Lighting nut coal

Re: Lighting nut coal

PostBy: VigIIPeaBurner On: Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:03 am

I've been reading this post since last night. Great advice so far.

When you compare wood to coal, look at the BTU content. Fuel in, heat out. The rest is technique and picking you way up the learning curve. I know what you're going through as I did too. I didn't have the knowledge of the fellow form members to coach me so it took me a full season to learn to burn this fuel. I burned wood in a VC Defiant for 20+ years. I never intend to go back! BTU for BTU, coal can't be beat unless you have a lot of extra time and a cost effective (aka free!) source. ;)

Your morning fire picture shows a "thin" fire (~ 2-3" minimum) as someone commented. The "ash" along the edged that you had to poke to get to fall down was fused. Each type of coal has a fusing point; that point at which the minerals present (ash) will begin to 'glassify' for lack of a better term. This is a sign of overfireing, closing in on 'clinkering', or the last bit of coal getting all the O^2/air and burning extra (too) hot at the end of the fuel bed. Filling the fire box has been discussed. Once you find out how often to refill, this shouldn't happen. You'll need to refill before the bed looks like it does in your picture.

After you get the shaking down and your recharging schedule figured out, it's a snap after that. I think your stove has about the same output as mine, ~50k BTU/hr with anthracite. You won't get those BTUs with wood as the fuel from the same stove. I know the videos linked below are old and poor, but it shows how I handle a thin fire in my stove. I've honed my technique a lot since then and have found much better coal too (thanks guys!). My stove is a Vermont Casting and not a Harmen and that meands a lot of different mechanics. Still, maybe some of it could help you with your stove. Couldn't hoit!

Edit/correction from below post:
CapeCoaler wrote:I thought it was a Mark III 92,000 btu/hr...8<...
    ... my bad, had a Mk II stuck in the gray matter :)
Last edited by VigIIPeaBurner on Tue Dec 28, 2010 9:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
VigIIPeaBurner
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker Koker
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vermont Casting Vigilant II 2310
Other Heating: #2 Oil Furnace

Re: Lighting nut coal

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:33 am

I thought it was a Mark III 92,000 btu/hr...
No baro or MPD...
The Cold Coal is not an issue with an established fire...
Mine sits outside...
I think the fire is burning out/up because too much draft is sucking the heat up the chimney...
And just tearing thru the coal...
The fan is not on so some more heat is wasted there too...
Get the Cowboy, lump charcoal...
restarts will be easier with it...
Once you get the Coal burning science down...
You will be burning less coal...
It is a learning curve...
I once had 'free' wood...
Now I burn 'free' coal...
Coal is so much better...
Cleaner, less work and much longer burn times...
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: Lighting nut coal

PostBy: Bear038 On: Tue Dec 28, 2010 9:07 am

I had the same ash problem in my harman, and it took some advice of this forum to get it figured out. What the last two post said is so very true, let it get a little overfired and you will have lumps in the ash. I made the poker to come up through the grates from the bottom and this seems to cure the problem. It takes more than one or two shakes to get the ashes down. I timed myself this morning on a bed that was getting pretty thin, lots of gray cold edges, only 400 on the stove,and it took 28 seconds to get to the point that the glow was showing up nicely on the bottom side of the grates. Harman grates are just this way it seems. You can get the ash out, it just takes a little patients and technique.

This morning's fire was a little thin, so it take a little longer to get it going. I shook it a little then opened the ash door and took the dog out. When I came back the middle was doing very well so I did the big shake down then. I added about 5 of the small coal shovels across the top and left the ash door open. 17 minutes later I added about another 5 shovels, it was around half full at this point, but running at 650 degrees. I let this stand for around 10 minutes then did my next good layer. Third layer laid open for 13 minutes and I was up to 700 on temp. Banked the stove all the way then, closed the ash door and set at 1 1/8 turns. Done stooking fire for the morning now. Each stove takes a little different technique. If I had gone heavy on the first coal I put in this morning, I would be playing with this thing for 2 to 3 hours to get it really up and running. Doing it this way, it was less than an hour.

Hang in there long enought to learn all the proper techniques and you will likely change your mind as to which you prefer.

