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100 years ago today-- heating fuel choices

PRR
PRR Member Posts: 91
edited January 1 in Oil Heating
Happy new year!
January 1924, coal is getting "difficult", so coke or oil?
What caught my eye is the huge size of tank proposed "to get the cheapest rate". About 6 times bigger than the now-common residential tank. But my last house did have a tank like that (and we was paying a lot more than 7-10 cents/gal).

WMno57Mad Dog_2Waher

Comments

  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,556
    edited January 1
    According to usinflationcalculator.com , that would be $6533 in today's dollars.
    Your grandmother was doing well!

    Just picking internet prices for these items, I'd say still pretty close.

  • RascalOrnery
    RascalOrnery Member Posts: 16
    A fair amount of people in Schuylkill county, PA still heat with anthracite coal. There are some businesses too that do so. BTU per BTU fuel oil would have to be <$1/gal to justify oil over coal from a strictly financial perspective. (Propane is a different story, and a good number are switching) Relative told me a local business that uses over 200 tons a year (I think they process meat/butcher)

    A Los Angeles Times article said: "The electric automobile will quickly and easily take precedence over all other types" (of motor vehicles)...that was in 1901... :D:D

    I was in an old church recently where the "choir bleachers" were shimmed up about a foot by a couple dozen volumes of Encylopedia Brittanica! 30 years ago (pre internet) that would have been as shocking as using a few macbook pro laptops today! It's amazing how perspectives shift and how marketing capitalizes on the negatives of one industry to catapult their own agenda (which sometimes may even be the right agenda)

    Who know! We could be all boycotting Amazon in ten years and going back to flip phones, the whoopie cushion could take the Christmas industry by storm! :)

    It's so neat to see how hard it is to predict the future, let alone human behavior and response!
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,439
    10 cents a gallon is the same as $1.80 today.

    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
    Intplm.
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,556
    ChrisJ said:

    10 cents a gallon is the same as $1.80 today.

    1.80 + taxes. I wonder if they paid taxes on fuel back then.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,439
    SlamDunk said:

    ChrisJ said:

    10 cents a gallon is the same as $1.80 today.

    1.80 + taxes. I wonder if they paid taxes on fuel back then.
    I have no idea....
    @Jamie Hall You're the closest to this I can ask.........I know it's probably a good 20-30 years too early, but... thoughts on taxes on fuel?
    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
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,049
    JUGHNE said:

    In 1922, my village voted 177 to 48 to install it's first power plant.

    $11,405 for the building and $6,041 for a 1 cylinder 38 KW engine and switchgear. That was a "Hothead" diesel that could be started with the "shotgun shell" explosive charge if needed.
    It was still in the building in 1968 and used as a "peaker" to get thru the noon hour.

    The plant ran only 18 hours a day.....why would you need electricity at night when you were in bed?

    Rates ranged from 7 cents to 17 cents per KWH, but by 1925 rates went up to 10 to 18 cents/KWH, there was a minimum of $1.50 per month.....no small amount in the 1920-30's

    In the 1920's a 10,000 gallon train load of fuel oil cost 2.75 cents per gallon.

    Today my electric rate is 16 cents/KWH......think about what fuel oil costs today.
    Adjusting for inflation, electric rates have gone down from 1920.
    We get our power from the grid and thru various agencies that buy on a daily basis.
    So the source is hydro, coal, and Nuclear.

    We just are in the process of adding another diesel generator, 2.1 MW....a lot for us.
    We will lease 1.8 MW of it to the power pool for their stand by use.
    This puts our plant up to 3.35 MW for our load of about 2.0 MW.

    In the 60's we were considered very backward to keep our power plant as all other small town scrapped theirs and connected to the grid. They now envy us when the grid might go down for 1 day to 1 week.
    In a blackout we can be back on line in 30 minutes.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It all goes back to the Spindletop oil field discovery in 1901.

    Fun fact, The Queen Elizbeth II ocean liner makes a 5 day crossing between England and the United States every 6 days.

    When they are berthed in New York harbor they completely turn over and restock the ships laundry, fresh and frozen food stores, needed commissary supply's and empty the bilges and ta da refill the diesel fuel tanks. The amount of fuel transloaded/pumped from the local fuel dealer's barges is measured in TONS not gallons, TONS!!, and the same work happens in Liverpool 5 days later after the Queen Elizabeth II reaches Liverpool to ready it for the west bound Atlantic crossing to New York City.

    The Sub Bituminous Stoker Coal mined in Powder River basin of Wyoming and Montana is less than $9.00 dollars a ton the last time I checked. The Lignite Coal mined in South Dakota was less than seven dollars a ton the last time I looked. Lignite Coal is also referred to as slack coal which was burned in fireplaces because of an anthracite coal shortage.

    The burning of the lignite coal created the heavy smoke that killed many people in Britain during the Korean War period as Britain was dealing with a post war fuel shortage and a heavy Atlantic fog over the winter that settled over the entire area of Great Britain including Ireland Wales and Scotland for many months.


  • PRR
    PRR Member Posts: 91
    edited February 12
    Local (town) electric plants had to be 60CPS AC close-enough for electric clocks to keep good time. (Quartz comes later.) When my dad was in high school he had the gofer job at the power plant. The Chief Engineer had a very fine pocket watch, which he checked every day against Railway Time. In the power house was a good AC wall-clock, which followed the errors of the electric plant. He'd check one against the other and trim the steam-engine governor so they agreed every day.

