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  1. #1
    Don Stevenson's Avatar
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    Default Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    You guys were so helpful in helping me determine the age of my water heater that once I found out how old it was, I replaced and retired my 52 year old unit. I have a feeling my furnace may be just as old or maybe even a little bit older. It still works fine just like my old water heater did but I will soon be putting it out of misery too. I have attached a few photos of it for reference. I think the serial number is 347342 and the brand is The Clipper manufactured by Henderson Furnace and Manufacturing Company out of Sebastopol, California. Thanks in advance, DS

    Name Plate


    Front View


    Side View


    Gas Valve and Controller


    Close Up of Controller




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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    never seen one of those in ct but looks well out of date.
    More than likely is cast iron so may last forever but with a high operating cost.
    also looks like asbestos painted over on all the ductwork so you can plan on removal of all that at time of replacement also.


  3. #3
    Don Stevenson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    Quote Originally Posted by wayne soper View Post
    never seen one of those in ct but looks well out of date.
    More than likely is cast iron so may last forever but with a high operating cost.
    also looks like asbestos painted over on all the ductwork so you can plan on removal of all that at time of replacement also.
    We usually only run it from November to February. It's built from an era where people were not too concerned with efficiency or being green.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    The Clipper seaplane dates back to the 40's. Pan Am sold them off in 1946 and they were eventually scrapped in 1950 and 1951. Yeah, that's an old furnace you've got there.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    Yeah, like John said, old. Small company, just down the street from me. I see them periodically around here. I figured they were only sold locally. Surprising to see one all the way down your way.

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Yeah, like John said, old. Small company, just down the street from me. I see them periodically around here. I figured they were only sold locally. Surprising to see one all the way down your way.
    Hey Gunnar,

    At least you have heard of it. Is this company still in business? Santa Clara is not too far from you guys up in the North Bay. Do you think this thing is made of cast iron like it was suggested by wayne? Why does this furnace still work? Do you know anyone who can swing down here to Santa Clara to service it? It works fine but I would love to have it get inspected and get a a little TLC. I also would love to know the year it was made.


  7. #7
    Don Stevenson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    The Clipper seaplane dates back to the 40's. Pan Am sold them off in 1946 and they were eventually scrapped in 1950 and 1951. Yeah, that's an old furnace you've got there.
    Thanks for the info about the Clipper Seaplane. I have no idea whatsoever what a Seaplane has to do with a furnace but the era that this plane was in service does provide a guess as to how old my furnace is? Do you think it could be from 1942 based on the serial #. My water heater had 59 as its last digits and we learned that it was manufactured in 1959. Any info or ideas that you come up with will be appreciated. Thanks in advance, DS


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Stevenson View Post
    Thanks for the info about the Clipper Seaplane. I have no idea whatsoever what a Seaplane has to do with a furnace but the era that this plane was in service does provide a guess as to how old my furnace is? Do you think it could be from 1942 based on the serial #. My water heater had 59 as its last digits and we learned that it was manufactured in 1959. Any info or ideas that you come up with will be appreciated. Thanks in advance, DS
    Sure, I've got plenty of ideas, not that ideas amount to diddly squat.

    The Clipper Seaplanes were invented in the 30's as a way to get around one obstacle to aviation - a shortage of airstrips. But they were heavy and needed skilled pilots. On stormy days, the landing could be unpredictable to say the least. Anyway, WWII led to the building of airstrips all over the western world and some advances in normal aviation made the Clipper obsolete and costly. Pan Am sold them off to a company in San Diego. I don't know if they ever were put into service again and they were sold for scrap in 1950 and the last one was scrapped in 1951.

    The Henderson Furnace Co, is mentioned in some literature I found as being in production in Sebastapol in 1952 and 53, and most likely long before that.

    Maybe your furnace was built from scrap iron salvaged from the poor old Clippers? But they would not have had a lot of iron in them. More aluminum, I would think.

    What year was your house built?

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Sure, I've got plenty of ideas, not that ideas amount to diddly squat.

    The Clipper Seaplanes were invented in the 30's as a way to get around one obstacle to aviation - a shortage of airstrips. But they were heavy and needed skilled pilots. On stormy days, the landing could be unpredictable to say the least. Anyway, WWII led to the building of airstrips all over the western world and some advances in normal aviation made the Clipper obsolete and costly. Pan Am sold them off to a company in San Diego. I don't know if they ever were put into service again and they were sold for scrap in 1950 and the last one was scrapped in 1951.

    The Henderson Furnace Co, is mentioned in some literature I found as being in production in Sebastapol in 1952 and 53, and most likely long before that.

    Maybe your furnace was built from scrap iron salvaged from the poor old Clippers? But they would not have had a lot of iron in them. More aluminum, I would think.

