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Treasures in the Basement of the 1918 Schweser's Dept. Store

JUGHNE
JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,760
edited March 22 in THE MAIN WALL
While in Columbus NE, I was invited to visit the Schweser building.
Schweser brought the building in 1929 for a high end women's clothing dept store.

They went out of business a few years ago and the building was purchased, thankfully, by a local businessman and his wife. It has been tastefully remodeled into a venue for weddings and other events.

The owner had questions about his steam system so I was of course happy to look.
So often one gets to tour these grand buildings but the basement is off limits to visitors.
Most of my time was spent down there, huge full basement full of interesting items.



This was a postcard photo made as it opened under the original builder/owner.
Built by a German immigrant who did well operating other smaller stores.




But of course the basement:






So a "modern" 1988 PB 211A-05 steamer,

A steam to water heat exchanger, with 2" circulator line.

Then the Arco Wand central vac unit, piped with steel.

The crown jewel, AC compressor unit, water cooled and still in use.
Owner thinks this might be 15 ton, anyone have an idea of tonnage????
Has an almost walk in return plenum, double huge squirrel cage blowers with maybe a 5 HP motor.
The single return air grill is about 5' X 5' at the bottom of the stair case.

The water bill is reasonable as he dumps into storm sewer piping.

He was wondering about replacement when this failed.
I thought water to air HP/AC units. Two sets of twins would give 4 units times 4 tons.
If he used conventional outside units they would have to go on the roof up 3 stories.

Some old Hoffman F&T's, these 2 actually do one return line in and tied together on outlet.



Then some interesting floor tile design;



Remember this is 1918 and the positive rotation of the symbol.
Long before Adolf hijacked and inverted the design.

An ancient Hindu symbol meaning positive energy and good fortune.

I have seen these in Chicago on older buildings and also in India on ancient structures.

And also this was a trademark for, I believe, Crane manufacturing thru the mid 1930's.



mattmia2Solid_Fuel_ManAlan (California Radiant) ForbesPC7060CLamb

Comments

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 16,296
    What an interesting visit.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,331
    So, how do they heat the place now? I see some radiators in the basement......
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,996
    @JUGHNE

    Getting the #s off the txv will help with sizing, At 65 amps full load at about 3 amps/horsepower=21 horsepower.

    So it's probably abt. a 20 hp motor. 20 horsepower =20 tons when water cooled (if it is air conditioning and not refrigeration)
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,760
    Those were just stored there.
    The steamer is still the main heat source.
    I could see very few CI rads up stairs.
    There was a long open exposed fin tube that may have been enclosed at one time.

    He never commented about any real problems with it, just had some questions.
    There was paper cup over the top of the vent on the feeder pump tank though.

    It could not have passed much steam as it still looked intact.

    To many other things to discuss in the basement to think about heating.

    He did not know what the central vac was nor the heat exchanger.

    I might visit again in the fall.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,760
    ED, he talked of 15 tons of resi units for cooling, perhaps that was what the local HVAC guy was speaking of.

    He also has several 3 ton mini's, but they are AC only so may not need the full 20 tons.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,979
    Wonderful! Thanks for sharing. 
    Retired and loving it.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,450
    Wow! I love that compressor. I agree it would be 20HP and between 15 and 20 tons. How are the 3 ton minis keeping up now? 
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • G Averill_2
    G Averill_2 Member Posts: 48
    Thank you for sharing the visit and pictures. The building appears to be in prime condition.
    We see some of the central vacuum systems installed in older, premium homes in northwest Missouri. Most yet are operable but do not provide the suction todays smaller and portable units do.
  • wmgeorge
    wmgeorge Member Posts: 222
    I have worked on a old system with the same Westinghouse compressor, it was still working fine when they took the building down to make a parking ramp. System I worked on was gas heat and the AHU had metal plates you slide in and out when switching from heat to A/C. Never had an issue with either the heat or A/C.
    Old retired Commercial HVAC/R guy in Iowa. Master electrician.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,516
    Is that a chiller or does it connect to a DX coil?
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 709
    edited March 22
    @JUGHNE - been in that building many time when I was a kid with Mom and Grandmother (must have been a sale :smile:). That building is very cool,  but never got past the staff guarding the basement. Across the street and a block west is the Gottberg Auto Co. building from the early 1900s. Sat empty for 40 years before it got it got converted a nice brew pub in the 1990.  

    Always admired the stonework of Ford auto on the building. Never saw the boiler though!


    kcoppSolid_Fuel_Man
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,760
    edited March 23
    "Dusters" brewery and restaurant.

    I just looked down the street at that on Saturday and never noticed the top stonework.

    Shows that most people never look at those details.
    So much of that old architecture is not noticed nor appreciated.

    I have eaten there a few times, the inside is impressive also.

