On the Cape...really could use some insight.

On the Cape...really could use some insight.

PostBy: kfriend On: Wed Dec 30, 2009 3:27 pm

Hey folks.

I just bought my first home earlier this year and it is equipped with both a forced-air oil furnace (Thermopride) as well as a supplementary Wood/Coal Stove (Thermopride WC something). Long story short, the oil furnace had some issues and we called for service and felt we were ripped off...We decided that burning wood or coal would be more economical and in the worst case scenario we could kill the blower and warm the house through gravity feed. We burnt our way through a face cord of wood and then started buying coal by the bag-full at the hardware store. I do have a few issues though that I'm hoping someone can offer some insight on.

This particular furnace has a servo-motor of some sort hooked to a series of pulleys and chains to control the under-fire air feed as well as the flue. The chain for the under-fire door never seemed to work quite right so I try to manually adjust it by wedging something in the door to keep it open to some extent. I have a heck of a time getting the coal fire burning, but once I do it is BLAZING. :D I had a much easier time getting it going when I have some wood-fuel, so my costs have been soaring because nearly everytime I stock up on coal I end up buying those $5 packs of wood to assist in getting her going...which wouldn't be a big deal if I could keep her going and that's part 2.

I will usually wedge the under-fire hatch open and get a little fire going and start adding coal little by little until I have the bed built up all the way. I might get flamed for doing this, but sometimes I run a fan to pump air into said vent. If I'm really wrong for doing this, please let me know...like I said, never owned a home before, never had to worry about any of this stuff.

I have two over-fire ports that I unscrew almost all of the way. Again, once she's going and I open up the feed-door, it's like peering into hell. I get blasted by hot air and my air vents off of the furnace are uncomfortably HOT to the touch. These are all good things in my book.

Problem is, by the morning it's usually quite chilly in the house and the coal is usually dead. There may be some traces of red in the bed, but it's usually not anything that I can work with, without starting from scratch. I know what you might be thinking...If you leave that bottom door cranked open all the way than it's going to burn up all of the coal quicker...But here's the strange thing, I end up with big clumps of white coal and even other crap that looks like it could be bone material or something...I'll snap a picture if it will help any. I kind of figured maybe the coal melted together or something...I just read online today that the newer furnaces produce around 4 lbs. of ash per 40 lbs. bag of coal. I can actually sift out about half of a bucket full of SOLIDS from my ash. Yes some of the stuff is gnarley looking but I'm figuring it's still got some heat trapped inside. In any case, any help with what I should be doing / could be doing to maintain the coal bed better and make this economical and not so much of a pain in the butt would be a great help.
kfriend
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Thermopride
Stove/Furnace Model: WC-Something

Re: On the Cape...really could use some insight.

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:26 am

Link to the manual...
http://www.heartlandhvac.com/ThermoPride/pdf/THERMOwood&cool.pdf
What brand coal are you using...
If you are near Hyannis...
Iron House...
Nice folks good coal...
You can pick up any amount you want or have it delivered...
95 Corporation St
Hyannis, MA 02601-2202
(508) 771-4799
http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=95+Corporation+St%2c+Hyannis%2c+MA+02601-2202
CapeCoaler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove

Re: On the Cape...really could use some insight.

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:37 am

You wrote -We burnt our way through a face cord of wood and then started buying coal by the bag-full at the hardware store. I do have a few issues though that I'm hoping someone can offer some insight on.

XXXX - So how did this appliance work when you run straight wood? Many times the dual fuel appliances have a hard time running one or the other fuel. Could you maintain the fire and achieve the temps you wanted out of it using wood?

XXXX - Firing a coal appliance has a huge learning curve - it's not easy if you have a stove designed just for coal much less something that could use coal push comes to shove. Have you done an archive check on starting a coal fire? They have several tips that will safe you money and help you get one started more easily and keep it going.

You wrote - I have two over-fire ports that I unscrew almost all of the way. Again, once she's going and I open up the feed-door, it's like peering into hell. I get blasted by hot air and my air vents off of the furnace are uncomfortably HOT to the touch. These are all good things in my book.

XXXX - Close these two over-fire ports completely. A coal fire must have all the air coming from below.

