Narrow Coal Bed in Kodiak Stove

Narrow Coal Bed in Kodiak Stove

PostBy: willowbarnfarm4 On: Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:50 pm

I apologize before hand for my lack of understanding of all terms and words used in this forum. We are relatively new to the coal stove world, but let me tell you, we really LOVE our stove. So bare with me. We moved into a house last year that had a brand new Kodiak gravity fed anthracite stove. No manual, no instruction booklet. The little old Appalachian woman we bought the house from just basically told us "Just shake the grate a couple times a day, fill it to the top, and watch it cook all winter!" Well, we are from the Midwest where you burn wood and corn, so needless to say, we had many a cold mornings and long battles with this stove last winter, thinking thats all we had to do. Well, we almost chucked it and bought a wood stove, but we thought we would try one more winter, and I think, with reading this forum constantly and alot of trial and error, we may have educated ourselves enough to not freeze our butts off anymore! It may be a keeper! So now to my question...this stove really cooked when we first lit it up. The stove would have an awesome glowing bed and really keep the house warm. Well, it seems over time the coal bed eventually narrows to only the width of the gravity fed shoot, with lots of unburnt coal and fly ash on the sides of the bed. I realize the inside of the stove, the grates, are in a funnel shape, with the round grate at the bottom we shake and rake with. But truthfully, I think thats really not very effective, because of coarse all the ash is going to fall through the center first, right? I know from research on this stove it can put out up to 100,000 BTU's, and I have seen it do that, but for about the first week its going and then its the narrow bed the rest of the time. We keep the bottom vents all the way open all the time, and the Barometric Draft thingy on the chimney always stays at 4 unless its the beginning of the cold season and we open it all the way up until the fire is a'cookin. Are we not shaking it enough maybe? I am still unsure of the definition of raking when it comes to this stove, isn't it really the same and shaking the ash down? We do shake it down until we have a bunch of red coals in the ash pan so I think we are doing that part right. We have found the only way to really fix it is to not fill the stove for a day, shovel the sides out and just keep putting the coal from the edges on top of the bed, and let it burn down until there is a small coal bed again and then fill it and start pretty much all over. But surely there has got to be a way around doing that every couple of weeks! Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

PostBy: LsFarm On: Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:38 pm

It sounds like the grate is choking on ash and chunks of burnt coal that did not burn all the way to ash.

I have a similar problem in my boiler when I hand feed it. After about a week, there will be a lot of ash stuck in corners, and the grate openings will be covered with hard chunks of burnt coal that is still pretty hard and won't break up to ash small enough to go through the gaps and slots in the grate. No amount of shaking the grate is effective.

So about every week, I let the fire die down, and clean out the whole fire box, and start over again. With clean grates, I can make some serious heat, but after about five days, the fire starts to suffer from lack of air.

My grate is a slotted plate that I move fore and aft rather violently. But this motion is not enough to break up the chunks of burnt coal.

Most shaker grates have a pivoting grate that tips one way then the other, when tipped, chunks of burnt coal can get in the gap and be crushed by the reverse movement of the grate. I don't know what style the grate is in your stove.

What you are doing sounds right to me. If you have the rocking/tipping grates, you may try moving the lever to one extreem end of the travel where the grate is tipped the most, and making short rapid shakes at that position to get the chunks through the gap.

Just having some hot coals falling through the grate does not mean the entire grate is clean of ash. You would want to see hot coals coming from all the grate area, not just a few spots and coals.

You might want to let the hopper burn down, and let the fire burn all the way out and take a shovel and gloved hands and 'disect' the ash pile to find what is remaining on the grate. This will help determine what it will take to fix the problem.

Some stoves need an occasional poke in and around a grate that doesn't seem to shed it's ash. A stiff 1/4" steel wire poker with a gloved hand will often open up a clogged opening and make the fire come back to life in those areas that are not burning.

Some coal burns consistantly to a fine ash, other coal leaves hard chunks. This can vary from breaker to breaker, or even purchase to purchase from the same breaker. You might try coal from a different source and see if it burns better for your stove.

Hope this helps. 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: Cap On: Thu Feb 01, 2007 7:59 pm

Hey guy in W VA. I also experienced similar problems during my 1st 3yrs burning coal. A new/fresh coal fire would burn bright & strong for about 48 hrs. And then the old ash would build up and I would experience problems keeping a good fire and the old ash would clog stuff up.

I chalked it up to inadequate draft. Each evening as the temps cooled, so did my flue, and my draft. But I believe I was also not understanding the basics which I learned from members on this board such as Richard, Greg, Al & others. But i also learned from trial and error.

I repaired my drafting problems and payed close attention to the basics. I shake my unit until I get as much ash as possible without spilling my fire and then I may shake again an hr later. I only load her up after she is really fired up.(':)') Smile ( mhmm! ) And then I build the heat up in the flue before throttling down the draft.

Describe in detail your flue in regards to material, diameter & height. Is your vent exhaust the same diameter? Greg is our resident expert in regards to the basics. And there are a bunch of others who really understand the science of coal burning.
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Harman SF 250, domestic hot water loop, heat accumulator

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PostBy: Jerry & Karen On: Thu Feb 01, 2007 9:36 pm

Hi Farm4,
Over the years I had heard this story many times with that type of hand fired stove. I think if you look around you will find a poker, that's what is needed in your case. If the center round grate is the only thing that moves then thats the only place that ash will fall through. Poking it down will help your case, but not solve the problem.
Jerry & Karen

PostBy: willowbarnfarm4 On: Thu Feb 01, 2007 11:00 pm

Thanks so much for all the advice, and you mostly confirmed what I figured about the stove and using the poker. We do use that occasionally and it does help immensely. Weird thing is, today, I noticed this afternoon after a fill up, the stove is burning great and the ash is different than it has been. The coal yard we got all our coal last year and the coal this year at the beginning of the season was out of nutcoal, so a couple of months ago we went to a new yard. That coal burned HOT!!! and it seemed to not fill the stove with as much unburnt coal and ash as the other stuff. So we started going there-WELL, about a month ago during a very cold snap we went and got our normal load from the same yard and the bags were loaded with water. No big deal I thought because I know water isnt really supposed to affect coal too much right? It burned terrible-back to this narrow narrow coal bed-Well, this fire today that is burning so great is new from yesterday from the same yard! So you are right, it can make a difference from bag to bag sometimes! So I really appreciate the advice! One more question, I haven't quite figured out the barometric damper (if I'm even spelling it right) and its purpose. Is there a good thread here you could direct me to or explain the actually science of how it works? P.S. Found the answer to that question-thanks again!

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