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Removing Gas Pipe

July 31, 2018

We have a huge natural gas service and a lot of gas pipe in the BAB. A tiny bit of the pipe has already been creatively re-purposed. Most of it, though, is in the way and needs to be removed. The first step is to disconnect the main line and cap the pipe so we can safely remove the rest.

The big iron pipe on the right side was the original gas distribution. The black flex pipe extending vertically from the gigantic meter next to Tom’s knee is the service to the apartment.

We only currently use gas for the cook top and dryer in the apartment, and we expect that will be the case for the rest of the building. We are choosing to use electricity for most services because we expect to have solar panels on the roof at some point.

Why there is such a large service was a mystery until recently. When the building was built, as a telephone exchange, the gas service would fuel the lighting.

In the 1928 drawings, there are two gas meters shown, not sure why. The last phase boiler at the bottom of the page was coal fired, with a vault that still exists under the sidewalk for coal delivery and ash removal.

Someone later switched to electric lights.

We have one gas light fixture left in the second floor stair landing.

When I was last doing some research on Miss Callahan at the Missouri History Museum Library, the Librarian brought out a magazine from their archive called “Laclede News”, our local gas company’s employee magazine. This issue was from 1966.

This is their Christmas issue, quite nostalgic, all with matching jammies.

It shows a large kiln that bakes the painted artwork onto the glass.

Art Himmelsbach demonstrates the operation of the gas kiln. This would NOT be a fun job in the warmer months.

In the upper right corner of the image, you can see the diagonal framing around the elevator.

This is where the kiln would have been. There are some marks on the floor that we couldn’t explain that must have been made then they installed the kiln. There is a large cut off gas supply pipe between the two windows.

It is a bit disconcerting that they would put a piece of equipment that would get up to 1400 degrees next to one of the only flammable structures in the building- the wood framed elevator.

Here’s an example of a window that was made using the painted glass. They also were known for the more traditional style of dark painted windows, which were less popular in the 60’s.

This window was designed by Miss Dolores Veth, a frequent contributor to Jacoby. She’ll be the topic of future research.

The commercial sign company, that was the last of the ‘serial obsolescence’ industries that inhabited the BAB, also used gas.

We called this the Green Machine. The sign company would place the printed material on the bed and hot air would blow over the print to aid drying. This picture was taken on our first walk-through of BAB before we purchased it.

We had fun getting rid of most of it last Fall.

Back to pipes.

This section needed to be removed. Supply valves have been closed and the gas drained.

Luckily, the rust wasn’t too terrible.

First section comes apart.


Next piece comes out. Finally, something that’s pretty easy to take apart!

Recycled cap put on to seal the supply. Luckily, there was a cap in another part of the building that we could reuse.

The local Lowe’s doesn’t carry pipe parts this large. This is a frequent problem for our projects. A quick run for parts can turn into a multi-day adventure.

I guess we were due for a simple project. I’m glad this was the one. The last thing we’d want is for a natural gas project to take a bad turn!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2018 8:43 pm

    Wow! I just love the way you find out so much history during these projects!

  2. Maurine Pruchnicki permalink
    August 1, 2018 2:37 pm

    The explanation of baking the painted pieces was interesting. Also, the asbestos table top. Wonder what happened to that.

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