    I think there is a boiler in the brewery, you can see the entire processing thru glass windows on the inside.
    PC7060
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,996
    I only ran into a few of the old Westinghouse units. One was a roof top unit and it had Westinghouse's own hermetic (tin cans) compressors in it.

    The other one was a water cooled chiller (two of them in fact) Those had Copeland (tin cans) compressors.

    I don't know when Westinghouse stopped making that equipment. I would guess mid-late 60s.

    the stuff ran, lasted forever, took a beating and kept running
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,760
    That unit connects to a DX coil in the plenum. About the size of a large kitchen table.
    mattmia2
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 709
    edited March 23
    JUGHNE said:
    "Dusters" brewery and restaurant. I just looked down the street at that on Saturday and never noticed the top stonework. Shows that most people never look at those details. So much of that old architecture is not noticed nor appreciated. I have eaten there a few times, the inside is impressive also. I think there is a boiler in the brewery, you can see the entire processing thru glass windows on the inside.
    Yea, I’ve eaten in the “silo” brewpub with the view of the tanks several times.   Good food but the tractor style seat are really uncomfortable!

    The Gottberg mansion was a couple block away from my old house. It was renovated by new owners in early 1990s as well but I’ve noticed it looking a bit careworn these days. Don’t think the modern 1990 painted white wood is holding up too well to the Nebraska weather. Time to break out the Azek PVC ;)!
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,516
    My friends have a house in detroit that has a similar carrier condenser. It wasn't clear with that if it was DX or chilling water but i'm pretty sure that is also DX if that one is. Th had a tag on it saying it was pumped down in like the mid 60's.
  • veteransteamhvac
    veteransteamhvac Member Posts: 54
    I was in a basement of a not extremely large house here in St. Louis this past winter and it had retained its original Arco Wand central vacuum system similar to that in the photo above. I've never seen one before myself. The homeowner said it was working until just a few years ago and that it sounded like a jet engine spooling up when it started. Same situation as you noted, piped with massive metal pipes. Amazing.

    You see that reverse-of-swastika pattern all over Japan, as there it means good luck. Interestingly, a house down the street from me here has the same tile design on their front porch floor.
  • BillBernard
    BillBernard Member Posts: 1
    I believe that compressor is 20-22 ton. They pretty much lasted forever. National Rebuilders in Queens would probably know for sure
  • Stuart Rogers
    Stuart Rogers Member Posts: 46
    What a beautiful old building! So great to see equipment of that age still in working condition. I notice elevator controls beside the staircase -- would have been constant-pressure or possibly attendant-operated originally but looks like it's been modernized. My own 25-unit 4-storey apartment building (constructed in 4 months in the summer of 1925!) has two Otis-Fensom lifts, with hinged doors, Bostwick gates, and the original constant-pressure controls, all in good working order. Our tech told me there's an identical unit in the Smithsonian, so ours are legitimately museum pieces :-) (To stay on topic, we're heated by an oversized Weil-McLain 1280 steamer, with a backup 978. When I moved in in 2006, the system had been badly neglected and was operated by the super's husband -- a wind-tunnel engineer -- who ran it at 7-9 psig. When I got elected to the Board, I brought a good contractor in. After repairing 60% of the rad traps and 100% of the F&Ts, adding a Tekmar outdoor reset and steam-established sensor, we got it all running beautifully at 1-2 psig. And people closed their windows in winter ;-)
    Here's our guy, Aron Butts, giving a tour: https://www.facebook.com/cordellmechanical/videos/557469135332718
    PS: I say "oversized" because the engineers who spec'd the 1280 did a heat-loss study instead of a radiator inventory. They should have read Dan's book! At least 1/3 of the original cast-iron rads had been removed. On the coldest day of the year, at minimum flame, the 1280 still shuts down on pressure every 10 minutes or so.)
  • Stuart Rogers
    Stuart Rogers Member Posts: 46
    PS: the gas budget went from $40,000/yr to $18,000/yr (and that includes DHW and 3 well-used laundry dryers).
  • atschirner
    atschirner Member Posts: 2
    Vacuum pump in a department store makes me think pneumatic tube system.
    CLamb
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,760
    Stuart, good eye for the elevator controls. Your building looks equally impressive also.

    There is a power unit in the basement, hydraulic piston system.
    There is a control panel about 5' x 5' with what looked to be 50 plus electro mechanical relays in it.

    This building has 3 floors but is joined to the building in the left of the picture.
    So the floor elevations do not match, I think the cars are double doors to achieve the miss-match.


    As far as the vacuum pump, it could have been a pneumatic system, IDK.
    My wife used to visit the store and asked if there was some such system.

    Maybe PC recalls as he visited the place also.

    We had a very small mercantile store here that had a "trolley car" system on a cable that would send the money up to the 2nd floor office of the manager.
    There was no cash on the main store floor.
    It would go up with the money and receipt and return with the cash/coin change and the receipt marked paid.

