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DwightB (Structural) (OP)
13 Jul 07 21:06
I recently visited a large house that was built in 1915.  I was given a complete tour of the place, top to bottom.  In the basement, there was a device the current owners hadn't been able to identify.  It was a metal canister about 24" across and about 36" high, including legs.  The bottom 8 - 12" was a large ash drawer.  The upper part was a burn chamber.  There was an interior "bin" divided in half vertically and could rotate so that one half could be accessed though an opening in the top while the other half was positioned under a chimney.  The bin could be rotated by a lever on the top so that either half could be accessed from a lid that opened roughly half of the top.  The instructions told how the day's "charge" would be dried on one side, while the previous day's "charge" was burned in the opposite side.  I read some labels and instructions and eventually decided it was a home sewage incinerator.  It was designed to handle two "loads" from the house's chamber pots.  The previous day's accumulation would be burned in one half of the interior bin, while the most recent load was dried by the heat from the adjacent burning waste so that it would burn easier the next day.  The lever would simply turn left or right to expose one half or the other.  The fresh load would dry while the previous load was reduced to smoke and ashes, going either up the chimney or down into the ash drawer.  It was gas fired and didn't really appear to be a 1915 appliance.  There was no patent date anywhere.  The present owners had no idea what its original purpose was.  They hadn't used it at all.  The gas supply line was a plastic coated ribbed modern supply line.  There were ashes in the drawer, but I think it was only used by a previous owner for paper waste disposal.  
Has anyone ever heard of such an appliance before.  I cannot find anything like it online after days of searching.

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