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Oldest "functioning" boiler I've ever seen

Kybeans403
Kybeans403 Member Posts: 53
I'll get a more complete history next week when I'm back for a inspection/Maintenance on this. I thought I saw the original oil burner sticking out of a box.  It's a Thatcher started with coal then oil/steam....and converted to gas and hot water 35 ish years ago. Clients been in home 58 years so far and said no issues at all since converting to gas.....other than the 1,000 gallon oil tank buried under the driveway.....I'll get some better pics as well, my headlamp was running out of charge.. I  was at the house working on her mitsu inverters and happened to find this. 
kcoppSolid_Fuel_ManRoohollahAnthony Menafro

Comments

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,678
    Pretty old formerly gravity hw
    mattmia2
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,758

    Pretty old formerly gravity hw

    I agree. This doesn't look like it was ever a steam system. The pressure gauge and thermometer look to be as old as the boiler.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    mattmia2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,668
    And that circulator looks like it was added in like the 40's
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,275
    I'd expect at least some copper in the system if it was converted to water in the 1960s or later as well. 

    I wonder what the overall efficiency is on the wide passage coal boiler with a gas burner.....I bet in the 50% range or less.


    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • Kybeans403
    Kybeans403 Member Posts: 53
    Wasn't sure about steam. Meant to leave that as a question...I'll poke around the attic and look for the old tank.  
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,668

    I'd expect at least some copper in the system if it was converted to water in the 1960s or later as well. 

    I wonder what the overall efficiency is on the wide passage coal boiler with a gas burner.....I bet in the 50% range or less.


    I was thinking they could have paid for its replacement several times over in fuel over the past 56 years. Especially in 1965 when I'm guessing the whole job would have been under $1k.

    Wasn't sure about steam. Meant to leave that as a question...I'll poke around the attic and look for the old tank.  

    It is probably still in use.
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 740
    I've combustion tested

    I'd expect at least some copper in the system if it was converted to water in the 1960s or later as well. 

    I wonder what the overall efficiency is on the wide passage coal boiler with a gas burner.....I bet in the 50% range or less.


    I've combustion tested and tuned some like this that were running steam and the efficiencies run in the mid to upper 70's. Old Pacific steel boilers from the 1930's typically run about 85% combustion efficiency or higher. Just because its old, doesn't mean its inefficient, especially boilers. I'm not sure how much the seasonal efficiency is on these old models. If they are equipped with a burner that has a damper that closes during the off cycle to greatly limit stand by losses, the seasonal efficiency may be close to that of newer boilers.
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  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,668
    I'm not sure I understand this right so I'm asking.

    Does combustion efficiency just mean that 70% or 80% of the chemical energy in the fuel is converted to heat energy or does is also measure how much of that heat is transferred to the water?
  • Gilmorrie
    Gilmorrie Member Posts: 140
    Both will be about equal. The most important losses for a non-condensing boiler is the latent heat of the moisture in the flue gas - the difference between the fuel's higher heating value and lower heating value.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,678
    That boile has a few more sections on it than most so the efficiency will be better than some.

    Too much draft can kill the efficiency. Generally you can reduce the firing rate and baffle it a little bit but 70% would be a lot for that boiler. The standby loss is also high
  • mel57
    mel57 Member Posts: 6
    Maybe no thank in the attic. My house, just a pipe thought the roof.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,677
    I have read that some old systems had no tank or roof vent.
    They left some air in the top of the top floor rads for a cushion.

