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Dan Holohan interview

apraetor Member Posts: 16
edited January 2021 in Strictly Steam
I'm not one to share Youtube videos.. but I happened to be watching a brief documentary video about district steam heating and it had an interview with Dan Holohan. Couldn't resist sharing! You can see him about 5 minutes in. 



  • jhrost
    jhrost Member Posts: 57
    Fascinating stuff. Someone asked me about this and I wasn't sure. Is most of the visible cloud of stuff in these explosions water vapor and dirt rather than actual steam?
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,492
    Thanks, @jhrost. When you see the orange cones steaming, that's almost always rain water that got on the outside of the steam pipes through a manhole. If the traps aren't working as they should, the rain can cause an event such as this: https://heatinghelp.com/systems-help-center/the-37-million-steam-trap/
    Retired and loving it.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    My job went to China in 2000 so I got a job at the post office fixing mail sorting machines, the management was a PITA but the folks on the work floor were almost all great to work with and the work could be interesting - the machines found inventive ways to break. The machines were large and could be pretty complex, The main machines i worked on were 125ft long and 24ft wide, they had dozens of motors, controllers to handle them and a 20 computers to run the controllers.

    I worked the 2:30 - 11PM shift, we ran a lot of mail on that tour and we responded to machine down calls all night. I usually took my meal break a little late because my area was busy around the usual meal time (5:00-6:30PM), we staggered the meal breaks to keep enough mechs and techs on the floor to handle the calls.

    One night I walked outside on my meal break at about 8PM to take a walk and escape the din of the machines for a while. I exited the building on Dot Av and saw a commotion on the Summer St bridge. There was a car sitting askance on the walk with a geyser of steam beside it. It seems this poor soul was taking a turn onto the bridge when the steam main let go, it propelled the manhole cover up with enough force to lift the car off the road and deposit it on the sidewalk - a little further and he could have been dunked in the Ft Point channel. The driver scrambled out of the car and was last seen running across the bridge.
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,492
    Philadelphia's district steam system has never had an explosion because they had the good sense to lay the pipes under the sidewalks rather than the roads. The weight of the traffic makes a difference. The homeless are also warmer.
    Retired and loving it.
  • mferrer
    mferrer Member Posts: 33
    Approximately 10 years ago, I installed a HPS PRV station in small hotel called the Fitzpatrick Hotel, near Grand Central Station coverting their steam heating boiler to using Con Ed steam. It was a challenge to work in this tiny boiler room while the old fuel oil powered boiler leaked exhaust fumes due to it's damaged breeching all day long. Even in the warm weather, the boiler ran to provide domestic hot water for the hotel rooms. Maintenance must have been a challenge for this busy hotel as hot water is needed almost 24/7. My partner and I got the job done and I was happy to get out of there. In the end, they had a brand new steam station that requires minimal maintenance. And that's great for the hotel, because maintenance didn't seem to be their priority. The best part was the a fair amount of highly sought after space that was left after the demo and removal of the boiler. They made a small office out it. Square feet in Midtown Manhattan is very valuable. I'm certain that the new little office didn't need much to heat the space. Even with the best pipe insulation, PRV stations kick out a bunch of Btus. The adjacent wall must have acted as a radiant heat panel. 
  • ThermalJake
    ThermalJake Member Posts: 127
    After watching the video, and thinking about this... (always a bad idea!)... I started to wonder:

    1. Could I make a brand new steam system powered by a wood boiler?
    2. Could I also create a regeneration ststem the same way?

    I mean for my house. For example, could I generate electricity from a steam powered turbine, and then use the steam for heat. I guess I could. But how big would the boiler have to be for the electricity? Could one even do that with wood? ANd secondly, what would I do with the excess steam in the summer!?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,736
    Well, it's technically possible....... but I doubt you'd want to try it.

    Any boiler that can develop enough pressure to run a turbine needs some special handling. IIRC most localities require an engineer on duty at all times to run such a boiler. Also, such high-pressure installations may be prohibited entirely in residential areas, for safety reasons- you don't want a boiler explosion there.

    For more on what boiler explosions can do, go here:

    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
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