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Old Boiler Dating

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peterbryan9
peterbryan9 Member Posts: 6
I'm trying to figure out the history of how my house was heated to see the likelihood of there being an underground storage tank on the premises.

I found a permit to install and a certificate of completion for an "Arcoflame" burner from "American Radiator" model or size "946" or "956" (permit says 946, and certificate says 956), as well as a 275 gallon above ground tank in the basement.

I'm trying to determine if this burner was installed in 1949, or if it already existed and the permit is just for the above ground oil tank. The house was built in 1930, so I think the question is "was there an Arcoflame model/size 946/956 that existed in 1930"? I cannot find a catalog listing for this. Any suggestions for where I should look?

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  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,655
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    Probably installed or converted to oil in 1949. Coal was usually what was used for heating before wwii. If the boiler is older than that it was probably fired with coal.
    GGrosspeterbryan9
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,310
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    Um... not always, @mattmia2 . The original boiler in the place I care for was installed in 1930, and was oil fired -- with a 2,000 gallon underground tank.

    Nor would determining that that Arcoflame did or did not exist at some particular time guarantee that there was -- or was not -- an underground tank. Burners and boilers can be changed...

    Look all over the basement walls or possibly even the floor near the original boiler location for possible pipes coming from outside somewhere. They'd typically be black iron threaded, and may have been cut off.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    peterbryan9
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,841
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    Neither of these is the model you stated. The ineligible one just says "w". Most of the conventional low speed burners were similar. What's there now?
    Is there currently a basement oil tank? Natural gas?
    Any evidence of a coal shute?
    What led you to wonder about a buried tank when the permit was for a basement tank?
    peterbryan9
  • peterbryan9
    peterbryan9 Member Posts: 6
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    There was one pipe coming in from the front yard that had been cutoff that our inspector thought could be a connection to an underground tank. No evidence of a coal chute, but the wall the coal chute likely would have been on was taken out later.

    Very cool pictures! I also have the Massachusetts approval no: "ca-646839", is there any registry I could look that up in? I cannot find it on the Mass fire dept. site.

    Thanks for all the help! Very cool to learn about the history of heating/boilers.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,655
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    How big is the pipe? 4" pipe would be very common for an old septic system. 1.5" or so pipe from a cistern is also pretty common.
  • peterbryan9
    peterbryan9 Member Posts: 6
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    It's probably ~1" OD, picture with my normal sized index finger for scale:

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,842
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    Time for a trip into the Historical Documents (anyone else know where that term came from?)

    Arcoflame burners were made by the American Radiator Co., which merged with Standard Sanitary around 1930. The ASHVE Guide for 1930 does not show any Arcoflame burners at all, or any oil-burning boilers, in American Radiator Co's section. Electrol and Quiet May, two famous old oilheat names, were around then, but the Arcoflame was well into the future at that point.

    However, the 1947 and 1948 Guides do show Arcoflame burners, which were made in several sizes. But they do not list the individual model numbers.

    But a 1947 American-Standard catalog shows several models: M, the smallest one which was an axial-flow design; C, the next step up with the more-common setup having the motor and fuel unit on either side of the air tube; and L, a larger version of the C. It doesn't mention 946 or 956, but those might have been ordering codes.

    So, I think your system was originally coal-fired, and the Arcoflame and tank were installed in 1949 under that permit.

    @peterbryan9 , what heating system do you have now?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    peterbryan9HVACNUT
  • peterbryan9
    peterbryan9 Member Posts: 6
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    Thanks so much Steamhead! Very cool information! Historical records are amazing!

    It has a natural gas system now.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,842
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    Thanks so much Steamhead! Very cool information! Historical records are amazing!

    It has a natural gas system now.

    Steam or hot-water?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 918
    edited February 27
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    Could that chopped-off pipe have been the original natural gas service? Older homes had their gas meter in the basement and service typically through the basement wall underground. Modern practice is to bring the gas line above grade outside the home before entering.

    It was found over time that when gas lines leaked underground, the gas could seep along the service pipes and sometimes enter basements, causing an explosion hazard.

    It could also be an old water service line, though in that case the new one would probably be very close by.

    Bburd
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,655
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    What is that to the right of the pipe? It looks like something is embedded there too. It could be conduit or gas that went to a yard light or something like that too. Or a pipe from an old well.
  • peterbryan9
    peterbryan9 Member Posts: 6
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    Steamhead said:

    Thanks so much Steamhead! Very cool information! Historical records are amazing!

    It has a natural gas system now.

    Steam or hot-water?
    Hot-water!
    mattmia2 said:

    What is that to the right of the pipe? It looks like something is embedded there too. It could be conduit or gas that went to a yard light or something like that too. Or a pipe from an old well.

    I tried scraping away quite a bit and I think the spot next to the pipe is just paint.

    Could this pipe possibly be a fill pipe for the above ground tank installed in 1949?
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,655
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    How high is it in relation to the basement floor and in relation to the outside ground?
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,973
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    Dating old boilers? I would definitely consider dating younger boilers. Sure, they won't last nearly as long. But maintenance should be much easier. Only the grey haired, mature gentlemen, have the necessary know how to maintain those old girls. 
    mattmia2EdTheHeaterManCLambGrallert
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,842
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    Dating old boilers? I would definitely consider dating younger boilers. Sure, they won't last nearly as long. But maintenance should be much easier. Only the grey haired, mature gentlemen, have the necessary know how to maintain those old girls. 

    (groan)
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Grallert
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,655
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    Dating old boilers? I would definitely consider dating younger boilers. Sure, they won't last nearly as long. But maintenance should be much easier. Only the grey haired, mature gentlemen, have the necessary know how to maintain those old girls. 

    I was waiting for @EdTheHeaterMan to make that joke.
    EdTheHeaterManold_diy_guy
  • peterbryan9
    peterbryan9 Member Posts: 6
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    mattmia2 said:

    How high is it in relation to the basement floor and in relation to the outside ground?

    It's about 6 feet off the basement floor, and probably ~1 foot below the outside ground.
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,841
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    How high is it in relation to the basement floor and in relation to the outside ground?
    It's about 6 feet off the basement floor, and probably ~1 foot below the outside ground.
    12 inches below ground? You want I should call the giant excavator?
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,840
    edited February 28
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    mattmia2 said:

    Dating old boilers? I would definitely consider dating younger boilers. Sure, they won't last nearly as long. But maintenance should be much easier. Only the grey haired, mature gentlemen, have the necessary know how to maintain those old girls. 

    I was waiting for @EdTheHeaterMan to make that joke.
    I resent that remark @mattmia2, I already have a 62 year old girlfriend, I would never think of cheating on her. Except for maybe an Ideal Red Top... Red heads are the downfall of just about every Irishmen

    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    mattmia2
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,529
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    Massachusetts used to require every oil burner to have a "MA approval #" They didn't care if it was UL approved or not no MA # you couldn't install it. But that was in the old days when MA had their own (and wrote) their own oil burner code.

    They did away with that about 10 years ago and adopted NFPA

    MA permits back in the day if you just were changing the burner and you already had an existing oil tank on the permit you would put "existing oil tank"

    If the house was built in 1930 and the burner and tank went in in 49 I think you were most likely coal fired originally with ARCO being the original boiler. Oil tanks and boilers lasted a lt longer than 19 years back then
    peterbryan9