Issue: 8/03

Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison won't show up--because they're dead. And you'd have to be dead not to come away from "Wetstock" invigorated in the science--and art--of hydronic heating.

Wetstock is the brainchild of the industry's inimitable hydronic heating guru, Dan Holohan. Put aside any preconceptions. It's like nothing else in the industry you've ever attended. It's not so much an educational program as a hydronics education festival.

Wetstock III, the third event of its kind, will be held at the Sheraton Denver West in the Mile High City on Saturday, September 20. There will be a big room with 20 roundtables set around the perimeter. In the middle will be a buffet table set up with food and soft drinks all day long, with cash bars offering mood-altering beverages starting at 3 p.m. Each table will have placards identifying topics of discussions taking place there. These will include:

  • Steam
  • Radiant Slab & Staple-Up
  • Radiant Controls
  • Radiant and Wood Floors
  • Boiler Concerns
  • Control Strategies
  • System Piping
  • Hydro-air
  • Fuel & Venting Issues
  • Antifreeze and other Chemicals
  • Hiring and Training
  • Marketing Hydronics
  • Company Policies
  • Professionalism
  • Cool Software
  • Indoor Air Quality

There will also be Dealer's Choice roundtables where you'll be able to pick the subject and start your own discussions.

There's no corporate sponsorship, so you can feel free to speak your mind about products you like and dislike. (There is, however, a co-sponsorship with PM Engineer, which I'll explain shortly.)

Moreover, there's no trade show or pitches for membership of any kind. Nobody will tell you which table to sit at or when you have to switch. If all the seats are taken, grab one from an under-populated table and join in the fun. Discussion at some tables may be so spirited there won't be any room for additional chairs, and then you may have to stand. But if so many people are so interested in something, it's probably worthwhile to hang around in the standing room section.

"There are no formal speakers, no glitz, no politics," says Dan Holohan. "No worries. It's just a critical mass of Wetheads getting together for a very casual day to talk, share ideas, laugh and make connections. And to have fun. You're among friends."

I'll say. I attended Wetstock I in Marlboro, MA, last November, and found it one of the most edifying experiences of my industry career. And it wasn't only me saying it. "This was an event you wanted to last forever," said Paul Pollets. "There were serious--and I do mean serious--conversations on every possible aspect of hot water heating, steam or radiant."

"The information that was available for eight hours in that room was unbelievable," said Mike Kraft. "It was overwhelming and humbling."

"Wow, what a time! It was great to finally meet all the people I've gotten to know over the years through cyberspace, put faces to the names, and shake the hands of all the people that have helped me learn so much over the years," commented Mark Walnicki.

I ran into a lot of people I knew, but also met plenty I didn't. Some I knew by reputation as among the brainiest people in the hydronics industry, and I was thrilled to get a chance to meet them. Holohan limits Wetstock attendance to 200, which is just about perfect. That's enough to generate plenty of ideas and personalities, but it's not like a national convention where you can spend four days and never run into most of the people attending.

The Missing Link

Wetstock attracts a cross-section of the industry. Contractors are the biggest sector represented, but you can also count on meeting manufacturers, reps, wholesalers and engineers. But I'll be honest about something. More engineers ought to attend. There was only a smattering of P.E.'s attending the first two Wetstocks, although it was the type of event most would feel right at home with.

That's because the discussions are loaded with technical information and ideas. There is much the contractors attending can learn from engineers, and vice versa. The industry's trade press is filled with people exchanging badinage about why certain things can't, won't or absolutely will work. However, debates in print take months to exchange. This is instantaneous. Don't get the notion that any of it is hostile. I didn't see decorum breached even once at Wetstock I. But I did see plenty of agreeable disagreement and debate.

That's how learning takes place. That's how problems get solved. That's how friends get made.

And that's why PME has signed up as a co-sponsor of Wetstock III. We aim to get more of you engineers stirring up Denver's rarefied air. It's for your own good, and that of the entire industry.

Space is limited. Registration costs merely $119 if you sign up before August ends, $129 if you wait till after September 1. Worst of all, the festival may be sold out by the time you get around to deciding this is a good thing to do.

So sign up now by visiting, and clicking on the Wetstock link at the upper right. You also can book your hotel room online at a great price.