Heat equivalants I was tought, but did not really do any research to verify, was that a ton of coal was equal heat to about 1.5 cords of good oak, or about 200 gallons of heating oil. Make that cost comparison to oil and see what you get. If your experience has been less than 3 cords to heat your house, you are a master wood burner. The stove out in my shop goes through 5-6 if I keep the shop warm all winter. The previous owners of this house when they used wood went through 4.5-6 cords to heat it. At current consumption I may use 3 tons of nut, but probably closer to 2.5. Check in your area for other coal suppliers. Blaschak is fine coal, but also the most expensive I have found in my area. Most ofther coal companies do 50's not 40's, and charge the same for the bigger bag. There is a local guy here who bags his own for around 240 a ton picked up or about $6 per bag, and it is a very nice burning, easy lighting, and not a lot of dust and fines. Bulk he is 215 a ton, and 30 deliverie charge, but that 30 is for how ever much you order on that load up to the 5 tons the truck holds.

Hang in there is you want, but if not, just one less person drawing on our coal piles.
Bear038
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Mark II

Visit Hitzer Stoves

Re: Lighting nut coal

PostBy: Chuck_Steak On: Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:11 am

Bear038 wrote:I had the same ash problem in my harman ...
I shook it a little then opened the ash door and took the dog out.


No wonder you had a problem! :eek2:

Dan
Chuck_Steak
 
Coal Size/Type: mostly nut, sometimes stove, Santa brand
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Mark III

Re: Lighting nut coal

PostBy: coldcoal On: Tue Dec 28, 2010 11:46 am

Man, the wood fire today that lit the coals last time won't even light it today. No coals lit, no heat, ordering wood in Monday when able to pay. At least it's gonna hit 45 in a couple days!

You guys have been just great but all in all when you factor in the at least double price, and ridiculous efforts it takes to light this and keep it lit, it's a no-brainer that wood is the way for me! It's been a great 9 pages of fun! More socializing than I've done in a long long time, so cheers and thanks for that!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! :D
coldcoal
 
Stove/Furnace Make: harman
Stove/Furnace Model: 3 warped grated useless beast

Re: Lighting nut coal

PostBy: Richard S. On: Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:11 pm

Making an accurate comparison to wood is hard especially when trying to factor in the BTU of the wood. Different species have different BTU values and how well it's been seasoned is another very big factor.

Having said that if you are using 2.5 cords of wood you won't use more than 2.5 tons of coal for the same heat output and would most likely use less.


coldcoal wrote: and ridiculous efforts it takes to light this and keep it lit,


Sorry you have had these problems but having been in the business for about 20 years you would be the first I heard suggest wood is easier than coal.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: Lighting nut coal

PostBy: coldcoal On: Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:56 pm

Richard S. wrote:Making an accurate comparison to wood is hard especially when trying to factor in the BTU of the wood. Different species have different BTU values and how well it's been seasoned is another very big factor.

Having said that if you are using 2.5 cords of wood you won't use more than 2.5 tons of coal for the same heat output and would most likely use less.


coldcoal wrote: and ridiculous efforts it takes to light this and keep it lit,


Sorry you have had these problems but having been in the business for about 20 years you would be the first I heard suggest wood is easier than coal.


:?:
60 pounds a day x 120 cold days is 7200 pounds. 7200 divided by 40lb is 180 bags. 180 bags x $5 = $900. $840-$880 if bulk, plus bin costs, making bagged cheaper.
2.5 cords of cut seasoned wood, $440

As far as being easier, yes waaaay easier! If a wood fire goes out, rare, it takes minutes to blaze it up again at full throttle. Yeah ya gotta add logs every few hrs, so I know coal is less loading, but that's all that makes it easier. The costs factor alone spells out the clear choice.

Thanks for all your help again though, it's been a fun day or so!
coldcoal
 
Stove/Furnace Make: harman
Stove/Furnace Model: 3 warped grated useless beast

Re: Lighting nut coal

PostBy: Richard S. On: Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:13 pm

7200 pounds of coal = 86 million BTU's.
2.5 cords of wood = 55 million BTU's

The wood number is derived from EIA numbers, the coal is actually less than EIA numbers. These figures do not account for efficiency, generally speaking a coal stove will be much more efficient than a wood stove.

