Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Dead Men Tales: When It Comes to Boilers, How Old Is Too Old?

Options
HeatingHelp
HeatingHelp Administrator Posts: 654
edited April 2022 in THE MAIN WALL



When It Comes to Boilers, How Old Is Too Old?

In this episode, Dan Holohan shares stories about a quest for the oldest boiler, a near-death experience, and century-old equipment that has nine lives.

Listen and subscribe here.

Thank you to SupplyHouse.com for supporting this podcast.
Roohollah

Comments

  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 930
    Options
    WOW, a 30 year old boiler winning a contest as the oldest boiler in the UK is a little strange. I guess that they didn't look very far. There is a Catholic church in Butler, Pa. that had a cast iron boiler that I thought was an H B Smith. When I researched it I found that it was a boiler of similar design that was a pre-curser to the Smith. When it was replaced about 15 years ago I found that it had been installed in the church when it was built just after 1900. It was a hot water boiler and finally cracked a section and of course a replacement was impossible to find. Now, that is old. I found a picture of that old boiler in a google search and here is the link. https://c7.alamy.com/comp/2C9ANH8/old-fashioned-cast-iron-boiler-2C9ANH8.jpg
    Of course, the boiler in the church was much larger.
    Roohollah
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,347
    Options
    Wow! That's quite a find @retiredguy

    President
    HeatingHelp.com

  • JDHW
    JDHW Member Posts: 77
    Options
    I not sure that the result is so surprising since most homes did not have central heating until the 1970s and i have read that house temperatures were about 13c outside the main living room.

    My parents bought a 1950 bungalow (single story house) in the early 1970s and it had central heating system which was unusual for the road. Big houses , schools, churches and public buildings had central heating.

    My parents place had a coke fired boiler in the kitchen and big steel pipes. The story was the first owner wanted a gravity system so that he was not disturbed by the noise of the pump. As you can imagine that worked very well and the system ended up with a pump anyway and he got a discount from the builder :-)

    1970s boilers were atmospheric with a big cast iron heat exchanger and pretty low efficiencies that were normally scrapped because the casing or the burners rotted away but 30-40 years was possible.

    John



    CLamb
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 782
    Options
    W-M JB 5 Installed in the early 60's Runs fine.


    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,974
    Options
    What is that little box at the bottom left? The pilot safety?
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,974
    Options
    JDHW said:

    I not sure that the result is so surprising since most homes did not have central heating until the 1970s and i have read that house temperatures were about 13c outside the main living room.

    My parents bought a 1950 bungalow (single story house) in the early 1970s and it had central heating system which was unusual for the road. Big houses , schools, churches and public buildings had central heating.

    My parents place had a coke fired boiler in the kitchen and big steel pipes. The story was the first owner wanted a gravity system so that he was not disturbed by the noise of the pump. As you can imagine that worked very well and the system ended up with a pump anyway and he got a discount from the builder :-)

    1970s boilers were atmospheric with a big cast iron heat exchanger and pretty low efficiencies that were normally scrapped because the casing or the burners rotted away but 30-40 years was possible.

    John



    Is this in the UK?
  • JDHW
    JDHW Member Posts: 77
    Options
    mattmia2@
    Yes - should have mentioned in the post!
    mattmia2
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 782
    Options
    mattmia2 said:
    What is that little box at the bottom left? The pilot safety?
    Yep.
    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
    mattmia2
  • rbertsch
    rbertsch Member Posts: 1
    Options
    This boiler was at a friends house in Cincinnati which is still in use. Was told it was a coal boiler converted to gas, unsure of age must must be quite old.

    Roohollah
  • hfx
    hfx Member Posts: 1
    edited March 2022
    Options
    We are located in eastern Canada and purchased a 1950's home last year. The Viking boiler was original to the house, believed to be originally coal and converted to oil.


