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Dead Men Tales: Saving Coal At Home

HeatingHelp
HeatingHelp Posts: 490
edited December 2021 in THE MAIN WALL



Saving Coal At Home

In this episode, Dan Holohan reviews a circa-1920s short film that the US Bureau of Mines made about energy conservation.

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Comments

  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,190
    My Dad sold Famous Reading Anthracite. It had red spots on it. That is how the customer knew it was Reading Famous Anthracite. They also had a bucket of red paint just incase the rail car delivered a load of coal that did not have red spots. I can just picture my dad blessing the coal like a Bishop would sprinkle Holy Water from that bucket with his aspergillum. Only he used a an old paint brush.
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,978
    That’s hilarious! 
    Retired and loving it.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,190
    I knew you would like that story Dan
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 406
    My Dad sold Famous Reading Anthracite. It had red spots on it. That is how the customer knew it was Reading Famous Anthracite. They also had a bucket of red paint just incase the rail car delivered a load of coal that did not have red spots. I can just picture my dad blessing the coal like a Bishop would sprinkle Holy Water from that bucket with his aspergillum. Only he used a an old paint brush.

    mattmia2
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 406
    Dan, thanks for sharing.  I am probably one of the few coal burners on here, and my last heating project was to insulate the exposed zone piping in the basement. I have managed to get the basement down to a cool 70 degrees, which is not easy with a 800 lb boiler that holds 40 gallons of water.  

    I found this old poster in my pile of coal advertisements.
    Vegas
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,512
    I wonder what department store that was or if it even was a department store.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,978
    The department store is probably Marshall Field’s. 
    Retired and loving it.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 709
    The cost comparison glossed right over the labor required for coal loading and clean up. How hard can it be? 

    That ad would be crushed by the one posted recently demonstrating the wife’s plan to get oil heat!
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 406
    edited December 2021
    PC7060 said:

    The cost comparison glossed right over the labor required for coal loading and clean up. How hard can it be? 


    That ad would be crushed by the one posted recently demonstrating the wife’s plan to get oil heat!
    I have seen some of the oil ads you mention, they were certainly very effective. People did switch to oil in droves due to the hand's off approach. The point I was trying to make was there was a lot of creative advertising going on at the time. Oil equipment companies, coal companies, asbestos insulation companies - they all had plenty of ads.

    The US Bureau of Mines also commissioned a study on a new type of coal boiler in the 1950's called the "Anthratube". I was told that the design effort for this boiler started in the 1940's because the government wanted more oil available for the war effort, but I think it is more likely the anthracite industry could see the writing on the wall with oil heat and thought a more efficient & automatic means of burning coal would help them retain market share. You can read the report via the link below. It is one of the most thorough reports I have ever seen a residential heating system.

    https://coalpail.com/coal-forum/download/file.php?id=1010
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,759
    I recall how labor intensive coal was.
    It came here on a train car, it was shoveled into a bunker, then shoveled from the bunker up onto a flat bed truck (the bed was higher than the bunker), then it was shoveled off the truck thru the coal shoot.

    It was the cheapest coal possible, sized from golf ball up to large basket ball, this had to be broken up to smaller pieces to be shoveled into the coal bucket. Then carried upstairs to the stove. Then the ashes shoveled out to the bucket and carried outside. Wood was easier and cleaner.

    Did I mention "shovels"? :s
    PC7060
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 709
    Robert_25 said:

    The point I was trying to make was there was a lot of creative advertising going on at the time. Oil equipment companies, coal companies, asbestos insulation companies - they all had plenty of ads.

    The US Bureau of Mines also commissioned a study on a new type of coal boiler in the 1950's called the "Anthratube". I was told that the design effort for this boiler started in the 1940's because the government wanted more oil available for the war effort, but I think it is more likely the anthracite industry could see the writing on the wall with oil heat and thought a more efficient & automatic means of burning coal would help them retain market share. You can read the report via the link below. It is one of the most thorough reports I have ever seen a residential heating system.

    https://coalpail.com/coal-forum/download/file.php?id=1010

    Agree, the marketing folks are behind a lot of things that are supposed to be green.

    I laugh when I hear the talk about "clean coal" any technology can be made clean if you post process the waste enough. It's just that nobody wants to spend the money to do it..