    What year was your house built?
    My house was built in 1927. I spoke to the grandson of the original owner and he said that the house originally a coal stove for heating the house. I wish I could find more info but I just don't where to start looking for the history of something like this that was apparently made by a small company. At least my old water heater was sold by Sears.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Stevenson View Post
    Thanks for the info about the Clipper Seaplane. I have no idea whatsoever what a Seaplane has to do with a furnace but the era that this plane was in service does provide a guess as to how old my furnace is? Do you think it could be from 1942 based on the serial #. My water heater had 59 as its last digits and we learned that it was manufactured in 1959. Any info or ideas that you come up with will be appreciated. Thanks in advance, DS

    Yes Don Stevenson, I do think its possible, and I'll tell you why, but I suspect it is actually earlier (possibly as early as '34). I have little doubt that the pictured Minneapolis-Honeywell Combination Furnace Controller was manufactured and sold wholesale to the furnace company prior to January 1944, and most definately prior to Spring 1949.

    The MH Combination Furnace Controller, first of all, is an "L401..." Type, not an "LA401..." type, which necessarily dates it to prior to 1949. Next, the MH Combination Furnace Controller references "Pat. Notice Inside", which means it was produced and sold prior to the January 1944 U.S. Supreme Court Decisions, rehearings denied, in multiple cases including
    MERCOID CORP. v. MINNEAPOLIS-HONEYWELL REGULATOR CO., 320 U.S. 680 (1944)
    320 U.S. 680
    MERCOID CORPORATION
    v.
    MINNEAPOLIS-HONEYWELL REGULATOR CO. (two cases).
    Nos. 58 and 59.
    Argued Dec. 9, 10, 1943.
    Decided Jan. 3, 1944.

    Regarding the "Freeman Patent No. 1,813,732" and MH's having sold a "license" ("Pat. Notice Inside") to use the combination controller in other than a freeman type system. as the Supreme Court held that MH "Honeywell" didn't hold a patent, nor the ability to sell a license for same.

    At the time MH: "Each licensee is required to insert in its catalogues or other sales literature and to attach to each combination furnace control sold a notice to the effect that the control includes a license for one installation of the Freeman heating system"

    There were a number of issues in those cases, and it was determined that ssuch a license was not valid, MH did not hold the patent nor rights to sell a license for such a controller when installed or used in a non-freeman type system (not a coal stoker furnace for one), and that the design of the controller was not patent-able, and there were anti-trust, price fixing, etc. issues.

    This would therefore date that Minneapolis-Honeywell Series 40 Combination Furnace Controller installed/provided by the Furnace manufacturer and/or installer to have been manufactured PRE-January 3, 1944 (rehearing denied Feb 6, 1944).

    It would make sense that this furnace was assembled and completed ready for sale/installation with componants & parts both acquired and manufactured in usuable form prior to the end of the third quarter of 1942, in fact I suspect all if not most of the parts, componants, etc. were manufactured in usuable form prior to December 7, 1941. It may not have been installed in your home until sometime long after that (rationing, fuel conversion prohibitions, rationing, etc.) lotteries, hardship lists, etc.. Keep in mind the status and time line of acts, and executive directives which followed the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. This especially effected MH, metal work, metals forming, foundry work, steel, iron ore, etc. further devoted and rationed to War Production efforts, and extreme rationing, prohibition, etc. regarding fuel conversion and replacement appliances.

    Although it is a later publication, (Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Co. circa 1949) "Heating Control Handbook for the Installer and Service Man" I thought you might appreciate the attached. You can follow along with the LA401A...and LA401A X5 (internal barrier) Basically the same as L401A and L401A.X5 It should help you as you "explore" the condition, calibration, and settings of your (functioning?) system.

    From the attached:

    The "A" following the "L" indicates a redesign of a previous model having the same function.
    The big difference in the redesign? No mention of a "Pat. Notice Inside" on the exterior - and no "Patent notice" or "use license" within - i.e. no more references to "license to install" regarding the "freeman pat." Court Cases referenced above (amognst others) in non-coal stoker 3-thermostat non "freeman" furnace systems. Also - later square or rectangular shaped housing/cover as opposed to round (earlier).

    MH didn't exist until it was formed by the joining of two former sole-proprietorship type companies IIRC that was sometime in 1927 or 1928. I don't recall at the moment just when AGA came into being. Could it be 1934, perhaps, I haven't researched either your specific area as to gas utility availability, nor the Furnace Manufacturing Company. I suggest you check in the archives references to copyright materials (back in the day everyone submitted whatever manual, catalog, etc. they produced to the Library of congress to be placed on file, to protect their "copyright" for same).

    HTH.

    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 11-24-2011 at 03:50 PM.

  11. #11
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    Smile Re: Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    Wow H.G. Watson Sr! Thanks a million for what you have written and for the research you did investigating the age of my furnace. It's still working but it needs to be serviced a little bit. I'm actually amazed that a furnace this old is still working. I really appreciate the PDF of the operation manual. When I return from vacation, I will print it and carefully try to understand what I have. I didnt quite see my model in there since I have the L401 not the LA401. It looks like the manual is for the LAs401 which is the newer model. I'm not sure if I have a burner motor. The only motor I see in my furnace is a blower motor. Thanks again for the tips and will do a little further research based on the infor that you have provided.

