Diary of a Surdiac

Diary of a Surdiac

PostBy: joeq On: Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:12 am

To all you "seasoned" veterans of coal burning, you may want to find a more interesting thread, because these writings may be redundant. (unless you're interested in a little "critiquing".) This is a quick (I hope) summary of what you people have taught me in my 1st full season of operating my new/old hopper fed Surdiac 513.
The original intent of purchasing this stove, almost 15 yrs ago, was mainly ambiance for a 3 season sunroom addition I built off my living room. I was hoping to throw some logs on a fire while entertaining guests, or just relaxing during a cold winter night. Never being an owner/operator of "any" solid fuel burning devices, I purchased this stove purely with ignorance, thinking the glass door would allow me to view a comfortable or pleasant wood fire. Once the price of acquiring a brandy new double wall SS chimney pipe system was brought to light, this was the only reaction I could muster. :shock: The stove only cost me a couple hundred bucks used, and I surely wasn't interested in paying 2-3 times that in pipe, so my wait began for the next 5 yrs searching classifieds for used pipe. I was successful in my quest, and once I got it home, it immediately went into my cellar...for almost 10 yrs. :oops: Fast forward to less than a couple yrs ago, as we had been staring at a non-functioning stove for all that time, and the wife chimes in,"you know, with the price of fuel oil not looking any better for the future, (given the new administration), you should think about using that coal stove in the house." That's all the incentive I needed, and I went to work last winter, (with the blessing of the town inspector), and finished my installation towards the end of the season. This is also the time I joined NEPA Crossroads and was overwhelmed by the knowledge and enthusiasm of all the members. And I'll admit it was very contagious. There aren't very many hobbies out there that can be considered financially beneficial, while providing comfort, "and" entertainment, all at the same time. It's definitely a win/win proposition.
My initial installation was nothing more than the stove mounted on a new slate/tile hearth with a red brick veneer non-combustible wall behind it, suspended 1" off the sheetrock. The chimney is 6" black pipe off a 5" reducer behind the stove approx only a foot long, parallel with the floor, connecting to a wall thimble, exiting to the outside 90* Tee/cleanout, where the system heads skywards about 15' topped off with a cap.
My very 1st attempt to lite the stove proved very problematic, till I removed the pink insulation I stuffed in the cleanout while building my chimney system. :oops: (It was to prevent cold air from entering the house while I had a hole in the wall. Forgot to remove it when I put the stove in place) Then the learning curve began on the best way for me to lite a coal fire. I'm still trying to hone in on this art, but as of yet, have been most successful starting with wood scraps and shredded paper, mixed with a little "wax brick" for flavor. Starting times range from 45 mins to 3 hrs or more depending. My next hurdle was trying to increase the burn times from what I witnessed to be no more than 2-3 hrs without "tending". Not being familiar with the "color' or temps of the fire, I was constantly scraping and cleaning the grates in an attempt to keep the coal bed "lively". The knowledgeable members here loaded me with great advice which I absorbed like a sponge. Not to bore you fine folks anymore than I have, I'll finalize this story bypassing all the experiments and say, now that the season is beginning to close for me, this is where I'm at.
The "biggest" asset at this time for me, was the installation of the MPD, "AND" the manometer, as a pair. I couldn't see owning one with-out the other. a baro-damper wouldn't hurt either, but at this time doesn't appear to be all that necessary. It was difficult to control the fire using only the stove thermostat, because of the excessive draft I was experiencing. Once the MPD went into effect, it was "somewhat" helpfull, but I still wasn't confident on how to operate it. i learned the stove was intended to run with a .04 draft, and it wasn't until I installed the manometer that I could actually see what the chimney system was doing.
I can now comfortably slow my burns down or increase them using a combination of the thermostat position and the MPD, while monitoring them with the manometer. The best burns I've gotten so far is about 8 hrs, which is very pleasing to me, meaning my sleep times can now also increase. I'm sure next season will continue to educate me.
I know I've thanked you people countlessly for all your assistance, and am fortunate to be part of this great site. To all you newbies (like me), don't take this lightly when I tell you it's amazing how much your life can be enrichened by something as simple as a small group of enthusiasts sharing their stories and experiences in the hopes of providing you/us with, if nothing more, than a little comradery (?), and knowledge, with the focus on these time tested devices called "coal stoves". Now, if you'll please excuse me, I need to go check on my fire. :)
joeq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Surdiac Gotha 513
Stove/Furnace Make: Oil fired
Stove/Furnace Model: Thermopride

