A New Museum Graces Our Fourth Floor

General Society Member and Master Plumber, Larry Weingarten, of Salinas, CA is co-author, with his wife, Suzanne, of The Water Heater Workbook. He has serviced and greatly extended the lives of thousands of water heaters, protecting our environment by keeping them out of America’s landfills.

Mr. Weingarten had read about bath heaters for many years, but never met one until he saw a somewhat smashed one lying on a sidewalk in the city of Bath, England. It went home with him as carry-on luggage. Once back in his home, he un-smashed it and got it running. It became the first of the many antique water heaters now on display on our Fourth Floor.

Mr. Weingarten has extremely generously donated nearly all of his water heater collection, The Weingarten Collection, to The General Society, along with hundreds of books about hot water heating, and other engineering topics. These now fill a row of bookshelves in the new museum and are available to anyone who wants to learn more.

The museum houses nearly 40 water heaters, including miniature heaters, below are just two examples of the heaters on display, with a short description of each by Mr. Weingarten:

American Bosch


This heater was built between the world wars. This heater was designed to replace the kitchen sink faucet. It sat above the sink, mounted to the wall. You could get both hot and cold water from it. Interestingly, it vented directly into the room, which would be considered bad form these days. A plus is that it’s a point-of-use heater, so there are no heat losses in piping and little waiting time for hot water. In this way, it saved both water and energy.

Ruud 95 Tankless

This heater was one of the most common tankless heaters Ruud made. It was perfect for a modest home. It has the water motor to activate the gas supply with copper coils inside. Silver is not the original color, but it does help to show what parts of the heater got hot. Little to do with this heater, but as word got out that I was interested in old water heaters, they just found their way to me from all over the world. This heater, like some others came from the San Francisco region which has good, clean water; which has a lot to do with heater longevity.

Mr. Weingarten said, “The reason for gathering these things has always been to learn about and preserve the ideas so that people could consider them and perhaps reuse the ideas in the modern world.” He added “By giving them to The General Society and the Mechanics Institute, I hope their life as a teaching tool will continue for hundreds of years to come. ”

We are indebted to Mr. Weingarten for so generously donating these fascinating and wonderful machines to the General Society and welcome The Weingarten Collection.

 Access to the museum is by advance appointment only, please contact ktaylor@generalsociety.org to schedule a time to visit.