Say Goodbye to the Short Lived Corn Stove Boom...

PostBy: Richard S. On: Wed Jan 31, 2007 1:02 am

If you ever seen that show "Mythbusters" they did it on there. If I remeber correctly they used nothing more than coffee filters. Nothing special, just enough to get the junk out. Car ran fine and got nearly the same MPG as the diesel, I think it was off by 10% or so.
Richard S.
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

PostBy: Oo-v-oO On: Wed Jan 31, 2007 3:00 am

There's a big difference between running straight vegetable oil and biodiesel.

A SVO system requires two fuel systems plus heaters for the vegetable oil side. You start up on diesel fuel or biodiesel then switch over to SVO when the engine and vegetable oil has warmed up, then switch back to diesel before shutting down to purge all of the veggie oil out of the system. All you need to do is make sure the vegetable oil is filtered and free of water before using it, but there is a lot of work required on the vehicle before you can burn SVO.

Biodiesel is usable for the most part as a direct replacement for #2 diesel fuel. It may attack some rubber hoses if run at high concentrations and does gel sooner than petrodiesel in colder weather. It also tends to attract water, so you need to be careful about how it's handled. Turning vegetable oil into biodiesel is a fairly simple process but it does require the use of an alcohol, usually methanol, and sodium hydroxide. These are mixed to make sodium methoxide, which is a tad on the nasty side. But, it's a no-brainer; pump it into any diesel vehicle at lower percentages like the 20% BD-80% petrodiesel blend sold at many pumps and go, with no modifications to the vehicle at all.

Alcohol as a motor fuel is a very bad choice, IMO. It's a net loss as far as energy is concerned. 'Car and Driver' had an excellent article on the subject in their July 2006 issue - you can view it on their website:
Ethanol Promises
Recommended reading...
Stove/Furnace Make: Ashley

PostBy: ktm rider On: Wed Jan 31, 2007 8:49 am

The only research on ethanol I have done is research on making my own with one of these.
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ktm rider
Stove/Furnace Make: AHS Multifuel
Stove/Furnace Model: CO 55 with oil backup

PostBy: LsFarm On: Wed Jan 31, 2007 9:59 am

Shawn, I hope to get a 'taste' of some white lightning the next time I'm there!! I used to make some too, hung a cheesecloth bag of apple slices in the top of the boiler to flavor it a bit. Pretty good apple-jack.

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

PostBy: ktm rider On: Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:14 am

Greg, This is a still but not for drinking ( unfortunately) it makes e85 fuel. I guess you could drink it but I will let you go first :twisted:
Check out the link to it. It is quite interesting and something I am considering. This is all going to take a back seat to my micro hydro project however.

BTW, since I put the heat exchanger in for my domestic water, my electric bill dropped about $50 !!! :) Payoff time 5 months !!!
ktm rider
Stove/Furnace Make: AHS Multifuel
Stove/Furnace Model: CO 55 with oil backup

PostBy: LsFarm On: Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:08 am

Shawn, when is your main hot water use time?? just before bed or in the morning. Some folks take showers before bed, some when they get up some both.

If your main use is in the morning, run a few gallons of hot water just before bed, this will 'charge' the hot water tank with fresh HOT water from the coal boiler. Then the electric won't come on during the night to keep the water warm. Did you wrap the tank with addtional insulation??

I'm thinking your main electric use is the clothes dryer and the well right?

BTW: I guess I should have thought about the steel 55 gallon drum. Not a good idea for drinkin' ethanol. My still was all Stainless, copper and lead-free solder. Sold it long ago.


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

PostBy: ktm rider On: Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:14 am

Usually the evening is the main use time. I did wrap the tank when I originally installed it. I am still researching the heat exchanger for the clothes dryer. That would REALLY cut down the bill but if I get the Micro hydro installed I would have all the free (eventually) power I could ever use. So, I think I am just going to go that route..
ktm rider
Stove/Furnace Make: AHS Multifuel
Stove/Furnace Model: CO 55 with oil backup

PostBy: keyman512us On: Wed Feb 07, 2007 6:31 am

...About the corn burners? Yeah it is a shame anytime the SYSTEM takes over. Always seems the 'little guy' just trying to stay warm takes the hit!

