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    Radiators Unplugged (36 Posts)

  • Radiator Ranger Radiator Ranger @ 2:49 PM
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    Radiators Unplugged

    I couldn't resist....
    Gwen Healy - Radiator Ranger
  • Mark Eatherton Mark Eatherton @ 2:58 PM
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    Wow...

    Looks like Breitenbush is getting all the snow that the Colorado mountains are missing.

    Last I checked (2 weeks ago) I had a total of 6" on the ground, where I usually have 2' on the ground at this time of the year. Then again, on this side of the Continental Divide, we are ABOVE average for snowfall for the year, and just heading into our snowiest month.

    Whacky weather for sure.

    Beautiful pictures...

    So, when are you going to write a book about radiator restoration? :-)

    Of course, not everyone has a Case 580 backhoe sitting around in their yard.

    Great pic's. Keep up the good work.

    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Radiator Ranger Radiator Ranger @ 4:27 PM
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    Radiators Unplugged

    We've been getting snow in fits and starts. Never much at a time but when I look at the overall accumulation we've don'e okay here this year. I think we've got enough snowpack to limit the fire danger and to fill Lake Detroit for grid hydroelectricity and summer recreation which is important for the local economics.

    I hadn't thought to write a book about restoring radiators. If I did it would have a lot of pictures. I just love looking at those things, thinking about em' and how they ever came into existence and then getting them plugged in... I am developing an aversion to loading them at the pick-up end, but having that backhoe and hook make unloading pretty manageable.

    I'm attaching a picture of a set of radiators that have been unplugged for years and that we recent'y 'refurbished'. These represent our oldest, ornate units. The middle one (with the triangles) say New York something (maybe radiator), the one on the left is from a building that was under construction in 1893. Lucky for me things things have a very long shelf life.

    Be well,
    Gwen Healy - Radiator Ranger
  • furnacefigher15 furnacefigher15 @ 4:38 PM
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    Every

    Once in A while I refinish a radiator here or there. What are you using to for the actual paint?

    If that's proprietary info, I'm okay with that.

    I've asked around, but I've never gotten a strait answer as to the best paint to use. I know the new ones just come with gray primer, and I've been told that the originally there was no finish on some of the old ones.

    I've had good luck with high temp engine paint (found a pearl gray which has a finish similar to what I see in the photo), but that can be expensive on some of the bigger radiators.
  • Radiator Ranger Radiator Ranger @ 11:44 PM
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    Paint

    Hi -

    If I'm painting the radiator myself I use a flat black primer then spray with a color.
    Rustoleum holds well if the surface is clean / sound and there are a lot of colors!

    Spraypainting works well but you can also use pourable paint and a small roller....

    The hammerite finishes are nice, the last picture shows a set of radiators we had sandblasted and painted a color based on the bronze hammerite spraypaint. This does cost more than hand spraying.

    The pearl gray sounds like a nice color. Do you have any pictures?

    We have an issue with off gassing radiators after painting - it can take a week or more.

    The best paint to use is probably what they referring to on page 158 of my 1911 copy of The Ideal Fitter where it says of their bronze powder:

    "...exactly suited to the decorating of AMERICAN Radiators. It lusters like loosened gold...

    We earnestly believe that the use of a superior bronze in the decorative treatment of radiators adds greatly to the popularity of heating apparatus among home-lovers."

    There was also a line of Ideal Radiator Enamels and you could send for color cards. I'd like to try Bronze Green, Maroon and Medium blue. Also listed are Green Apple, Silver Gray, Goblin, Nile Green, Sea Green.

    Does anyone else out there know about these old finishes or painting radiators?

    What's a big radiator?

    I'll attach some pictures of painting in process, gold hammerite, a radiator maybe treated with the bronze powder and one more sprayed a brown hammerite.

    Warmly,
    Gwen Healy - Radiator Ranger
  • SWEI SWEI @ 12:33 PM
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    painting radiators

    I've seen them powder coated - gorgeous, but a tad pricey.
  • Radiator Ranger Radiator Ranger @ 11:45 PM
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    Paint

    Hi -

    If I'm painting the radiator myself I use a flat black primer then spray with a color.
    Rustoleum holds well if the surface is clean / sound and there are a lot of colors!

