This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
During many of my summer rambles among the horticultural establishments of this vicinity I have noticed a tendency to discard the old smoke-flue, and to use hot-water heating apparatus in houses of any pretension. Many florists are puzzled to know what boiler to use for the heating of water. There are now so many kinds, sizes, shapes, and patterns, and each inventor claiming that his particular boiler is superior to all others, etc, that to choose between them is indeed a difficult task. What is wanted is a boiler that attains a rapid circulation, and, consequently, the quickest with which to heat water ; at the same time burning but a small quantity of fuel. Hearing that several commercial florists in the neighborhood of this city were adopting locomotive boilers, I paid a visit to the extensive establisnment of H. A. Dreer, at Riverton, N. J., who has had two in use the past winter, and gleaned the following facts through the courtesy of the foreman, Mr. J. D. Eisele.
The boilers in use in this establishment are what are known as fifteen horse-power boilers with two and a-halfinch tubes, though a boiler with three-inch tubes would be better, if at all procurable. These boilers cost about one hundred dollars, and the necessary fixing, so as to make them adapted for greenhouse heating, costs some twenty dollars. So it may be counted that a good locomotive boiler can be procured and adapted to horticultural purposes for one hundred and twenty-five dollars.
This boiler, if properly set, will heat twenty-five hundred feet of pipe, besides a smoke-flue of seventy-five to one hundred feet in length. Last winter, which was a very severe one, fully tested the efficiency of these boilers. On the coldest nights, the fires were fixed up at 10 o'clock p. m., and were not touched until six the next morning. Each furnace consumed twenty-five tons of coal, making fifty tons for both boilers, and each boiler heated five greenhouses, one hundred feet long by sixteen feet wide, making sixteen hundred square feet of surface room.
It is well known that a locomotive boiler is the quickest with which to make steam, and therefore must be the quickest with which to heat water. With proper care it will outlast any other boiler, for, being made out of wrought iron, it possesses this advantage, that any of its parts can be replaced without much trouble.