Is Your Tool Box Complete?



Back in April I offered my recommended tool list to anyone who simply asked for it.  Wow, I had no idea how many people read this column!  I must have sent out at least one list every day since then.  That makes me busy, but happy.  But on that list, I left out some of the most important tools you can have in your van.  Can you guess what I am referring to?  If you did not get your copy of the tool list, it’s not too late but this will be your last chance to get it.  E-mail me ( and it will be on its way to you. 


So did you guess what most important tool was left out?  Yep, equipment manuals.  If you are going to work on any equipment, you need to know how the manufacturer wants the equipment set up, and set up correctly. 


Let me go back in time to the good old days, when I was in the field servicing equipment.  I went to my customer’s home; it was quite a large home firing about 3.75 or 4.0 GPH, as I remember.  I was there because a service man was there fairly recently, from another company, and worked on the burner.  The customer complained that the system was much louder since the mechanic had left, but did not feel comfortable calling him back, so he called me.  The mechanic (not a technician) did a very good job, since the boiler was practically spotless (to my relief), but his set up on the burner left much to be desired. 


After checking the boiler and oil delivery system I told the customer that I needed to go out to get something from my truck.  I came back with’the manufacturers’ manual for the boiler and burner set up.  Now, the customer just looked at me.  I could hear the question even before he asked.  ‘Are you sure you know what you’re doing?  You need a book?”  I looked him straight in the eye and said, ‘Oh, I think so” and left it at that.  He simply just walked away and went upstairs.


I proceeded to set up the equipment per the manufacturers’ specifications and when I was all finished, I called him back downstairs to get the paperwork signed up.  Oh, I still smile when I remember this part.  He asked me if everything was fixed and I told him the unit was running as we were speaking.  He had to open the boiler room door to verify it.  He asked, ‘Why is it you could tune the burner and the other guy couldn’t?”  I could only answer for myself, but I told him I set it up ‘by the book.”  I asked him if he would feel comfortable going to a medical doctor’s office or a lawyer’s office and not seeing books.  This is my office and I need manuals just like they do.  Needless to say, we had that customer for a very long time. 


What made me different from the other guy?  I guess it’s like my good friend, Richie Bruno, says, ‘John, what makes you and me some of the best in the industry is that we simply read the book!”  O.K., I know, back to your tool box. 


As I said before, you need the manuals for the equipment you will be working on.  But two of the publications I refer to the most are the ‘Burnham Hydronics Heating Helper” put out by Burnham Boilers and the ‘Suntec Installation and Service Manual.”  These two publications need to be in every service vehicle and in every service manager’s office.  The information you have at your fingertips will amaze even your toughest customer.    Got a question on steam?  The Burnham book probably addresses it.  A question on how long a run and what size oil lines to run, the Sunteck book has it.  And the best part of it is that if you call them or visit them at any of the shows, you can possibly get them free, how great is that!  Another tool for your tool box, free.


Now in order to get these items you do need to call them.  Ask your local manufacturers representative for a copy.  If you need to find your representative go to or call (888) 432-8887 for Burnham, or call (270) 651-7116 for Suntec.  While you’re on the Suntec Web site, why not test yourself (in the privacy of your own home.)   Look for the ‘Test Your Self” link on the lower left of the page.   


I would like to thank all of you who sent me questions and comments on the oil line article I wrote a few months back.  It sure stimulated some good dialogue between us.  If you wish to send me any comments or old war stories, I love to read them.  I can be reached at anytime, day or night.  That’s the beauty of email.

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