    Spraypainting works well but you can also use pourable paint and a small roller....

    The hammerite finishes are nice, the last picture shows a set of radiators we had sandblasted and painted a color based on the bronze hammerite spraypaint. This does cost more than hand spraying.

    The pearl gray sounds like a nice color. Do you have any pictures?

    We have an issue with off gassing radiators after painting - it can take a week or more.

    The best paint to use is probably what they referring to on page 158 of my 1911 copy of The Ideal Fitter where it says of their bronze powder:

    "...exactly suited to the decorating of AMERICAN Radiators. It lusters like loosened gold...

    We earnestly believe that the use of a superior bronze in the decorative treatment of radiators adds greatly to the popularity of heating apparatus among home-lovers."

    There was also a line of Ideal Radiator Enamels and you could send for color cards. I'd like to try Bronze Green, Maroon and Medium blue. Also listed are Green Apple, Silver Gray, Goblin, Nile Green, Sea Green.

    Does anyone else out there know about these old finishes or painting radiators?

    What's a big radiator?

    I'll attach some pictures of painting in process, gold hammerite, a radiator maybe treated with the bronze powder and one more sprayed a brown hammerite.

    Warmly,
    Gwen Healy - Radiator Ranger
    This post was edited by an admin on March 13, 2012 2:26 PM.
  • furnacefigher15 furnacefigher15 @ 11:31 AM
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    Unfortunately no

    I have no photo's.

    I define a bigger radiator, as one that requires more than two people to move in or out of the house.

    For you, there is probably no such thing as a big radiator, as mark pointed out, we don't all have a back hoe, but just a back, arms, and legs.

    Not that I have a need right now, but would I or others be able to purchase radiators from you? Or, do people just send them to you and you do the work and send them back?
    This post was edited by an admin on March 8, 2012 11:32 AM.
  • Mark Eatherton Mark Eatherton @ 11:53 AM
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    Radiator Hoarding...

    FF,

    Gwen (Radiator Ranger) works at a unique resort in Oregon that has a district heating system that uses the power of mother nature for its heat source (HOT geothermal wells). She uses all of the rad's she can find on her own system, which has seen years of neglect.

    I have had the honor of visiting their site, and am glad to say that it is a good thing that Gwen is involved. (google Breitenbush Hot Springs Resort).

    I have written articles on this for Contractor Magazine.

    http://contractormag.com/columns/eatherton/largest-heat-source-1010

    http://contractormag.com/columns/eatherton/largest-heat-source-part-2-1110

    http://contractormag.com/columns/eatherton/largest-heat-source-part3-1210

    As you can see by reading the articles, we came close to having a life changing situation happen, that fortunately did end well.

    It gave me a great deal of respect for Gwen and her staff, as well as the power of mother nature...

    Enjoy!

    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • furnacefigher15 furnacefigher15 @ 12:42 PM
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    That's quite a system

    Is there lateral piping 750 ft down? Or just the vertical wells?

    I'm glad no one got hurt. They could have easily gone a different direction.

    I hope you bought a lottery ticket that day, because something greater then us all was looking out for you.
  • Mark Eatherton Mark Eatherton @ 1:10 PM
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    I carry an angel on each shoulder...

    Their heat sources are all vertical bore holes, with steel pipe immersed down hole heat exchangers. The 2 wells that are currently on line were drilled by the original developers, back in the 70's, on an old yo-yo impact rig. They have one well that was brought in, that produces an unbelieveable amount of hot water, and they've not even tapped into it yet. When they do, they will have the capacity to generate electricity AND enough left over heat to run their future green house/food production facility.

    Yeah, I got lucky again. I've been blown up by boilers, let see, probably 6 times, and other than missing a lot of facial hair, survived them all. And then there was this well... It made my sphincter do the MOMBA, that's for sure.

    We all dodge bullets on a daily basis.. We just don't realize it.