Re: Diary of a Surdiac

PostBy: Lightning On: Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:40 am

joeq wrote:There aren't very many hobbies out there that can be considered financially beneficial, while providing comfort, "and" entertainment, all at the same time. It's definitely a win/win proposition.

This is my second winter season with coal. I eagerly uprooted the propane furnace and replaced it with a used coal furnace after several months of research on this site. Seeing the enthusiasm and savings definitely called on my curiosity to investigate. I also find tending my furnace to be a very rewarding hobby both economically and with the gratification of achievement 8-).... This makes for two hobbies that help buy the dog food since I play music in two rock bands also :D

joeq wrote:To all you newbies (like me), don't take this lightly when I tell you it's amazing how much your life can be enrichened by something as simple as a small group of enthusiasts sharing their stories and experiences in the hopes of providing you/us with, if nothing more, than a little comradery (?), and knowledge, with the focus on these time tested devices called "coal stoves".

Absolutely agree, well stated partner 8-)
Lightning
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1537G
Coal Size/Type: Nut Size / White Ash

Re: Diary of a Surdiac

PostBy: 2DeXtreMe On: Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:40 am

This is my first time owning a hand fired stove, although I've been a coal burner for over 5 years using my auto stoker stove. I wanted one to have the versatility of burning wood in it too as well. This is also my 1st time burning wood too. Being very familiar with coal, it was very easy to get my first hand-fired coal burning by using wood when it turns into red/orange coals. The anthracite easily & rapidly ignites. With my Channing, I take a 3 or 4 charcoal briquets place them in a plastic shopping bag and break them into little pieces, I then take the pieces and place them in a larger empty tomato can (both bottom and top lids off) while the can sits on the grate. I place a small amount of fire starter with the broken pieces and then light it. When the charcoals are glowing orange red I add some rice coal every 7 minutes till coal reaches to the top. When the whole can is glowing, I use a vise grip to slowly pull the can off of the grate. I then turn on the feeder paddle and the rest is history.

I would like to get a manometer just to know that my draft is set correctly, but so far I have to say it isn't a priority, because I am burning coal and wood without any problems. The fire is long lasting regardless of what type of fuel I decide to use. Although my brick 45ft chimney gives me great draft, I am not certain that it is perfect or at least near perfect. Only one to tell. I'm not sold on a manual damper, because my 7ft pipe to the chimney is bearable when touching the stack as I burn coal. It gets a little hotter when burning wood, but that is to be expected because of the wood flames.

The forum is an excellent source of information to the new and old coal burners. It is always great to see folks willing to put a little labor in exchange for the ease of using foreign oil and even domestic natural gas.
2DeXtreMe
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska channing 3
Hand Fed Coal Stove: surdiac 715
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska & Surdiac
Stove/Furnace Model: Channing III & 715

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Re: Diary of a Surdiac

PostBy: joeq On: Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:22 pm

2X, if your stove is working fine, don't fix what isn't broke. I wasn't as knowledgeable or fortunate as you with my set-up, and have had to learn the whole ordeal on an OJT basis. I'll have to admit, it has gotten easier, and the stove is "still" running, when I planned to let it go out a week or 2 ago.but the wife continues to work it in the middle of the day, and because the nites are still relatively cold, I also keep filling it. I've only got 3 bags left, so after this week, I'll be done for the season. :(
joeq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Surdiac Gotha 513
Stove/Furnace Make: Oil fired
Stove/Furnace Model: Thermopride

