FAQ Starting a coal fire in the pot

FAQ Starting a coal fire in the pot

PostBy: stoker-man On: Thu Oct 28, 2010 4:19 pm

I've heard of some clever ways to start a coal fire in the stoker pot, such as embedding a used fuel oil filter into the coal bed, but here's how I started mine.

Turn the power off to the unit. Make a note of the air setting. In the picture are shown the check pawl on the left, painted blue and the drive pawl, unpainted on the right. Both are engaging the teeth on the gear. Lift up and rotate the drive pawl backward so it won't engage the teeth of gear. Set the air setting to (1) one.

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Fill the pot about halfway full of coal. Place and light a fire-starter or kindling wood in the center of the pot. Place coal all around the kindling, up to the top of the pot. Once the kindling starts and has established a burn, restore power and turn on the stoker unit. The small amount of air will help stoke the kindling but coal will not be feeding in. Sprinkle coal on top of the kindling. Don't place too much coal on top of the kindling, but gradually add more coal on top of the kindling without smothering the fire. If the coal is starting to burn, turn the air setting up to (4) four and you can now put 1" of coal over the kindling. Momentarily turn the power off to the stoker, long enough to flip the drive pawl back so it engages the teeth on the gear, and the fire should continue to feed and burn automatically. Restore the former air setting.
stoker-man
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: 1981 efm wcb-24 in use 365 days a year
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/Chestnut
Other Heating: Hearthstone wood stove

Re: FAQ Starting a coal fire in the pot

PostBy: Richard S. On: Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:55 pm

I've started a Van Wert literally hundreds of times, my uncle had one that would constantly go out because it was too big for the house. The Van Wert is quite similar to the EFM.

I usually keep some 2X4 scraps handy but small pieces of wood slightly larger than a pencil will work fine. You'll want them about 4 inches in length. I usually cut the 2X4 into a (2)4 inch lengths and split it up into smaller pieces with a small axe. You'll have two nice handfuls of wood.

The next step is to completely clean out the pot. Crumble up a few pieces of newspaper and lay half the wood on top of it. Light the paper, close the access door and let it burn. The one thing I'm unsure of is the EFM allows for a natural draft like the Van Wert does. You do not need forced air at this point and once you have a nice fire established add the rest of the wood. Allow it to establish itself once again, once you have a fire going for about 3-4 minutes put about 2 or 3 inch layer of coal across the wood and turn it on.

At this point if you look into the peep hole you probably won't see anything lit, you should hear crackling. It may take while but within 1 to 3 minutes blue flames will start shooting up through the coal. Add more coal at this point.

After that I let it fire for about 10 minutes and turn it off for about an hour to allow the temperature of the water to come up.

This always works and I rarely get any smoke in the house doing it this way. One thing to be aware of is you need to make sure you allow the wood ample time to burn, if those pieces get stuck in any moving parts they could potentially damage the unit.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: FAQ Starting a coal fire in the pot

PostBy: stoker-man On: Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:40 pm

The natural draft enters the fan housing and comes up through the burner plates and coal bed. That's why you need a little assistance with slight air until the coal starts crackling.
stoker-man
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: 1981 efm wcb-24 in use 365 days a year
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/Chestnut
Other Heating: Hearthstone wood stove

Re: FAQ Starting a coal fire in the pot

PostBy: e.alleg On: Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:41 am

I use a new method, recently I have had the coal burn out a few times due to neglect to keep the hopper full. :oops: 1. Empty the pot. 2. put about a dozen matchlite charcoal briquettes in the pot. 3. light them, then turn on the stoker with the feed pawl flipped over. 4. throw a couple handfuls of coal in the pot, covering the charcoal somewhat. Once it's crackling I flip the pawl back over to the feed position. by the time the pot fills up with coal it is blazing. wood also works. newspaper isn't quite enough. oxy-acetelyne torch gets it going quick.
e.alleg
 
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: 520

Re: FAQ Starting a coal fire in the pot

PostBy: Pacowy On: Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:38 pm

I also use the matchlite charcoal (in a 900). I let it get started with the natural draft for 5-10 minutes, then turn on the stoker with the drive pawl flipped. After throwing some coal over the charcoal, I wait until it catches before engaging the drive pawl. Has worked every time, though that's only once a year...

Mike
Pacowy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: H.B. Smith 350 Mills boiler/EFM 85R stoker
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/anthracite

Re: FAQ Starting a coal fire in the pot

PostBy: Rob R. On: Thu Nov 18, 2010 12:36 pm

Pacowy wrote:I also use the matchlite charcoal (in a 900). I let it get started with the natural draft for 5-10 minutes, then turn on the stoker with the drive pawl flipped. After throwing some coal over the charcoal, I wait until it catches before engaging the drive pawl. Has worked every time, though that's only once a year...

Mike


Mike, I just used this method on my dad's EFM and it worked flawlessly. I filled the pot about halfway with coal, put four broken (I broke each briquette into 3-4 pieces with a hammer first) briquettes on the coal, and ignited the charcoal. I let it burn with natural draft for 5-10 minutes, turned the stoker on with the drive pawl flipped, and put a handful of coal over the burning charcoal. Once the coal was burning I engaged the drive pawl and away it went.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: FAQ Starting a coal fire in the pot

PostBy: Scottscoaled On: Thu Nov 18, 2010 7:45 pm

I've usually use the cowboy coal method. Bag costs 6 bucks at Lowes. Two scoops of cowboy coal get lit with a small propane torch untill the edges get going. Turn on the blower with the pawl backwards. Wait a minute or two and cover with a couple scoops of the good stuff. In a couple more minute top off with a little more and flip the pawl over. Takes all of 5-6 minutes. Good time to load the bin and take out the ashes. Lately I have been using small pieces of 2x4 cut up into ice cube sized pieces. they work just as good, just takes a few more minutes. Good time to polish the covers :)
Scottscoaled
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520x3, 700 Van Wert 800
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: EFM 150, Keystoker 150
Coal Size/Type: Lots of buck

Re: FAQ Starting a coal fire in the pot

PostBy: Mark (PA) On: Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:21 pm

I also use the charcol method for 3 seasons and seems to work good for me also.
Mark (PA)
 
Stove/Furnace Make: 1953 EFM SF-520 High Boy
Stove/Furnace Model: Fitzgibbon Boiler