    I do this in a building that has an unused second floor.
    Leave some air in the rads, shut the valve off, (still has a small port to prevent freezing) and check it to insure water flow during freezing weather. Just not putting much heat where it is not needed.
    PC7060
  • OldSchoolHVAC
    OldSchoolHVAC Member Posts: 11
    My back hurts just looking at that old dog.....
    Long Beach Ed
  • Dave_132
    Dave_132 Member Posts: 60
    I have replaced many of those old boilers over the last fifty years and my back is saying no more.
    In a world of compromise , some men don't !
  • MarkMurf
    MarkMurf Member Posts: 17
    As a 12-13 year old, all I ever wanted to do was to get into my dad's station wagon and go to work with him . We owned, along with his four brothers, C.J. MURPHY FUEL OIL CO. Formerly C.J. MURPHY COAL AND ICE . If I had a nickle for every BOYTON, THATCHER, AMERICAN RADIATOR IRON WORKS, oil fired boiler I brushed out and serviced ! Does everyone know that Standard Sanitary,(toilets,sinks, tubs and urinals)merged with American Radiator to form American Standard ? Both Bayonne, New Jersey companies. They made $ manufacturing 55 gallon drums for WW2. And the first apartment building I bought in Jersey City had two apartments in it which hadn't been lived in since 1945. There was a news paper fron 1945 on one kitchen table. The head line was"AXIS SALLY APPREHENDED" ! That apt had a THATCHER cast iron, coal burning stove in it . The apt below it had a BOYTON .
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbesrick in Alaska
  • Randy_12
    Randy_12 Member Posts: 9
    Combustion efficiency does not equal seasonal efficiency. You can lower the flue temperature of the boiler and get a good combustion efficiency. Seasonal efficiency of that old boiler is 50% at best. A more modern boiler would have paid for itself many times over by now. They don't make them like that anymore(Thank God!). It'll probably never leak!!
    mattmia2
  • DavidDow_2
    DavidDow_2 Member Posts: 8
    I've seen and worked on many of these and their cousins in my early days. Easy to clean the flue passages. I would seal up the doors and dampers with high temp silicone. It did make some difference when testing efficiency with the old Bacharach.
    Not many around today, although there is an old snowman boiler in service on the West Side of Manchester, NH installed in 1924. Customer will not change until it breaks.
  • unclejohn
    unclejohn Member Posts: 1,736
    The water heater looks to be about 30 years old.
  • UKN
    UKN Member Posts: 3
    Looks a little bit like ours old boiler from 1934 now replaced by hot water system; couldn't find anyone to dismantle the old boiler so it was a DIY project and I was impressed by the castings quality although it was replaced due to corrosion in an area where the casting was very thin
    , ,


    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
  • jep
    jep Member Posts: 7
    just amazing!
  • jerryb46
    jerryb46 Member Posts: 46
    i bet nobody knows the name of that circulator??
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,668

    My back hurts just looking at that old dog.....

    What about your lungs...
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,758
    jerryb46 said:

    i bet nobody knows the name of that circulator??

    Thrush.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    PC7060Erin Holohan HaskellSuperTech
  • FrankB101
    FrankB101 Member Posts: 9
    Probably in the 40% fuel efficiency class. Should be replaced.
    P.S. in Ohio there are still a couple of hot water boilers that are coal fired.
  • scott w.
    scott w. Member Posts: 142
    What is that cement stuff smeared all over the boiler? Was that done because there was a leak? Thanks.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,668
    scott w. said:

    What is that cement stuff smeared all over the boiler? Was that done because there was a leak? Thanks.

    Asbestos furnace cement. It is for insulation. Some of the repairs may have been done with base coat plaster.
    CLamb
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 193
    edited October 1
    mattmia2 said:
    What is that cement stuff smeared all over the boiler? Was that done because there was a leak? Thanks.
    Asbestos furnace cement. It is for insulation. Some of the repairs may have been done with base coat plaster.
    The original asbestos cement insulation on the boiler is still in place.

    Boilers designed for solid fuel have multiple access doors (firing, ash pit, clinker, flue cleanout) that leak air, which reduces efficiency.

    After conversion to liquid or gas fuel, furnace cement is generally used to seal these air leaks to improve fuel economy. This is visible smeared around the doors.

    Bburd
    mattmia2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,668
    Note that the part that is silver is the original furnace cement painted with metallic paint. The stuff that is less smooth and not painted is a repair where either the original broke off or was removed to access something.
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 717
    I had a Richardson pancake boiler in my first house. It died because the underground return piping croaked and it dry fired. The original boiler did not have a low water cutoff or auto feeder. Removing that boiler nearly killed me because I had to take it apart one section at a time.

    Jake
  • Anthony Menafro
    Anthony Menafro Member Posts: 188

    I'll get a more complete history next week when I'm back for a inspection/Maintenance on this. I thought I saw the original oil burner sticking out of a box.  It's a Thatcher started with coal then oil/steam....and converted to gas and hot water 35 ish years ago. Clients been in home 58 years so far and said no issues at all since converting to gas.....other than the 1,000 gallon oil tank buried under the driveway.....I'll get some better pics as well, my headlamp was running out of charge.. I  was at the house working on her mitsu inverters and happened to find this. 

  • Anthony Menafro
    Anthony Menafro Member Posts: 188
    I have replaced several of these boilers over the years. Every time, it was like going back in time! Thanks for the memories!!