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Original Boiler Sizing (From 1927)

acwagneracwagner Member Posts: 507
edited January 12 in Strictly Steam
Our home was built in 1927 with a single pipe steam system. The couple that built it were bankers, and keep records of everything from the construction process. I found a copy of a quote from a contactor for the steam system. I don't think this is the one they went with, since our Corto radiators are 38" high, not 20" as listed. It's also in a folder labeled as "not paid".

The interesting part is the boiler sizing. 350 "feet" of radiators to 775 SF rating for the boiler. 350 SF of radiators is probably the original amount of radiation the house had (at least one had been removed when we bought it). It seems that even back in the day oversized boilers happened.

By the way, apologies to @Erin Holohan Haskell for posting pricing information....


Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 290 EDR
18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

Alan (California Radiant) Forbesmattmia2AMservices
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Comments

  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,914
    Was this a coal burner? Do you see evidence of a coal room or dump shoot?
  • acwagneracwagner Member Posts: 507
    edited January 12
    Yes, it was coal. We have a room in the basement that has a window with a chute. I found coal pieces in that room when we moved in.
    Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 290 EDR
    18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
    Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
    Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,914
    So oversizing a coal burner was not as bad as doing so today with gas or oil.
    You could modulate/stage the firing by the size of the coal bed.
    Combustion analysis was done by looking at the flame and chimney exhaust.
    mattmia2
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,481
    What cost $649.23 in 1927 would cost $9717.40 in 2019.
    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
  • AMservicesAMservices Member Posts: 581
    ChrisJ said:
    What cost $649.23 in 1927 would cost $9717.40 in 2019.
    $649.23 would barley cover the cost of a new radiator never mind the boiler 
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,617
    There's so much i love about this:
    • They bought out their 3rd partner and hand-modified the letterhead because they were cheap as hell.
    • The three-digit phone numbers
    • The 23 cents
    • The Roofing Forge thing in the corner, whatever that is
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    acwagner
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 4,562

    There's so much i love about this:

    • They bought out their 3rd partner and hand-modified the letterhead because they were cheap as hell.
    • The three-digit phone numbers
    • The 23 cents
    • The Roofing Forge thing in the corner, whatever that is
    My mother still remember my grandparents number with exchange name from when they had a party line. When party lines went away my grandparents actually kept the original number. I can't remember the exchange name, but it was "exchange name 504", when they got a private line and went to all numbers it was 833-4504, so the 833-4 replaced the exchange name. Then later MD started requiring area code to be dialed, so even though their number didn't technically change, it changed at least 3 different times between 1957-2003.

    I'd suspect the roofing forge thing was advertising for a product in exchange for free stationary, but I wasn't alive in 1927 so it's pure speculation on my part.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
    ethicalpaul
  • acwagneracwagner Member Posts: 507
    edited January 12
    It is fascinating. I have documents from pretty much all the trades and even some of the vendors.

    In case you are wondering, the couple went with the low bidder for the steam system, Mr. Henry Ray at $622.00. I have his invoice below. Strange that the plumbing for a 1.5 bath home cost more than the entire steam system. I can't read all the items, but we did have a "clothes shoot" (3rd item).


    Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 290 EDR
    18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
    Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
    Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

    ethicalpaul
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,914
    Today, we take for granted how cheap paper products are compared to 100 years ago.
    So you would not pitch that stationary simply because one name was no longer needed.

    In the 50-60's in school we would be in trouble if we did not use both sides of a page.
    It wasn't being "Green", it was being thrifty.
    After 8 years of this training, it still sticks with me. Hard to throw away paper with a blank side. I use a lot of used printer paper for in office use.
    Computers have produced more paper than they had promised for the "paperless" office. The reason for printing so much is because we can do it so easy.

    The good thing is that with "print preview" I will edit a bill to get it all on one page, if possible.
    ethicalpaulmattmia2
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Member Posts: 970


    ChrisJ said:

    What cost $649.23 in 1927 would cost $9717.40 in 2019.

    $649.23 would barley cover the cost of a new radiator never mind the boiler 

    I just bought two radiator covers about 48" long for more than that apiece!
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,481
    edited January 12

    There's so much i love about this:

    • They bought out their 3rd partner and hand-modified the letterhead because they were cheap as hell.
    • The three-digit phone numbers
    • The 23 cents
    • The Roofing Forge thing in the corner, whatever that is
    Buying new letterhead because McArdle wasn't there anymore? I don't think so Tim.
    I suspect letterhead like that, especially with some color was far from cheap back then.