    Thx, DS


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    You have a fan motor that kicks on to force the hot air produced to circulate - it (the combination furnace conroller) controls that. You have a temp indicator up near the plenum it the combination furnace controller also provided high limit to the firing cycle.

    It controls when your furnace fan motor kicks on and shuts off (depending on the high limit set minus the non-adjustable differential).

    The LA401 and LA 401x5 are the newer versions of the L401 and LA401x5. As I explained the do the same thing, the "A" following the L simply indicates a modification, already indicated what that the majority of what that was, and date yours to prior to the Supreme Courts decisions regarding HM's practice of selling "licensing" for use of a non-patentable construction which they didn't invent or hold the patent (which didn't pertain to use in other than coal fired stoker furnaces) in the first place. The court case referenced you might equate to the battle between the US government, Microsoft, and Sun Java vs. Microsoft's use of Java ("active X") which they were aledged to have "lifted" from Sun's Java, then incorporated same into their operating systems, programs, etc., then sold "licenses" for their operating systems, browsers, etc. to computer manufacturers (to install on their systems and pass on the "licenses" to the end user, buyer) computer builders, and direct to the public via free standing versions of their programs, operating systems, etc. All of which (computer builders, manufacturers, and end user licensees) had to pay a certain amount (price fixed minimum) to have and use said "java" and were not allowed to extract microsoft's version out of the rest of the programing code, or overlay "someone else's" Java. No more - settled and now Microsoft doesn't pass along "their" java/active X any more. Similar to the MH cases referenced, except the US Supreme Court made the decisions not settled, and the civil suit took on the price fixing anti trust complaint action.

    It has mercury inside. Calibration, cleaning, testing, etc. not DIY.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 11-25-2011 at 07:11 PM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Stevenson View Post
    You guys were so helpful in helping me determine the age of my water heater that once I found out how old it was, I replaced and retired my 52 year old unit. I have a feeling my furnace may be just as old or maybe even a little bit older. It still works fine just like my old water heater did but I will soon be putting it out of misery too. I have attached a few photos of it for reference. I think the serial number is 347342 and the brand is The Clipper manufactured by Henderson Furnace and Manufacturing Company out of Sebastopol, California. Thanks in advance, DS

    Name Plate


    Front View


    Side View


    Gas Valve and Controller


    Close Up of Controller


    I know this is an older post, however I'm very familiar with this furnace. Matter of fact I may have even worked on this one. If you are still around and still have questions please post them.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Kann View Post
    I know this is an older post, however I'm very familiar with this furnace. Matter of fact I may have even worked on this one. If you are still around and still have questions please post them.
    Thanks for your reply Mike. It's great to know that someone is familiar with my old furnace. It has done pretty good this winter but once in a while, I have to go tap on the gas valve with a screwdriver in order get the burner to ignite. I don't mind doing it once in awhile, but if I'm ever out of town and have ask mama to take care of, she might be very cold until I return.
    Is it easy to replace the gas valve and where I should I go to find one. Also, please let me know if that Honeywell Combo Controller is likely to stop working. If so, where I could I find a replacement for it.

    Are you located in the Bay Area? I'm in Santa Clara. Maybe you can come over and service it for me.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Stevenson View Post
    Thanks for your reply Mike. It's great to know that someone is familiar with my old furnace. It has done pretty good this winter but once in a while, I have to go tap on the gas valve with a screwdriver in order get the burner to ignite. I don't mind doing it once in awhile, but if I'm ever out of town and have ask mama to take care of, she might be very cold until I return.
    Is it easy to replace the gas valve and where I should I go to find one. Also, please let me know if that Honeywell Combo Controller is likely to stop working. If so, where I could I find a replacement for it.

    Are you located in the Bay Area? I'm in Santa Clara. Maybe you can come over and service it for me.
    typically it is not the gas valve. I noticed that you do not have the original gas valve. Most of the time it is a dirty pilot and/or a poor wiring splice/loose screw. This furnace was originally equipped with a PG-1 pilot generator, the best replacement is a PG-9 which has more then double the millivolts. Also the type of thermostat may have a bearing. The fan/limit can be replaced with a Honeywell L4064. Yes, I live in San jose, and in fact our daughter lives in santa Clara. I would guess by your furnace you live close to downtown S.C. The reason I mentioned I may have worked on your furnace, I worked the santa clara, agnew, alviso route for PG&E for 30+ years. Why don't you give PG&E a call and let one of their guys take a look. You may get lucky and Doug may show up. He has taken my place as the local trainer. The problems are pretty easy to see once you use a meter to test the system. Wishing you the best.
    Mike


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Need Help Determining Age of Furnace

    This police diary from the early '50s suggests clipper furnaces were still being made then.

    Is it possible the controller is older than the furnace, just out of curiosity?

    Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
    - James Burgh, 1754.

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