    Roohollah
  • mvickers
    mvickers Member Posts: 30
    Options
    "since most homes did not have central heating until the 1970s"
    Am I missing something here? The definition of 'central heating'?
    I was born in '50 and don't recall anyone not having central heating
    MaxMercy
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,568
    Options
    I was also born in 1950. We had central heat, but my parents didn't when they were growing up in NYC.
    Retired and loving it.
    mattmia2
  • PMJ
    PMJ Member Posts: 1,265
    Options
    My Bryant was installed in 1957 replacing the original coal fired boiler. A college buddy from engineering school who took over his Dad's boiler business told me when I bought the place in 1993 that it would outrun any new boiler I could buy, even with 36 years already on it. It is looking like he was right.
    1926 1000EDR Mouat 2 pipe vapor system,1957 Bryant Boiler 463,000 BTU input, Natural vacuum operation with single solenoid vent, Custom PLC control
  • Labenaqui
    Labenaqui Member Posts: 72
    edited April 2022
    Options
    Worked on a pair of 1868 Amoskeag Manufacturing "Pancake" Boilers in Manchester, NH in the late 1990's. Locally built, Amoskeag was best known for their Horse-drawn Steam Fire Pumpers and also built a few Locomotives on the side.
    P.S. - I'm running a 1935 International Heater (now Weil-McLain) Economy No. 64 Wood Burner coupled to my Domestic Weil that is the development stand for our Patented Neo-Gravity Hydronic Heating Appliance.
  • jeffl2019
    jeffl2019 Member Posts: 2
    edited March 2022
    Options
    My neighbour's 1939 Taylor-Forbes New Monarch W-2206 boiler.
    Oil converted from coal, (still) gravity fed, running strong but apparently thirsty.
    Every house in our area had this model, but they are the only ones left with the original that I know of.



    Roohollah
  • headstamp20
    headstamp20 Member Posts: 1
    Options
    Though not as old as many of the units here, I have a Series 70 Crane boiler (Installed in 1969) that just hit 52+ years old. Runs fine. The reason I keep it is the pin arrangement/design rivals the most modern pin boilers available today and is easy to clean as the whole side panel opens up for full access to the pins. Was ahead of its time really. Its been upgraded over the years with a newer Beckett AFG flame retention burner and a Hydrostat economizer aquastat. Runs beautifully. Crane later sold its boiler division to Slant-Fin.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,974
    Options
    mvickers said:

    "since most homes did not have central heating until the 1970s"

    Am I missing something here? The definition of 'central heating'?

    I was born in '50 and don't recall anyone not having central heating

    The person that posted that is from the UK. I would say 1920's was when central heat was becoming common in the US.
    CLambPC7060
  • Adk1guy
    Adk1guy Member Posts: 68
    Options
    I like the old Crouse and Hart boiler. I see a fill valve, they must have capped the overflow tank. It was made in Utica. Didn't know that. I know Utica used to be on the Erie Canal and had a lot of industry. I believe they still manufacture Utica boilers there.
  • ataylor
    ataylor Member Posts: 1
    Options
    Tried to post this on the site but it won't let me sign in as a contractor. How old is too old a boiler. This is one of my customers boilers running today and very rarely ever gives her a no heat call. The boiler was installed when her grandparents built the house the year they married. She does not want to get a new boiler even knowing that a new boiler would cut her fuel bills to well below half. Wouldn't even go for a Beckett. It just runs as it should (inefficiently). Her grandparents got married in 1923 and in a matter on months it will be 100 yrs old. I know I'm a lousy salesman but I understand people in the mid west expect this kind of longevity from their cast iron boilers. This is east coast.


    delcrossvRoohollah
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,347
    Options
    ataylor said:

    Tried to post this on the site but it won't let me sign in as a contractor.

    Sorry for the confusion. That link is for pros to log in to their Find a Contractor listings. You're in the right spot for posting on the forum.

    President
    HeatingHelp.com

  • thegreatcornholio
    thegreatcornholio Member Posts: 25
    Options
    Here’s an old one I ran a new gas line to last fall. Has an open air expansion tank in the attic. The lady who lives there said she turns the water fill valve on and counts to 10 once or twice a heating season and has no desire to replace it, truth be told I don’t want to see it replaced either! Something that old still working just like it should, it would be a shame to scrap it.
    Wait how do you post a picture here?
  • pell
    pell Member Posts: 23
    Options
    I read something that if a home in the UK was to be sold, if the heating system was over 5 years old, it had to be replaced. This might explain the "32 year old baby".
    Roohollah
  • JoshP
    JoshP Member Posts: 72
    Options
    My 1960s American standard steam boiler runs great and without a sound. 
  • JoshP
    JoshP Member Posts: 72
    Options
    Adk1guy said:
    I like the old Crouse and Hart boiler. I see a fill valve, they must have capped the overflow tank. It was made in Utica. Didn't know that. I know Utica used to be on the Erie Canal and had a lot of industry. I believe they still manufacture Utica boilers there.
    I live in Utica. ECR international still makes Utica boiler brand boilers. We HAD a lot of industry. Erie Canal ram through the city at one point . 
  • JDHW
    JDHW Member Posts: 77
    Options
    pell@

