Reliable Incubator and Brooder circa 1900 est.

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by devtech61, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. devtech61

    devtech61 New Egg

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    Jan 25, 2013
    In 1982 I bought an old house from the original owner and in the dirt floor basement was this large piece of furniture – or so I thought. I did a little investigation back then and figured out that this was a chicken incubator of sorts. I had always planned to do something with this but never found the time. When we moved out of the house it moved with me – into the garage. I still haven’t done anything with it but this year I took the time to really investigate it with the intent of either using it or selling it. I don’t currently raise chickens but my wife and I have discussed it at times.


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    Turns out it is an incubator and brooder combination manufactured by the Reliable Incubator and Brooder Company of Quincy Illinois back around 1900. The outside shows its age and the legs, since they were stuck in the dirt of the basement for many decades, are rotten on the ends. But the inside is in AMAZING condition. It is 95-99% complete. I think I am missing one part of the heat regulation system and the kerosene lamp. I actually think my ex-wife may have the lamp. When we moved into the house we also found a kerosene lamp made of copper. It had no chimney. I’m going to see if I can get it back from her to make this more complete. I've removed the legs for now and have it sitting on some stumps. I will probably turn a new pair of legs for this.

    I have fully documented the unit with photos (link below) and have found documents online describing how the heat regulation system works. I have also downloaded patents pertaining to this model so i am fairly familiar with how it originally worked.

    Has anyone been successful converting a unit like this to an electric version? Since this model originally took several ounces of mercury to regulate the heat to both chambers I doubt it could ever be restored completely to full working condition.

    Other images with descriptions can be seen here.
    http://www.devtechphotography.com/brooder
     
  2. devtech61

    devtech61 New Egg

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    Jan 25, 2013
    So, I had an idea for converting this that would have the least impact on the present design. It could still be heated by the kerosene lamp but regulated by a mechanical device operated by a temperature probe. Everything is here to control the heat but not to regulate the controls based on temperature.

    I would need a device that could either push or pull on a lever once a set point temperature is reached and then return to the starting position once the temperature drops to another set point. There are several locations where I could mount the mechanical device whether it is a push or pull device and the only alteration needed is to drill a small hole into the incubator chamber for the location of the probe. This wouldn't make the incubator any more accurate for temperature control but it retains the integrity of the unit. It would be interesting to see just how accurate it could be using the kerosene lamp as the heat source.

    I've been too long out of the HVAC business to know where to begin to locate a device like this but I'm certain one already exists. Now to find it. :)
     
  3. devtech61

    devtech61 New Egg

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    Jan 25, 2013
    I spoke to a guy today about this and he suggested a different way - a closed heat loop with a light bulb as the heat source. This would modify the two exhausts on the right side and the duct on the bottom closing this loop. He then suggests a simple potentiometer to control the speed of a fan blowing across the bulb to circulate the hot air through the water tank. The fan control would be the course temperature control by setting a speed to give me the initial temperature. Then a thermocouple would turn on and off the bulb to fine-tune the temperature.

    I'm going to try this way first since it looks to be the cheaper option and I think I can temporarily close the loop without modifying anything permanently.

    Do you think if I eventually tried to sell this would it have greater value "as-is" in all of its vintage glory but not functioning as an incubator/brooder? Or would it have more value in a working state but slightly modified from its original build?
     
  4. yellowflower

    yellowflower Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Interesting, I saw one like this on CL yesterday. I live in NH. Good luck with what ever you do. I wouldn't know where to start.
     
  5. skookumchuck

    skookumchuck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is a cool old incubator I would not use the kerosine as it is a fire hazard but try to keep it as origional as possible. Great find hope it works well for you.
     
  6. devtech61

    devtech61 New Egg

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    Jan 25, 2013
    I haven't had a chance to try either option above yet but I was discussing this with my son-in-law and we had another idea for heating this unit. In the floor of the brooder section is a small slide door. This door is how you fill the water chamber that sits between the brooder and incubator sections. I could insert a heating element into this hole and cover it with a box to keep the chicks away. The only issue is hiding the wire that will power the heat element. My son-in-law's idea was to use a hot water heater element since it already has a temperature control. Now we have to see if one will adjust to a temperature that will produce the correct amount of heat for the incubator and brooder.
     
  7. Turkeytruff

    Turkeytruff Chillin' With My Peeps

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    this is awesome. Good luck with this! About 22 years ago I lived in an old house in Yorkshire, UK and inherited a chicken shed. The short story is that it had an amazing Victorian mahogany incubator, with mahogany lined drawers, and ivory and bronze pulls and buttons on it. At the time I wasn't into chickens and we needed to get rid of the shed urgently. I wonder what happened to it.
     
  8. devtech61

    devtech61 New Egg

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    Jan 25, 2013
    I haven't had time to commit to trying any of this and I don't see any time in the near future to get to it.

    edited by staff
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2013
  9. devtech61

    devtech61 New Egg

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    I haven't had time to commit to trying any of this and I don't see any time in the near future to get to it so it is going on Craigslist.
     
  10. Turkeytruff

    Turkeytruff Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aw, OK. Sure understand - it would be awesome if someone could actually get it working properly. Hope you get someone who genuinely cares about getting it going.
     
  11. devtech61

    devtech61 New Egg

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    Jan 25, 2013
    I've only had one nibble from Craigslist. We can't agree on price. Since I listed it I found a lamp for it. I'm also planning to turn some new legs for it so it doesn't sit on the stumps.


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