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Requesting some historical expertise please

Greetings,

I am new here and I hope that I am not violating norms or offending any site members. I am a newly retired Facility Maintenance professional who is a writer in my second life. I was directed to your site by the person that I depended on for the health and wellfare of all of my HVAC R&M for the past 20 years.

I am writing something that includes information on the boiler in the elementary school I attended. The building was constructed in 1924 and the boiler that was in use in the '50's (when I attended) is still in use. I have attached some photos that I hope will be helpful.

What I am hoping for is general info on the history of the boiler, its general quality and any personal vignettes you would be willing to share. The audience is rather small ~300 people and not a commercial venture.

Thanks for your consideration and any comments are appreciated.

Jon (stratus5b)



mattmia2

Comments

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,533
    That boiler looks older than the room that it is in. i guess reinforced concrete structural members existed in 1924.
  • stratus5b
    stratus5b Member Posts: 9
    mattmia2 said:

    That boiler looks older than the room that it is in. i guess reinforced concrete structural members existed in 1924.

    Thanks you so much for your comment.

    The school was built/opened in '24. Some of the door hardware was 1930. Prior to 1924 the site was dirt as far as I can determine. There was nothing on the site prior to construction.

    Jon (stratus5b)
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,636
    That looks like a Pacific steel boiler, with the name of the installing contractor cast into the top piece. You should be able to verify this by checking the building's records.

    IIRC, Pacific boilers were regarded quite highly. Kewanee was one of their main competitors.

    Where is this school located?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 654
    edited December 2019
    This looks like boilers I serviced for 35 years and were typical for the eastern part of Pennsylvania. I'll bet it is one that I worked on. Actually, let me change that statement to that steam boiler is typical for any school district where they did not worry about efficiency and never spent more money than they had to to keep the building open. Is that an old Metler burner? I can't quite see it good enough from the picture to be sure.
  • stratus5b
    stratus5b Member Posts: 9
    The school is located in the Montlake District in Seattle, Washington. You mention Pacific as the manufacturer of the boiler. It s clearly identified on the boiler "doors" but I wasn't sure. Should I be researching Pacific Boilers?

    Thank you so much for your help!

    Jon
  • stratus5b
    stratus5b Member Posts: 9

    Actually, let me change that statement to that steam boiler is typical for any school district where they did not worry about efficiency and never spent more money than they had to to keep the building open. Is that an old Metler burner?

    Is this typical of schools at that time?
    Seattle has been blessed with favorable electrical rates. I haven't researched costs in the '20's or '30's but I'm guessing that power costs was not a critical factor.

    Again, thank you all so much for contributing your knowledge.

    Jon
  • Tom bates
    Tom bates Member Posts: 27
    If your interested I can post a copy of the 1924 blueprints for this school.
    Do you have any photos of the vacuum pump or other heating equipment such as the fan room?
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,602
    @stratus5b

    That is a "Pacific Steel Boiler" as @Steamhead mentioned. They have been out of business for years. That particular boiler is a "Steel Firebox boiler"

    If you refer to the first picture you posted you can see 3 or 4 "bumps" in the side of the boiler.

    The boiler could have been sent to the job site in 2 or 3 pieces and assembled on the job or factory assembled in 1 piece.The top round drum section was set on top of the steel lower firebox section. The bumps in the side of the boiler are where the drum and firebox were connected with some type of nipples

    The lower firebox section could be 1 piece or 2 piece (the larger boilers were 2 piece) can't tell from the pictures.

    Once the boiler was assembled the brick mason climbed inside and built a combustion chamber made out of firebrick...could be asbestos insulation in their.

    The outside is also covered in likely asbestos containing material (if it is still the original covering) looks in good shape.

    The boiler owes the owners nothing. It must have been well taken care of and have exceptional water quality to have lasted this long.

    Looking at the pictures closely I suspect the boiler covering has been replaced.

    On the right hand side of the boiler it looks like a below the water line heat exchanger used to provide domestic hot water
    STEVEusaPA
  • stratus5b
    stratus5b Member Posts: 9
    edited December 2019
    Tom bates said:

    If your interested I can post a copy of the 1924 blueprints for this school.
    Do you have any photos of the vacuum pump or other heating equipment such as the fan room?