...Now this might be 'off topic'...But does anyone think we should start a forum thread along the lines of "New fight the old system"?

...I'm always interested in new ideas. Corn burners seem to fall into "pellet stove" category if you ask me. Anyone in here buy or use a pellet stove? Anyone give up on one? How long have they been around?

The pellet stove concept is great...if you don't mind being reliant upon a supplier that is subject to market conditions.

Back in 1987 was the first time I saw "pellet" (bio-mass) first-hand. A furniture shop close by had a strange delivery from a grain/feed tractor trailer, taking place around 8:30 at night. I ventured over to investigate and got the whole story.
...A young college grad and his friend went into business making this "bio-mass pellet" as he called it. The pellet was made from corrugated cardboard waste. They made the pellet in an old grain facility up in Vermont..and were now trying to make a market. This guy told me they were giving the furniture plant this stuff to try it out.
I never saw another delivery there again, the furniture factory closed two years later. I never heard about "bio-mass pellet" till about 10 years later. I like to think those two guys sold their idea and are retired on a beach somewhere but who knows?

Did I meet the inventors of the current "pellet wave" or simply copy cats?

PostBy: keyman512us On: Wed Feb 07, 2007 7:02 am

...And just in case anyone is wondering about pellet stoves: ... -ever.html

...I posted this for some of the comments under the descriptions.

"Don't think trees should be cut??? Try using plastic toilet paper!"

PostBy: SMITTY On: Wed Feb 07, 2007 7:10 pm

Keyman, I got a good laugh out of that guy who apologized for suggesting COAL as an alternative fuel!!

Boy, burning grass should put out some BTU's.... NOT! I think they already burnt some "grass" to have such a discussion over what to burn, so as to not end the world! :roll:

Those tree-huggers must be so worked up...... they can't do anything unless it will save the world!! :lol: :lol:

I wonder how a Prius would tow my Polaris 800?
Stoker Coal Boiler: Patriot Coal - (custom built by Jim Dorsey, Taunton MA - RIP 4/18/13)
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III (SOLD!)
Coal Size/Type: Rice / Blaschak anthracite
Other Heating: Oil fired Burnham boiler

PostBy: gambler On: Wed Feb 07, 2007 8:38 pm

I'm always interested in new ideas. Corn burners seem to fall into "pellet stove" category if you ask me. Anyone in here buy or use a pellet stove? Anyone give up on one? How long have they been around?

I am currently using corn to heat my 2000 sqft home and have been doing so for four years. Four years ago I decided to buy a stove to heat my house instead of using natural gas. I narrowed my choices down to corn or coal and I chose corn because I live in farming country and corn would be easier to get and a little cheaper than coal. Corn stoves have been around since the 1970's. After my purchase of the corn stove everything was going well. Corn was cheap, I could heat my home for about $500 a year and I only had to go 2 miles to buy the corn. Then this past summer everything turned to crap. Corn prices were starting to rise but this was not unusual but the prices always fell at harvest time except this year they did not. The government had gotten involved with building ethanol plants claiming it would free us from using gasoline. As more and more gov. subsidized ethanol plants came on line with their huge appetite for corn the prices continued to climb. The price of corn has more than doubled in the past year. Right now I am only saving about $40 a month by using corn to heat my home over natural gas. But I do like having a stove burning in the house. That is why I am on this site, trying to gain some knowledge about burning coal. It is too bad I did not choose a coal stove over a corn stove four years ago. But I should warn all of you that the price of coal will go up when I purchase a coal stove. That is how my luck runs. I am still going to keep my corn stove so when I get my coal stove I will be able to use which ever one is cheapest for me to operate.
Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: Pioneer

PostBy: tewplanman On: Wed Feb 07, 2007 11:52 pm

Buy a hand fed unit and you can burn wood, coal and what ever else comes your way

