I ran my VF3000 thu the summer for DHW and it worked very well, it never did over temp dumping and stayed a very stable 160-180 range. I also have a solar hot water system that makes about 90% of my hot water needs so the VF3000 was idling all the time except during rainy days.
I got tired of constantly going down to the basement to see if I needed to add coal so I rigged up someting to keep track of the strokes , figuring if I could count the strokes I could see what the count is when the hopper is 2/3 empty in my case 14000 strokes = hopper 2/3 empty and the ash pan is 2/3 full .
here is the pedometer I bought for this project:http://www.amazon.com/Sportline-Walking ... B000EGALRW
It is easy to open the back of the pedometer by pulling the side caps off.
inside you will see the arm that bounces up and down as you walk, just connect a wire to the arm and a wire to the arm contact, then route the two wires out of the case.
now close it up and you should have 2 wires sticking out of the pedometer, every time you connect the two wires together the counter should count up one. you clear the count by pressing the reset .
at the boiler end I took a piece of angle iron and mounted a micro switch on it, then installed the micro switch in a position so when the forks were in the up position it would close the contacts on the micro switch.
I have 50 ft of door bell wire between the micro switch and the pedometer up stairs by my computer.
I used this all summer and it works very well. you have to remember after you fill the hopper and empty the ash pan you have to press the reset on the pedometer to 0 it out.
I'll post pictures below: