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The Wall
Dan Holohan

Dan Holohan

Joined on March 4, 2009

Last Post on April 15, 2014

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Radiators in your bedroom

@ February 18, 2014 2:01 PM in Can't Get Baby's Room Warm

Are they cast iron? 


@ February 18, 2014 1:52 PM in new at the wall

Post title is just that. What you type into that box appears at the top of your post. I'm glad you're here. 


@ February 18, 2014 11:58 AM in Steam boiler replacement quote

We have 33-year-old twins. They have two sisters - 34 years old and 36 years old.  All females. Imagine what THAT was like back in the day. I now have five wives - the big one and the four little ones, and they all have strong opinions about all that I do.

Heaven help the contractor who ignores the women in the house.

The wife.

@ February 18, 2014 11:43 AM in Steam boiler replacement quote

Anyone who comes to my house and doesn't talk to The Lovely Marianne will not be in my house for long. She's brutal. 


@ February 18, 2014 11:28 AM in Steam boiler replacement quote

Educate yourself and then decide whether it's something you and your uncle can handle. It's all about the details. If you guys are going to be the installers, ask yourself the same question I suggested you ask the contractor: Will the system heat my house comfortably and without noise when I'm done? Can I guarantee that? 

No problem, KC.

@ February 18, 2014 11:09 AM in Steam boiler replacement quote

Thanks. We don't discuss pricing because it's tough to tell what conditions are on the job from a remote location. Also, pricing varies by location and it's not fair to anyone if we start comparing. It's really a matter between the contractor and the customer. If the price isn't right, you don't hire the contractor.

As for the rest, some contractors don't go into great detail on a quote because they're concerned the potential customer will just shop their quote, looking for a lower price on the same stuff.

I would buy results. Will the system heat my home comfortably and without noise when the contractor is done? Will the contractor guarantee that?


@ February 18, 2014 10:48 AM in Steam boiler replacement quote

is something we don't discuss here. I realize you didn't ask about his pricing but I don't want this thread to go in that direction. Thanks.

Is the sound constant?

@ February 18, 2014 7:52 AM in Bell and Gossett 100 mystery sounds

Or intermittent?


@ February 17, 2014 3:01 PM in Bell and Gossett 100 mystery sounds

Are you using 20-weight, non-detergent oil? Did you check the wicking to see if it's burnt? Did you press the wicking onto the bearing with the back end of a pencil?


@ February 15, 2014 7:52 AM in Back in the States

We're still in Florida, but starting a long, slow drive back today, with visits along the way. It's nice to be warm.

Thanks, Terry.

@ February 11, 2014 8:22 PM in Meet The Cozy

You're seeing what I'm seeing. A few days ago, Tom Friedman in the NY Times wrote a column about this book:

So I read it, which is what I do because I have time on my hands and am forever looking to learn. The book is an eye-opener, especially in the way it explains the problem with measuring a country's progress by looking at GNP and not the effects of the Second Machine Age, which often involves taking old ideas and combining them with new ones. And that's what Marshall Cox is doing with this product.

I'm sitting up straighter and paying serious attention here, and for all the reasons you stated. And more. Thanks.

I'm with you on that last thought.

@ February 10, 2014 4:39 PM in Meet The Cozy

I don't see TRVs as the competition to this. I think this is totally unique at this point.

I did see something a few weeks ago that really got my attention. I was visiting the Arsenal in NYC's Central Park. This is a landmark building and was the original Museum of Natural History. It's in the zoo, across from the seal tank. I was there with some friends from the Parks Department. Someone had installed Danfoss TRVs years ago but never bought the operators so the valves were nothing more than wide open valve bodies. The valves all had the original caps to protect the stems. I removed some of the caps and the stems were completely corroded. Some were leaking steam into the caps. These valves had never moved in all those years, which may be part of the problem, but they got me thinking, and what Marshall wrote has me thinking even more. 


