simmslandscape.com wrote:We purchased our 1905 home in Salt Lake City Utah Historic Avenues district in 2003. Upon inspection we found a huge cast iron “Thing” in our basement.
We were told it was a heat exchanger. I still don’t know how it works, but at the time I appreciated its design. I remember thinking it would make a nice water feature.
With help from 3 of my employees we hauled it out of the basement and placed it in the yard. There it sat for several years.
One day while at our local steel yard picking up flat-bar for landscape edging I noticed some large bowls that had been cut from the ends of large propane tanks. Finally I found the receiving bowl for the water feature.
Long story short, I built the feature and placed it in our front yard.
I was asked by a client some years back if we could build them a feature like the one in our yard. I looked on line, and and at local antique scrap yards but could not find anything.
I am a landscaper and have been asked again by a client if we would build them a feature.
I found your link and am hopeful that I am on the right path to locating one or more of these heat exchangers.
Any information you can give me would be very much appreciated.
That is part of a furnace known as a "gravity warm/hot air furnace". Most of the older homes in old neighborhoods like the one where you live, would have been heated with one of these furnaces. In Utah, there are still homes heated with these furnaces, but instead of burning coal, most have been retrofitted to use natural gas. These furnaces are not efficient using natural gas but are very efficient with coal, which is the fuel they were designed to burn.
You can't buy a furnace today that would outlast one of these furnaces...they were heavy duty and built to last.
Occasionally I see these furnaces advertised on craigslist or other local ads (KSL).
Here's a video showing how one of these furnaces was assembled. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viqdSrtl9_M
It's sad to think that something so heavy duty and long lasting can end up being a fountain, but I guess that's better than ending up in the scrap yard.
Keep in mind that the outer tin shell of these furnaces often had an asbestos coating on them.