    Remember the anti-plastics movement of the 1980's. "Plastic bad because it never degrades". Then all of a sudden, "plastics are good because it can be recycled". Except the reality is plastics are pretty much one way one time processes and recycling isn't cost effective or practical.
    And what a surprise, the oil companies were spending millions of dollars a year to push the recycling programs so avoid a hit to their sales.
    Cynical me.....


  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,978
    There was also the issue of who was tending the fire in the basement.

    https://heatinghelp.com/blog/people-buy-benefits/
    Retired and loving it.
    PC7060
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 492
    The reading coal discs are a collectors item. They no longer put them in the bulk coal loads to let the customer know they have Reading Anthracite Coal.

    www.readinganthracite.com

    I burn about 80 pounds a day of rice anthracite coal a day to heat this old leaky house that was a school house at one time. I wish I had hot water radiators as I would have 10X the thermal mass and I would burn even less coal.

    The Axeman Anderson anthratube boiler is still being built by Axeman Anderson Company in Williamsport Pa, by the son of the founder Peter Axeman.

    The boiler comes in two sizes and is tested and provided with an H stamp for steam heating.

    The coal stoker models are the 130S and the 260S. Both units burn anthracite Pea Coal.
    These coal stoker boilers use an induced draft firing method where the combustion air is pulled over the coal bed as it is being rolled back and forth under the coal delivery tube that is fed by an auger bringing Pea coal from a nearby bin.

    Every Anthratube boiler they build and weld together in Williamsport is sold every year.

    www.axeman-anderson.com

    They also make boilers that burn dinosaur juice, propain and natural gas and are warranteed for life.


    delcrossv
  • prplhz96
    prplhz96 Member Posts: 3
    I still run a VanWert VA600 (hot water tho). Have been seriously thinking about going with gas lately, but still love our trusty coal burner
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 492
    Parts are still available for your VA600, but you may already know that if you have purchased them from
    Marks Supply in Shenandoah Pa.

    I still regret 39 years later not buying a VA400 instead of a hand fed in 1982 as I would still have it to heat my home.

    I should have purchased the VA400 as the installation cost was $2,000.00 more than the $4,000.00 cost of the hand fed unit. I would still be able to buy parts and maintain it just like a new boiler.

    With as crazy as the cost of gas or propain as its only going to go up, Buckwheat Anthracite Coal is still a bargain even in trailer load or triple axle truck load lots trucked from a coal breaker in Pa.



  • scott w.
    scott w. Member Posts: 170
    Just love those old advertising items for coal. My grandmother had a coal furnace back in the 60's and early 70's. She was 80+ years old and went to the basement to fire the furnace and clean the ashes out of the bottom of it. She would fire that furnace and then we would all roast as the heat poured out of the floor registers. She hauled the ash out in 5 gallon buckets and dumped them over them embankment at the rear of the house. Over the 40 years the family lived there the yard in the rear of the house grew by a good degree as the ashes were dumped over that embankment.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,190
    edited December 2021

    There was also the issue of who was tending the fire in the basement.

    https://heatinghelp.com/blog/people-buy-benefits/

    That reminds me of the a story you told, Dan, at a seminar back in the day. It was to drive home the need to do a heat loss calculation. "How did that boiler get so big"... This is where it started. Back during the days of the "CLEAN AIR MOVEMENT" where the boiler needed to be big enough to heat the house to 80° on the coldest day of the year with the windows open, then half again more for the Husband. If you all want to hear the hole story, then send Dan a message requesting it for a future Dead Men's Tales

    @Robert_25 Thanks for a look at the old Reading Coal advertisement pieces. They bring back so many memories.

    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,978
    Thanks, Ed. I'll see what I can do.
    Retired and loving it.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 1,833
    Speak to rural folk who gleaned wood to burn. Bag of coal saved time.
  • Woody_S
    Woody_S Member Posts: 12
    Dan: I have read your articles for years, but this one had me in tears, running cockroaches, and a can of raid! My wife looks strangely at me often. I love the movies, and TV shows', that are set in some kind of boiler room or pump room that is obliviously a hot water system, and there is steam everywhere. I holler at the TV, and get strange looks.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,978
    Thanks. You should watch it on YouTube. It’s hilarious. 
    Retired and loving it.