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"Gasteam" radiators


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I ran across my first "Clow Gasteam Radiator" today, in the basement of a 1944 Philadelphia rowhouse. (Pic below.) Does anybody see these regularly? Any particular issues I should know about? As with any unvented or "lung-vented" gas appliance, I'm assuming that moisture output and other combustion products are among any concerns.

The units burn natural gas to boil water in a free-standing steam radiator. The homeowner supplies the water occasionally through a fill port near the burner. Clow produced both vented and unvented models for residential, commercial and industrial use.

Google turns up brochures and ads dating as far back as the early 1920s. A couple of sources point out that Jerry's apartment in "Seinfeld" was heated with Gasteam radiators. Cool stuff.

Unfortunately, I didn't know most of this when the client and agent asked Wazzat? A learning experience was had by all.

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Hey John,

I don't see them "regularly", but I've come across them in maybe 7 or 8 buildings or so. I've only seen 2 in homes - the rest were in old commercial type buildings. There's a vented model that I see more often than the unvented. I found one controlled by a room thermostat. Most didn't have a thermocouple/auto cut-off.

None were ready to fire-up, but I did try to light a few. I remember gas leaking at valves and lotsa rust at the vents from exhaust condensate - one had a "T" and drain added. None of the clients had any interest in putting them back in service.

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Why would you try to light an old unit that wasn't ready to fire up, especially when the client wasn't going to put it back in service?

Cuz I just gotta. It's an inherited character flaw. ECD (Extreme Curiosity Disorder) has led me to do all kinds things that others wouldn't attempt. Since I was an infant, I always had to find out how things work or why they don't work.
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