Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:56 am

Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

It is a simple question, and to jump start the topic if I may, I will explain how it thus started with me.

I am a life long Mainer and as such we burn firewood; and for good reason, we are the most heavily forested state in the nation and my farm contains plenty of wood lot. But growing up, to supply heat to the various houses, greenhouses and barns, we consumed a lot of firewood, nearly 40 cord per year, and I grew to hate firewood, it seemed as if we were either cutting it down, hauling it in or burning the stuff. We were a slave to it it seemed.

20 Years ago I had an out-of-state neighbor who had bought a single wide trailer and installed a coal stove in it, but it was not sized correctly. Upon firing it, the stove got the small space so hot that the house sweated and his aluminum framed door had water running down it, which hit the sill and froze tight. Scared the stove was going to burn his house down, he tried to get out and panicked when he found out he was locked inside. Being neighborly friends, and knowing I had just built my house, he told me to take it...for free...but just to take it.

I brought it home and learned to burn coal, which was far different then burning wood. But I loved how it did not create creosote, and at $150 per ton in those days, coal was cheap. The stove also had a glass front and a hopper and could burn 14 hours and was a life saver during the Ice Storm of 1998 when we were without power for 14 days.

But all good things must come to an end, and when it began to rust out I replaced it with the Vogelzang that I have now. In retrospect I should have kept that stove as I have the ability to rebuild about anything as I am a welder at a major shipyard, but the experience of burning coal in that old hand me down stove never left me...as did my dislike for firewood, though I admit I have 7 cords of firewood stacked up and ready to go just in case. But when asked about what I heat my house with, I tell people coal because I think if you are not burning coal, you are missing out on a great, safe heating source and want to see more people burn it.

So that is how I got started...anyone else like to add anything?
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

PostBy: KLook On: Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:37 am

Good story NoSmoke. I started also as a life long Mainer with lots of wood and a developed hatred for it. My free moment came when my brother told me about coal in a middle school in Calais, ME. We took 2 trailers and filled them 2 buckets at a time going up and down a steel staircase about 20 odd steps long. :shock:
Had a least a ton apiece Turns out it was Bit coal and it smoked like no tomorrow in my old Memco boiler. but wow did it throw heat!
I went online and started looking for resources and found this site, the rest is history.


I would like to know what make the giant boiler was in the middle school. It had a big auger and the bin must have held at least a TT load. More I think.

If you run into Neil or Matt Lash, say hello. I played much bball with Matt and was an assistant coach under him at U of M at Machias.
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF 3000
Coal Size/Type: rice, bagged, Blaschak
Other Heating: Gas boiler backup/main
Stove/Furnace Model: VF 3000

Re: Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

PostBy: Lightning On: Mon Oct 15, 2012 6:59 pm

Hi NoSmoke! Welcome to the addiction :D
Here is my story :lol:

The Coal Attraction
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Overmodified/Bored out Clayton 1537
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/Awesome Size

Re: Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

PostBy: Freddy On: Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:46 pm

How'd I miss this post?

I got started in 2008 when oil prices went through the roof. I told my wife "We are NOT going to pay 5 grand a year to heat this house!" I remembered back to when I was 9 or 10 years old my Dad had a friend that burned coal. I remember the big bin & that it fed itself, burned automatically, and even emptied the ashes into 20 or 30 gallon galvanized cans which he emptied on his driveway every week or so. I wanted in!
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 130 (pea)
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Reading piece o' junk in the barn (rice)
Coal Size/Type: Pea size, Superior, deep mined

Re: Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

PostBy: Sting On: Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:00 pm

I was "given" two stoves to heat my 3 season party room and I got sick of stuffing little bits of scrap in - about every 36 seconds

but at $9.50 a bag -- its just a once a year event :D

Other Heating: OBSO Lennox Pulse "Air Scorcher" burning NG

Re: Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

PostBy: Rob R. On: Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:03 pm

Most great discoveries happen by accident, and that pretty much sums up how I started burning coal. :D

I went back and found one of my posts from December 2009 to save some typing:

Rob R. wrote:About ten years ago my dad bought some property that included an old shop with a stove in it, an "Estate Heatrola". Three years ago I hooked it up in the basement of our big farmhouse and started burning wood in it. After a month or so, I was pretty frustrated. The round firebox didn't hold very much wood and the fire would go out after 4 hours. I decided to try and seal up some of the seams on the stove to help control it better, while I was doing that I noticed some writing cast into the smoke door. "Don't fill coal past firepot line". At that point, I knew it was a coal stove and made a few calls to try and find some coal. A local stoveshop had bagged Blaschak nut coal, so I bought a few bags to try. I made the same mistake everyone does, I tried burning the fire too shallow and it kept going out. I did some research online and found the nepacrossroads forum, I quickly found out I had to fill the firepot with coal for it to burn correctly. I got the stove going good, and filled it up to the top. I came back downstairs about an hour later and thought my eyes were going to melt, the cast iron was glowing red and the basement was about 90 degrees. I got the air adjusted and enjoyed a warm house for about 12 hours. At that point I was hooked, I fabricated a shaker handle and went back and bought a pallet of coal. I've been burning it ever since. :D

I only ran that Heatrola for one winter. It was one hell of a stove, but it was far from airtight and the grate was in really rough shape. I graduated to a Hitzer 82 the following winter, and the year after that we moved into a different house that already had a Wood/Coal boiler installed. I ran that for 1.5 winters before the boiler cracked (I was sick of hand-feeding anyway), so I upgraded to a stoker boiler. I've been warm ever since.
Rob R.
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