...and again the BTU content of wood is hard to pin down, even the coal can vary.

The bottom line is 2.5 cords of wood will never equal 7200 pounds of coal.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: Lighting nut coal

PostBy: Coalfire On: Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:34 pm

coldcoal wrote:
Richard S. wrote:Making an accurate comparison to wood is hard especially when trying to factor in the BTU of the wood. Different species have different BTU values and how well it's been seasoned is another very big factor.

Having said that if you are using 2.5 cords of wood you won't use more than 2.5 tons of coal for the same heat output and would most likely use less.


coldcoal wrote: and ridiculous efforts it takes to light this and keep it lit,


Sorry you have had these problems but having been in the business for about 20 years you would be the first I heard suggest wood is easier than coal.


:?:
60 pounds a day x 120 cold days is 7200 pounds. 7200 divided by 40lb is 180 bags. 180 bags x $5 = $900. $840-$880 if bulk, plus bin costs, making bagged cheaper.
2.5 cords of cut seasoned wood, $440

As far as being easier, yes waaaay easier! If a wood fire goes out, rare, it takes minutes to blaze it up again at full throttle. Yeah ya gotta add logs every few hrs, so I know coal is less loading, but that's all that makes it easier. The costs factor alone spells out the clear choice.

Thanks for all your help again though, it's been a fun day or so!



Right now it is cold I am using 70-80 lbs a day, normally I never go over 50. It has been unseasonably cold and windy in Lancaster. There is no reason that the fire should go out or be problems.
1. not loading it to top of bricks( i seen some of your pics)
2. not knowing the condition of your gaskets(for a control of the burn)
3. Not having some sort of draft limiting device( no way to control draft)

I seen these posts it seems like you went into this still wanting to burn wood, coal is more btu than wood and that is a fact of life. I'm sorry but things just don't add up. Coal must be 6-8 inches deep, I know that people said about the coal being cold but that does not matter it will still burn.
The reason you are having problems is with your process or your stove condition.
Coalfire
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine 96K btu Circulator
Coal Size/Type: Nut

Re: Lighting nut coal

PostBy: titleist1 On: Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:30 pm

If you are looking to economize on the wood you are burning and save some more money I am 100% positive you can get a more efficient wood stove than the Harman Mark III you are presently using.

I have used a Mark III going on 20 years and burned cords and cords of wood through it over the years and I can tell you its not the most efficient wood burner out there. You would probably be able to sell the Harman, buy a real wood stove and be money ahead to buy more wood.

I am curious, how do you store the wood you buy to keep it dry? A friend of mine is looking for ideas to keep his wood pile out of the weather.
titleist1
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Mag Stoker (old style) one in basement, one in workshop
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III on standby for long power outages
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite; Nut/Anthracite

Re: Lighting nut coal

PostBy: coldcoal On: Tue Dec 28, 2010 3:51 pm

Coalfire wrote:
I seen these posts it seems like you went into this still wanting to burn wood


Not really. I went into this as I was told a 40 pound bag last 2 days, HA! This was not told to me by anyone here, just for the record. I was also excited at the once a 12 hr load factor, no creosote, and the higher heat. So in doing that math coal was a lot cheaper. Even at a bag a day wood still slightly wins economically. Reality is 50-60 pounds day is more realistic it seems by all accounts.

Richard S. wrote:

The bottom line is 2.5 cords of wood will never equal 7200 pounds of coal.


I dunno about these BTU's, but I do know that a cord last 5-5 1/2 weeks in snow covered frigid conditions. 12-14 cold weeks, 2.5 cords, leftovers for summer fire pit. I get a lot of 1 year split Oak, maybe that's why. I learned my lesson buying stumps. Even if not rotten if it's not split, then seasoned for a year, it's garbage.

titleist1 wrote:
I am curious, how do you store the wood you buy to keep it dry? A friend of mine is looking for ideas to keep his wood pile out of the weather.


