HELP with Harmon SF 260

Re: HELP with Harmon SF 260

PostBy: KTM250 On: Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:42 pm

Well got home tonight, had to stay late at work and guess what, stove was starting to go out. Water temp has now dropped down to 110. I am in the process of getting this going again. This is absolutely ridiculous. Now it is 8 degrees outside and my stove is going out. What a piece of junk. Have to do some thinking about if its worth all the aggravation. I think not. Any body want to by a over priced piece of metal

Bob
KTM250
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: SF-260 Boiler

Re: HELP with Harmon SF 260

PostBy: coalkirk On: Tue Dec 29, 2009 8:31 pm

Bob,

Don't give up so easy. Besides, don't take this the wrong way but it's not the boiler, it's the operator. You've just got to get the hang of it and get it set properly. I'm heating 4,000 sq. ft. with the Harman stoker boiler rated for 95k btu. I burn 5 ton per year. It's do-able, you just have to hang in there and keep tinkering until you hit the right combination. Look how much better you did with it yesterday. By the way, just how long were those 5 showers??? :lol:
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: HELP with Harmon SF 260

PostBy: Razzler On: Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:06 pm

Ktm How deep are you loading your boiler with coal? I have the little bother of your boiler the SF 250 it has the same size fire box as the SF 260. I load my stove up and i can get 12 to 15 hours of burn time with NO problem at all. I can get around 80 lb in my stove and you should be doin the same.
Razzler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Coal Size/Type: Buck

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Re: HELP with Harmon SF 260

PostBy: Jaeger On: Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:48 pm

KTM,

Don't give up. We are in Southern PA right above the Mason Dixon line. The season didn't even start until December when it got into the 30's and will probably last until late Feb. I'm no where near the burn season of these pro's where it really gets cold.

Try to figure out why your fire was low tonight. Too much demand?, too much draft? not filled enough? fire not hot enough when re-filled? (hot vigorous bed of coals before loading up)
You mentioned the temp was in the teens, what was it this morning when you filled up? Better yet what were the conditions yesterday when it worked well?

You'll get it, all trial and error, its just your on the error side right now. You might want to keep a simple log of coal usage, temps (indoor and out) and burn times, fill times. That way you have something to refer to.

Good luck, I'm "stuck" in Florida for a few days and heard it was in the teens today back home. Got the boiler cleaned with my paper and kindling ready to go when I get back.

Jaeger.
Jaeger
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Trident Boiler model SF360

Re: HELP with Harmon SF 260

PostBy: KTM250 On: Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:00 am

Up at 4 am to see how the boiler is doing. Not good, still at 110 degree water temp. I spent 5 hrs last night trying to get this going. Not sure what I am doing wrong. I cannot believe that it is this difficult to run this thing. Have shaken the bed and added more coal and the temp is finally starting to come up. Looks like it will be a long day at work after not much sleep.
Coalkirk no problem, you are probably right that I am not doing something or things right. Just not sure what. I see that you are in MD. Not sure what part but I bet your burning season is not near as long as mine. I have a sister in law that lives in northern VA and by march things are warming up.
Razzler very good on the 250. Its looking like maybe that is the problem not enough coal. I weighed my 5 gal buckets last night and there are around 35 lbs. So if I need to keep 80lbs in the stove then we are talking at least 4 buckets a day or 140lbs a day. WOW This is not acceptable!! I can not believe that it takes this much to heat this size house. If I would have known this I would have never bought this.
Jaeger I believe that all the changes that I made actually did nothing, It was the outside temps. The days that it seemed to work well the temps were in the upper 20 to low 40’s. Yesterday was low teens to single digits. So again my guess is that the temps are the deciding factor.
Well we will get it going again and try to keep more coal in it. If it turns out that I need to put 100 + pounds a day in it then I will burn up what I have, pull the plug and go back to the stoker stove. Thanks all who have tried to help here.
Bob
KTM250
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: SF-260 Boiler

