The Problem with Hand Fired Units

The Problem with Hand Fired Units

PostBy: Cap On: Wed Nov 08, 2006 8:33 pm

When I start a new coal fire from new, it burns really geat for the 1st 24hrs. As the fire ages a few days, so much ash builds up in the firebox, it is difficult to know exactly how much of a *live* fire I have vs a fire which is mainly hidden ash. If I shake it too long or hard, I can kill my burn if not careful. So I have learned to:

1. Check stack heat & access size of coal fire
2. Open the ash door, build up more heat in the stack, as high as 350-400F
3. Toss on the fresh coal and allow this to fire up ( have a refreshment of choice )
4. Shake down & poke if necessary until I can see the orange glow and hot coals drop.
5. Add more coal, leave door open 5 more minutes ( continue my refreshment ) and shake again.
6. Top off coal if necessary. ( Finish the refreshment )

Glad that is finished! ( I mean the stove repleshishment ) Can become time consuming. I should of researched stokers before buying this monster. But she'll heat up.
Cap
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Harman SF 250, domestic hot water loop, heat accumulator

PostBy: LsFarm On: Wed Nov 08, 2006 8:46 pm

Mark, I'm glad that I'm not the only one with 'issues' with a hand loader. I have to really shake my fire violently to get the ash from the stove size coal to break up and drop into the ash pan. Nut size isn't as bad.

If I don't get enough of the ash to break up and drop into the ash pan, then it eventually clogs the grate and chokes the fire. With ash, not clinker [melted together ash] like last year.

I pretty much follow your process, but I don't enjoy a refreshment out in the boiler's outbuilding, I come back inside for mine, then trudge back out to the boiler building later.

Once I burn up this year's stove and nut sized coal, I'm going to be on a serious search for a stoker unit to run in my boiler. I assume I'll have to burn rice coal.

Greg L
Last edited by LsFarm on Fri Dec 29, 2006 10:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

PostBy: lime4x4 On: Thu Nov 09, 2006 12:10 am

that's why i no longer use my efel hand fired unit.Went to the magnum stoker.Once i got the kinks worked out it's great.Mark (cap) knows he was over one day to c it.Such a small coal bed but it throws alot of heat..
lime4x4
 

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PostBy: Gary in Pennsylvania On: Thu Nov 09, 2006 6:45 am

Hmmmm....

I used to have problems. I'd either starve it ( too little draft or not allowing fresh load to 'catch' ) or it'd scream up to 500+ degrees.

Now I got it down pat. Lite it, shake it 2-3 times a day, keep ash oughtta the pan, and make sure fresh load catches.

She burns like a charm!
Gary in Pennsylvania
 

PostBy: LsFarm On: Thu Nov 09, 2006 9:07 am

Tending to the fire if you are home is fun. Satisfies my curiosity. I just HAVE to stop by the boiler whenever I walk from the shop to the house or back.

When I'm home [only about 10-12 days a month] I usually shake the fire several times a day, to keep the ash from clogging the grate.
But when I'm gone the caretaker tends the fire, once in the AM, once when he gets back here from work, and then again at about 10PM. Often he finds the fire choked by too much ash under the fire. It takes a lot of shaking and poking to get 12 hours of ash to fall into the ash pan. He gives me feedback every day on what the boiler is doing, and what he is doing to tend it

My hand load firebox definitely is not a shake, load coal and dump the ashes every 12 hours unit YET. As I build experience and techniques and proceedures to follow to deal with it, it's getting better.

But definitely not a 'no-brainer' yet.

Of course my boiler was designed to burn both wood and coal, I follwed the design of several comercially available units advertised as wood AND coal burning. I should have looked at coal only burners instead. But I didn't know I'd get hooked on burning coal. After all I have dozens of acres of woods. [just no ambition to cut and split wood]

Living and learning: problem is I'm running out of living before I get enough learning!! :)

Greg L

.
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

PostBy: barley master On: Wed Nov 15, 2006 11:36 pm

no two stoves act and respond the same even if they are identical. look at the auto industery two identical cars and they both have there own personallities.

since most people dont get to operate two identdical stove at the same time so we dont get to see the differences. we need to learn what our stoves like and dislike by playing with them and making asjustments based upon what we see and how it reacts to these changes.

