For distilling shale and other oil-yielding minerals. Relates to apparatus described in Specification No. 2169 (1881) in which retorts arranged in sets, and mounted loosely in brickwork to allow expansion, are formed preferably of upper iron tubes, fixed by socket rings, to lower fireclay tubes formed with belts which, together with ledges in the sides of the oven, support fireclay slabs. In some cases the lower parts of the retorts may be formed of iron tubes. Each set of four upper tubes is supplied with a four-way hopper, suspended by means of a pair of counter-weighted levers, centered on bearing plates and connected with the hopper by links. A single pipe connected to the hopper serves for leading off the vapors from the four retorts. The retorts are heated by a furnace, the hot gases from which after acting on the retorts are led to ovens in which are placed steam generators and superheaters, from which steam is conveyed to the interior of the retorts to assist the decomposition.