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Chipping away at innovation

Master Plumber Association (MPA) member, Bendigo’s Phil Kelly, donated a Chip Heater to the Association’s Collection in 2019. Heritage curator Peter Jensen told Australian Plumbing the story.

The Chip Heater was a very early form of hot-water service; a big improvement on heating water in a copper over an open fire.

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One of Phil Kelly’s long-term clients showed he understood the value of heritage when he handed the plumber a water heater shrouded in heavy, brown wrapping paper.

Underneath the wrapping was a brand-new Chip Heater. Its shiny chrome finish was immaculate.

The Chip Heater was a very early form of hot-water service; a big improvement on heating water in a copper over an open fire.

This particular Chip Heater had “THE CASH” embossed on the front.

A little research showed W.E. Cash was a plumbing merchant at 204 Sydney Road in Coburg, phone number: FW1131. The date stamp was on the heater: 11/09/1948.

An instruction sheet headed “The Cash Improved Fuel Bath Heater” came with the heater and explains how to use the product.

This Chip Heater was a single, opened-point, tankless, domestic, hot-water system popular in Australia and New Zealand from the 1880s to the 1960s. It consisted of a cylindrical unit with a fire box and flue, through which a water pipe was run with transfer/mixing pots. Water was drawn from a cold-water header tank and circulated through the fire box. When heated, the water was drawn off to an area to be used, typically in a bath or a shower. An Ash Box Tray under the fire, allowed air flow and there were various dampers in the flue.

The fire box was relatively small and fed by tinder, such as newspaper, pinecones, small twigs, or chips of wood from the wood heap. The use of the “Chips” from the wood pile gave the chip heater its name.

I couldn’t find any drawings, so I set about doing my own (pictured).

There were several other manufacturers around that period in the same design including two in the MPA Collection. MPA Members, Nott & Drew, from Geelong also have a great collection of brands including Daynite, Radiant, The Little Hero and a McIlwriath.

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The Chip Heater was a very early form of hot-water service; a big improvement on heating water in a copper over an open fire.

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Global Pumps Website Advertising April, May, June 2024

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