there are only three things that make these things work as designed. fuel, air and heat. its easy to start them, the science is to keep them running as expected. if your not having problems were not learning. we must keep in mind that when we make a change in the operation we dont see a result of that action right away. with all other fuels we see an immeadiate chage in the fire but not with coal.

what i found with my first hand fired unit was that i didnt make a change when i should of or i didnt wait long enough to see the change and made another adjustment and before long i had no fire or struggled like crazy to sustain or regain it and then just made another fire and started over.

after getting the fire started we need to get it established by getting the whole bed lit evenly all the way across and at the same depth. when that is done now we dampen it off or it will all burn up and roast you out of the house. after some time which needs to be found is how long can we go before the fire needs to be re established. to do so what i do is to open the damper all the way and shake it down until i see some red falling through the grate, then add coal and wait untill it is burning brightly again and then dampen it off again by setting the damper for the rate of burn im looking for. when the personallality of the stove is known this is all we do for the whole firing season.

if we shake it, add coal and dont wait for it to get re established that is were the difficulties of getting the stove to perform as expected comes in.
if were not losing fires were not learning the signs and what to do about it.

since we usally have the same composition of coal the fuel value remains constant. the air that is supplied is always constant. the two things that are constantly changing is the temp and the draft. this is where the science part of it comes in. draft is caused by heat and when you can increase the draft you will increase the amount of heat to a point of where you have plenty of heat for the fire to burn but too much draft which then we back off on the damper but we have to wait for the element of time for this to take place. two valuable aids that i have used for a long time is a draft gage and a thermometer. with these tools i can see what is going one and know right away what is taking place and it will show in the appearence of the fire itself. i have my stove located where i dont care about the looks of my stuff hanging from the stove pipe

as long as there are some indication that there is some fire left it can always be brought back but it takes time for it to react.

dont be afraid of playing with your stove and you will learn its personality, once you do then you will master that stove and you will enjoy the rewards.

i hope this explanation helps you.
barley master
 

PostBy: davemich On: Thu Nov 16, 2006 7:50 am

Barley...this is the best post to convey what I go thru everytime I fire up my stove. You are correct in that changes made don't immediately change your current fire situation therefore its hard to enact change to a situation and really know what the results will be. Thats why I love burning coal! It is a challenge and figuring it out keeps me staring at the fire and its personality all day long when I'm home to see the changes after I open or close the damper, shake the grates or add coal to my hopper. It took about 2 years for me to get a grip on my stove but last year, my third year, I discovered other nuances. Thanks for putting that into words for me!!!
davemich
 

PostBy: greg white On: Fri Dec 01, 2006 7:07 am

Sounds like I am lucky,I only pulled my hair out for 3 or 4 weeks,it was a stressfull 3 weeks all be it.I switched from a wood eating Fisher to a Harman SF150 "Dual Fuel".I was building a new coal fire everday at first,shoveling un burnt coal off the grates was not cost affective,I thought "what have I DONE?"but,this forum,and meeting up with Greg from LSFarms gave me the data :idea: (or confidence) to burn away,now my Harman is idleing away.18 hour burns are nothing for me to accomplish,today it is raining ice!Lookin forward too throttling that antique refurbished Harman up.(1982 model)
Just checked on the coal fire,it is 12 hours old and just simmering away, did not touch it.temp is surpose to drop quite a bit next couple of days,just hoping power does'nt get takin out by ICE :shock:
Thanks ,all you folks,for sharing your knowledge.
Don't give up,you will get it right!!!!
greg white
 

PostBy: Yanche On: Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:55 am

Boy, would you guys like my stoker boiler. No problems at all just feed pea coal in and carry ashes out. Light once a season, idles for days in warm weather and plenty of output when needed. All automatic. Four zone thermostat control in the house, no overheating and endless domestic hot water. Alternate Heating System S-130. I grew up with a four section Burham hand fired boiler heating a no insulation house. It was a lot of work. An all gravity feed system that I helped my father install in 1950. A modern stoker boiler is like a dream come true. I buy my coal in bulk directly from the PA coal brokers. 23 tons in one load. Enough for 4+ years. Cheap when bought in the off season.

