It’s a wonder anybody is left alive…

In a world where my generation (I’m ashamed to say) demands warning labels that say “Hot” on Hot coffee, and the generation that follows mine manages to regularly kill itself off with things like sponge nerf balls and the little plastic pellets shot out of toy guns, I am often amazed any of our forefathers survived long enough to get us to this point.

Case in point…dug out from under the house this weekend…behold:

The Diabolical Water Heater of Flaming (or Flash Steamed) Death!

Don’t let the small size fool you…based on the orifice sizes I’d guess the burner in the bottom of this cast iron monster is well over 100,000 btu’s.

It would work like this…if you wanted hot water, you opened the door, turned on the big, honkin’ gas valve underneath, put a match to the monster burner, slammed the door shut, and cranked the gas on till flames shot out all the seams and the wonderously viscious looking exhaust flue at the top.

Keep in mind this thing would be attached to the wall in your house, probably, just to be daring, over some nice Victorian wallpaper over fabric over lumber.

Now, off to the tub with you to run your hot water. Note, no pressure relief…no thermostat. If you forgot about it…or were a little slow on the uptake, it might explode, or it might just flash the pressurized water to steam when you turned on the faucet (hot or cold) somewhere in the house.

Once you were done with the hot water, or steam, or amazing explosions, and assuming your house didn’t burn down, you manually turned off the valve.

Now, add a house full of kids, relatives, or guests…

I fly small airplanes. I sail little boats on big oceans. I ride a motorcycle regularly in Dallas traffic. I work with electricity and hot steel. None of that scares me.

This appliance? Installed and hooked up? Yeah, it would scare me.

I’m not sure what to do with it…I’m thinking it must be preserved just for the sheer audacity of the thing itself!

Daniel Meyer

About Daniel Meyer

Author. Adventurer. Electrician.
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3 Responses to It’s a wonder anybody is left alive…

  1. clifton says:

    I like it! My great-grandmother had a wood-burning range in her kitchen with a separate firebox one one side, attached but with its own woodbox, about the size of a five gallon bucket. Coil around it. That was her hot water as long as she lived in the house, about 50 years. That range and a Warm Morning coal heater in the front room were the only heat in the house. I prefer today’s conditions, thanks…

  2. Stella says:

    When I lived in the UK from 2001-2005, I was amazed to discover that folks still have a hot water valve (usually in a closet or laundry room), which they turn on and off with each use. So much trouble for a lazy American!

  3. Bryce Lee says:

    Anything to heat a fluid of any sort can be varied.
    Overseas they use the instant on system. Water runs though a pipe which is heated by a gas-jet…instant hot water. However no storage facility.

    First came the wood stove method then the immersed coil
    water tank, and then the either furnace oil or natural gas heater.

    These days I rent my water heater from the natural gas
    supplier, and if it leaks it gets replaced; about every ten years or so.

    Last time I got a smaller tank, 40 gallons instead of 80,
    Am using less hot water these days, and have lowered the hot water tank to a warm level, maybe 110 degrees F maximum/
    Inside my tank there’s a copper anode, which when it starts to corrode means its time to change tanks.

    I also turn off the gas one a year and allow the tank to drain completely,
    which usually cleans out any crap in the tank.

    The whole project is very interesting Daniel.

    You should consider writing a book about the whole project.

    Suspect your motorcycling of late has taken a back seat to
    home renovations.

    Bryce Lee
    Burlington, Ontario

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