Sunday, August 05, 2001

Thermostats hot items to auto mechanic

By Marsie Hall Newbold
Enquirer contributor

        Who: Dan Owczarczak, Jr., 46, of West Chester Township, an auto mechanic at Top Value Muffler and Service Center in Sharonville who collects thermostats. Yes, thermostats, those little doohickeys that control heating and air-conditioning.

        On display: Six footlockers filled with what Mr. Owczarczak, estimates to be, “Between 1,000 and 2,000. I've never really had the time to count.”

        Where: In the spare bedroom of the home Mr. Owczarczark shares with his wife, Betty.

[photo] Dan Owczarczak Jr. and one of his thermostats.
(Yuli Wu photo)
| ZOOM |
        Hot, hot, hot: “I started collecting thermostats when I was 11 years old,” Mr. Owczarczak, recalls. “The first one was built by General Controls and has a Lennox name plate on it.”

        “The subdivision I grew up in used Lennox furnaces,” he explains. “I got to going around with the garbage men one day and brought home a lot of treasures. My favorite was that thermostat.”

        Scientific explanation: “It was fascinating,” he says. “I wanted to know what made it work. It turns out that there is a little coil inside called a bimetal that is made out of brass and iron. It senses the room temperature and moves in different directions depending on whether it rises or falls. There is also mercury and two wires inside a glass tube. When the liquid metal touches those wires it closes an electrical circuit that turns on your furnace.”

        Thanks, Mister! “After that, I wanted more,” he adds, “so I started riding my bike around looking for heating and air conditioning trucks. When I found one, I'd hang around until the serviceman came out. Then I'd ask if he had any old thermostats I could have.”

        “I got a lot that way,” he says with a grin. “I also visited a lot of heating and air conditioning companies.”

        Favorite things: His favorites include a rectangular one bearing a letter “M,” one with a heart and another with his birth date.

        “I prefer the older ones,” he says. “The ones that use mercury are soon going to be a thing of the past. With the electronic ones, you take off the back and it looks like a transistor radio.”

        The graduate: “Heating and air conditioning was my greatest dream job,” Mr.Owczarczak says. “I studied it at Scarlet Oaks Vocational School and actually started, but was unable to continue because of health problems.”

        “So now I'm content to collect thermostats,” he sighs.

       Share your prize possessions with Marsie Hall Newbold by mail: c/o The Cincinnati Enquirer, e-mail



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