Dead Men Tales

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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.

Dan Holohan, HeatingHelp.com


    • Sep 14, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekly NEW EPISODES
    • 9m AVG DURATION
    • 51 EPISODES

    Listeners of Dead Men Tales that love the show mention: dan, work, always, steam heat.



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    Latest episodes from Dead Men Tales

    An American Cathedral

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 14, 2021 8:12

    In this episode, Dan Holohan reflects on the tradesmen who built NYC's World Trade Center.

    The Game-Changing Arrival of the Oil Burner

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 7, 2021 7:21

    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.

    Plastics!

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 31, 2021 8:10

    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.

    Henry's Law

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 24, 2021 9:49

    Consider this story the next time you're installing an air separator, or wondering why the air keeps coming out of that compression tank.

    A Simple Copper Elbow

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 17, 2021 7:53

    Do you ever wonder about the path products take to get to us? In this episode, Dan Holohan follows a simple copper elbow on its journey to the job site.

    The Missing Chimney

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 10, 2021 8:52

    In this episode, Dan Holohan explores the old heating system in a Fifth Avenue mansion in search of a missing chimney and shares how a blizzard shaped NYC's heating history.

    Hindsight

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 3, 2021 8:09

    In this episode, Dan Holohan reflects on how hindsight has us shaking our heads at wacky decisions of the past, especially the one involving an asbestos hat.

    The Metal Manometer

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 27, 2021 8:15

    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).

    The Little-Known Story Behind a Popular Tool

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 20, 2021 8:53

    In this episode, Dan Holohan shares the fascinating story behind one of the world's most widely used inventions.

    The Hidden Air Vent

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 13, 2021 5:52

    In this episode, Dan Holohan tells us about the time he channeled MacGyver when fixing a radiator with a very unusual old air vent.

    The Duke Mansion Mystery

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 6, 2021 7:57

    In this episode, Dan Holohan shares a whodunit mystery involving the hot-water-heating system at the sprawling mansion of Doris Duke.

    Novels and Heating History

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 29, 2021 8:04

    In 1918, the person who could bring steam- or hot-water heat to your home was nearly a magician. In this episode, Dan Holohan explores how heating appears like a character in old novels and how things have changed over time.

    What Might Have Been

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 22, 2021 9:58

    John Bartlett Pierce grew up in Maine, worked in a hardware store, and fell in love with hydronic heating. He went on to build a tall building in New York City that looks like a coal fire and left a fortune behind.

    My Father's Way

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 15, 2021 9:17

    Ed Holohan came back from the war in the Pacific and went to work in a supply house because they were hiring strong, young men who wanted to work six days a week. In this episode, Dan Holohan shares memories of his father.

    How to Embarrass a Beautiful Old Radiator

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 8, 2021 9:08

    In this episode, Dan Holohan takes us to a seaside Victorian estate and meets a beautiful old radiator with tears in its eyes.

    The Great Experimenter

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 1, 2021 8:22

    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.

    The Origin of the Btu

    Play Episode Listen Later May 25, 2021 8:18

    In this episode, Dan Holohan tells the story of Thomas Tredgold, defining the British thermal unit, and why it pays to develop a healthy skepticism.

    Predictions for the Heating Industry

    Play Episode Listen Later May 18, 2021 8:14

    In 1942 a group of industry leaders wrote a booklet containing their predictions for the future of heating in America after the war. Were they correct? Find out in this episode.

    The Magical History Tour

    Play Episode Listen Later May 11, 2021 10:29

    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.

    Why We Run Steam Boilers At 2-PSIG Pressure

    Play Episode Listen Later May 4, 2021 9:14

    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.

    The Legacy of Gil Carlson, Hydronics Pioneer

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 27, 2021 10:52

    Gil Carlson first pointed out the importance of a circulator's location in a closed hydronic system. In this episode, Dan Holohan shares how his teacher’s curiosity and brilliant mind changed the way we pipe heating systems.

    The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 20, 2021 10:10

    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.

    Form Follows Function

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 13, 2021 9:04

    Do you ever wonder why the chimneys are on the sides of most buildings? Or why most homes have eight-foot ceilings? In this episode, Dan Holohan explores how purpose shaped design throughout our industry’s history.

    An American Love Story

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 6, 2021 9:08

    In this episode, Dan Holohan shares the story of a century-old family business and the quiet pride that accompanies their manufacturing process.