Just like that, keep it out of the weather, and never store it damp. If it comes in damp wait for the sun to dry it on all sides.
Image

pic from last year, mid stacking.
coldcoal
 
Stove/Furnace Make: harman
Stove/Furnace Model: 3 warped grated useless beast

Re: Lighting nut coal

PostBy: Chuck_Steak On: Tue Dec 28, 2010 5:21 pm

I wouldn't even consider trying to talk you into burning coal, nor anyone else
if they didn't want to...
But a couple of things I did notice in some of your comments..
You are getting firewood a very good price, relative to what many areas get.
Like mine.. Green is around 190, seasoned is 240 and up.
You also are convinced that you will burn 2 bags a day at times.
I don't see that at all if you got the knack of burning coal.
If you are using 2.5 cords of wood.
I used to burn ~4 cords of wood, in a good Ashley heater,
now I burn ~3 ton of coal in a Mark III.
And it's warmer.

As for storing, the 4 cords of wood used to be spread out 2 in my basement,
because that's about all I could fit in there, and 2 outside covered with tarps,
that got covered with snow and ice...
To be chucked in in January. When the weather really sucked.
Now I put my winter's supply of coal against 1/2 of one wall in the basement.
It takes about 2-1/2 to 3 hours.
Could have done it a lot quicker years ago.. :cry:
A mere fraction of the time I spent with the wood.
I do have to empty my ash pan nearly every day, some times every other day.
So that is a little inconvenient.
But I load the stove when I get up, and load it when I go to bed.
I never had that luck with the wood.
Yeah, it takes a little longer to get it going initially,
but last week we went away for the holiday, and I just let it go out.
When we got back, I had the thing going again in an hour... 500*

But... I see your point.
It is cheaper for you, you don't mind the extra work,
that's exactly the way I used to look at it,
and you don't have to learn a new method of heating..
It's not for everyone. Stick with what you know and like the best...

Adios, Dan.
Chuck_Steak
 
Coal Size/Type: mostly nut, sometimes stove, Santa brand
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Mark III

Re: Lighting nut coal

PostBy: coldcoal On: Tue Dec 28, 2010 6:11 pm

Chuck_Steak wrote:I
You are getting firewood a very good price, relative to what many areas get.
Like mine.. Green is around 190, seasoned is 240 and up.


Wow, yes, here I pay 175 seasoned a cord, $90 a half, delivered.

I used to burn ~4 cords of wood, in a good Ashley heater,
now I burn ~3 ton of coal in a Mark III.


Yes, based on wood prices the coal is actually cheaper for you.

But... I see your point.
It is cheaper for you, you don't mind the extra work,
that's exactly the way I used to look at it,
and you don't have to learn a new method of heating..
It's not for everyone. Stick with what you know and like the best...

Adios, Dan.


Exactly, thanks for the support there, and for noting that point. The work is fun, therapeutic, keeping it cooking is fun, and I even like shoveling out the big trench through the yard to get wheelbarrow to and from the shed! :D
Image
Image
coldcoal
 
Stove/Furnace Make: harman
Stove/Furnace Model: 3 warped grated useless beast

Re: Lighting nut coal

PostBy: titleist1 On: Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:15 pm

coldcoal wrote:
The work is fun, therapeutic, keeping it cooking is fun, and I even like shoveling out the big trench through the yard to get wheelbarrow to and from the shed! :D


The therapy benefit is exactly how I used to look at it also. I would burn probably 80% wood to 20% coal through the winter and I cut all my own wood and hand split it for the first 5 years or so as I worked through the blow downs and trees we were taking out at the time. I hated the job I had at the time so it was extremely therapeutic smashing those logs apart. I saved all that health club money too! As I got older and some parts broke down (on me) I shifted to a log splitter and gradually over the years swapped percentages on the wood / coal fuel usage to my present 90% coal 10% wood and propane.

You may eventually get to the same point yourself, but I can certainly see why you don't want to switch now.
titleist1
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Mag Stoker (old style) one in basement, one in workshop
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III on standby for long power outages
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite; Nut/Anthracite

Re: Lighting nut coal

PostBy: Chuck_Steak On: Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:57 pm

coldcoal wrote:....I even like shoveling out the big trench through the yard to get wheelbarrow to and from the shed! :D

Image

We call that flurries here..... :P

Dan
Chuck_Steak
 
Coal Size/Type: mostly nut, sometimes stove, Santa brand
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Mark III

Visit Hitzer Stoves