12.12-5: Imperial 1958 Bourdon Oil Pressure Service Gauge

HHCC Accession No. 2006.128HHCC Classification Code: 12.12-5

Bourdon, oil pressure service gauge in 2 inch steel case with glass bezel, employed to test and set oil discharge pressure on high pressure atomizing oil burners throughout the early and middle years of the 20th century, complete with adapter for Webster oil pumps, all part of the increasingly sophisticated tool box required of oil burner installation and service men of the period, Imperial, Circa 1958.


12.12 Pressure Atomizing Oil Burner Equipment and Systems - Installation, Test and Repair




Imperial Brass MFg. Company, Chicago Ill.

Serial No.:

2 inch dia. plus fitting x 1 inches high


8 ozs.




Exhibit, education, and research quality, illustrating the array of increasingly sophisticated measuring devices required by oil burner installation and service technicians in the middle and latter years of the 20th century - part of a newly emerging service economy in Canada.

Patent Date/Number:

From York County (York Region) Ontario, once a rich agricultural hinterlands, attracting early settlement in the last years of the 18th century. Located on the north slopes of the Oak Ridges Moraine, within 20 miles of Toronto, the County would also attract early ex-urban development, to be come a wealthy market place for the emerging household and consumer technologies of the early and mid 20th century.

This artifact was discovered in the 1950’s in the used stock of T. H. Oliver, Refrigeration and Electric Sales and Service, Aurora, Ontario, an early worker in the field of agricultural, industrial and consumer technology.

Type and Design:

Brass tube Bourdon mechanism Steel case in black enamel, showing the effects of normal ware and tear 2 inch glass bezel ‘ inch IPS fitting Special adapter for Webster fuel pumps, common in the field

Special Features:
Performance Characteristics:
Control and Regulation:
Targeted Market Segment:
Consumer Acceptance:
Market Price:
Technological Significance:

With the increasing sophistication and complexity of 20th century technology applications for the Canadian home, came the need for better instrumentation and measurement for equipment installation and calibration, performance monitoring, trouble-shooting and diagnosis . In the field of automatic home heating the requirements were in the areas of liquid and gas pressure, electrical and air flow measurement ‘ ‘if you can’t measure it you can’t control and regulate it’. This liquid/gaseous pressure gauge stands as a marker of the nature of test and measurement practices in the HVACR field by the middle of the 20th century. It demonstrates the robust, reliable and affordable test and measurement equipment for the oil heating and refrigeration industry in use in the early 1950’s.

  • In the 1950's HVACR test and measurement technology was analogue, hydraulic and mechanical in  nature, digital electronic measurement devices were still close to half a century away.
Industrial Significance:

In the early post W.W.II years, it became increasingly evident that the HVACR industry was seriously limited by the lack of affordable test and measurement equipment for field use in installation and after market service. The field was clearly dependent on those who would design, develop and bring such equipment to market, at a price the tradesmen could afford. Often the equipment that was available was of the laboratory type, too sensitive and delicate, lacking the robust quality needed for life in the toolbox. What was required was a new generation of such measurement and test devices.

Socio-economic Significance:

It was the 1930’s and as Canada slowly emerged from the economic depression of the period, so too would a new economic sector emerge, the service sector, one which would grow to dominate, contributing much of the country’s economic strength well before the end of the century. The home service trades grew rapidly during this pre W.W.II period and on into the 1950’s, plumber, electrician, heating and refrigeration. They brought with them a new quite different breed of industrial worker, mobile, entrepreneurial, and skilled in the new consumer technologies then available for the Canadian home. The age of scientific measurement in the HVACR industry was well established by the 1950’s, bringing with it a new generation of mechanics and technicians, able to use the equipment effectively.

Socio-cultural Significance:

G. Leslie Oliver, The T. H. Oliver HVACR Collection

HHCC Storage Location:
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