Your wrote -I will usually wedge the under-fire hatch open and get a little fire going and start adding coal little by little until I have the bed built up all the way. I might get flamed for doing this, but sometimes I run a fan to pump air into said vent. If I'm really wrong for doing this, please let me know...like I said, never owned a home before, never had to worry about any of this stuff.

XXXX – Is there a way to disconnect the pulley system that opens the under fire air feed? You say that is also connected to the flue – how so? Pictures will help us see what you’re dealing with. Do you have any dampers on the appliance? I didn’t see anything detailing the cable set up in the owner’s manual but I may have missed it. The ability to control the amount of under fire air is crucial for a coal fire. I suspect that by wedging the hatch open you are causing a virtual “run away” fire and that’s where all your coal and heat is going. Are you filling the fire box completely with coal, “all the way to top of the fire bricks” if you have them? Coal likes a deep bed, 6 to 8 inches at least.

You wrote - Problem is, by the morning it's usually quite chilly in the house and the coal is usually dead. There may be some traces of red in the bed, but it's usually not anything that I can work with, without starting from scratch.

XXXX – This is a sign that the fire ran out of fuel; going again to the depth of your coal bed and the fact that you have uncontrolled under fire air. You have to find a way to be able to control the under fire air input manually. That may take modifying the ash pan door. Some members put a spinner device on their stoves so that they can better control the incoming air.

You wrote - I know what you might be thinking...If you leave that bottom door cranked open all the way than it's going to burn up all of the coal quicker...But here's the strange thing, I end up with big clumps of white coal and even other crap that looks like it could be bone material or something..

XXXX – Leaving the under fire hatch cranked open all the way is very dangerous. Don’t do it. What you are describing as clumps of white coal and other crap is typical of the ash of a very hot fire.

You wrote - I'll snap a picture if it will help any. I kind of figured maybe the coal melted together or something...I just read online today that the newer furnaces produce around 4 lbs. of ash per 40 lbs. bag of coal. I can actually sift out about half of a bucket full of SOLIDS from my ash. Yes some of the stuff is gnarley looking but I'm figuring it's still got some heat trapped inside. In any case, any help with what I should be doing / could be doing to maintain the coal bed better and make this economical and not so much of a pain in the butt would be a great help.

XXXX – When coal appears to have melted together - that’s called clinkers – and is a sign of a very hot fire. I doubt if it has any heat still trapped in it. Unburnt coal is another matter; that will still be black and look like coal. How often are you shaking your stove in order to remove the ash?

Post some pictures of your set up including your chimney connector pipe. Pictures of the inside of the fire box, your grates and the current under fire air intake system will help us see what you have and what can do to maximize the stove’s potential. Start a log on what you do that works and what doesn’t – then you’ll not be reinventing the wheel as you learn about your stove. I’m sure some others will jump in soon. Lisa
lowfog01
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark II & Mark I
Coal Size/Type: nut/pea


Re: On the Cape...really could use some insight.

PostBy: North Candlewood On: Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:45 am

There might not be a Baro as well !
Pictures showing everything!
This unit should run like the Claytons and Harmons etc from what I see.
We can make it happen!
Charles
North Candlewood
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Eshland S-130
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker A 120
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Chubby
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1602
Baseburners & Antiques: Princess Atlantic Cookstove
Coal Size/Type: Nut Rice

Re: On the Cape...really could use some insight.

PostBy: kfriend On: Thu Dec 31, 2009 9:28 am

Thank you for the responses, I know my post was long winded and I have a bad habit of rambling, so I appreciate everyone taking the time to read through and offer advice. I will take pictures of everything and post them up as soon as possible...I need to be to work in 40 minutes and I just had to go pick up coal to get the furnace running.

@lowfog
You wrote - I know what you might be thinking...If you leave that bottom door cranked open all the way than it's going to burn up all of the coal quicker...But here's the strange thing, I end up with big clumps of white coal and even other crap that looks like it could be bone material or something..

XXXX – Leaving the under fire hatch cranked open all the way is very dangerous. Don’t do it. What you are describing as clumps of white coal and other crap is typical of the ash of a very hot fire.