Re: HELP with Harmon SF 260

PostBy: WNY On: Wed Dec 30, 2009 8:57 am

80-100#'s + /day is pretty typical when it's really cold and depends on how much you are trying to heat. I can eat up 80+#'s in a 24 hour period in my stoker alone.
WNY
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker 90K, Leisure Line Hyfire I
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker, LL & CoalTrol
Stove/Furnace Model: 90K, Hyfire I, VF3000 Soon

Re: HELP with Harmon SF 260

PostBy: coalkirk On: Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:38 am

Bob... I just went back and reread all of your posts. I have some observations and some questions.
First you never really answered the question about your out fires. Is all the coal burned up or is the fire just going out. The answer to that question is very important. After you have had to clear out the boiler and start it over, was there significant coal unburnt?

About shaking down the fire. You made a statement something to the effect of "shake it down until you see a glow in the ash pan, right?" The answer is no. Burning coal in a boiler like this, you are going to have to remove alot of ash. When you get ready to shake it down, you need to take a poker and push the fire bed down manually. I would poke it down in at least 6 or 8 different spots. You'll see and feel the coal bed go down. Then shake it. The Harman grates will travel too far and you can easily dump too much live coal so the method several have mentioned here is short choppy strokes. Do it until you see live embers dropping in the ash pan. Not one or two but until you see live embers dropping under the entire coal bed. Then load that coal to the top of the fire brick and mound it up on top. Someone said 80# would be typical for that boiler.

Questions and comments about shorter seasons relative to others who may be using that boiler are irrelevant. Right now your season is 24 hours. Once you get past that mark, then I would worry about how much coal you might use in a season. By the way, what part of the country do you live in?

If you haven't already, I'd drop the domestic hot water temp down from 140*. That's way too hot and unnessecary. Try it at 120*.

Even if you burn 80# a day, it's got to be way less expensive than using oil. By the way, i think yoou may have oversized the boiler. We'll talk about the firebox reducer once we get these other problems cleared up. ;)
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: HELP with Harmon SF 260

PostBy: KTM250 On: Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:42 am

Coalkirk first off thanks for sticking with me on this. I really don’t want to have to pull the plug, to much time and money invested. I knew that it was going to use more coal then my stoker but never thought it would be this much or this much hassle to use it.
Ok as far as out fires, the stove has never gone completely cold on me there always seems to be glowing coal but I have to start over from the point of adding wood to get the bed going again. This being the first hand fired stove I’m not really sure what I am looking for. The stoker was easy to tell when it went out no glow when the fan had run for a while. At first I thought that certain parts of the bed had gone out (not burned) but it’s looking more like the coal is just used up. Again I find it hard to tell because you see some black coal some white ones and fly ash on everything. When I get to the point of what I will call a low fire I have some parts of the bed burning and others that are not? Lets take last night, got home, temp on boiler down to 140, not to concerned because one of the zones were calling for heat. Opened the load door, looked like a good glowing bed of coal. Closed door opened ash pan door and shake the bed down (still not knowing what I am doing here, just guessing) left the ash pan door open and loaded coal in. This started the temp down fall. It looked like a good bed of coal to me be must be not. Then it looked like the back of the bed is out. Some of the other days I have had a bed that to me looked like it was getting ready to go out (just a low glow) and I would shake, add coal and off she would go. Makes no sense to me. This morning it looked like the left front corner of the bed it out but the back had recovered??? The other thing I don’t understand is why is it so hard to get temp into this boiler, even when no zones are calling for heat?
Let me stop this here and see what you and other have to say. By the way I am in northeastern Pa near the NY state border. Our heating season goes from early Oct to at least the end of April.

Thanks Bob
KTM250
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: SF-260 Boiler

Re: HELP with Harmon SF 260

PostBy: efo141 On: Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:00 pm

Fill it so the coal just about falls out the loading door and higher towards the back of the stove. A friend of mine has the same boiler. He also had to run more than .05 of draft so the boiler would keep up with the demand. He has since mounted a 60 cfm combustion blower on the clean out door and runs only about .03-.04 with lower stack temps and keep up with the demand great.
efo141
 
Stove/Furnace Make: New Yorker/Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: WC90-----/Kaa-2

Re: HELP with Harmon SF 260

PostBy: SMITTY On: Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:06 pm

Sounds like you might be throwing too much coal on at one time ...... handfireds like layers of coal ... especially if they've been burning all day & are getting low. I open the ash door, wait until fire is ripping pretty good, then throw a layer of coal over the hot bed .... I will still see red through the fresh coal. Once you get blue flames through that layer, I put another on .... and so on.

