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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Endorsements for Orr's Air-Tight Stove, 1842, and some counter-arguments

More on the theme of the active discussion of methods of home heating in progressive farmers' journals.  Orr's Air-Tight deserves an entry all of its own --

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Isaac Orr's Air-Tight Heating Stove -- 1842 Patent Drawing 

J.C.M., “Orr's Air-Tight Stove,” The Farmer's Cabinet, and American Herd Book, 6:6 (15 Jan 1842), p. 173,

p. 173 Mr. Editor,—I approve of the rule to exclude advertisements, as such, from the pages of the Cabinet; but when a real advantage to the community can be made known by mention of it in the course of its publication—particularly when the recommendation comes from one who has tested its pretensions, and found them in every respect what they purport to be, and who is, moreover, in no way interested in the sale of the article, either directly or indirectly—it would appear to be doing general service to point it out as a thing to be desired, and not as a thing to be advertised.

In the Philadelphia Ledger of this morning, is an article on the burning of anthracite coal in stoves, in which the writer remarks, that great use is made of iron vessels for evaporating water to regulate the atmosphere of the apartments thus heated by coal fires; and recommends the substitution of earthen vessels for this purpose, renewing the water every day and rinsing out the bowl; water evaporated in iron vessels being very offensive, rendering the atmosphere of the apartments impure as well as disagreeable; advising, for parlours where the atmosphere is desired to be pleasant and agreeable, a small quantity of Cologne water to be added to the clean water, which will diffuse itself in the atmosphere of the room, and make it pleasant ! The writer adds, "The heat produced by hard or anthracite coal, is very different from that produced by bituminous coal, and is injurious to persons in delicate health; rooms in which hard coal is burnt, require more ventilation than where bituminous coal is used."

Now, having myself been long subject to the inconvenience and injury arising from burning anthracite coal in close stoves, and having suffered considerably in my health from the cause above alluded to, I have at length been induced to substitute in their place the air-tight stove invented by Orr, for the burning of wood; and if it were possible, would describe the difference experienced from the change—but words are inadequate, and therefore I need not attempt it. The price, $10, will be saved in the difference in the cost of fuel the present winter; while the convenience, cleanliness, comfort, and consolation, arising from the circumstance of having at all times, by night as well as by day, just so much heat and no more, as you desire and in an instant, merely by turning off or on the draught by the finger and thumb, are just inconceivable, and not to be appreciated except by experience. It may be added, the fire is made up in the morning by supplying half a dozen short billets of wood, and no more will be required, under ordinary circumstances, for twenty-four or perhaps thirty-six hours, the stove being perfectly closed on retiring for the night, during which the process of charring goes on, but no flaming. I am tempted to say, I closed tight the door of my stove at ten o'clock last night, and having occasion to rise at three this morning, preparatory for a journey, I found the atmosphere of the room 70 degrees of heat by the thermometer, at the farthest part from the fire; and by raising the draught half an inch, I increased it to a degree that quite surprised me. It is not too much to say, I calculate that one-tenth part of the wood required to heat a room by burning in an open chimney, will be more than sufficient to keep the same room at the same temperature by means of the air-tight stove; and then, the convenience of having to light the fire but once in the season, and taking from the stove in the morning sufficient charcoal to light all the other fires in the house, will render it the most profitable, as well as desirable, of all the numerous contrivances that have come down to us in the shape of about five hundred varieties of stoves, of all sizes, shapes, and prices. I am now quite convinced that the expensive apparatus for warming houses by hot air is no longer necessary, for by means of the air-tight stove, all that is desirable can be obtained far more certainly, quicker, and incomparably more pleasant in its effects, at a tenth of the expense; and by which, also, the very prevalent complaint of bronchitis will, I am satisfied, be avoided, the cause of that disorder being the inhaling of air that has passed over a red-hot body of metal, thus having been rendered unfit for respiration—at least, this? is my firm conviction, in which I am justified* by the effects of the last few days, since I have discarded the iron cylinder coal-stove, and obtained one of the air-tight wood-stoves. For the sick-chamber it is peculiarly adapted, as it emits no unpleasant smell, creates no noise or dust in managing, diffusing a gentle heat, or rather glow, that can be regulated to a degree by means of a thermometer at any moment, keeping it up to that point which might be recommended by the physician—a point which, in many cases, is of vital importance ; while to the medical practitioner himself, whose office-hours are uncertain to a proverb, and whose nights are so often broken in upon by professional calls, the use of this stove is most desirable; for on leaving home, he can regulate the draught by closing the door, and in an instant, on his return, raise the heat to the degree he might choose, and that, after the absence of twelve hours, or even double that time. And the student, also, whose hours of recreation are so //p. 174 often taxed with a cold reception on return to his studies, can now determine upon the exact degree of warmth which the spirit of his subject may require for its full development, and regulate the damper accordingly, be it poetry or be it prose, by night or by day.