@ February 10, 2014 12:17 PM in Meet The Cozy

Love them and have been working with them since my old boss took on Danfoss in 1972. The challenge, though, is many landlords don't want to install TRVs because of the piping involved and the possibility of breaking pipes. I've head that soooo many times. And we've all seen TRVs installed improperly, with sensors sitting on hot pipes, or heads getting broken off the valves. What I like about the Cozy is the ease of it. I thihk that's what's going to make this thing big.

Patrick, I felt the same.

@ February 10, 2014 12:11 PM in Meet The Cozy

When he first got in touch I told him he was nuts, but then he asked me how he could get to be not nuts, so we had a couple of days of talks and I told him a lot of stories about the real world and still wasn't convinced. The turning point for me was the Columbia Lab. Seeing what he has already done that goes WAY beyond the Cozy, his willingness to listen, his ability to take advice and learn quickly, his ideas for where the product will go, and his level of enthusiasm (this guy is ridiculously positive) made me see the Cozy in a new way.

I'm enjoying listening to all the comments, especially the skeptical ones, because they remind me of where I came in on this. Keep 'em coming!

Joe, you're making me smile.

@ February 10, 2014 6:47 AM in Meet The Cozy

I went at Marshall the same way you just did. My first thought was that he was reinventing the wheel because we have TRVs that will do the same job. He listened to everything I had to say and he never argued with me. Then he asked if I ould come into the city and visit with him. That's when things started to change. You have to meet the man to understand. He doesn't argue. He shows all sorts of respect. He listens like mad and he thinks like a scientist. If someone tells him he's wrong he considers that he might be and then sets out to find out if he is indeed wrong. I don't meet too many people like that.

So here's what happens next: You visit and he shows you what they're doing and all the science behind it. You make a suggestion and he comes back to you a couple of days later with that suggestion implemented, only with a few other things you hadn't considered. He then asks if that's okay?

Marshall is talking about future features for the Cozy that make my jaw drop. I'll let him tell about all of that when he's ready, but please believe him when he says the stuff he's saying below.

Thanks for engaging him. The more you do that, the better Marshall gets.

It's not a hermetic seal around the radiator

@ February 9, 2014 7:17 PM in Meet The Cozy

It's reflective on the inside and it's killing the convection until it's needed. I wish you could all see this in real life. I'm not easily convinced, and I blew this off when I first heard about it, but then I went to see it and I shut up for a while and let them talk. These guys are very, very smart. 

Not a problem,

@ February 9, 2014 7:14 PM in Meet The Cozy

They thought that out.


@ February 9, 2014 5:25 PM in Meet The Cozy

No matter how much we do, people will each perceive comfort as something unique to themselves. This offers a targeted solution to that. It's simple, yet so tuned into what people are interested in right now. I mean who else offers an app that can control a steam radiator?

These guys don't know what can't be done, so they just go ahead and do it.

If everything is working that well

@ February 9, 2014 5:16 PM in Meet The Cozy

then you have achieved success! Well done. The Cozy is for tenants that want comfort in apartments where management won't do the extensive work that you've done for the whole building. What I like about the product is that it gives individual tenants power in those situations. It also saves fuel and for the reasons Marshall listed below so everyone wins.

You're seeing what I'm seeing.

@ February 9, 2014 4:44 PM in Meet The Cozy

And you know that I love these systems and understand fully how to make them efficient when the folks in the building want to ante up the money, but that often doesn't happen and The Cozy fits into that gap.

I have no problem with the words they're using to describe Steam as the enemy. They are marketing to people who feel that way and I understand marketing very well. That approach is one of the things that had me sitting up straighter in my chair. These guys are coming at this from a different perspective than the one most of us have. They are acknowledging the reality that most apartment dwellers are confused by, frustrated with, and desperate for a solution. They're selling the solution, and that's why this think is going to be huge.

I think

@ February 9, 2014 4:38 PM in Meet The Cozy

the tenants will talk to each other and follow the success of the ones who are more comfortable and not opening the windows. People are like that. 

That was my first thought.