    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
  • Chris_LChris_L Member Posts: 201
    And look at the combination of trades.
    Eavetroughing? Any steam pros out there that do gutters today?
    And what is the connection between "tinning" and plumbing and heating?
  • EdTheHeaterManEdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 1,636
    edited January 12
    Henry Ray would have needed 3 franchises today, Ben Franklin, One Hour, and Gutter Guys
    Does anyone call them Eavetroughs today?

    ...and how would you keep the leaves out of them? Call:Eavetrough Enclosure after the Eavetrouth Individual installed your Seemless Copper Sulcations.

    I can just hear the advertising jingle sung by a Barbershop Quartet with a banjo playing in the background.
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey Shore.
    Cleaned & services first oil heating system at age 16
    Specialized in Oil Heat and Hydronics where the competition did Gas Warm Air

    If you make an expensive repair and the same problem happens, What will you check next?
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 2,617
    Chris_L said:

    And look at the combination of trades.
    Eavetroughing? Any steam pros out there that do gutters today?
    And what is the connection between "tinning" and plumbing and heating?

    Yeah that is pretty cool, the overlap. I assume because they had lead and torches and the know-how from the plumbing, they "tinned" anything that anyone needed, including copper eavestroughs etc

    Buying new letterhead because McArdle wasn't there anymore? I don't think so Tim.
    I suspect letterhead like that, especially with some color was far from cheap back then.


    Like @KC_Jones said the letterhead with the roofing advertisement on it was probably paid for at least partially by that manufacturer. Marketing agreements go waaaaay back!
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • acwagneracwagner Member Posts: 507
    My guess is "tinning" was the term they used for sheet metal/duct work. Henry Ray did the clothes chute, which was just a metal duct down to the basement from the 1st floor bathroom.
    Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 290 EDR
    18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
    Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
    Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

    mattmia2
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,914
    All those trades did have one thing in common: Lead
    Used for joining many items by soldering.
    Plumber is from the Latin for lead worker.
    Pb is the symbol for Lead (Latin; Plumbum)
    ethicalpaul
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 8,123
    My grandparents owned a two family in Springfield, MA. Just before 1920 they bought it. I think it was originally coal fired warm air. They ripped that out and the contractor put in two steam boilers and 14 radiators and the piping (counterflow) for around $800. We found the original bill after they passed away.
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,373
    I suspect they started out as sheetmetal roofing then branched in to warm air heating then hydronic heating and plumbing. Plymouth michigan must have been tiny in 1928, probably not room for a whole lot of specialization.
  • acwagneracwagner Member Posts: 507
    edited January 13
    I found the original proposal from Henry Ray. It looks like he proposed 505 SF boiler for 385 SF of radiation.

    It's hard to read but I think it says:

    Boiler @ 505. Heating *****. All Corto Radiation. 10 Rad ******. All valves packless. No 4 Hoffman on lines. No 2 on all radiators. Radiation 385 feet. All pipes painted 2 coats.

    Coincidently our main vents when we moved in were still No. 4 Hoffmans. They could be the original ones.

    They also paid him a different amount than what he quoted. And his office and phone number changed.


    Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 290 EDR
    18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
    Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
    Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

    AMservices
  • AMservicesAMservices Member Posts: 581
    Judging the 2 estimates, Ray's perposel of more radiation and a smaller boiler is the better choice. 
    I'm glad Lisle didn't hire the roofer to install his heating system. 
    acwagner
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 14,203
    KC_Jones said:

    My mother still remember my grandparents number with exchange name from when they had a party line. When party lines went away my grandparents actually kept the original number. I can't remember the exchange name, but it was "exchange name 504", when they got a private line and went to all numbers it was 833-4504, so the 833-4 replaced the exchange name. Then later MD started requiring area code to be dialed, so even though their number didn't technically change, it changed at least 3 different times between 1957-2003.

    If that was in Reisterstown, MD, it was TEnnyson when it went from manual to dial. By the time that #5 Crossbar machine was placed in service- 1956 or so- the Bell System was using two letters and a number to designate the exchange. So that number would have been expressed as TEnnyson 3-4504 before it went to all-numbers.