    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Radiator Ranger Radiator Ranger @ 1:38 PM
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    Paint Formula

    Hi FF15,

    The specific paint mixed for that job was done at a NAPA auto store using a Sherwin Williams paint and a prism mixer or mixer. The color is based on a hammerite rustoleum bronze sample. I spoke with the paint mixer this morning and he said it'd probably be easiest to have someone that has the paints, etc. call him directly to get the mix formula. As much as I like the color I'm ready to try other colors.

    I should say that radiators painted before 1978 may / probably have lead based paint on them. It's important to contain this debris so it doesn't impact people or woodland/ water creatures.

    As Mark said I work at a hot springs in Oregon. I am a radiator hoarder with the following goal: to have enough radiators to replace the existing deteriorating units for 100 years, plus enough to support any new buildings we bring online. We currently have over 130 small to large buildings which are almost exclusively heated with radiators. I will continue to drag radiators up the hill until they tell me I can't. People do ask when I think I'll have enough radiators - the way I figure it, radiators have a better chance of being used here for their original purpose than in most places so I bring them here. Luckily, we have a business director who understands and supports this project.

    Needless to say - if you ever see a radiator that you think ought to be saved from whatever fate, let me know. I don't know how I might get it here from wherever it may be, but there are ways. In particular we'd like a warming radiator - the kind with doors on the front (A Bundy, Perfection or any other design will do), we're also interested in the kind made of wall hung units stacked like a bookshelf, etc. Does anyone know of any specialty radiators out there? If I / we can't have the radiator here, a good photo is always appreciated.

    I like your definition of big radiator it's a nice variation on 'It depends' because it's based on a definable criteria.

    This time I'm attaching pictures of radiators installed in a new building located at the far edge of our facility. In 2010 Mark Eatherton helped us (with among other things) designing a geo grid expansion that accounts for all of our projected unbuilt structures, the new building, and a parallel reverse return that will eventually be connected to the back side of our guest cabin area (due to costs, labor capacity, etc. we only installed the portion of that return line needed to supply the new building). Anyway, we finally connected that new building to the geo grid and it's toasty in there with just 2 small radiators installed.

    I've been asked for radiators before and if I can help I will. Where are you located?

    BTW - What does furnacefighter mean? Do you work on furnaces, in a foundry, do you convince people not to change their boilers out for furnaces or something else?

    Thanks for your interest!

    Warmly,
    Gwen Healy - Radiator Ranger
    Gwen Healy - Radiator Ranger
    This post was edited by an admin on March 8, 2012 1:39 PM.
  • furnacefigher15 furnacefigher15 @ 12:18 PM
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    The term furnacefighter

    Sometimes when I would ask my father how his day went, he would reply with "I've just been fighting with a burner all day" or "I had this apartment building where I was fighting zone valves all day"

    He used the word fighting in the same way a lot of people do when they have a cold. "I've been fighting a cold" My father just broadened the usage.

    So now when I meet someone new and they ask what I do for a living, I say that "I'm a furnace fighter" Then I go on to explain. Most people get a chuckle out of it. It seems like a good ice breaker.

    I personally use the word furnace to incorporate all of heating and air conditioning. Unfortunately, where I live most homes built after 1960 or so have forced air
    equipment, so furnace is exactly what most people have and relate to.

    I specialize in boiler systems, but I do not turn down work of any kind. I'll work on the heat in your tractor if you asked me to, or tune the boilers the Sears tower just the same. I enjoy diversity in my work, and I also find I stay busier then others who get snobbish about what they think is beneath them. I'll work on anything that heats, cools, or moves air or water.

    It's funny you mention foundry. I do that as a hobby. I am currently gathering the parts I need to retrofit my coal forge to run on natural gas. Coal is an excellent heat source, but it's getting very hard to find a good supply of low sulfur coal.
  • Radiator Ranger Radiator Ranger @ 8:52 PM
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    furnacefighter15

    Hi ff15,

    Interesting, thanks for the explanation!

