I'm new to the forum and a newbie with trying coal (anthracite) in my Godin Model 3730. Before trying to light my first fire (tonight), I thoroughly read everyone's posts plus several other search results on Google about lighting hand-fed wood/coal stoves.
I started the lighting process at 8:30 and FINALLY about 11:30, I felt confident that my efforts were successful, and I filled up the stove. It might have gone faster, but I didn't warm up the flue and wondered if that caused the startup to go slower, and next time, I'm going to make sure I do that. I used match-light charcoal (cheap generic/store brand). It's a very easy way to get the process going quickly so appreciated that tip. I put about 6-8 briquettes on the grate, then about 5 chunks of coal (nut sized), and a couple of pieces of scrap cedar (it burns easily).
The coal hadn't lit when the charcoal stopped flaming, so I tossed in pieces of fire starter logs. The cedar was about gone, but no coal was lit, so I added 2 small pieces of firewood. I still couldn't decide if the coal was lit so tossed in 2 pieces of charcoal twice more and added about 5 chunks of coal each time I added charcoal. The charcoal gets blue flames & couldn't tell if the coal was lit, so I added another piece of fire starter log to keep the fire hot, and when it caught fire, I added 5 more pieces of coal. Approximately a half hour later, I added a small wood log and about 10-15 pieces of coal, because I was pretty sure the coal was lit when I could see a continuous orange glow at the bottom of the bed of charcoal and coal; I kept expecting to see a lot of dancing blue flames on the coal but didn't really see that. After getting blue flames in each 1-2" layer of coal, which I did for at least 4 layers, I took the leap and filled the stove to the top of the fire bricks.
I'm surprised how slow the process is to start coal compared to wood, but I think I probably didn't have a good enough bed of hot embers from the charcoal and wood before I began adding small amounts of additional coal. It didn't feel like the stove could radiate much heat for close to an hour, but once I started hearing a low roar from air drawing through the flue, within 15 minutes, there's lots of heat radiating from the stove. It took about 20-30 minutes for me to start hearing the roaring sound, so it pays to be patient and not give up. I just slowly lifted the lid to see if everything looked OK, and to my delight, there are lots of dancing blue flames and the flame is drawing through the flue!!!! Yahoooo!!!! I'm turning down the air control to about 1/3 open and just hope it's still burning in the morning so I only have to add coal without having to start from scratch.
I've been afraid to go to bed until I feel it's operating well and not getting too hot. I work days and am hoping it's safe to fill the stove in the mornings before I leave for work so the house isn't freezing when I get home and that my evenings aren't going to be spent re-starting the fire. Can someone please tell me if it's safe to let it burn during the day? I figure if it'll burn 12 hours, as someone already posted, then it should be ok.
Another question is if it's okay to combine both wood and coal together to burn all the time. I wasn't able to find a source for bag (much less loose) coal in the Knoxville, TN area. Fortunately, my neighbor picked me up five 50-lb bags in a town 1-1/2 hours away between Atlanta and my home (I think the town was Blairsvile?) Since it's so far away and will be hard for me to get more, I'm hoping I can burn both together in the evenings and on weekends when I can tend the stove.
Thanks to everyone for posting info about Godin stoves. I got my stove about 15 years ago from a neighbor and don't have the manual, so don't know what I'd have done without your forum. My husband passed away this year, and he always taught me how to do everything, so it's great that all of you help us new folks out. By the way, the stove is going great now and putting out lots of heat. I'm SO happy! :0)