I have a 100+ year old Holland Hot Air Furnace that was originally
coal fired and convection based (10" diameter ducts). It's about 6
foot diameter and 5 foot high. Probably in the thirties it was
converted to gas with the addition of Janitrol controls (300,000 BTU)
in (I presume) the area where you'd normally load in the coal and
somewhere along the way it was converted to forced hot air with the
addition of a squirrel cage blower on the side.
The Janitrol controls stick out the front of the furnace and consist
of a pancake gas valve operated by a clockwork mechanism (it looks
like something out of a Victorian-age museum) which lifts a lever and
opens the valve. The clockwork mechanism is operated by a 24V small
motor which is powered via the limit control and the thermostat back
to a transformer on the wall. According to the plumber the controls
have a 24" blast tube (important!).
The motor which drives the clockwork mechanism has failed resulting in
the inability to open the gas valve and thus supply heat. So say both
myself and the plumber. He of course would like to sell me a new
furnace at about $6500 something that I'm resisting. I understand that
parts are no longer available for the 1930-ish Janitol controls
although I don't know why not. I can buy parts for a 1930's Packard
car--albeit paying an arm and a leg. Janitrol still exist but don't
even seem to have a website.
The next step down from replacement of the entire thing is to replace
the controls as a group (about $1400) but the problem here is the lack
of a 24 inch blast tube on the modern units according to the plumber.
Most current gas replacement controls use a 12 or so inch blast tube.
Apparently the 24 inch is not an exact measurement but could be 20, 22
etc. I presume the blast tube is some sort of pipe that goes from the
controls to the burner. If they don't make one why couldn't one be
fabricated from steel (titanium? copper? bronze?)? I don't think the
plumber is interested in following this option. How do I get someone
Back to the drawing board. Why can't I replace the 24 volt motor with
a generic one? How do I search (Google) for a supplier? What I'd
really like is someone who offers a service of "Send me your old one
and we'll send you a new one with the appropriate drive shaft". How
would I search for a supplier here?
Alternatively, just as there a people who rebuild generators on cars
aren't there places that rebuild either the motor or the clockwork
mechanism itself. I understand it might require fabrication of some
parts but I have no idea how to go about looking for these things.
Alternatively, I'm not sure I trust the plumber and his "No current
controls available with a 24 inch blast tube" If I google on "gas
furnace conversion controls" I end up with a whole lot of junk on
conversion from oil of LP gas. No one talks about coal and even if
it's the same for a oil conversion I can't find any specifications or
even see any actual units. Everyone just wants to sell me a whole
To say anything you want.
Umm...how large of an airplane hanger is this heating?
Two things...plumbers are NOT Heating contractors...thats one...
And Janitrol has a website, but there is NO parts information, and I can
promise you, they no longer make parts for the part you are talking about.
Goodman, Janitrols parent, does not offer this part either...however, its
not the fact that it can not be converted over to newer parts..it can...its
about the fact that no one I know will touch it. I wont. I can see my
insurance company now if something were to go wrong..in anyway...
You wont if hes legit. If you do, be prepared to sign more disclaimers than
you have EVER seen.
Forget it..this trade is not like that. Consider that part obsolete,
done....gone...nada...and move on.
Look..you wont find a reliable one..this is one case, where it IS a losing
OK..then...in simplest terms...STOP.
If you dont trust him, WHY are you even considering using him?????
Ok..look...I have 4 different catalogs, from 4 different supply companies.
NONE of them list a coal to gas conversion. Period.
Oil conversions are simple, and easy, and there is a good chance that is
what you have now...or one might work..but, not being able to see it not
being able to see what the units like...take measurements, and talk to the
guys that designed the conversion kit and explain whats going on...I have no
way of knowing.
I can tell you this...while you dont like the sound of it, a new
Whatever you spend to replace that unit you have now will be well worth it.
I would not even fathom the idea of a repair on a unit like that, and yes, I
would tell the homeowner or business owner that there was no way in hell I
was going to put parts on it. The liability issues stink. For YOU and the
Give ya a hint tho..I have put in furnaces for less than your guy wants to
throw control parts at it.
This one has "licensed HVAC contractor" on his business card and the
side of his truck. Just looking though the yellow pages for plumbers
shows many of them assert licensing for installation and repair of gas
furnaces and boilers.
Neither is the automobile business but there are people who make a
business of supplying obsolete parts or fabricating them when
I have a rebuilt starter motor in my car. Quite reliable, thank you.
