I like this image. I like the subject and it's grittiness. I like the noise and how it contributes to the old-fashioned style. I like the contrast, but I do not like the large area of pure white in the smoke. High contrast doesn't necessarily need to also mean you have large areas of clipped highlights. I would try to mask the smoke areas to see if a small amount of color or detail could be brought into that space. The contrast in the rest of the image remains a really fabulous enhancement to the mood. I would also consider a subtle tint to the B&W conversion but that is totally my prejudice.
I agree with all of that, particularly the lack of appeal of the big white area in the middle.