Actually just for clarification, the main ash door has a smaller "trap" door that is on a hinge that opens vertically. This trap door is connected to a chain and pulley that connects to a servo, to regulate the air flow. Unfortunately, the pulley was mounted haphazardously by the previous owner of the home and had fallen off the ceiling at some point, leaving the adjustments of the under-air door to be done manually.

When I was referring to leaving this wide open, I was referring to the under-fire air port / trap door and not the ash door itself. Is this still an issue? I didn't think that it was but I want to ensure I understand.

more laer...thank you all again.
kfriend
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Thermopride
Stove/Furnace Model: WC-Something

Re: On the Cape...really could use some insight.

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:05 am

Yes, in my book it's still an issue because it lets unlimited under fire air into your stove and that can easily cause over firing and an uncontrolled burn. Most stoves only have two doors, the load door and the ash door and while you may leave the ash door open to refresh the fire after reloading or shaking, you never want to leave it open for long. Set a timer any time the doors on the stove are open and put it in your pocket. Trust me, you will forget the doors are open and walk away for just a minute. That's not a good thing. It doesn't take long for a coal stove to over heat. That's how I know my Harmon glows a unique orange when it gets too hot. Do you have a thermometer on the front of your stove? That temperature is an important indicator of how your stove is working. You can get one at most hardware stoves pretty cheap. Generally, no stove should hotter then 600*.

Another inexpensive thing you can do for safety is to put a bucket of sand or a large bag of baking soda near the stove in case of an over fire situation. Do you have any CO monitors - you need at least two - preferably one digital and another. My daughter calls ours the canaries. Always think safety first.

Charles is right, with the expertise on the forum; you will be able to get this stove operating at peak performance in no time. Lisa
lowfog01
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark II & Mark I
Coal Size/Type: nut/pea

Re: On the Cape...really could use some insight.

PostBy: kfriend On: Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:02 pm

@lowfog
Thank you for the tips. I will invest in a thermometer immediately! I have probably over-fired the furnace many times and in my ignorance I thought it was "running great" because it was producing mucho heat and my wife wasn't saying "it's cold in here!"

The only previous experience I have had with coal was...old cartoons where the train engineer was sweating and the guy was shoveling coal into the boiler as fast as he could to get the train moving faster and faster...

So I thought hotter = better. :D
kfriend
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Thermopride
Stove/Furnace Model: WC-Something

Re: On the Cape...really could use some insight.

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:17 pm

We've all been there - get some pictures posted if you can so we can help you get this straightened out. You won't know what to do with all the heat and still be saving mucho bucks on your heating bill. Lisa
lowfog01
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark II & Mark I
Coal Size/Type: nut/pea

Re: On the Cape...really could use some insight.

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:11 pm

You need to get past page 20 on the manual...
It describes how to set up the pulley system...
And how to operate the damper system...
CapeCoaler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove

Re: On the Cape...really could use some insight.

PostBy: kfriend On: Sat Jan 02, 2010 3:48 pm

XXXX - Close these two over-fire ports completely. A coal fire must have all the air coming from below.


page 30 of the manual for this furnace says something along the lines of "a wood fire requires all air OVER FIRE and a coal fire requires approximately 50% under-fire 50% over-fire"
Is it still ideal to leave the over-fire vents closed?

I purchased a thermometer today, not sure the ideal location to mount it...

@capecoaler

Thanks for posting the manual, I have a copy saved to my computer and I try to review it and understand it little by little. I know I must sound like a complete moron, but I have heard of the terms "flue", "damper" and "draft" but I don't really know what any of that stuff means. =)

I've been burning Blaschack Antracite, comes in 40 # bags from Aubochon hardware. I've tried calling the Iron House a few times, even left a message and I haven't been able to get ahold of anyone. I believe I'm paying $7.49 per bag which puts the cost at 374.50 per ton...not cheap, but I kind of like the convenience of being able to hit the hardware store instead of paying a bunch of money up-front that I don't have.