Re: Diary of a Surdiac

PostBy: grizzly2 On: Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:15 pm

Hey there joeq,

Sounds like you have learned your way into getting good performance from your Surdiac.
Your post just reminded me of the many posts I have read over the years by people who have struggled and struggled to get there stoves to work well. I am sure that some stoves are easier to operate than others, but I can't off hand think of a stove brand or model that someone on this site hasn't mastered and doesn't love while others curse it. I respect the person who will read, ask questions, experiment and eventually master their stove. I also think this same kind of pateince and perseverance serves a person well in all endeavors. :up:
grizzly2
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 30 - 95
Coal Size/Type: pea and nut/ anthracite
Other Heating: Jotul #3 wood stove in garage. Oil backup in house. Electric backup in house.

Re: Diary of a Surdiac

PostBy: joeq On: Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:29 pm

Thanx Grizzly. And I got to admit, your mascot looks very domineering. And very "powerful!" I like it. :)
joeq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Surdiac Gotha 513
Stove/Furnace Make: Oil fired
Stove/Furnace Model: Thermopride

Re: Diary of a Surdiac

PostBy: grizzly2 On: Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:34 am

Actually my "mascot" is a self portrait. I am realy just a warm and fuzzy old Griz. :)
grizzly2
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 30 - 95
Coal Size/Type: pea and nut/ anthracite
Other Heating: Jotul #3 wood stove in garage. Oil backup in house. Electric backup in house.

Re: Diary of a Surdiac

PostBy: joeq On: Fri Mar 15, 2013 4:37 pm

ImageGood one!
joeq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Surdiac Gotha 513
Stove/Furnace Make: Oil fired
Stove/Furnace Model: Thermopride

Re: Diary of a Surdiac

PostBy: 2DeXtreMe On: Sat Mar 16, 2013 6:09 am

Now that the days are a little warmer. How are your burn times?
2DeXtreMe
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska channing 3
Hand Fed Coal Stove: surdiac 715
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska & Surdiac
Stove/Furnace Model: Channing III & 715

Re: Diary of a Surdiac

PostBy: joeq On: Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:02 am

I've been fortunate with over 8 hrs the past week or more, but for some reason this morning, after only 4-5, it looked pretty weak. I thought that maybe the ash pan was too full and restricting the air through the grates, but when I checked it, it wasn't that bad. Because it's been a while since the stove was off, I'm wondering if the bottom of the expansion chamber is full of ash, and preventing air up the pipe to slow down, but the manometer is showing the draft to be responsive to MPD adjustments. I know the back cleanouts would accumulate quite a bit of ash, when I've opened them up during the beginning of the season to vacuum them out.
How bout your 715 2X, have you been successful this season so far? Are you burning nut or pea? (Or wood?)
joeq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Surdiac Gotha 513
Stove/Furnace Make: Oil fired
Stove/Furnace Model: Thermopride

Re: Diary of a Surdiac

PostBy: joeq On: Sun Mar 17, 2013 2:10 pm

Another morning with a fire gasping for life. Went to bed at midnite,(after cleaning he grates and filling the hopper) and awoke approx. 8 hrs later, and the bed of coals were grey as an elephant, but the stove had some residual heat to it. First I opened the mpd and ash pan door, and as I poked and riddled, the hot coals in the hopper dropped and in 10 mins fire was ripping again. Guess it's the nature of the beast. strange how just a few mornings before, the morning coals were burning relatively bright, and I haven't changed any adjustments or procedures.Only 3 -4 days of coal left, and I'm letting her go out.Yeah, right. I've been saying that for almost a month now, but keep buying new bags. still cool here at nite, plus I just can't keep myself, (or my girls) from playing. :)
joeq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Surdiac Gotha 513
Stove/Furnace Make: Oil fired
Stove/Furnace Model: Thermopride

