What I like about coal and don't like about wood.
1- Once you start a Coal Fire you don't want it to go out.
It's easy to keep going but what a pain in the A$$
it is if it goes out.
Once I start my stoker, it doesn't go out until spring when I want it to go out. I grew up in a home with a hand fired furnace and we also never had a problem with it going oout. Takes alittle discipline to keep a schedule though with a hand fired unit. I'm too lazy now for a hand fired unit.
2- Ashes Ashes Ashes and more Ashes! Christ, I have
more ashes in 30 days than a season of burning wood.
Yes, that's a slight negative. but I prefer to think about all the back breaking work I didn't do to get my fuel ready. I burned wood for 20 years in wood boilers. Cutting, splitting, stacking, hauling again. Burn wood, get warm twice. My back will never be right because of it. Now I back my pickup to my basement window twice in one day and shovel 4 tons into the bin and I'm done.
3- During the Warm days and Cold nights when I come
home from work I can light a wood fire at will. With
Coal you don't want to do that, see
notes 1 and 2. When It gets cold all the time I can keep
a wood fire going 24/7.
During warm days when you are keeping you wood fire going, you are producing lots of creosote, no matter how dry your wood is. Low burn rate with wood equals creosote. Coal can idle for a week and not produce anything negative. That's why it is so perfect for a boiler. As far as lighting coal, it is really not that hard. there are long threads on this forum about lighting coal. It takes alittle patience and experience but it is really quite easy.
4- Stink! Coal smells bad, real bad. The flue temps are
a lot lower with Coal so it lingers around the yard and
comes back in the house depending on the wind. I have
a new chimney and the draft is .04 to .08 when the stove
is running at 150 to 250 F (net temp) I have a
Bacharach kit from my oil days. I'm getting 66% to 70%
combustion efficiency. I've even tried running the stove
at 250 to 300F (net)
It doesn't smell like roses but it's not that bad. When I'm outside, I occaisonlly get a litttle whiff of sulfur. Never a smell in the house though. With wood, I remember every time I opened the boiler door, an acrid smell would waft into the basement. From the picture of your coal, I think you got a bad batch. my coal is jet black always. Never any yellow or green stuff in it. That would look to be a big part of your problem.
5- When I come home from work the house stinks, not
real strong but stink It does. I never had that burning
good dry wood.
You've got a problem specific to your home, that's not the coals fault. Is there another adjacent chimney or flue that might be drawing flue gases down? Poorly sealing windows or doors allowing some flue gases back in?
6- If you are in a hurry trying to bring your coal fire back to
life and get a small poof back of smoke. Always have
Fans ready and take note of wind direction at all times
because it takes hours to get the stench out
of your home. Also if you are lighting off a fresh load of
coal you need to go slow because if you get the coal
volatiles burning to fast when you close the ash pan door
the fire will suck air in the secondary openings and flutter
the fire and you get fumes. (Harmon Mark I)
No need to be in a hurry if you are burning properly and tending to your fire on schedule. With a stoker though, that doesn't even apply. Load coal in the hopper and clean out ashes every so 3-5 days. No hurry.
7. If I had children... no way would I expose them to coal
smoke and fly ash.
Kind of like watching a parent let their kid bum a smoke.
I agree but you would not want to expose them to wood smoke and ash either. Coal ash is certainly more plentiful and it has some nasty properties. Like I said in item #1, ash is the one negative. A minor draw back for me though considering all the positives of coal use in my home.
If you or your graqndfather decide to sell your stoves, I'm interested. I need one for my shop/outbuilding.