    Tom,
    Unfortunately I have nothing other than these photos and no contacts to obtain other info. The blueprints of the school was be amazing.
    The address of the school is 2409 22nd Ave East / Seattle, WA
    Jon
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,118
    Tom has an astonishing collection of blueprints of buildings of all sizes and ages. I've been enjoying them for years. Thanks, Tom.
    Retired and loving it.
    stratus5bSTEVEusaPATom batesmattmia2
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 654
    edited December 2019
    I still like seeing pictures of these old boilers that could have been fired with any type of fuel, coal, oil or natural gas. They were a 3 pass boiler that could have been used to produce hot water or steam (either one) just by adding the correct auxillary equipment. If you look hard enough and use a little imagination you could see this boiler setting on a set of wheels and powering a steam engine running down a set of train tracks This one is not exactly the type used as a locomotive but it is close. I am sure that a lot of the guys that monitor this site can provide you with the information you require for your writing.
    stratus5b
  • Pumpguy
    Pumpguy Member Posts: 566
    Are any pictures available of the pumping equipment for this system?
    If yes, I may be able to tell you something about them.
    Dennis Pataki. Former Service Manager and Heating Pump Product Manager for Nash Engineering Company. Phone: 1-888 853 9963
    Website: www.nashjenningspumps.com

    The first step in solving any problem is TO IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,533
    There's the boiler on page 4. Pretty sure it is thay very same boiler when it was fired with i assume coal.

    What was the vacuum pump for?

    Why was there both a coal and an oil room?
    stratus5b
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,636
    This was a vacuum steam system. The vac pump exhausted the air quickly so the building heated faster, and also allowed the use of smaller return lines.

    No idea why there was an oil room, unless they stored kerosene there to start the coal fires..............
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    mattmia2
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 654
    edited January 2020
    I looked at the drawings supplied by @Tom bates and find that they represent the typical school building and supporting equipment that was common for that time period. I saw these same building all throughout Pennsylvania and the surrounding states. The heating system consisted of 2 steam boilers that were later specified by the "heating engineering firm"and fired with the fuel that was available in the area be it soft coal, #2 fuel oil, natural gas or a combination of gas and oil with nat gas being the primary and #2 fuel oil being the back-up fuel. Coal rooms were usually included in the drawings in case the building owner requested soft coal as the heating source. If coal was not the chosen heat source then that room was usually used for storage. The building heat is by a combination of steam radiators and a forced air unit called a "Vento" unit. The Vento unit had heated supply air ducting, return air ducting, and were usually supplied with a pre-heated make-up air system, as this system is. The drawings show a typical boiler without a burner or coal unit since the type of fuel has not yet been chosen. @steamhead explained the reason for the vacuum return unit. As @ Ebebbratt-Ed mentioned and explained the bumps on the side of the boiler was so the boiler could be shipped in pieces and assembled on site. Those fittings were originally flanged and supplied with asbestos gaskets and bolts. As a matter of interest, those steel boilers life span was forever since every steel item on those boilers including the outer steel skin, could be replaced. Drawings 255-0020, 21, 22, 23, and 24 show al the items I mentioned. Even though these schools were from the early part of the 1900's they were built to last with the best equipment available for that time period. I do not know how many of these dinosaurs are left since so much has changed since I retired in 2007 just before the big shake-up with new efficiency standards. (Gook luck on your project)
    stratus5b
  • stratus5b
    stratus5b Member Posts: 9
    Tom bates said:

    See attached.

    Holy Buckets Tom bates! These drawings are awesome. Thank you so-o-o-o much!!!

    Jon
    mattmia2SlamDunk
  • stratus5b
    stratus5b Member Posts: 9

    The heating system consisted of 2 steam boilers that were later specified by the "heating engineering firm

    This information supplied by all is beyond fantastic!

    It turns out that only one boiler was installed as a meeting room and kitchen, labeled as "Alternative A" was never built and at the opposite end of that building a pad marked for future expansion was never utilized, hence the single boiler I suppose.

    The Fuel Room is shown with three coal chutes. At this time only one remains and vents of some sort have been installed over the other two openings. Image attached.

    I spent a fair amount of time in this boiler room during the '50's as I was fascinated by all the equipment and the school custodian was good company. It is also where the eraser vacuum was and it was customary for children who were "a disturbance in class" to be sentenced to eraser cleaning duties, so there was that. Anyway, I don't recall coal deliveries or coal in the fuel room but maybe because coal and fuel rooms were so commonplace at the time.

    Any and all additional help interpreting this information is appreciated and I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year.

    Jon



  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,533
    @retiredguy , those weren't installed originally as natural gas in the 20's, were they? My understanding was that natural distribution didn't begin until the 40's or so. Town gas may have been available but it was only available in quantities for lighting and cooking. At least that is my understanding of the history of gas distribution.
  • Pumpguy
    Pumpguy Member Posts: 566
    @Tom bates, @stratus5b, Thank you for posting these prints.

    Without a doubt, the vacuum pump shown on the prints is a Nash Jennings Piped Up Type vacuum pump. Unfortunately, there is no information to determine it's pumping capacity or casing size.