    During the era of manual operation, the exchange name in a smaller community like that was usually the name of the community. So, Reisterstown 504.
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
    KC_Jones
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 8,123
    My aunt is 98. She still has the same phone # in Connecticut "Riverview"+++-++++ and I still remember it that way. I still remember a few old phone numbers that way.
  • bburdbburd Member Posts: 86
    I am not sure when the hydronic heating industry established common boiler rating standards, but before then  there was a serious problem with manufacturers rating their boilers to carry more radiation than they could supply with good efficiency. 

    This may be why both contractors quoted boilers with a square foot rating so much higher than the proposed radiation.

    They might also have been making an allowance for possible future additions to the house.


    Bburd
  • motoguy128motoguy128 Member Posts: 330
    JUGHNE said:
    So oversizing a coal burner was not as bad as doing so today with gas or oil. You could modulate/stage the firing by the size of the coal bed. Combustion analysis was done by looking at the flame and chimney exhaust.
    That was my thought.  That’s the max firing rate for the boiler.  If a vapor vacuum system as was common, But your goal was to fully fill the system with steam from a cold start and then once satisfied the air damper mechanically connected by pulleys to a thermostat shuts and the system modulates.  I’d guess it would run maybe 75% fired when damper open and essentially pulse width modulation depending on anticipatory setting after that until it needed refueling.  

    In our house the boiler room had the service stairs adjacent to the room and a whole 16x18 room dedicated as a coal bunker.  I found coal dust and pieces sitting on top of the floor bridging. 

  • motoguy128motoguy128 Member Posts: 330
    ... similarly I found this beast this week.  Still in service with a gas burner retrofit.  Retrofit a modern combination has valve as the Millivolt relay had failed and I wouldn’t return the existing continuous pilot system back in service without a safety control.  

    Auxiliary blower module was likely a retrofit to increase efficiency.  Judging by their gas bills and stack temp and size (don’t have combustion analyzer), it’s probably 70-75 efficient.  Not bad for a 100+ old beast.  Clocked it at 136000btu after gas valve change.  This half of the duplex  is only 1400sqft. 

    This house was always a duplex.   The other side had the furnace replaced with a “modern” unit probably in the 50s same thing the gas retrofit was done.  

    Sorry photos are out of order.  



    mattmia2
  • acwagneracwagner Member Posts: 507
    edited January 13
    I think it's an interesting glimpse into the day to day world back then.

    I noticed their radiator loads are very similar, so they must have had a common method for sizing for the heat loss for the home. But their boiler sizes are widely different. Granted, we can't tell what EDR rating they are specifying (connected load rating, net output, etc), and there is a lot to be said about the nuance of coal fired boilers and how they were actually operated. Certainly more to that story than what is written in the documents.

    In an era when materials costs were relatively high compared to labor costs (I have invoices for labor rates, and these guys were making less than $1.00/HR in some cases), the material cost is probably 75% of their bids. Seems putting in a larger boiler than is necessary just makes you uncompetitive. Maybe why Henry Ray got the job over the other guys.
    Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 290 EDR
    18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
    Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
    Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Member Posts: 970
    acwagner said:



    In an era when materials costs were relatively high compared to labor costs (I have invoices for labor rates, and these guys were making less than $1.00/HR in some cases)

    I think it was around 1915 when Henry Ford doubled the wages from $2.50 to $5.00---per day.

  • acwagneracwagner Member Posts: 507
    I have the invoices from the builder. They must have had some sort of time and materials contract to build the home because he only bills for his hours and he submitted all the material receipts separately. Anyways, I don't have them in front of me but I think the builder was charging $1/HR for himself and I think something like $0.40-$0.50/HR for his staff.
    Burnham IN5PVNI Boiler, Single Pipe with 290 EDR
    18 Ounce per Square Inch Gauge
    Time Delay Relay in Series with Thermostat
    Operating Pressure 0.3-0.5 Ounce per Square Inch

  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Member Posts: 4,562
    Steamhead said:

    KC_Jones said:

    My mother still remember my grandparents number with exchange name from when they had a party line. When party lines went away my grandparents actually kept the original number. I can't remember the exchange name, but it was "exchange name 504", when they got a private line and went to all numbers it was 833-4504, so the 833-4 replaced the exchange name. Then later MD started requiring area code to be dialed, so even though their number didn't technically change, it changed at least 3 different times between 1957-2003.