News flash: I don't trust ANY plumber, HVAC contractor, or
electrician, especially those who want to go for the most expensive
Including removal of all that asbestos?
To say anything you want.
And an H1 licence in this state considers me to be the same as a P2...a
plumber...I dont do plumbing work. I dont work on water systems.
There was a time in most areas, where a plumbing licence allowed them to
work on units..its a natural thing since in many areas, the heating system
is a water based unit...hydronics...
Now, there are separate licences required, and we still have many plumbers
that do heating work.
You miss the point fully however. I have a pipefitters licence...that does
not mean I do plumbing.
Funny...I was in automotive aftermarket and dealership enviroments for many
years. Still am in a way, since I keep my ASE certs up to date, and my
family owns a dealership. There are MANY parts that you simply cant get, and
if you dont believe that, come on over and look at my 48 Anglia...while
there is little in it that is factory, we kept a few items, and you just
CANT get parts anymore...period.
One of my Hemi Cudas is like that..you can get the hockey stick on the
passenger side, but not the drivers...you can get original still new in box
gills for the kickpanels, but you cant get the original air filter assembly
with the correct decals for the 426 on it....unless you pay out the nose for
a $2 decal...(it was $175 BTW)
The total custom hockey stick decal for the drivers side, when you can get a
company to do a special order like that can run into the thousands....for a
simple section of vinyl.
Wow. A starter motor is NOT a combustion unit for your furnace, and
comparing the two in this case is pointless, particularly with someone that
knows both ends of the biz in question.
Big deal...I have a rebuilt starter on about 4 of the vans, and a rebult
alternator on all of them, and a couple have rebuilt motors...and a
few..when the engines worn to the point that its not worth rebuilding, gets
one of two things....a new engine, rebuilt with a good block of course, or
sold for scrap.
Your furnace...needs to be sold for scrap.
No..the most expensive option if to throw parts at it, and its something you
And BTW, I dont trust homeowners that balk at price, when I know good and
damn well I am as cheap as anyone for the equipment we sell, but then, our
clients normally are not worried about much as long as they are confortable,
and know we wont leave em hanging...and they do.
Had a guy today that wanted to barter the price...I listened to him and told
him that we might not be his company, and that he needed to shop on...he
did, and called back about an hour ago...we start on it Friday. Big
deal...its the way we do biz...
Oh..I might also add that we sometimes give units away to the older
folks...complete installs, and donate all we can to the tech
schools....so....take that for what its worth.
Humm...actually, funny you state that...on the website there is a couple of
pics for the state board on a job that a hack screwed up and ran from to
advoid being arrested..(hes got warrants out now, since claiming to be a
contractor in this state and not being licenced is a felony) and there is
asbestos. Since there is a licence for that, and we do not want...we sub
out. The asbestos that needed to be removed...the old hydronics systems pipe
insulation, cost less than $500 for the home.
And we are going to repair the damage to the home for about
that..(1400)..permits included..so..I would dare say yes...in the ballpark.
But...personally, anyone thats got asbestos still in a home, in a heating
system, is either a fool, or foolish. Not saying you are..but its starting
to come out...
You dont want to have to pay for the removal, and abatement, therefore, you
want the furnace in place and running so that you dont have to pull permits
and get hit with an inspector saying...thats all got to go...
About $1600 a year including stoves (2), water heaters (2), and other
gas-fired space heaters (4). It's those last space heaters that make
this not an urgent consideration; the main furnace is just being used
to keep the pipes from freezing.
Don't forget that the 300,000 was probably sized to run with a
convection system, not forced air, and that back in those days the
cost of keeping 4000 sq feet at maybe 75/78 degrees wasn't too much.
Back in the late 80's I calculated the payback period to be about 20
years. I doubt I'll be in the house 20 or even 10 years from now.
To say anything you want.
On Thu, 15 Jan 2004 00:19:10 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@noISPwhasoever.com wrote:
Gosh - an old Holland furnace. And a double conversion at that. Can't
think of anything less efficient. Takes me back to one summer many
years ago. I went to see about a job offer for the summer between
college years. I was supposed to go to houses and convince the
prospect that they needed their chimneys cleaned. I was to put some
soot on my hand and show how it insulated my flesh from a burning
match. Once the prospect was convinced the Holland furnace Company
moved in and took apart the clients furnace telling them it was in
very dangerous condition and about to blow up. No wonder they went out
of business. Heh. I went to work for a tree trimming company instead.
Anyway, good luck with your furnace.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.