    This pump is a combination vacuum and condensate pump having both the condensate centrifugal impeller and liquid ring vacuum rotor mounted on a common shaft; both elements spinning together.

    The condensate impeller returned condensate to the boiler and the air rotor removed air to produce the vacuum.

    When first produced, (1917) these units were not fitted with control switches. It was turned on in the Fall and ran continuous all season long. Later, float and vacuum switches were fitted, wired in parallel so the pump now ran start-stop, controlled by whichever switch was calling.

    In the mid 1920s, this design was upgraded to the Manifold Type, a more compact design using cast iron manifolding instead of the threaded pipe shown. Both types remained in production through the mid 1950s, and new pumps and parts through the mid 1980s.

    Rebuilt exchange pumps and modern conversion pump kits are still available.

    Feel free to contact me directly if more information is needed about this pump, or its replacement.

    Dennis Pataki. Former Service Manager and Heating Pump Product Manager for Nash Engineering Company. Phone: 1-888 853 9963
    Website: www.nashjenningspumps.com

    The first step in solving any problem is TO IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM.
    mattmia2
  • stratus5b
    stratus5b Member Posts: 9
    Pumpguy said:

    @Tom bates, @stratus5b, Thank you for posting these prints.

    Without a doubt, the vacuum pump shown on the prints is a Nash Jennings Piped Up Type vacuum pump. Unfortunately, there is no information to determine it's pumping capacity or casing size.

    Unreal! More great information

    Thanks!
    Jon

  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,511
    Ah the eraser vacuum.... we had some mutual time as well back in the day.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    stratus5b
  • Pumpguy
    Pumpguy Member Posts: 566
    @Solid_Fuel_Man ......"the eraser vacuum"? Can you elaborate on this? I just don't understand.
    Dennis Pataki. Former Service Manager and Heating Pump Product Manager for Nash Engineering Company. Phone: 1-888 853 9963
    Website: www.nashjenningspumps.com

    The first step in solving any problem is TO IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM.
  • stratus5b
    stratus5b Member Posts: 9
    Pumpguy said:

    @Solid_Fuel_Man ......"the eraser vacuum"? Can you elaborate on this? I just don't understand.

    Thy were for cleaning the chalk dust out of felt erasers. Image attached.

    Jon
    mattmia2Solid_Fuel_Man
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 654
    edited January 2020
    For anyone to know just what equipment was to be installed you would need to get the actual "engineering drawings" and spec sheet. Here in Pennsylvania, the architect would design the building and lay out all the proposed equipment. It was the engineering firm that would spec the actual equipment, sometimes down to the name brand that was requested and would allow for "alternates" that had to be approved. For example, the company I worked for would have the engineering firm Spec H B Smith Boilers with Power Flame burners with the controls that were normally supplied with that particular combination, and the number that was to be installed. then if a competitor wanted to supply an alternative piece of equipment they had to prove that theirs was comparable. (Remember, I worked in the field so this information may not be exact). So, @Mattmia2, with the architectural drawings as @Tom bates supplied, there was no way to know what the fuel selected was but that design boiler could fire any type fuel available in the area. (coal, nat gas, town gas, sewer gas, Fuel oil #1 #2 #4 #6 etc). To @Pumpguy, you must a lot younger than some of us if you don't remember the eraser vacuum cleaner. You missed a lot of fun. Myself, I learn a lot of good information that I never knew by reading the posts from guys all over the USA. To @Pumpguy, in 40+ years i only remember seeing 2-3 Nash or Nash Jennings vac pumps. They just weren't popular in my area.
    stratus5b
  • Pumpguy
    Pumpguy Member Posts: 566
    I'm pretty confident I'm older than most posters here, but this is the first time I've ever heard of an eraser vacuum. Only black board eraser cleaning I remember was clapping 2 of them together.
    I get calls from all over the country, and sometimes from Canada, about Nash Jennings Vacuum Heating Pumps. Most seem to come from high population density areas. These include just about all of New England as well as Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, St. Louis, Minneapolis, San Francisco, The list goes on.
    Dennis Pataki. Former Service Manager and Heating Pump Product Manager for Nash Engineering Company. Phone: 1-888 853 9963
    Website: www.nashjenningspumps.com

    The first step in solving any problem is TO IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM.
    stratus5b
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 533

    We are still running ours. Installed 1956 and 1958 Started on #6 then #4 to #2 now Natural gas. Western Massachusetts
    stratus5b
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,533
    My elementary school had an eraser vacuum in the 80's. Looked like it had be around since the 50's when the school was built.
    stratus5b
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,547
    My daughter teaches in this school. How interesting!
    ethicalpaulratio