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Dead Men Tales: The Illuminating Beginnings of Gas Boilers

HeatingHelp
HeatingHelp Posts: 366
edited April 5 in THE MAIN WALL



The Illuminating Beginnings of Gas Boilers

In this episode, Dan Holohan takes us back to 1917 when the gas lighting industry, threatened by Edison’s lightbulb, branched into the business of gas boilers and furnaces.

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Comments

  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,129
    " I like to think of myself as a recovering competent-authority nowadays." Things do change. Wonderful!! B) And thanks.

    Yours, Larry
    roncook
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 8,851
    Funny how things change. In the early 70s in New England oil was king at 80%, gas was 15% and electric and wood were next. Electric made a small inroad with the newks in rthe late 60s and early 70s with their aluminum wired houses.

    Then gas made it's move in the 80s and continues somewhat to this day. Now, gas has oversold their distribution systems and you can't add gas in some cities and towns.

    Don't know what the % numbers are now
    roncook
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,091
    edited March 31
    Dan... Are you attending AA meetings? As a recovering Authority, you may find them helpful . I think competent Authority Anonymous has meetings at old boiler rooms and Tobacco sellers in just about every town.
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey Shore.
    Cleaned & services first oil heating system at age 16
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,260
    I had no idea, Ed. I’ll sign up today! Thanks. 
    Retired and loving it.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,306
    PSEG was expert in gaslighting of both the literal and figurative sense!
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • roncook
    roncook Member Posts: 4
    Nice
  • Tom Sherman
    Tom Sherman Member Posts: 14
    And within a year, we were in the midst of a different pandemic! Enter in the era of oversized boilers so we could open out window to fresh air in the winter. Great story Dan!
  • LarryK
    LarryK Member Posts: 46
    I have a house in Newburgh NY built at that time with the latest all-gas technology. The illumination pipe is still inside all the walls and there is a gas jet in the basement but of course it is all disconnected. The heating is one pipe steam and looks original with many of the risers hidden inside the walls. I don't see any sign of coal handling or storage so I've always wondered if the boiler was fired by gas. There was a big gas works nearby. Ironically Newburgh is also the town that hosted the second Edison power plant after the Pearl Street plant in Manhattan.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,260
    Thanks, guys. You're making my story even better.
    Retired and loving it.
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 311
    This is a fascinating area. I grew up in a building (a fairly typical Chicago 6-flat) built in 1906, which had gas and electric lighting installed from day one. But a coal boiler (switched to gas in the mid-60's - boy did they love not having to manually stoke it early in the morning) for the one pipe heating. The coal room was converted into a big bike room. The gas piping was installed like a tree down the middle of the unit while the electric ran box to box almost haphazardly. There was even a gas fireplace (we never activated it, but assumed that the gas line was still active).

    The building I live in now was built in '27 with oil heat and hot water via a massive heat exchanger and storage tank (somewhat unusual for Chicago) and only gas for cooking - with oven flues for baking in summer - and probably venting out the town gas (the building I grew up in also had range flues). No other gas until the boiler was converted in '71 and, I assume, a switch to a conventional water heater. And wood-burning fireplaces.

    The best is the former Christian Science church (aka St. Stephens for those of you into Urbex) which had, brass, I think, conduit split down the middle for gas and electric. I have a piece of it with a big black fitting somewhere or other - at least I hope I still have it.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,869
    Isn't it true that they did not have the infrastructure to supply enough gas to use for central heating in 1917 if they were to get a large number of their customers to convert since they whole system from the gasworks to the individual services was sized for lighting and cooking? Maybe that was part of why they weren't pushing central heating.

    This brings up another question. How did the word "register" become the word that describes a heating or cooling vent opening?
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,306
    mattmia2 said:

    Isn't it true that they did not have the infrastructure to supply enough gas to use for central heating in 1917 if they were to get a large number of their customers to convert since they whole system from the gasworks to the individual services was sized for lighting and cooking? Maybe that was part of why they weren't pushing central heating.

    This brings up another question. How did the word "register" become the word that describes a heating or cooling vent opening?

    It was manufactured gas not natural gas in those days, so there was definitely supply constraints
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    CLamb
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