    Here's 1919. Coal getting hard to get, they were burning light oil (kerosene) to stay warm.
    This idea of stop-starting a fire on electrical contact was radical. As you appreciate if you ever managed a coal or even wood fire. Solid fuels take a long time to go cold and a long time (and puffing) to hot-up again.

    delcrossvratioEdTheHeaterMan
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,508
    I like that this advertisement indicates that the Kerosene is more expensive that coal. They are making the case that there will be less work in keeping the home warm "practically no attention" means no coal shoveling, then there is no ash to clean out each week, and there is no smoke or soot.

    Another disadvantage is the need to use electricity.

    Times were simpler then.
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 1,135
    Found one of those 1800 gallon tanks buried on the property during a renovation.  Fortunately, it had already been abated and filled with sand. 

    House was built in 1928 so date lines up nicely with the posted ad.  
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,439

    I like that this advertisement indicates that the Kerosene is more expensive that coal. They are making the case that there will be less work in keeping the home warm "practically no attention" means no coal shoveling, then there is no ash to clean out each week, and there is no smoke or soot.

    Another disadvantage is the need to use electricity.

    Times were simpler then.


    For being simpler a whole lot of basic things sure seemed a lot harder.
    Like going poo at 2AM during a thunderstorm.

    Or washing laundry, or for that matter your self.

    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
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 527

    A fair amount of people in Schuylkill county, PA still heat with anthracite coal. There are some businesses too that do so. BTU per BTU fuel oil would have to be

    The coal shortage noted in the advertisement was due to a large strike of the UMW. Coal supplies became tight, and people looked for alternatives. I think this was also when the US Bureau of Mines started talking about energy conservation.

    Related thread from a few years back: https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/186007/dead-men-tales-saving-coal-at-home

    The cost of anthracite really went up this past spring/summer - I would not be surprised if it nudged some people in NEPA to finally switch to NG or LP.

  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 878
    In the early 1970's many schools and hospitals that did not have access to natural gas were looking for a cheaper fuel for their steam boilers than #2 fuel oil. The company I worked for in Pittsburgh, Pa. came up with the solution, bituminous coal. We converted many of these boilers to coal using either a ram or screw stoker. The screw stoker was used on smaller boilers while the ram stoker was used on larger units. Most of the conversions were done on horizontal fire tube boilers. To reduce the need for manual tube cleaning, soot blowers were added. Most of the time a brick arch was added to the firebox above the burning coal to enhance the burning of that coal. Other devices were added to help produce a clean burn so smoke from the stack or chimney was almost non-existent. Imagine, burning soft coal with little or no smoke.
    WMno57CLambdelcrossvleonz
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,299
    @retiredguy

    at one point (i think this was early 80s) HBSmith came out with a package fir there 4500 boilers with a Losch Stoker. It also had a Powerflame burner on 2 oilfor back up. The stoker was piped into the boiler returns as the took 1 return drum off and piped the stocker tnto all the section return drum tappings

    do t kno if it ever worked out or not
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 878
    @EBEBRATT_ed, I only saw a couple cast iron sectional boilers that were set up to fire soft coal probably because they had to be cleaned weekly and taking the front access covers off was a time consuming job. With a horizontal fire tube boiler you could employ "soot blowers" to keep the tubes clean, and only have to brush the tubes once a year during the summer hut down. .
  • PRR
    PRR Member Posts: 91

    I like that this advertisement indicates that ....
    Another disadvantage is the need to use electricity.

    Not published as an advertisement. Yes, possible that a manufacturer or council "contributed" the pictures and words.

    Electricity is a big thing if you don't have it. My last house heated for 70+ years before electricity came to the farm. Enormous floor furnace so hot air would rise without electric blower. Even in 2002, a house down the creek still never had electricity, even though now surrounded by 1980s ticky-tacky houses. Coal stove and kerosene lamps.

    This house in the Maine woods, I think about non-electric heat. Of course I have a generator and it easily spins the blowers on a 40,000btu gas furnace. But generators go out. I have a gas fireplace which runs without juice. If I turned off the standing pilot then I need some batteries to spark it, but I usually do. (OTOH, if the propane runs out and the power is up I have about enough resistance heat to be fine, if soon broke.)

  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,206
    Can coke be called green? Made from biofuel?
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,049
    Bituminous Metallurgical Coal with a high volatile content is used for making coking coal.

    Anthracite Coal has the highest BTU per ton and burns cleanly with no smoke.

    Anthracite coal can be used to make COKE as well

    Anthracite Coal it has a heavier ash content if the portion of the anthracite
    coal seam where it is mined has a lower carbon content due to it having a
    much lower vegetation level where there was not a great deal of peat created
    over 65 million years ago.


    There are 4 types of coking coal (metallurgical coal) in use today.

    Hard Coking Coal(HCC)

    Medium Coking Coal(MCC)

    Semi-Soft Coking Coal(SSCC)

    Semi Soft Coking Coal For Injection (SSCCI)

    Wikipedia has a nicely written page on making coking coal.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,508
    I Actually prefer Coke over Pepsi.



    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    PC7060
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,049
    I have been buying the original formula Coca-Cola made with Cane Sugar in
    the green bottles and it reminds me of the Coca-Cola that we used to have as
    there is no heavy corn syrup taste that ruins it.
    PC7060CLamb