burner.

    If you look at the top of any appliance with an atmospheric burner there will be a draft hood.

    Power burners need a barometric draft regulator.
    Atmospheric burners need a draft hood.

    Look at the top of a standard gas automatic water heater. There is a draft hood that sits a few inches above the actual vent outlet. the flue connector is attached to the top of the hood.
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 5,152
    i agree it's a different kind of draft hood, a bit unusual but when it Rome . . . The screen prevents cats from crawling in there to get warm. My cats always loved to sleep on the steam boiler.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,547
    edited November 15
    I can't believe no flue gas is spilling into the space, especially if the wood stove is burning wood and looking for combustion air. The other problem is that wood stove with the pipe going in under the boiler and water heater.
    I'd switch the flue for the boiler and the water heater to baro's with spill switches.
  • Bob HarperBob Harper Member Posts: 853
    Solid fuel must have its own separate flue- period. Cannot common vent.
    Flue must be relined. Check the vent connector sizing charts. You have very little vent rise and may need to increase the size of those connectors. They also need to be supported. The horizontal draft hood is legal and, unfortunately will work as designed. It will spill in a heartbeat. Replace it with a double acting barometric damper with interlocked spill switches. If you replace that old clunker your liner will be much smaller and cheaper. I doubt you need anywhere near that much heating horsepower so do a load calc. Get an unlisted low level CO monitor. Have your tech perform combustion analysis and tune those appliances. Sell that polluting clunker woodstove.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 14,058
    The unit to the right of the boiler is probably a garbage burner or similar unit. I would simply remove it. That would solve the problem @Bob Harper noted.

    The draft hood is certainly unusual, but the boiler was approved with it. Assuming the boiler is in good shape and running properly, I would just add a blocked-flue switch to it.

    Where in Colorado?
    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 Member Posts: 7,571
    Agree with @Steamhead
    Looks like an incinerator next to the boiler I would remove that. The boiler was approved with that draft hood and has been working for 60 years apparently with no issues. A spill switch would make it safer.

    Never herd of a Bastain-Morley before
  • caliwagoncaliwagon Member Posts: 2
    Thanks for the help everyone!

    @Steamhead we're in downtown Colorado Springs. Elevation 6200 feet.

    To @Bob Harpers point, I plan to remove the garbage incinerator or whatever it is and cap that vent pipe. It appears to have been out of use for many, many years. For what its worth, it appears the original boiler was coal fired--a solid fuel?

    I will look into adding a spill switch. Can anyone point me in the right direction of a spill switch that would be appropriate for a setup like this and how to wire it up?

  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 14,058
    The Field Controls GSK-3 would be a good choice. Field's site appears to be having some issues, but the manual can be found here:
    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.
  • EdTheHeaterManEdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 1,061

    Agree with @Steamhead
    Looks like an incinerator...

    Never heard of a Bastain-Morley before

    I think that is the kind of heater James Bond 007 has in his home. It may have other features over and above the normal space heating. The large draft hood may absorb radioactive microwaves so his secret communications are not intercepted.

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