oliver power wrote: He's burnt a lot of coal, and can't even heat water.
Is that like "couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat" or "couldn't pour water out of a boot if the instructions were on the heel"?
I agree this whole episode seems like a bad dream or endless reruns of "Groundhog Day". Nevertheless, we shouldn't drag this thread off onto some totally unrelated path or degenerate into childish antics....we do that enough already elsewhere around here.
This is one of those situations that drives me NUTS at work, i.e. you just know something
is wrong, but you can't find it, but it's not bad enough to call it "defective" or "broken". To wit: I got called down to the floor to troubleshoot an electric forklift that made it 75 feet under it's own power before the controller went tits-up and threw a "D-FET SHORT" code (which is bad AND expensive). I found the truck would operate fine when connected to a remote battery, but not when connected to the battery installed in it. I chalked it up to a battery that needed maintenance (cleaning), with excessive voltage leakage to the frame of the forklift. But I knew that batteries in the field were never well maintained and this wasn't a problem except this ONE unit.
I went around and around with various people including our service support and training departments and they agreed something was wrong with it, but nothing I measured (volts, amps, wiring) or inspected pointed to a cause. Finally we decided it had to be the drive motor, even though my DVM said it was OK. I borrowed a Fluke insulation tester from the training building and measured each phase to the case. Spec was 1 Meg. at 500V, and I got 1.2 Meg minimum. It's good, right? Well, we tested other new motors as a reference and at first I thought something was wrong with the meter. I was seeing 660 Meg. (full scale high) on the meter.... HUH??? We retested the suspect motor and this time heard a faint "sizzling" noise from inside the motor, still getting the 1.2 Meg. reading. I told them to change the motor, praying it would be the problem.
Turns out that replacing the motor cured the mysterious controller error code (thank GOD!). I then figured that someone dropped a screw in the motor during assembly so I thought I'd take a good look before sending the motor back to the supplier as defective and have THEM find the screw. I didn't find a screw, but after disassembling the motor, I DID find a tiny "hair" of wire sticking out from the paper slot insulation between the stator bars and touching the rotor. I could see the faint ring around the rotor where the wire was rubbing and a little scorch mark where the arcing occurred during the insulation test.
The point of my little story is that I think we aren't getting the whole story or all the data. Plumbing schematics, pump layout and models, detailed pictures, etc. are all absent. There is probably one key detail that will be the "Oh Schitt" moment for all of us. Or, maybe it truly is a matter of a poorly designed boiler for anthracite. I postulated (love that word) about gas flow differences between wood and coal combustion....and I still think that the relatively calm and uniform flow of gasses through the anthracite coal bed do not have enough "energy" to wash the cooler boundary layer of air from the walls of the boiler. The heat just can't transfer properly. Proper stack temp measurements would tell us that..... With wood, the highly varied combustion flows cause turbulence that washes the cooler air layer away and transfers the heat to the water better. Or, he could be throwing kiln dried pallet wood in there by the pickup load with flames shooting out the top of the stack........