    I don't know how it was powered...some form of wind up spring??
  • Kickstand55
    Kickstand55 Member Posts: 47
    Nice to see Mechanical history in action.
    I saw a vacuum cleaning system in a 19th century mansion located in Manchester, NH with a Roots Blower on it. It looks like it had been idle for years. These were designed for blast furnaces in around 1860 by the Roots Brothers of Indiana.
    They have been used on internal combustion engines to increase power, with some ill effects until better understood. They're also used on septic tank and catch basin vacuum pumps in modern day.
    Cool stuff.
  • OuterCapeOilguy
    OuterCapeOilguy Member Posts: 30
    Many years ago (1980-81), when living in the D.C. area, I worked on an a/c system dating from the 1930s which featured a Westinghouse semi-hermetic from that era. It was a R-12 system, direct expansion, my recollection was 15-ton. Compressor rpms? 850! No surprise it lasted as long as it did; for all I know it might still be running. (The GE "Monitor Top" home fridge compressors from the 19-teens and 20's ran at 1140 rpm-not uncommon to find those still running, too).
  • scott w.
    scott w. Member Posts: 170
    The Gottberg Auto building is almost a copy of a dealership built in my home town. Even down to the brick matching brick. Just does not have the fancy stonework on top.....I can't remember what make was sold in the building. Wonder if this design was a standard for one of the car manufacturers?
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,760
    This was a Ford dealership, IIUC.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,331

    Nice to see Mechanical history in action.
    I saw a vacuum cleaning system in a 19th century mansion located in Manchester, NH with a Roots Blower on it. It looks like it had been idle for years. These were designed for blast furnaces in around 1860 by the Roots Brothers of Indiana.
    They have been used on internal combustion engines to increase power, with some ill effects until better understood. They're also used on septic tank and catch basin vacuum pumps in modern day.
    Cool stuff.

    Another Roots blower application that many of us don't know about- the Federal Thunderbolt siren:



    On this one, the box with the blower is mounted a bit more than halfway up the pole. The rotator is in the box just below the horn, and the chopper (which produces the sound) is right at the base of the horn and has its own motor. This makes the production of sound independent of the blower speed.

    These things are LOUD!
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    mattmia2reggi
  • FStephenMasek
    FStephenMasek Member Posts: 25
    Very nice, and thanks for posting. I see all kinds of older equipment, so should post some photos here before I retire.
    Author of Illustrated Practical Asbestos: For Consultants, Contractors, Property Managers & Regulators
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 709
    edited March 27
    JUGHNE said:
    Stuart, good eye for the elevator controls. Your building looks equally impressive also. There is a power unit in the basement, hydraulic piston system. There is a control panel about 5' x 5' with what looked to be 50 plus electro mechanical relays in it. This building has 3 floors but is joined to the building in the left of the picture. So the floor elevations do not match, I think the cars are double doors to achieve the miss-match. As far as the vacuum pump, it could have been a pneumatic system, IDK. My wife used to visit the store and asked if there was some such system. Maybe PC recalls as he visited the place also?
    I don’t recall any pneumatic tube systems, just a lot of those old half body mannequins.  😝.  

    There have been a lot of those old building sitting empty beginning in the 1970’s when stores all moved out to Hwy 31 / 23rd street.  Kmart, Tempo, Alco were first of the big box stores in town to pop up there and JCPenney’s and Sears soon moved too. All gone now, replaced by Walmart, Target and Menards. The local Meads lumber is still going strong, they also moved out of downtown. 
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,081
    Many years ago (1980-81), when living in the D.C. area, I worked on an a/c system dating from the 1930s which featured a Westinghouse semi-hermetic from that era. It was a R-12 system, direct expansion, my recollection was 15-ton. Compressor rpms? 850! No surprise it lasted as long as it did; for all I know it might still be running. (The GE "Monitor Top" home fridge compressors from the 19-teens and 20's ran at 1140 rpm-not uncommon to find those still running, too).
    @ChrisJ has a monitor top and ball top in his kitchen right now, still going strong.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    ChrisJ
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,836
    The monitor tops were 1927-1938 and ran 1750 rpm.


    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
  • JohnGellatly
    JohnGellatly Member Posts: 9
    Sure love these old pics, thanks! And guessing by the amperage draw on the compressor, it is a 20 ton unit. So if the envelope has been improved (better windows, insulation) your 4x4 HP recommendation is right on. Although I love the idea of steam and its fabulous heat transfer ability, I love the idea of sustainable design even more.
    JUGHNE
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,760
    The steam would probably remain, even if the HP's added.
    There are also some mini's but are AC only.

    The HPs were just a suggestion, as being a visitor from 3 hours away and pretty well retired, I would not be involved in any change out.

    I do want to stop this summer and hear this thing running.
    mattmia2