    The 5 year thing is not strictly true. When you sell a house you have to provide a sort of information pack that contains information about all sorts of things - heating, electrical systems any major problems. If you having a running problem/dispute with a neighbor that should be declared as well! The idea is that you are open about the condition of the house to the buyer.

    So a buyer could say they won't touch a house with and old heating system but it is not a legal/regulatory thing. Most people buy houses with mortgages (loans from banks or equivalent) and they sometimes will reduce the amount they are willing to loan if there is some major defect that needs to be fixed. A working heating system that has been serviced by a qualified tech would not be a problem.

    House prices are rising at 17% in some areas at the moment so you could probably sell one without a roof if you offered a discount :-)

    John
  • MarkMurf
    MarkMurf Member Posts: 35
    Options
    The old man, top shelf life long heating man, honest to a fault,"It probably won't happen in my lifetime son, but it will happen in yours. You're gonna wake up one day and realize that no one knows ____. anymore." An old time customer calls me to give him a bid on replacing his ~120 year old Mueller boiler ; an open, atmospheric, convection flow, hot water system. "You havin trouble with it Russell ?" I asked."Well no, but so and so(local charlatan)said it needs replaced." It heats a 3000sq ft+ house. "What are the fuel bills like Russ ?""Usually somewhere between $65.00>$85.00 a month.""And when was the last service call you had on it ?""Oh jeez, about 12 yeas ago. It was you remember? You replaced that generator.""The power pile generator. Yes I remember.""Does it keep the house comfy?""This is THE most comfy house I've ever lived in.""So, $65>$85 a month in fuel, as dependable as day light and snug as a bug in a rug.And we want replace it why Russell ?"
    That was ~15 years back. Russell has gone on to his great reward. His son (a friend)owns the house now. I just replaced the power pile for him the other day. Wall hung a
    CLambdelcrossv
  • thegreatcornholio
    thegreatcornholio Member Posts: 25
    Options
    Here is probably the oldest boiler I’ve ever worked on. Had me confused at first, I didn’t think it was steam but it didn’t have any circulator pumps or expansion tank. After some time I found it  has a open air expansion tank in the attic. No automatic fill valve homeowner has to fill it when it gets low from evaporation a couple times a season. I’m guessing 1940’s when it was installed  
    RoohollahdelcrossvPC7060
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,974
    Options
    Pretty sure it is gravity hot water.
    bburd
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 17,011
    Options
    mattmia2 said:

    Pretty sure it is gravity hot water.

    Yup. And it looks like the tank has hot water running thru it to keep it from freezing.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    mattmia2
  • Roohollah
    Roohollah Member Posts: 135
    Options
    Thanks for sharing such beautiful pics of the old boiler rooms . Every of them has a lot to say. As for my own country , decentralization of heating systems is the case most of Engineers advise home owners . To my opinion, boiler room is excellent idea and that is kind of art . Once i saw Clever Broke fire tube boiler which was told it had been working for nearly half a century . Also, our most old boiler rooms were equipped with Budrous sectional cast Iron boilers which some of them have still working fine . As I witnessed they failed due to open expansion tank . The attached pic is the one which had been working for 30 years . Its front door and rear one and supply and return flanges were unique and big thanks always go to Budrus company for considering its products from every angle to be one of the best Boiler producers in the world .

    Once more , thanks you all for the beautiful pics and am much obliged to Heating Help for educating over seas techs like me .

    Stay safe ,
    Roohollah
  • ch4man
    ch4man Member Posts: 296
    Options

    1932 steamer with OE Specialties radiator elbows and air exhauster, still functional