    The Illuminating Beginnings of Gas Boilers

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 30, 2021 9:39


    In this episode, Dan Holohan takes us back to 1917 when the gas lighting industry, threatened by Edison’s lightbulb, branched into the business of gas boilers and furnaces.


    Heating John Lennon’s Apartment

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 23, 2021 9:26

    In this episode, Dan Holohan takes us to NYC’s Dakota Apartments, where John Lennon once lived. It has a circa-1880 steam heating system and was home to one of the world’s first co-generation systems.

    How Schlemmer’s Tee Shaped Hydronics

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 16, 2021 8:18

    Oliver Schlemmer’s fitting was the first tee capable of consciously diverting water into a radiator. In this episode, Dan Holohan shares how the O-S fitting paved the way for modern hot-water heating systems.

    The Curious History of PEX

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 9, 2021 9:45

    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.

    Heating and Horror at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 2, 2021 10:04

    In this episode, Dan Holohan tells us about Frank Lloyd Wright’s unique heating system at Taliesin and how a horrific 1914 event took its toll on the home and its inhabitants.

    The Caretaker of Heating History

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 23, 2021 17:07

    Take a walk through history in this episode with Dan Holohan and his friend Bob as they explore Doug Starbuck’s circa-1872 workshop and the treasures that lie within it.

    The Secret to Heating Old Churches

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 16, 2021 8:31

    In this episode, Dan Holohan shares advice for keeping old churches and other buildings with lofty ceilings comfortable in the winter without sending fuel bills soaring.

    secret churches heating liverpool cathedral
    Gold’s Mattress Radiator

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 9, 2021 9:27

    In this episode, Dan Holohan talks about the success and decline of Stephen Gold’s mattress radiator, the first safe and successful steam radiator for house heating.

    Hydronic Heating for Health in 1911

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 2, 2021 8:44

    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.

    The World's Fair of Hydronic Heating

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 26, 2021 8:55

    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.

    Heating’s Explosive History

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 19, 2021 9:53

    In the early days of hydronic heating, boilers were exploding left and right. In this episode, Dan Holohan tells how seemingly insignificant mistakes often led to disaster.

    Old Buildings, New Steam

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 12, 2021 11:22

    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.

    Remembering Mel Dubin

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2021 9:01

    Mel Dubin dreamed, invented, and built something that helped raise thousands of American families. In this episode, Dan Holohan remembers his friend Mel, the founder of Slant/Fin.

    Heating The Breakers

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 29, 2020 8:17

    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.

    The Paul System and Other Delightful Discoveries

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 22, 2020 10:01

    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.

    The Surprising Stories Behind Heating Inventions

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 15, 2020 9:46

    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.

    Building a House Every Two Hours

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 8, 2020 7:51

    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.

    What the 1918 Flu Taught Us About Heating During a Pandemic

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 1, 2020 9:37

    In this episode, Dan Holohan shares how the 1918-19 pandemic changed the way we pipe heating systems and the type of windows we use, why radiators are painted silver, and what we can learn from history.

    Thankful

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 24, 2020 8:15

    Some stories are as worn as old work boots because we just can’t resist hearing them again and again. In this episode, Dan Holohan shares memories of Thanksgiving mornings in NYC and his time spent in the heating industry.

    The Model K Mystery

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 17, 2020 10:00

    In this episode, Dan Holohan tells about a Manhattan co-op apartment building, where the local time (mechanically speaking) is 1949, the heat is uneven, and the radiators hold a historic clue.

    My Father’s American Dream

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 10, 2020 11:07

    In this episode, Dan Holohan shares stories about growing up on Long Island, NY in the 1950s, the bungalow his dad built, and hydronic heating.

    A $50,000 Mistake

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 3, 2020 8:13

    If you're staring at an odd, old device and you don't know what it is, put your hands in your pockets and back away until you learn more about it. In this episode, Dan Holohan tells the story of a strange device and a $50,000 mistake.

    The Wacky History of Temperature Scales

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 27, 2020 7:58

    Many of the scientific concepts we take for granted started as an idea that some guy in a room came up with one day. In this episode, Dan Holohan shares the interesting and peculiar tale of how temperature scales were invented.

    Heating the Central Park Arsenal

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 20, 2020 10:45

    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.

    Bicycles and Heating History

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 13, 2020 7:54

    There was once a time when the plumbing and heating industry was threatened by bicycles. In this episode, Dan Holohan tells the story of how this new and exciting invention was banned from business.

    A Hundred Years From Now

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 6, 2020 10:11

    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.

    Introducing Dead Men Tales

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 25, 2020 1:29

    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.

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