But to none will it be more convenient than to the farmer, whose concerns so often call him and the members of his family abroad, or into the kitchen or dairy, at which time friends may call and render a fire in the betterrnost room very desirable, although it might be required but for a short time; it is, therefore, but to leave one of these stoves pretty well filled with wood in the morning, closing the door, and he has it in his power to give his warmest friend a correspondent welcome in an instant by opening the draught; and on his taking leave, to shut it, and as effectually to put a stop to any further expense of fuel, be it even until the end of the day. In short, I know of nothing of the kind that can at all compare with the air-tight stove, either for economy, comfort, cleanliness, or convenience. I pray you, Mr. Editor, try it.
J. C. M.
7th of December, 1841.

We have tried it, and bear willing testimony to all that our correspondent has advanced in its favour, adding the answer of a friend, of whom we inquired its character after a year's trial—" We would not be without it for ten times its cost." In fixing it, the chimneyboard should be made perfectly tight, by putty, if necessary, or, perhaps better, by pasting stout paper over it. And before laying the wood, cover the bottom of the stove about two. i nches thick with wood-ashes, upon which place your kindling, and upon that the wood; after the first lighting, let the wood be as large as will pass in at the door, and the rougher and harder it is, the better. A degree of care will be necessary in regulating the draught, both at the door and the valve in the smoke-pipe, but the art will be very soon acquired by practice. It may be well to add, it is said a slight explosion has sometimes taken place in the stoves on first lighting the fire, when the air in the chimney has been so cold and heavy as to prevent the warm air in the stove from passing quickly, but that is no more than what all stoves are liable to, if the chimney-board is very tight, as it ought to be; we have, however, guarded against this contingency, by cutting a round bole in the chimney-board just below the smoke-pipe, over which is suspended by a small nail a piece of tin, which, in the event of a pressure of air in the chimney, opens into the room and forms a safety-valve. And we have hitherto observed, that the pressure of the air in the room has the power to press it so closely, as to render the opening perfectly air-tight—there it is, however, if at any time, its preventive powers should be called into requisition.

In the "Yankee Farmer" for the past week, we find the description of a stove which might be supposed to have been taken from the air-tight stove of which we have been speaking; it is given under the head, " The true principle of stoves," and ia worthy particular notice. " In order to produce the greatest quantity of heat in proportion to the quantity of fuel consumed, a stove should present a large quantity of vertical surface to the surrounding air, and that surface should be smooth, for the purpose of facilitating the ascent of a current of rarefied air. If any projection impedes this upward current, the heat accumulates and remains comparatively stationary, and thus prevents the fret radiation of heat from within ; but when there is a brisk circulation of air outside, the heat, as it passes through the iron surface, is instantly carried off, and is circulated in the room; thus allowing the free radiation of more. Atmospheric air should always be excluded from the interior of a stove,except so much as is requisite to produce the required quantity of heat; by admitting too much air, a rapid current is produced within, and the emanating beat is driven into the chimney before it has time to radiate through the iron plate. In most of the stoves now in use, more than two-thirds of the heat, which might otherwise be useful, is totally lost."

We feel pleasure in informing our friends, that "Orr's Air-Tight Stoves" may be obtained of Mr. W. W. Hughes, 147 south Front street, Philadelphia.—Ed.

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J. Dennis, “Orr's Air-tight Stove,” 6:8 (15 Mar. 1842). 

p. 254 Mr. Editor,—Having so strongly recommended the air-tight stove, I thought you would like to be informed that a terrible explosion has taken place in one of them at Nantucket, which demolished the chimney, and threw the bricks and stove all out into the middle of the room. Now I should be glad to know if you still approve of them? for in this neighbourhood there is considerable alarm felt on the subject, and I rather congratulate myself on delaying the purchase of one—which I had intended from your recommendation—until I hear farther about it. Pray enlighten us, and oblige your subscriber.

J. Dennis.

Hearing an account of the explosion, we made it our business to call on the agent for the sale of the air-tight stove, who informed us he had written to Mr. Abbot, and had received a most satisfactory answer to his inquiries, which, having since appeared in print, we copy, for the information of those who have already purchased or intend to purchase a stove, that, in our estimation, still continues unrivalled. A moment's reflection will convince any one, that the explosion must have taken place in the chimney and not in the stove, which, weighing a few pounds only, and very easily removed from its position by a single finger, could not have formed a resistance sufficient to throw out brick-work, iron mantel-bar and wood-work, scattering all over the room; but the writer explains all.—

"Explosion from an air-tight stove.—As the explosion which occurred from an air-tight stove in the house of the subscriber a few days ago, has excited some interest, I send you, for publication in your paper, if you judge it expedient, the following statement of the facts in the case.