    It's neat, and admirable that you took up the same work as your father. I hope you get/got to enjoy working with him and learning together with more goodness than not.

    I like that you are committed to supporting human comfort through heating and will focus your experience and knowledge towards any heating method(s). Besides the diversity and regularity of work, your approach probably helps you stay mentally flexible too. I like radiators....

    It's surprising to hear that good coal is getting hard to find these days. I wonder if more low sulfur coal is being exported than in the past, if we are digging less of it up (because there is less of it), or what. I live in the West and in my lifetime (and awareness) coal has played a lesser role in residential and commercial heating than wood, oil and hydroelectricity.

    I guess you're looking for more than a couple of truckloads to keep a foundry going. Hmm, cool.

    Warmly - till next,
    Gwen
    Gwen Healy - Radiator Ranger
  • SWEI SWEI @ 9:10 PM
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    anthracite coal

    Was nice stuff when we could get it in Reno.  After the Crandall Canyon mine collapsed, they started bringing in soft coal from Wyoming.  About a week of burning that and we gave up -- went back to chopping wood down so it would fit in our parlor stove.
  • furnacefigher15 furnacefigher15 @ 5:16 PM
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    The trouble with coal

    The trouble with coal has nothing to do with weather it's anthracite(hard) or bituminous(soft). My trouble is purity. The majority of coal mined today has lots of sulfur content which leads to stink, tar, and excessive klinker production in the forge. The main reason it's trouble is the impurities limit the amount of coke and therefore heat available in the coal. From what I understand, good coal is gotten by deeper mining. Mining is extremely dangerous. So I don't blame them for selling the easier to get surface / slightly subsurface coal. The coal mined is good enough for what the major buyers of coal use it for (power plants). If there was more demand for better coal, they would get it, but the price in human lives would likely be higher then it already is. And to be honest I'd rather deal with lousy coal then send someone further into harms way.

    One of the reasons I have been clinging to coal is because it's traditional. I blacksmith in part because its a forgotten craft. In many ways it like farming. It's a process that requires very few and simple tools. It is also a craft that has been virtually un-altered by time. Blacksmithing is virtually the same today as it was 1000 years ago. Sure, just like farming, you can have machines do it, but the resulting product isn't better, in fact it's usually much worse. But it is of plenty.

    No matter how much we may want it to be so, there is no replacement for a keen eye, a steady hand, and hard physical labor.
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 6:09 PM
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  • Radiator Ranger Radiator Ranger @ 10:10 AM
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    White stuff

    Hi Dan,

    Ever heard of a site called coolinghelp.com? They recommended the white stuff to help preserve the radiators. I think it's working.

    You rock!

    Warmly,
    Gwen
    Gwen Healy - Radiator Ranger
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 10:23 AM
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  • Mark Eatherton Mark Eatherton @ 10:41 AM
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    I'd buy one....

    Especially ones with those NAKED radiators running through the dense forest ;-) Maybe even soaking in a hot spring...

    Those, in my mind are a thing of beauty, and their emittance is a lot better than those painted a metallic color, but you knew that already ;-)

    Sign me up.

    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Radiator Ranger Radiator Ranger @ 10:49 AM
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    Calendar

    That'd be a good way to share pictures.

    I'm going to look in it.

    Thanks,
    Gwen
    Gwen Healy - Radiator Ranger
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 10:58 AM
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  • kcopp kcopp @ 7:05 PM
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    Those are some really nice rads!

    About how many rads do you think you have... installed and waiting to be installed?
    This post was edited by an admin on March 9, 2012 7:06 PM.
  • Radiator Ranger Radiator Ranger @ 10:16 PM
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    How many radiators?

    Good question. As I recall there were ~230 installed with a total EDR of near 11,000SF.

    I think there are more than 250 uninstalled radiators on land - that number changes regularly and I don't keep an exact count. We unloaded 11 today, I don't know the EDR of em'

    Beautiful feet though....

