Letting Off Steam

Steam Punk is the retro fitting of retro fits. It is ironic nostalgia for the Victorian past – the complexity of old steam-run machinery. The great turbines that ran the early technologies are now mere chips. But one thing remains the same: Steam furnaces. They may look a bit more sleek – more like refrigerators than boilers – but they fundamentally operate the same way (chips and all). Here is an example of the grand daddy of Steam Punk: The Fuller & Warren Co. Steam Hot Water and Combination War Air and Hot Water Heaters (a boiler by any other name) in various models to choose from.

Look at the beauty of the flow pipes, ducts, fans, ash pits and valves – a nightmare for some a dream for the HVAC professional. Or as A.G. Wigglesworth of Palmyra, N.Y., modestly wrote to the F&W Co. “I would cheerfully recommend it to any one wanting a good heater.”

(Go here to read about Frank Reade, a Steampunk granddad.)


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2 thoughts on “Letting Off Steam

  1. phil ford

    I love old cut like this. When we moved into our 1925 era home, it had a boiler at least similar to these. It had been converted to natural gas, from oil and perhaps originally coal.
    By the time we replaced it in the early 1970s, the boiler and all of the incoming and outgoing pipes had been insulated with asbestos wrapping and the exquisite detail of the castings were covered, with all the visual appeal of a mud hut. No doubt better to direct the heat into the radiators of the upper floors, but forever obliterating the original surface of the boiler. 
    I certainly prefer the efficiency of newer technology, but regret the loss of those attempts to beautify the high-tech devices of the early Twentieth century.