I've been concentrating on trying to keep the coal fire going but I will get some pictures up...maybe I should do that right now. We had some success the other day, the coal was BARELY going in the morning so we gave it a ton of under-fire air and waited for her to heat up, shook her out and then added some more coal. My wife had a scary experience on new years eve...she couldn't manage to get the ash door shut and the fire was burning pretty hot. I really need to get a handle on how to operate this thing a little better because it's a real pain in the butt to get it started and then when it's running it's lovely...except that I'm burning through way too much coal and I can't manage to keep her going very well over night.
kfriend
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Thermopride
Stove/Furnace Model: WC-Something

Re: On the Cape...really could use some insight.

PostBy: kfriend On: Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:54 pm

Pictures (hosted at imageshack.us - full size for clarity hopefully)

Field Barometric Draft Control -
<dead image>

note the chain coming off of this unit, it goes up and connects to the following:

Image

The chain goes between the furnace and the basement wall to the face of the furnace, shown here

<dead image>


Next the chain is supposed to connect to the under-fire air vent (shown closed)

Image

here is the vent open

Image

and last here is a water-coil tap that looks pretty cool. I contacted thermopride but they said that the add-on isn't available anymore. I'm wondering if this might be useful in the future for something?

Image

From what I have read and gather, this "Field Barometric Draft" deal seems like the chains are automatically supposed to open and close that...what is it called a damper that goes up to the chimney? At the same time it's supposed to open and close the under-fire vents to regulate temperature. Unfortunately the pulley had fallen down and there was nothing but slack in the chain. It has since broken, it shouldn't be too big of a deal to hook it back up but I'm not sure how it should be adjusted for optimal run times...I have problems trying to manually adjust the air control to keep the coal burning. It seems like the damper control is working correctly...or I should say automatically, I don't know if it is opening and closing how it should and when it should. I don't know if I'm fighting the damper or not...I don't even know where to start. I guess I will look through the manual again and see if I can make some more sense of it. =)
kfriend
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Thermopride
Stove/Furnace Model: WC-Something

Re: On the Cape...really could use some insight.

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:00 am

You can pick up coal at Iron House by the 5 gallon bucket if you wish...
Cheaper than the pre-bagged...
People bring in 5 or 10 or 30 buckets...
It is very busy this time of year...
Just show up and shovel your coal...
They are open m-f 10 -5 sat 10-4 open till 6 on thursday...
Pm me if you need a hand...
CapeCoaler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove

Re: On the Cape...really could use some insight.

PostBy: kfriend On: Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:11 pm

@capecoaler

What is the cost of their coal? I'm in Falmouth so it's a little bit of a drive out to Hyannis. Is this Anthracite Nut Coal?

I'm looking at just getting the oil furnace going because I'm going to be out of town for about a week and my wife is very fearful of trying to burn coal...it wouldn't hurt for supplementary heat but it has been alot of work for me to keep it going.

I had a real nice bed running last night...I opened her up and added a little more coal before bed at approximately 11:00 PM.
Then I closed down the under-air vents to probably 1/4" or maybe less...being that the chain isn't setup and isn't adjusted it's kind of guess work...finding something to hold the vent open to a particular height.

Anyhow, my wife woke up this morning at 5:30ish and asked "what is going on with the furnace..?" I said (based on the temperature in the room "feels like she's out."

Then I had to go through the hassle of getting it running again before work. I don't think I've managed to keep this thing running unattended for really any period of time. Without fail every morning it's either out or nearly dead. I think only once I was able to bring it back to life with a bunch of air underneath the bed...real pain in the butt.
kfriend
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Thermopride
Stove/Furnace Model: WC-Something

Re: On the Cape...really could use some insight.

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:47 pm

14 cents a pound picked up...
yep Anthracite Nut Coal...
I use their coal...
They have been doing it for over 30 years...
The damper system needs to be setup again for this to work right...
The offer stands if you need some help...
CapeCoaler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove

Re: On the Cape...really could use some insight.

PostBy: North Candlewood On: Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:29 pm

I'd 86 the chain system and set up the baro the real way and calm the draft down. Then modify the intake air set up to get a steady burn happening. If it will not last the night you either are not filling it completely or you are sucking it right out the flue. Take CapeCoaler up on a visit, heck I'll come out, I can visit some friends along the way out and back.
North Candlewood
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Eshland S-130
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker A 120
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Chubby
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1602
Baseburners & Antiques: Princess Atlantic Cookstove
Coal Size/Type: Nut Rice