The conversion oil burner brought automated central heating to Canadians

In much of Canada the popularization of automated central heating would await the arrival of the high-pressure, fuel-atomizing, gun-style, conversion oil burner. This burner would emerge in the late pre–Second World War years, to move to market dominance in the 1950s to 1960s.

It was a period when most Canadians, those that already enjoyed central heating, would be hand stocking their furnace or boiler with cordwood or coal. The conversion oil burner with its long snout (firing tube) was the ultimate in creativity, innovativeness, and entrepreneurialism, responding to a pent-up market for automated heating, which seemed at the time to be bottomless.

Fess was among the acknowledged leaders in the research and development of this oil-burner style. The market boom led to a manufacturing bonanza for Canadian manufacturers, the sector’s golden post–Second World War years.

As a result, many small start-up companies entered the oil burner conversion market, taking advantage of the readily available supply of component parts. (It was much like the explosion of the computer market, starting in the 1980s, when a myriad of entrepreneurs found themselves producing clones of IBM’s personal computer.) They would produce the needed castings, motors, pumps, fans, couplers, transformers, sundry fitments, tanks and controls required by the wave of small oil burner manufacturers, distributors and jobbers supporting the oil burner technology of the day.
* Research from the archives of the HVACR Heritage Centre Canada (DSCB #26, HD1005N).
* Historical artifact from the HVACR Centre Canada T.H Oliver Collection Accession No. 2006.143.
* Fess Oil Burners of Canada, Fess Heat Service and Installation Manual (Toronto and Montreal: n.p., undated, circa 1952).

G. Leslie Oliver, Mark Dorlandt Photography.
Ron Shuker, Nigel Heseltine
c. 1930
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