GSW Hot Blast Heater












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GSW Hot Blast Heater

General Sheet Metal Works (GSW) of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada sold the "GSW Hot Blast Heater" apparently in the 1960's.  There were also electric hot water heaters and even GSW brand Beacon cold-blast lanterns sold.  GSW may not have actually manufactured the GSW Hot Blast Heater but rather had them made for them - the "shield" logo in the cut-out upper ventilation holes and cheap spray-painted branding below the heater name was definitely an identifying mark of GSW.    GSW did sell the heaters through large discount stores in Eastern Canada, including Toronto.  I have found no evidence the heater was exported to the US.

In fact, I can see no evidence whatever that GSW or anyone else ever lighted one of their Hot Blast Heaters prior to selling them!  The heaters absolutely would not work properly as sold.  Air could enter the metal "chimney" section of the heater cabinet with the effect of reducing the flow of oxygen to the wicks.  No matter how one tried or the fuel used, they burned incredibly sooty and smelly.  The soft, thick black house paint used on the top and bottom plates would begin smelling as soon as it warmed up, the fumes being noxious and voluminous.  With the smell and soot produced, they were quickly relegated to storage.  A good friend of mine in Toronto found two GSW Hot Blast Heaters in virtually new condition, fuel from the original burn still in the tank...and absolutely coated with a thick layer of black soot.

The design and construction of the GSW Hot Blast heater is entirely wrong.  It could never have worked as designed.  Whoever did the basic construction knew absolutely nothing about heaters, the function of blaze cones, how to get air to the wick for proper combustion, or even how to paint a heater.   It was a total disaster that could not even have been tested once before being sold.  They are cute, but function must come before form in a product being sold for a specific purpose.  Photo at right shows the heater as originally sold.


The most pressing fundamental problem with the GSW Hot Blast Heater is the row of ventilation holes in the base of the metal chimney section.  Those holes allow the entry of oxygen above the blaze cones.  In the photo at right you can see the row of ventilation holes at the base of the brown metal "chimney" section.  Those holes must be covered from the inside to prevent any air from entering at that location.  I used 3M High Temperature Flue Tape, Pn 2113NA, True Value Hardware Pn 387806.  The tape is 1 1/2" wide but it need be only 3/4" wide, so I cut it in half lengthwise and applied the tape on the inside.


The photo at right shows the completely re-engineered draft system.  Air is forced to enter through the ventilation holes in the plate with the blaze cones, the air having no choice but to pass on each side of the wick, thus providing sufficient oxygen to allow at least a reasonable chance to burn relatively cleanly. 

If you expand the photo by clicking on it you can see the silver aluminum Flue Tape showing through the ventilation holes in the brown chimney section.  On the black lower portion you can see the reflection of flame generated by the wicks beneath the blaze cones - where oxygen is supposed to flow to ensure good combustion.

The proper thick, 4" wide wicks for the GSW Hot Blast Heater are here.

At right is a photo of the GSW burners and fuel tank. This is what is directly underneath the photo above.  The straight, 4" wide flat wicks and wick raising gears are directly from 1880's technology as used in sad iron stoves.  When adopted for the GSW it had already been obsolete for heater use for over 70 years!  As early as the late 1880's, Miller, Cleveland Stove, B&H, and others were producing clean burning center draft heaters using circular wicks adapted from Victorian Era "store lamps."


The photos at right show the two parts which needed to be completely stripped of all original paint residue.  Two (2) applications of modern new OSHA, FDA and EPA approved, non-threatening, non-toxic, liberal, politically correct, environmentally friendly tree-hugging paint remover did actually remove about 90% of the cruddy black low temperature paint.  Hand sanding removed the remaining paint. 

At right are the component parts of the GSW Hot Blast Heater after painting with high temperature auto engine block paint. Only two bolts secure the top and bottom plates to the metal chimney, and one bolt acts as a hinge pin to secure the top assembly to the base with tank and burners attached, so it is extremely easy to separate the component parts for refinishing.

The refurbished GSW Hot Blast Heater will never burn as clean as a modern kerosene heater - the basic design concept of two 4" wide flat wick prohibits that.  But the GSW is still very useful as a greenhouse or shop heater where the mild fumes produced do no more harm than annoy spiders and bugs.





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