During HeatingHelp.com’s Dead Men Tales podcast, industry expert and master storyteller Dan Holohan shares the stories behind the work and fun facts you may not know about heating history.
William Newton Best developed the earliest oil burner just as the world entered the 20th Century. Coal was king, but he didn't let that stand in his way. In this episode, Dan Holohan shares how oil burners disrupted the coal industry.
There's a scene in The Graduate where Mr. McGuire says to Benjamin, “I want to say one word to you...Plastics!...There's a great future in plastics.” This was around the time that Thomas Engel invented PEX. In this episode, Dan Holohan shares how plastics entered the HVAC industry and how not everyone was as enthusiastic about it as Mr. McGuire.
At first, Eugene Bourdon was annoyed when he saw what his worker had done to the metal tube, but then it gave him an idea that would save countless lives. In this episode, Dan Holohan tells us about an invention that's at the heart of every pressure gauge ever made (even to this day).
John Mills was one of the great-granddaddies of heating. He worked with the H.B. Smith Company as a freelance inventor and engineer from 1873 until 1897. In this episode, Dan Holohan shares why you may think of John Mills the next time you’re doing a heat-loss calculation or looking at an old steam heating system.
At the turn of the century, the crowded quilt of lower Manhattan was teaming with manufacturers of heating equipment and the spirit of invention. In this episode, Dan Holohan takes us on a walking tour and shares little-known stories of heating history.
In 1899 an association of boiler manufacturers got together in the spirit of what they called cooperative competition. In this episode, Dan Holohan tells about The Carbon Club’s brazen (and very successful) efforts to not only control the price and supply of boilers, but to also set standards that would keep those boilers from exploding.
After the American Revolution, skilled craftsmen gathered in a tavern in lower Manhattan to discuss how they’d rebuild the war-torn city. They formed an organization that now supports NYC's oldest technical school. In this episode, Dan Holohan tells the story of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen and its lasting impact, as well as why 1880s steam heating is very different from 1930s steam heating.
If a shoe factory had been present in Thomas Engel’s vicinity at the time he invented PEX, we would perhaps today be walking around on shoe soles made of cross-linked polyethylene. In this episode, Dan Holohan shares the fascinating story behind PEX and its brilliant inventor.
The East River Homes were built by the Vanderbilts as a model tenement for tuberculosis patients in 1911. The engineers chose hydronic heating for sanitary reasons, perhaps making this NYC’s first large-scale hot-water heating system. In this episode, Dan Holohan recounts memories of how he later grew up in this housing development and why its heating system was unique for the time.
Heating took center stage at the 1904 World’s Fair with the American Radiator Company’s modern home exhibit. In this episode, Dan Holohan shares how millions marveled at the beauty and simplicity of its hydronic-heating system and what became of that famous model home.
In the 1980s, New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development renovated hundreds of old buildings and installed brand new one-pipe steam systems. In this episode, Dan Holohan shares why steam was the solution and how he taught their contractors to install steam systems from scratch.
John D. Clarke knew how to heat a 70-room cottage in 1893. And he got it right the very first time. Then the Vanderbilts ordered all the mechanical drawings burned after construction so that no one would be able to copy the system. In this episode, Dan Holohan walks us through the history of the heating system at the Vanderbilts’ summer home, The Breakers.
You never know what you’ll come across when you’re the heating person. It’s a wonderful life. In this episode, Dan Holohan tells about the time he was making recommendations on how to save fuel in a circa-1905 voraciously steam-heated building and discovered a Paul System, as well as a piece of American movie history.
Did you know that the first pressure relief valve was invented in 1681 because the King of England really liked jelly? And that the first gravity heating system was used to warm chickens? How about the expansion tank that was assembled using an overstock of baby carriage wheel rims? In this episode, Dan Holohan tells the fascinating stories behind inventions that paved the way for modern heating.
In the 1940s, William Levitt built a community of 17,447 homes, completing one house every two hours. Levitt chose radiant heating for these houses because it was the cheapest heating system he could find. In this episode, Dan Holohan shares the story of Levittown and how those radiant slabs are doing now.
There’s a beautiful historic building in New York City’s Central Park called the Arsenal. It was constructed between 1847 and 1851 and designed to look like a castellated fortress because it was to be a place where they would store munitions. In this episode, Dan Holohan tells the tale of the Arsenal, its heating system, and how it has served the city through the years.
In this episode, Dan Holohan reflects on the work and the unsung heroes behind it. We are surrounded by inspiration because so many tradespeople take extreme pride in their work. You may be one of those people. If you wipe a solder joint correctly, even though the carpenter is going to sheetrock the wall and no one will ever see that beautiful joint again, you are one of those people. You do such things because you care — not only about your reputation, but about the building in which you are working. You want both to last.
On October 6, 2020, HeatingHelp.com will launch the Dead Men Tales podcast hosted by master storyteller and industry expert Dan Holohan. Each week Dan will share the stories behind the work and fun facts you may not know about heating history. You’ll learn how the bicycle threatened the industry, how temperature scales came to be, tips for heating historic buildings, how PEX was invented, and more. HeatingHelp.com’s Dead Men Tales is brought to you by SupplyHouse.com, home to over 100,000 plumbing, heating, and HVAC supplies. Join us each week as we share the Dead Men Tales.