Looking on Harman's site, that looks just like my Mark III firebox, only bigger & with 2 extra grates, and the automatic air control. Once you get that thing dialed in, it will roast you out of your house for at least 12 hours.

It takes a little time ... and I know how frustrating any extra time is when your at work for 12 hours & only have a few minutes to mess around. I'm a truck driver -- been there. ;) I had to set my alarm 15 minutes earlier in the winter, otherwise I was late every day because of the stove! :lol:
SMITTY
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Patriot Coal - custom built by Jim Dorsey
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III (not currently in use)
Coal Size/Type: Rice / Blaschak anthracite
Other Heating: Oil fired Burnham boiler

Re: HELP with Harmon SF 260

PostBy: packard bill On: Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:54 pm

Hi Bob, I've been following this thread and sense your despair. Grate surface area is engineered in to a boiler to provide the right amount of btu's for the boiler rating,while taking into consideration boiler efficiency. I don't have any experience with the Harmon 260, but some general principles apply. Your chimney and firebox want EASY access to fresh air, so, if there's a window in the basement crack it open. Hand firing requires more than shaking down and throwing coal in the firebox. You NEED a poker. Locomotive and stationary firemen had tools.. fire rakes, slicing knives, pokers.. Grate area is designed to provide a fire big enough to produce the necessary amount of btu's to satisfy the demand for heat and overcome the pickup loss of the boiler. Residual ash pockets result in dead spots in the fire which cannot generate heat thereby resulting in a cooler fire (at the same air influx) Now, with a cooler fire your boiler water temp control opens the draft door more to produce more heat from the remaining firebed, thereby burning that coal faster to produce more btu's. This results in shorter burn times.
You started from scratch the other day, with a clean firebox, and a full grate area of burning coal,and a nice long burning fire. You were ecstatic. Are you sensing something here?
I stated in another thread that it takes me about 1 hour, 2x a day to tend my boiler (others thought this way too long, but, hey, I don't have troubles) cleaning the fire (poking,shaking), and building the fire. Successful hand firing requires some time, and from reading your thread I know you work a lot of hours. Maybe the stoker is the way to go for you.But, don't give up yet! I think once you have a full grate area of burning coals you'll get 12 hour burns. There's a lot of knowledge in this forum. Good luck.
packard bill
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: DS Machine and homebuilt
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Franco-Belge
Coal Size/Type: Nut,pea
Stove/Furnace Make: Franco Belge 40k
Stove/Furnace Model: D.S. Machine boiler

Re: HELP with Harmon SF 260

PostBy: KTM250 On: Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:09 pm

efo141 looks like I bought a coal hog. Just my luck. What size house is your friend heating and how much coal does he use in a year? If I increase my draft this will also increase my coal useage. Thats all I need. Still does not make sense that I have to burn this thing this hard just to get the water in the boiler up to temp and that is with no zones calling for heat. It is way over sized for my house. Unless Harmans specs are wrong. Acts like there is something wrong with the boiler. .
Smitty I have been tring to layer the coal like you said, put some on and wait for the blue flames and then add more. Last night for what ever reason I could not get that blue flame??? Thought I had a good bed to throw it on too. Yes the time thing is a problem. If I can't get at least 12 hr burn times, then this is not going to work.

