New to this, with an old stove.

New to this, with an old stove.

PostBy: pbmax On: Fri Dec 07, 2007 11:08 pm

Looking for a little advice here. Details first, rambling story later.

We have an old Harman stoker in the garage that I managed to get running on rice coal. In order for the heat to get across the not-so-empty garage through the door and up stairs to the living level, I have to adjust the feed so that red coal is falling off the end of the grate.
Any way I can fix this?

I just bought some insulating foam panels (R1, which I didn't notice till I got them home) for the garage doors,
and I have a floor fan set up blowing towards the inside door.
There is a register in the ceiling of the garage which opens upstairs near the bedrooms, but no ducting / venting.
And the entire ceiling of the garage is R19 insulated and with styrofoam board sealing that into the 2X4 frame. (this would be below the bedrooms.)
I hooked up a dial thermometer and have it loosely mounted near the inside door.
I have the thermostat set to whatever (change it to experiment)
the stove timers "on" for short minutes, "off" for long (15) and distributor for in between.
I replaced the cracked firebrick in the front with glass, so at least I can see the coal without opening the door.
The grate has a crack in it.
Questions then:
will cleaning out the garage / reducing heatsinks help?
How much should I insulate the doors.
Should I pull the insulation out of the garage ceiling / bedroom floor?
Is there a better way to set the thermostat / timers / pusher?

Please feel free to add your favorite pearls of wisdom. Regarding stokers, that is.

Rambles I typed first then moved out of the way (I always feel there needs to be a story, but at the same time I hate when stories get in the way of solutions)

Before I hooked up the thermometer it was just jumpered on with a wire and the fuse was held in place with packaging tape. I got out some electric tape to fix the loose fuse and realized that the moron that taped it in didn't realize that you had to screw it in
The tech that inspected the stove said he couldn't recommend it's use until the grate was replaced, but it seems to work and feed fine. Not sure it's worth $400 for him to fix it and clean it. Harman sent me a manual so I cleaned it out and I'll service it again after this season (If it doesn't burn the house down first )
Thermostat controls the on/off, but can't vouch for it's accuracy. I have an extra digital that didn't like the basement family room I could put in the garage.
If I back off the feed to give an inch or two of gray coal instead of red to the end, the heat doesn't seem to make it into the living space.
Red to the end keeps the upstairs 70 when its 21 outside :)
The stove Keeps the garage nice and toasty, but I'd like to wean off the electric ceiling cable radiant heat.
Radiant heat means every room has a thermostat. The old dial ones had a play of maybe 7 - 10 degrees. Digital cost $40 each (for high voltage) grumble for the 5 rooms I upgraded.
Split entry. BR LR etc up, garage, laundry, finished family room downstairs.
Random ramble. the previous owners put in nice wood trim and solid wood doors downstairs and on [i]one[i] of the bedrooms. Then quit. go figure.
I like the DIY of coal. My wife like to push the number on the wall and feel the heat.
The coal bin is a big steel box. That's on the other side of an added-in wall from the stove. No chute in, I'd have to wheelbarrow and then lift to fill it.
Then bucket it around the corner back to the stove.
Currently I'm driving about 10 miles to pick up a plastic footlocker full at a time. Beats the 5 gallon buckets, but If this is going to be a real fixture I'll just have to pay the extra delivery fee for the wheelbarrow work.

Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Magnum Stoker

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Re: New to this, with an old stove.

PostBy: Dutchman On: Sat Dec 08, 2007 12:17 am

Hello pbmax, fellow Mag operator here. I'm in my 2nd year with stoker-fed coal, and every day I figure something new out. The fellas here have a wealth of information, just ask. Anyway, is there any way to get a pic of your stove posted- it sounds a whole lot different than mine, I have the distinct feeling after reading other posts here that the design of the Mag has "evolved" shall we say over the years. I'm curious, plus I'm no expert on design, but here's what I've found:

If you are pushing red coals off the grates, you are wasting it- once that coal leaves the grate, it will cease to burn. I usually try to keep about 1 inch minimum of ash at the end of the grates, which is affected both by the feed rate of coal and the air fed by the blower- too much or too little of either gives me lousy heat, but when she's set right she really cooks. Surface temps on my Mag run in the 560 range, and the pipe temps run 230-ish. I heat the first floor of a somewhat breezy 1799 farmhouse, and at 28 outside now it's 72 inside, running on the thermostat. In pilot mode, my timers are set to 4 on 12 off I think.

Also installed a barometric damper on the exhaust pipe and a manometer gauge made by Dwyer to set the draft- this helps a lot in setting the air flow correctly and getting efficiency and good heat. I like to adjust my settings from time to time, trying to "fine-tune" the burn and get max effect out of the burn. There's a lot more, I'd suggest going through the other posts and you'll pick up a lot of good advice and tidbits.

I figured out how to use the wife's camera, so I'll attach a pic of what my fire looks like. Good luck!

