Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Finned Tube Radiators

At some point in time, the previous home owners did a major renovation.

And by "major renovation", I mean:

  1. Drop ceiling in the living room and dining room
  2. Drop ceiling in the kitchen (although not the hideous metal track w/ 2x4 tiles style, it is still dropped and re-framed ceiling with large sheetrock "tiles")
  3. New wallpaper.  Everywhere.
The year was 1977.

Although I am not 100% sure, I believe they also removed the giant cast iron radiators downstairs at the same time.  The radiators have been replaced with crappy finned-tube lines covered in 'elegant' metal casings.  The house has been gently weeping every since.

Dated photo: this wall and finned tube case no longer exist

There is some decent evidence that the geniuses that took the radiators out actually had a good struggle moving the radiators the entire way

SCRATCH, SCRATCH, SCRATCH...  Hey thanks guys.  Why don't just pour some gasoline and drop a match on the way out; it might get the job done faster.

Ever since I removed radiator cases to build a new wall, I have been trying to brainstorm how to make these terrible finned tube lines look half decent.  It only seems natural that I should build some sort of decorative wood case around them, and blend them into the mouldings.  This is going to be tricky since I intend to built some shelves in the one corner where the finned tube wraps around.

Here are a few ideas from the world wide web:

Someone makes these in metal, but something similar could be mimicked with wood.  A little to ornate.

Too hard

This has potential

Same. Nice accent, not too much work

A little too simple

It turns out that not too many people do this, as examples are minimal.  I understand that wood is not the best choice, but we have a small house and these radiators are not too small.  The wood should heat up quickly, which will leave the hot air to choose the path of least resistance via free convection soon after.  Although I don't know a ton about finned tube radiators, I went Ph.D. level with heat transfer, and I also designed and optimized large-scale finned tube radiators (for true radiation, not convection) for vessels in Low Earth Orbit.  Thus, I think I can probably make something happen here in my house.

Anyway, I still have a ways to go on the design of the shelves.  Thanks for being patient with me and please stay tuned as I begin tearing up the downstairs.  (I pushed the destruction of the house until after the holidays!).  Its about to get interesting.