Thanks Bob
KTM250
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: SF-260 Boiler

Re: HELP with Harmon SF 260

PostBy: packard bill On: Wed Dec 30, 2009 3:59 pm

Bob, not to be a pain, but this just hit me. Growing up in a house with gravity hot water heat, by the way, any house that had a hand fired hot water boiler was a gravity system,it wasn't until stokers that forced circulation was used. The blower on the stoker would bring the fire up faster than natural draft for quicker recovery. This got me thinking, what kind of circulator do you have? If its a taco-007 or a B&G 100 or any other single speed pump, it's probably pumping too much water. My system flows gravity, and forced. I use a Grundfos 3 speed pump and it's only set on lowand the checkvalve is removed for gravity flow. It just gently forces the hot water through the system, if and when the thermostat on the first floor calls for heat. The second floor never calls for the pump,the gravity circulation is always better on the 2nd floor. I also have a flow control and swing checks but there isn't any need to go into that now. By slowing the water flow down, the water will be allowed to absorb more btu's in the boiler before going through your radiators to deliver them. Depending on how much radiator fin you have in your house, you may be radiating as many btu's as the water is absorbing in the boiler, hence, cooler water temps
returning to the boiler and the draft door opening up for more fire causing a faster burn rate. If you have a shutoff valve (and you should have 2) THROTTLE HER DOWN a little. But first concentrate on a clean, deep, full burning fire bed.
packard bill
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: DS Machine and homebuilt
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Franco-Belge
Coal Size/Type: Nut,pea
Stove/Furnace Make: Franco Belge 40k
Stove/Furnace Model: D.S. Machine boiler

Re: HELP with Harmon SF 260

PostBy: JB Sparks On: Wed Dec 30, 2009 4:34 pm

Bob, I have been following your progress on this thread, Sorry to here your have such a fustrating time of it. One observation I seem to be making is that I'm wondering if you are getting enough ash out when you shake down. Last year was my first year with my SF160 and I didn't have a good poker to help with the shake down, this year thanks to my friend Joe in NH I now have a serious poker to rake the coals and this helps get the ash out. You do have to be careful how much raking you do as you can put the fire out if you rake too much. I remember last year before the poker I had to shake the shaker a good fifty to sixty times in order to get an even orange glow in the ash pan.

I also think Pachard Bill is on to something about your flow rate, I know last season I didn't have a by-pass on the DWH and when it called for heat it would suck the temp right out of the boiler water and take a long time to recover. This year with the by-pass I have it adjusted so that the boiler water temp will only drop about 15* and the circ. will run 15 to 20 minutes to bring the DHW back up to 120*. I also agree with Coalkirk, 120* is hot enough any more than that is wasting coal. If you can, try and watch the temp gauge when a zone is calling for heat and see how many degrees the boiler water drops. If it's more than 12 to 15* you could consider slowing the flow rate.

Just courious, why did you change from a stoker to a hand fired boiler?

I'm going to keep watching your progress. - Jeff
JB Sparks
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman - Chubby
Stove/Furnace Model: Harman: SF160 - Chubby Sr.

Re: HELP with Harmon SF 260

PostBy: efo141 On: Wed Dec 30, 2009 4:37 pm

His house is close to yours in size. He has a in law apt. in his basement with a walk out and used around 1200-1500 gals. of oil a year. Last season he burned about 6 tons of nut coal (Nov-april). I don't think the sf260 will burn any more coal than any other hand or stoker boiler. My hand fired boiler seems to burn about the same amount of coal as my Keystoker Kaa-2 boiler. He and i have the best most controlled burn with the deepest coal bed possible. He runs his with both draft spinners just cracked open on the loading door to stop any flash backs. Try filling way up and if you still lose the fire with unburned coal left, open up you idle draft setting more or more draft by adj. you baro. damper. He shakes he down twice a day but does have to hook out some good size clinkers when its real cold. That could be because he is using Superior coal and it tends to clinker easy. Like i said this season i helped him mount a small combustion blower on the ash door where the elect. damper was mounted. It has worked great for him. He spends less time tending the fire because he shakes it down and loads it up every 12 hrs. no waiting around with the ash door open to bring the fire up before you shake it. He said with the blower he could not kill the fire if he tried.
efo141
 
Stove/Furnace Make: New Yorker/Keystoker
Stove/Furnace Model: WC90-----/Kaa-2

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