P.s.- ouch electric heat :? I've always seen that like heating a house with a giant toaster :lol:
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Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Magnum
Coal Size/Type: rice/anthracite

Re: New to this, with an old stove.

PostBy: pbmax On: Sat Dec 08, 2007 1:03 am

Posted a pic in the pic thread.

Pictures of your stove

There's a lot more, I'd suggest going through the other posts and you'll pick up a lot of good advice and tidbits.

Yeah. Joining a forum always takes a couple visits / hours to catch up.
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Magnum Stoker

Re: New to this, with an old stove.

PostBy: WNY On: Sat Dec 08, 2007 8:35 am

If you are pushing hot coals off the end, you are wasting coal and not getting complete combustion.

Not sure how the Harmons are made on the top, but if it's open for the warm air to blow across the top of the stove, cut a hole in it like I did on my Keystoker, (Just don't cut into the fire box, check to make sure you have the clearance). Some stove can be ordered with the optional top heat vent, so check first.

I blocked off the front vent, so all the heat goes up the pipe, and since heat rises, it is always around 90-100 degrees with or without the blower. 110-120 when it gets hot and the blower is on.

I have mine in my single attached garage heating the upstairs. here a few pics

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Keystoker Koker 160 Furnance Advice
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker 90K, Leisure Line Hyfire I
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker, LL & CoalTrol
Stove/Furnace Model: 90K, Hyfire I, VF3000 Soon

Re: New to this, with an old stove.

PostBy: LsFarm On: Sat Dec 08, 2007 10:21 am

Hi PB, welcome to the forum.. With your current setup, you are using the garage as a huge heat duct to get the stove's heat into the house... VERY ineffecient.

I'd follow WNY's advice. cut a hole for a duct, 8" minimum or make a sheet metal 'bonnet' or duct box taht fits over the top and part of the sides of the stove, use insulated duct to move this heat out of the garage and into the house.. The Harman will still radiate a lot of heat into the garage, so it won't be cold.

Hope this helps, Greg L
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

Re: New to this, with an old stove.

PostBy: pbmax On: Sat Dec 08, 2007 8:33 pm

So with this setup
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Would I just cut into the top of the stove? The pipe that's there is the chimney and it runs up a little, then horizontal to the chimney.
The distribution blower vents out the front. Should I try to trap that and vent it upstairs?

My big question is "What about the insulation?" Should I pull the insulation off the ceiling and let the heat radiate through the floor? or is that a bigger mess than it's worth?

thanks again.
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Magnum Stoker

Re: New to this, with an old stove.

PostBy: Dutchman On: Sun Dec 09, 2007 9:52 am

I completely forgot about the duct idea- just looked at mine, and sure enough there's the plate (d'oh!). Been setting the kettle on it for 2 years and didn't take note. Then I opened the manual, and I'm sure this paragraph wasn't in there before:

"Your stoker has a built-in feature that lets you take the air that normally blows out from the front and
puts it out the top into a 6" duct.
To do this, remove the 6" round plate from the top of the unit by removing the bolt located in the top of
the firebox. A 3/4" wrench will fit the bolt. Remove the plate from the front by using the small handle on the
plate. Turn bolt all the way in and tighten.
Next, block off the front blower opening with a piece of heavy fiberglass rope. Insert rope through the
6" duct opening and push front to block off the front air passage.
Now, install a 6" starting collar in the 6" hole and run duct to desired room.

I would think if you don't have this option, you could cut that hole into the top of the stove to tap the air jacket- the plate on mine starts 3" back from the front edge and it's centered side-to-side; just be sure not to cut through the top of the firebox! Might even be enough room for an 8-incher like Greg and WNY suggest, but maybe measure first cut second to be sure :P .

My reaction to the insulation question would be to hook the duct up first, and then if the garage stays warm enough for your taste afterwards, why not pull some insulation down from under one bedroom and see what happens, heat rises so I agree with your hunch that you would at a minimum get warmer floors from radiant heat. If you notice a difference, you can rip the rest down, if not you have less mess to replace. Certainly worth a try
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Magnum
Coal Size/Type: rice/anthracite

Re: New to this, with an old stove.

PostBy: coal berner On: Sun Dec 09, 2007 4:20 pm

One more thing to add if it works for you cut some holes and put in some floor registers to get the heat up stairs the heat will be at the ceiling anyway you might as well use it ;)
coal berner
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1986 Electric Furnace Man 520 DF
Stove/Furnace Make: Electric Furnace Man
Stove/Furnace Model: DF520

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Re: New to this, with an old stove.

PostBy: pbmax On: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:37 am

Well, the ducting doesn't seem to be within my reach. I refuse to "Cut a hole" in the top of the stove, and there is no outlet for venting.
The distributor air comes out a 1/2 inch vent across the front over the door, and I have destroyed several pieces of ductwork trying to bend them small enough to fit in the vent.

Oh, and if you turn the pusher off to empty the ash bin .... turn it back on.
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Magnum Stoker