PostBy: GA cracker On: Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:47 pm

When we moved here from GA. aprox. 18 months ago, the house had a coal stove in the basement. I started out of curiousity mostly. Lots of help and suggestions from this forum things went well last winter. I still think I could do a better job moving the cooler air down and warmer air upstairs. Have not struck the match this year. We have a central heat and air unit with heat pump but, I would rather give my money to the guy selling coal across town than PPL!
GA cracker
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark iii
Coal Size/Type: nut
Other Heating: Central heat and air

Re: Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

PostBy: michaelanthony On: Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:15 pm

first, it did't happen soon enough, yet very happy it did. 3 winters ago I messed with a vogelzang pot belly in my basement with little success, but there were other issues like an unfinished basement and trying to move heated air without much luck. I stopped for a year,and last fall bought a used Gold Marc Industries coal burner and was determained to heat my family and home. I put the stove in my livingroom and listened closely to the folks on this forum and I personally feel that when you teach a man fire ( caveman ) :taz: it will stay with him. I absolutely hate buying oil, regardless if the money is going overseas or in the pockets of the damn speculators in this country. I love saving money, next on the list is a stoker so I can heat domestic hot water with coal, presently have an oil fired hw heater and I crindge every time it fires.
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vigilant 2310, gold marc box stove, vogelzang pot belly coat rack
Baseburners & Antiques: Home Sparkle 12
Coal Size/Type: Coal Contractor's stove, a little Kimmels 'nut
Other Heating: Very cold FHA oil furnace

Re: Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

PostBy: freetown fred On: Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:01 pm

This will be real long & drawn out, soooo, settle in my friends. I got to friggin old after blocking, splitting, moving 1/2 a dozen times to have been burning wood for 40 + yrs & had to find an alternative heating source. My Dad heated w/ coal so in my search, I came across this FORUM & the rest is history. There, that wasn't so bad. ;)
freetown fred
Hand Fed Coal Stove: HITZER 50-93
Coal Size/Type: BLASCHAK Nut

Re: Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

PostBy: Lightning On: Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:34 pm

Wow good thing we keep you around to bring us back to the simple things, yer the man :)
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Overmodified/Bored out Clayton 1537
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/Awesome Size

Re: Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

PostBy: Blackdiamonddoug On: Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:25 am

Oil prices sky rocket
Found the coal forum every time I goggle e

Cheap heat dollars BTU pellets/ coal
Read about coal stokers
aa260 1951 model never looked back
Stove/Furnace Make: axemen 260 rebuilt by Matt
Stove/Furnace Model: stoker AA 260

Re: Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

PostBy: anthony7812 On: Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:33 am

My mothers boyfriend asked me one day you wanna see something neat, thier she was a beautiful aa130. Had a hard-on for burning rocks since. Even the mrs chooses coal over wood, and she was a non believer last year pre-match. Co worker had a Mark 3 and about a ton of coal for 700 bucks, this got me started. someday ill have me nice axeman anderson 130 to play with.
Stoker Coal Boiler: VanWert VA 400
Coal Size/Type: Buck/Anthracite

Re: Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

PostBy: CoaLen On: Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:42 am

2004: we built a new home in the snowbelt in NE Ohio. I'm not getting any younger and our property used to be a hay field, so the wood burning fireplace I really wanted seemed like a bad idea. We settled on a gas (LP) fireplace for "effect" in the family room.

2008: propane cost is skyrocketing and I felt we had to do something different or go broke. I started by revisiting the idea of a wood burning fireplace. Getting cord wood was still going to be a problem, big expense or both. Luckily, I was a driver for the county bus system at the time and had the opportunity to go into a lot of the Amish homes and businesses, all using anthracite and hand fed stoves for heat.

:idea: :idea:

The search was on. During a visit to Bob Boslers (local coal supplier) in Middlefield we were put onto the idea of heating the entire house with a stoker coal furnace rather than heating a family room with a stove. The coal burning idea kept sounding better and better.

We ended up with a Keystoker Koker and are saving $2000+ a year and living in a much warmer house. One of the best moves we've ever made. :D
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker Koker
Coal Size/Type: rice

Re: Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

PostBy: NWBuilder On: Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:34 pm

It all started from a need to heat my garage and wood working shop. Both still remain unheated! A friend of mine had burned coal for 20 years or so and said it was the way to go. So being the patient kind of guy I am I ran out and bought an Alaskan stoker 2 for my garage and an Alaskan Channing 3 for the house. Why not jump in with both feet. I had been burning 4 cord of wood in my basement for 11 years and was more then a little tired of all the work for the heat I was getting. I still needed oil to fully heat the house. Well my building inspector would not allow the Stoker 2 in the garage so that went down the road, and I kept the Channing but it only really heated my first floor to 62 at best. Well, I decided to sell that and find a nice boiler to heat the house through the baseboard system and get my domestic water needs as well. It has been quite a learning curve for me but my house is warmer then ever and the hot water is endless. I still burn more coal then I think I should but I still save half what I would with oil and the house is warmer. I recommend it to anyone who will listen, most don't. 8 ton a year in coal at $260.00 a ton house at 70 versus 900 gallons at $4.00 a gallon house at 62 and everyone complaining. Life is better with coal!!
Stoker Coal Boiler: Ahs 130
Coal Size/Type: Burning Pea anthracite

Re: Burning Coal: How did it begin for you?

PostBy: carlherrnstein On: Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:13 pm

It appers Im a odd duck.. My parents heated with coal.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: combustioneer model 77B
Coal Size/Type: pea stoker/Ohio bituminous