Despite the surface unpleasantness, the dampness, the sootiness, and the occasional cockroach scurrying by, there is something intriguing about roaming amidst Willy Wonka-sized ductwork, candy-coated pipe spaghetti, and immense oil tanks that rival the size of some NYC apartments.

This candy apple beauty is one of a trio of boilers I had the pleasure to meet at a site visit to a school in the Bronx.  No longer manufactured under the “Federal” name, these stout old timers are solid steam punk contenders. Although I would have liked to linger a bit longer to appreciate the sheer massiveness of these oddly charming machines, I had to keep up with a busy custodian and time-strapped engineer trudging toward our task at hand: an oil tank room under a foot of water.

“We have so much time and so little to see! Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.”

View of a vintage Federal Corporation boiler brought to you by Laura Termini-Lande.