PostBy: gambler On: Thu Feb 08, 2007 12:06 am

tewplanman, hand fired is not an option for me. I am often out of town and my wife would be unable to keep a fire going. She needs something that you can just turn up the thermostat. She would probably be able to load coal into a hopper but that would be about the extent of her ability of keeping a fire going.
Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: Pioneer

PostBy: keyman512us On: Thu Feb 08, 2007 3:39 am

Hi Gambler...
Thanks for "chiming" in about the Corn stove you have. If I might ask a few questions:
How much "ash" does it produce? Can you burn "pellet" (biomass of all different varieties, wood, fiber and other)?
I am curious about pellet stoves (as I explained earlier, running into the cardboard variety back in 87'...and also because a lot of my friends have them when I think of it).
Pellet prices up here are 'allover the boards' so to speak. Usually up here when demand goes through the does the price. All of my friends have basically in a round-about way said that "it sounded good" at first...but didn't quite live up to expectations.

Take my buddy Dave for example:
He has a 20 year old ranch built tight and right. And like me..he cringes when the 'dinosaur-goo machine'(oil burner) kicks in. Rightly so! Being old fashioned 'New Englanders' oil fired heating is just fundamentaly flawed when you stop and think of 'where the rubber meets the road'. But like I have said before "OPTIONS" is what is all about.
He is a "cement headed Italian"(no offense out there)...and I am a "typical cheap frog" (canadian root frenchman by way of Maine...which here in "Gahhdnare Dare" is 7/8ths population) this area was settled by those who "...Caame Doughn from aacross De Ice" keeping warm is as American as apple pie.
We worked as a "crew" day in, day out as electricians, so you almost become 'family'. In 97' he got an old Fisher "All Nighter" and hooked it up in his basement. All I heard the whole time "man this is the way to go": which lead into the whole range of pros and cons. I tried to offer advice, but AS THE SAYING GOES "you can lead the horse to water...". A little time goes by and he asks a favor "I need you to weld something to the stove for me". You should have seen the ductwork conglomoration he built! NASA would have gave him an award! He was "wood-weasle-ing" anything that would burn...he was possesed! I tried to tell him to slow down, burn only 1/3, stockpile the rest (oil was0.67/gallon at the time)!
In 04' the pellet stove became the saga. He was convinced the pellet stove was going to be salvation! I tried to once again advise...nothing doing...he sold the woodstove! He spent over $3,000 before buying pellets! He hooked it up and was disapointed right just didn't give the bang for the buck he expected.
After all was said and done...he did something I never expected he told me "You were right...You were right about the wood, and you were right about this..."

Sorry for rambling, but there are many morals to the story:
1. Never be afraid to ask questions, 2. Never refuse advice,3. Never back yourself into a corner, 4. Always have OPTIONS!

I guess in a round about way I'm asking your honest opinion on that style heat because it intrigues me, I want to know more about it, and because I might have a new source of fuel for please tell me more about it!

PostBy: keyman512us On: Thu Feb 08, 2007 4:11 am

If you want a good start with a STOVE (becuase it sounds like you are leaning towards a stoker)..If your situation permits wood or coal might I recomend you look in this direction: "Consolidated Dutchwest_Federal Airtight Model.." 3 different sizes, wood or coal, catalytic capable/bypassable, (which they got right on when they built this baby), is a beauty (with a glass front) as a fireplace insert, and can be found selling used as low as $300.00. If I could find one today, short money, I would buy one just so I could install it down the road...with a blower (optional and recommended) this puppy throws gorgeous heat!

..Keep in mind this testimonial is on the baby of the 3 models:

...Not plugging for this place...but best Pic. I could find...

...Just keep in mind the older ones are wood or coal, the newer ones-nada. Good Luck! The way to identify is the round air knob on the ashpan door!
(can't believe i'm giving up secrets...aagh what the hell!)

Life in general observation: After 1990 everything went downhill!...I'm beggining to believe technology peaked in 1989!
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