    Till Next,
    Gwen
    Gwen Healy - Radiator Ranger
  • billtwocase billtwocase @ 11:42 AM
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    A thing of beauty

    You just can't beat them for looks and heat
  • Show 'n Tell

    .
    Often wrong, never in doubt.
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 5:57 PM
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  • Radiator Ranger Radiator Ranger @ 9:26 PM
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    Wowy,

    sweet radiance!!!

    What a neat post - thanks for the Show 'n Tell! please don't feel compelled to indulge my every curiosity.

    Does that really say TC Joy and Co.?

    What does the backside of that fancy fin look like? Is that a steam only fin, is there a centerline pinch on the backside? Does the bleeder spin out? Are all of the fins similarly cast, or is it just the end pieces that are so ornate? Are there threaded nipples on the fancy radiators? Where are those radiators now?

    Warmly Curios,

    Gwen
    Gwen Healy - Radiator Ranger
  • TC Joy & Co.

    That was 11 years ago now and I have yet to see anything so pretty.  We replaced them  with radiant in an area of Alameda called the Gold Coast and the owner sold them after we disconnected them; don't know where they went, but I hope they have a good home.

    They were hot water radiators and don't remember much else.
    Often wrong, never in doubt.
  • JeffM JeffM @ 9:09 AM
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    surface prep for paint

    When painting a radiator, what is the usual surface prep? If the existing paint is OK, do you just paint over? And if not, is blasting the norm? I'm considering repainting a few mine over the summer, at least in the more formal rooms of the house.
  • kcopp kcopp @ 10:28 AM
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    So did you...

    figure out a number (of rads) for what you have there?
  • Radiator Ranger Radiator Ranger @ 2:10 PM
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    Number of radiators

    How many radiators?
    Good question. As I recall in 2010 there were ~230 radiators installed with a total EDR of just under 11,000SF.

    I'd say there are near 200 'probably good', uninstalled radiators here, that number changes regularly. We got 11 new radiators this weekend :)

    Till Next,
    Gwen
    Gwen Healy - Radiator Ranger
  • Radiator Ranger Radiator Ranger @ 1:52 PM
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    number of radiators

    One thing about the facility is that the heating system is spread out over a large distance but most of the buildings are reasonably small compared to the amount of installed radiator and available heat. Combine that with a system that was designed and installed long after the facility was built and which uses the radiators that were available at the time i.e. used. The place was not designed for year round residence. One side of the system is laid out mostly on a grid while the other side isn't.

    The distribution and branch mains are buried ~2-3' underground. We have different kinds of leaks and 'makeup' for leaks by introducing new water and thus air into the system regularly. Many of the originally installed rads. (early 80's) are now filled with incredible 'scale'. Also, we don't have any expansion tanks (aside from leaks and a constant operating temperature).

    I've been learning about radiators and heating systems because I now live and work with this system. I find it so practical, fascinating and of course warming. We need to do a lot more with/ for/ to the system than replace the radiators (and we are). Radiators were something I saw I could help with and it turns out they're pretty fun for work.

    Warmly,
    Gwen
    Gwen Healy - Radiator Ranger
  • Radiator Ranger Radiator Ranger @ 2:20 PM
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    Surface treatment

    If the surface is sound I wash it with dawn and cold water with pretty good pressure. Sometimes there is a lot of dust between the fins at the bottom that all gets blown out then I prime and paint. This has worked really well on a lot of rads.

    We've had the ornate ones sandblasted then painted in batches.

    What color will you paint them?

    Gwen
    Gwen Healy - Radiator Ranger
  • JeffM JeffM @ 9:52 AM
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    colors

    All of our radiators are off-white now (matching the interior wood trim paint). OK but boring. I really love the bronze or pewter colors, but realize that those finishes will reduce output. Might do that on the really big one in our front hall, and either white or grey on some others.
  • Radiator Ranger Radiator Ranger @ 1:09 PM
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    colors

    Off whites on radiators can help a radiator blend into the background.

    When we've disconnected radiators we drain them, then 'tilt to drain' onto a towel before moving them. The outflow stuff can be thick and dirty.

    Be careful moving em' around.

    Warmly,
    Gwen
    Gwen Healy - Radiator Ranger
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