@ February 9, 2014 4:36 PM in Meet The Cozy

But then I spent some time with Marshall Cox (posting below), who is one of the smartest people I have ever met. I spent a couple of days with him. One of those days was at the Columbia University Lab, where he did his PhD work (electrical engineering). He showed me things that had my head spinning. The Cozy is a minor part of what Marshall has already accomplished in his young life.

I smile a lot and am not easily impressed. Marshall won me over with his thoughts and ideas on where this product could go. I suggested at one point that The Cozy might be able to run on an app. He told me that he had already written the app. This guy is ridiculously smart. Spend a day with him, or just talk to him here on The Wall. Keep your mind open and just listen to what he has to say. He's doing something very unusual here. It addresses a situation we all know well, and it solves a problem that is years and years old. 

I wrote this today for the Kickstarter site. It sums up what I'm thinking.I was skeptical at first but I now believe this product is going to be huge. It should be in your bag of tricks.

The Sociology of Steam

I went to college
when I was all grown up and had already been working in the New York heating
industry for a decade. I chose Sociology as my major because that’s what steam
heat is all about. Sure there’s some engineering in there as well and Mother
Nature’s physics, but it’s mostly about people because we live together in
these old buildings where your floor is my ceiling and those steel pipes run like
rusty capillaries throughout the whole place.

And then there are
the radiators. They looked so innocent during the summer when you moved in.
They sat there like old people waiting for a bus. You smiled at them. How
quaint. How old-timey. They looked back at you and they waited.

Then that first
frost arrived and the boiler in the bowels of the basement roared and vomited steam
surging upward and outward and you rushed to control it but the control valve
has arthritis and the radiator is now pounding while the heat is making you
gag. So you open the windows and within days, you’re living on NyQuil and
DayQuil because of that psychotic radiator and that frigid wind rattling your cracked-open
windows. Roast or freeze? That’s your choice. And for this you’re paying how
much per month?

So sociology: You
call the landlord, the management company, or a meeting of the coop board and
they take a survey of the building’s community because that’s what this is – a
community made up of people who are too hot, people who are too cold, and people
who are just right. None of these people want their rent or common charges to
increase. You feel like Goldilocks and if you complain enough, someone in
charge may hire a consultant to look at the problems and the consultant will
explain that the solution is going to cost money. So the folks in charge ponder
this for the rest of the winter and wait for spring to arrive because that will
stop your complaints. In this way, steam heat is a lot like childbirth. Time makes
you forget the pain.

But winter is as
dependable as dawn and before you know it, the same problems are back and that
calls for more meetings. The consultant reissues the same report he wrote last
year and, once again, nothing gets done.

I’ve been watching
this happen since I came into the business in 1970. We share these systems but
can never agree on this thing we call comfort, so we put it off until next
year. And next year is always coming.

In 1992, I wrote and
self-published a book I called, The Lost Art of Steam Heating, which I
thought would be popular in the town of my birth, NYC. The first printing run
was for 5,000 copies and we sold all of those within six months. What
astonished me, though, was that we sold that book in every state
(including Hawaii). Where there are old buildings, there is steam heat. And
sociology. That book continues to sell and sell because the problems with steam
heat are as perennial as winter.

Which brings me to
the Cozy from Radiator Labs. Marshall Cox, the brilliant mind behind this
product, doesn’t know that the proper New York (and every other old city) way
to get things done is to have annual meetings where nothing is decided, interspersed
by trips to CVS for the Nyquil and Dayquil. Oh, and lots of stress. Nope,
Marshall Cox just came up with a product that solves the problem of overheating
and frigid wind roaring through the open windows in the individual apartment.
He has empowered us all by giving us the ability to control our own temperature
in our own spaces, without needing to get permission, without needing to scream
at meetings, and to fix this problem with just a tiny investment. Sure, the
community living in your building still shares the big system of steam heat,
but your Cozy-encased, radiators just got a lot friendlier, and you just got a
lot more comfortable. So skip the meetings and fix it yourself. The Cozy beats
Sociology every time. 

This thing works.
Get it.

So that's what I'm thinking. I want to spend my old-man years with people like Marshall. Keeps the blood pumping.

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