Yanche
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

PostBy: coalkirk On: Fri Dec 01, 2006 9:47 am

Ditto what Yanche said. I lit my stoker boiler in mid October and it just does the rest. During the recent warm spell, I load it on Sunday and don't have to touch it for a week. On warm days like we have been having, it sips the coal but keeps the fire going, no draft problems due to high ambient temps. When called upon, she'll step it up and meet the demand. My oil man no longer even sends my his stinkin' calendar every year. Endless hot domestic water. Anyone contemplating switching to coal should really strongly consider a stoker boiler no matter what type of heating system their home currently has. I can't imagine using coal any other way. My home stays an even temperature from top to bottom, no hot and cool rooms like with a stove. My friends with pellet stoves are all crying the blues due to the increases in the cost of pellets. Boo-hoo!
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

problem with hand fired units

PostBy: Mahanoy Boy On: Fri Dec 08, 2006 12:31 am

Wow, that's unfortunate. I have a hand fired Keystoker fireplace insert and I shake the ahses and refill it twice a day and I have no problem at all keeping a nice fire going.
Mahanoy Boy
 

PostBy: Oo-v-oO On: Mon Dec 25, 2006 4:47 pm

barley master wrote:there are only three things that make these things work as designed. fuel, air and heat. its easy to start them, the science is to keep them running as expected. if your not having problems were not learning. we must keep in mind that when we make a change in the operation we dont see a result of that action right away. with all other fuels we see an immeadiate chage in the fire but not with coal.

what i found with my first hand fired unit was that i didnt make a change when i should of or i didnt wait long enough to see the change and made another adjustment and before long i had no fire or struggled like crazy to sustain or regain it and then just made another fire and started over.

after getting the fire started we need to get it established by getting the whole bed lit evenly all the way across and at the same depth. when that is done now we dampen it off or it will all burn up and roast you out of the house. after some time which needs to be found is how long can we go before the fire needs to be re established. to do so what i do is to open the damper all the way and shake it down until i see some red falling through the grate, then add coal and wait untill it is burning brightly again and then dampen it off again by setting the damper for the rate of burn im looking for. when the personallality of the stove is known this is all we do for the whole firing season.

if we shake it, add coal and dont wait for it to get re established that is were the difficulties of getting the stove to perform as expected comes in.
if were not losing fires were not learning the signs and what to do about it.



dont be afraid of playing with your stove and you will learn its personality, once you do then you will master that stove and you will enjoy the rewards. .


Couldn't have put it better myself. That should be required reading for hand-fired newbies.

I, too, struggled at first, having the mindset of burning wood for 17 years as a sole source of heat. You really have to forget all about that and relearn how your stove behaves. It was doubly hard in that we are using the same stove for both wood and coal, so you have to make an effort to mentally shift gears from wood mode to coal mode.

We've been burning wood up until this weekend, but we'll be heating with coal for the rest of the season, or at least until the first real warm spell in the Spring. Wood is nice in that you can quickly and easily build a small fire to take the chill off then let it go out. I really enjoy the flexibility of our combo wood and coal Ashley.
Oo-v-oO
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Ashley

Re: The Problem with Hand Fired Units

PostBy: Koko On: Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:18 am

Mahanoy Boy,
How is your Keystoker HF 70 insert performing. Are you satisfied with the heat output ? How does the shaker grate system work for removing all the ash ? Looking to install one in my fireplace. Would appreciate your input. Thanks, Kevin.
Koko
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Morso
Other Heating: Oil

Re: The Problem with Hand Fired Units

PostBy: SWPaDon On: Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:33 am

Koko wrote:Mahanoy Boy,
How is your Keystoker HF 70 insert performing. Are you satisfied with the heat output ? How does the shaker grate system work for removing all the ash ? Looking to install one in my fireplace. Would appreciate your input. Thanks, Kevin.

There's a good chance he won't answer you. You responded to the last post he made, and that was over 7 years ago. :)

You can search that stove from the search box at the top right, if you want. I'm sure you will find plenty of info on it.


Good Luck,
Don
SWPaDon
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1600M
Coal Size/Type: Bituminous. Labeled as 'Big Vein', about the size of acorns. Makes a lot of ash, but heats well and lasts longer than my previous coal.

Re: The Problem with Hand Fired Units

PostBy: Koko On: Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:42 am

Don,
Thanks for you response. I will look at that search box as well. Kevin
Koko
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Morso
Other Heating: Oil

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