    If that was in Reisterstown, MD, it was TEnnyson when it went from manual to dial. By the time that #5 Crossbar machine was placed in service- 1956 or so- the Bell System was using two letters and a number to designate the exchange. So that number would have been expressed as TEnnyson 3-4504 before it went to all-numbers.

    During the era of manual operation, the exchange name in a smaller community like that was usually the name of the community. So, Reisterstown 504.
    It is indeed Reisterstown, they lived in the Sunnybrook Farm development. Sunnyking Dr. off of Church Rd. I spent a lot of time there as a kid and many Thanksgivings with all the family.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 14,203
    acwagner said:

    I think it's interesting glimpse into the day to day world back then.

    I noticed their radiator loads are very similar, so they must have had a common method for sizing for the heat loss for the home. But their boiler sizes are widely different. Granted, we can't tell what EDR rating they are specifying (connected load rating, net output, etc), and there is a lot to be said about the nuance of coal fired boilers and how they were actually operated. Certainly more to that story than what is written in the documents.

    In an era when materials costs were relatively high compared to labor costs (I have invoices for labor rates, and these guys were making less than $1.00/HR in some cases), the material cost is probably 75% of their bids. Seems putting in a larger boiler than is necessary just makes you uncompetitive. Maybe why Henry Ray got the job over the other guys.

    I remember from somewhere that the practice of oversizing coal boilers was driven primarily by people not wanting to tend the boiler more than once or twice a day. So contractors would install a boiler with a larger firepot, which could hold more coal.

    Then the oil guys came along and converted or replaced the boiler, firing the oil burner at the full capacity of the coal boiler. Then the gas guys came along and......... well, you get the idea. This is why a lot of boilers are oversized.

    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,914
    The same applies to wood burners, the larger the burner chamber the less frequently you had to tend to the wood supply. Tended to over heat the house but then you opened some windows. You could cut combustion air down only so much for control.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,481
    JUGHNE said:

    The same applies to wood burners, the larger the burner chamber the less frequently you had to tend to the wood supply. Tended to over heat the house but then you opened some windows. You could cut combustion air down only so much for control.

    Also tends to creosote up the pipe and cause issues too, no?
    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
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 7,914
    Yup, but most wood burner people are conscious of that fact and clean as needed.

    I wonder about coal burning if it built up the creosote like wood does, with a smoldering, air starved fire?
    There are some coal heads here, I wonder if they would respond.
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Member Posts: 970
    My father burned coal instead of wood in a pot belly stove in the kitchen. He always said coal doesn't make creosote like wood. Coal burns too hot. I have tossed many pennies into the coal and watched them melt.
  • TomTATomTA Member Posts: 17


    The Roofing Forge thing in the corner, whatever that is
    "Follansbee Forge" was a long-time manufacturer of tin roofing; the old standing seam roofs that you see, especially in the south. Mild steel coated with a mix of tin and lead. - "terne roofing". Follansbee finally went out of business a few years ago. It was sold in big rolls of flat material that you would have to cut and form the flanges by hand on site. I guess the site-formed standing seam roofing couldn't compete with the modern stuff that is machine formed, with baked on finishes. Probably cuts out at least half the labor time.
    ChrisJethicalpaul
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,481
    SlamDunk said:

    My father burned coal instead of wood in a pot belly stove in the kitchen. He always said coal doesn't make creosote like wood. Coal burns too hot. I have tossed many pennies into the coal and watched them melt.

    Yeah but, when you burn wood hot creosote isn't an issue either.
    Can you "smolder" coal? And if so, what are the byproducts?
    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
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,373
    Depends on the coal how much vapor it produces if incompletely burned. there is a booklet in the library somewhere on the different types of coal, tips for the home fireman or something like that.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 14,203
    edited January 13
    mattmia2 said:

    Depends on the coal how much vapor it produces if incompletely burned. there is a booklet in the library somewhere on the different types of coal, tips for the home fireman or something like that.

    This one, I believe:

    https://heatinghelp.com/heating-museum/heating-the-house/
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
    mattmia2
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 14,203

    .......(don’t have combustion analyzer).....

    Time to get one. I use a Wöhler, but there are other good brands. These units aren't cheap, but lawyers are a lot more expensive.
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
    motoguy128
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