Re: Diary of a Surdiac

PostBy: joeq On: Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:53 pm

Well, the stove is out for the season. Running on oil now. Cleaned and heat painted all metal pieces to help prolong corrosion.
Image
Been a pleasure socializing with everyone this season, and appreciate all the comments and advice. Hope everyone enjoys their warm weather. :)
joeq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Surdiac Gotha 513
Stove/Furnace Make: Oil fired
Stove/Furnace Model: Thermopride

Re: Diary of a Surdiac

PostBy: scott611 On: Sat Apr 06, 2013 8:08 pm

Joeq,

Glad to hear your enjoying burning black rocks as much as I am. I have a Surdiac 508 that my father bought 20 some years ago and we never learned how to keep it lit. He dug it out of his basement this year to put in my house when I moved back from Colorado and we figured I would give it a try. I don't know what we were doing wrong all those years ago but I lit it this past November and it ran continuously until this morning. I shake it about every 8 hrs just because thats the habit my wife and I got into and it seems to keep a nice even burn going. The wife now prefers coal over the woodstove and wants an insert to replace the wood stove. Coal is downstairs and wood is upstairs.

Our stoves are similar so the firebox should be about the same size, I light mine with matchlight charcoal and nothing else. I make a single layer of charcoal, light it, when its good and going I sprinkle some anthracite on it, wait until that's going then keep adding little by little until I can fill the hopper. This saves me from messing with wood, paper, and the waxy things that tend to gum-up the works.
scott611
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Surdiac 508
Stove/Furnace Make: Surdiac
Stove/Furnace Model: 508

Re: Diary of a Surdiac

PostBy: joeq On: Sat Apr 06, 2013 8:24 pm

nice hearing from you Scott. If you've read my "diary", then you'll know the challenges I've experienced with this stove. biggest complaint is the short 5-6 hr burn times without cleaning the grates. Not sure about the differences of our stoves, but I'll look into it soon. Can't tonite. The Mrs. has set us up with a movie, so I won't get to surf the net too much tonite. Can't wait to hear your experiences with your stove. Good nite for now. Joe
joeq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Surdiac Gotha 513
Stove/Furnace Make: Oil fired
Stove/Furnace Model: Thermopride

Re: Diary of a Surdiac

PostBy: joeq On: Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:22 am

Let the chronicles continue. Here I am beginning my 2nd full season with my Surdiac. Last season it was difficult to compare the savings in fuel costs, being that we still had automatic oil delivery, plus the purchasing of coal. I used approx 1 1/2 tons of pea coal all winter, mixed with some oil heat also. They still delivered fuel oil to my house, but I'm sure the amount to top off was less than previous yrs. This yr I've stopped the automatic delivery, because the Surdiac performed "relatively" respectable. I'm hoping for improvements this yr. If you've read my thread on "Stockton" coal, you'll know that's what I'm burning currently. Trying to do a comparison to the Santa stuff. We'll see.

Today, the outside temps are expected to be about 50, and the nites are in the 30s. After initial fire-up yesterday, I've burned almost 50#. Still playing with adjustments. To maintain my draft @ .04-.05, my MPD is almost completely shut, and the stove thermostat is set at 1. The downstairs temp, (where the stove is located), is about 72*. The upstairs hallway reads about 80*. (Heat rising up the stairwell). My twin teenage girls are loving the fact the stove is running, and were doing their homework in frt of it last nite. They'll be disappointed when my 4 bags of coal are burned in a few days, cause I'll "probably" keep it off till after thanksgiving when the real cold starts to appear. Plus I need to restock my supply. Anyways, Happy heating to all.
joeq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Surdiac Gotha 513
Stove/Furnace Make: Oil fired
Stove/Furnace Model: Thermopride

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