The stove was a large one, called the fourteen dollar size. It was set by bricking up the fire-place, and no ventilator was made. At ten o'clock, the evening before the explosion, there being then a glowing fire in the stove, I put in an armful of green walnut wood, and closed entirely both the register and the damper. When I arose the next morning about 6 o'clock, I opened the door of the stove, and could see but little fire, though the wood seemed to be converted almost to charcoal. I left open the door and the damper perhaps three minutes, when the Wood became in a light blaze, and the stove in some parts red hot. The funnel, where it entered into the brick-work, had, by repeated contractions and expansions, become loose, leaving quite a crack around the funnel through which I could plainly see the flame from the stove entering the chimney. I then shut the door of the stove, and opened the register, leaving the damper still open. Observing, perhaps in a minute, that the fire was much checked, I again took hold of the door, and had opened it about half an inch, when, with a loud report, truly a fearful explosion took place, not in the stove, but in the fire-place behind it! The brick-work was thrown out clear; the iron mantel-bar torn out, and the wood-work around the mantel greatly shattered. The stove was driven two or three feet into the room, and much indented by the bricks which were thrown against it. The bricks and mortar were scattered all over the room. The explosion was unquestionably caused by gas—probably carburetted hydrogen, generated in the stove, and collected behind the brick-work in the fire-place. This gas, when mingled with certain proportions of atmospheric air, possesses great explosive power. If there had been a ventilator in the brick-work near the hearth, the collection of this gas, and the consequent explosion would probably have been prevented. I have now had my stove replaced in its former position, with a ventilator. I cannot reject a friend I value so highly, for a single misdemeanor.

"John S.C. Abbot." Nantucket, Jan. 15,1842. [Mer. Journal].

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James Pedder, "Orr's Air-Tight Stove," The Farmers' Cabinet, and American Herd-book 7:5
(15 Dec. 1842): 153,

We endorse with pleasure and satisfaction our account of Orr's air-tight stove. It has never deceived or disappointed us, but still continues, after a year's experience, to be the greatest comfort and the cheapest luxury in our household establishment. In every instance have our calculations been verified, and often indeed have we been led to observe that our estimate of its value has been below its merits. We commenced the present season with another of these stoves, and have now two in constant operation, with reason to repeat, that we expect to save about the cost of the stove in fuel during the year. There is still another convenience to be added to those enumerated by our former correspondent, J.C.M. at page 173, vol. VI., to which we refer our readers; and which we experienced the value of during a time of sickness, when the stove, carefully closed, with the fire in it, was removed to an upper apartment by a single individual, and placed in its proper position in two minutes; and in less than a minute after, was blazing away, without the labour, noise and filth of lighting, or the loss of heat consequent on a first kindling.

It must be remembered, they are designed for the consumption of wood only; the desideratum being, to be able to ignite and extinguish the fire suddenly, which could not be effected if coal were used. If on closing entirely the stove at night, it be found in the morning that the fire has been completely extinguished, it can be re-kindled by burning a piece of paper on the remaining charcoal, and the heat will be found instantly to penetrate the sides and top of the stove without further trouble.

It gives us pleasure to be able to furnish an engraving of the air-tight stove for the satisfaction of our correspondent; and to inform, they are now made of very superior material and workmanship, by W.W. Hughes, agent to the patentee, No. 45 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, at the prices of 7, 8, 10 and 11 dollars, according to size and enibellishments. The seven dollar stove is large enough for the chamber; while that at ten dollars, is suitable for a large parlour, or for two rooms, communicating by folding doors. When the stove is removed at the end of the winter season, it should be well cleaned inside, and receive a coat of linseed oil inside and out, which will effectually protect it from the effects of the atmosphere.

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S.R. [Solon Robinson], "Orr's Air-Tight Stove," The Farmers' Cabinet, and American Herd-Book 7:5 (15 Dec. 1842): 153,

A Constant reader of the Cabinet, who has had some experience and much exercise in the way of stove dealing, wishes to know if the editor is ready to endorse the account which appears over his signature at page 174, in vol. VI., highly commendatory of Orr's air-tight stove; or has an additional year added to, or diminished his confidence in its qualifications there specified? If he still continues to consider it the chef d'ouvre (sic) in the art of stove-making in this land of stoves, he would oblige one who is again afloat, or rather aground, seeking for the best stove for chamber or parlour purpose after repeated disappointment, if he would so declare. Any thing relating to this inquiry, in the way of explanation, recommendation or even condemnation, would oblige many readers of the Cabinet, amongst whom a stove, found to embrace the qualifications described as above, would be a great desideratum, particularly in the facility with which a fire may be kept in the bettermost room of an evening, to enable the owner to give a casual visiter (sic) a warm reception, and as quickly to extinguish it, when no longer requisite. The writer has at present three wood stoves in operation, which together, keep one man pretty busy in sawing and splitting wood for their supply; but if the editor's account is to be relied upon, he would calculate that one half the labour and expense might be saved. The people in this part of the country have not yet had an opportunity of seeing the airtight stove, nor would they have known of it, perhaps, but through the pages of the Cabinet. In the event of its still continuing to be approved, would it be too much to ask if a drawing of it could be furnished, with directions for its use, and any observations that might be thought interesting to persons at a distance from the place of manufactory.

If all is, as has been represented, a great many stoves would find, in this part of the country a ready sale. An early attention to the subject would oblige, as the weather just now admits of no delay. 

S.R. 30th of Nov., 1842.

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