Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

PostBy: imaddicted2u On: Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:35 am

I live in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I have an old coal boiler. Coal here has become hard to get and the quality is usually low. I was going to replace the grates but the shipping cost for replacement grates is mighty high. Two of the grates have broken and the others are warped. I haven't used it in a few years. I am thinking of putting a steel plate on top of the three grates that are left and adding gaskets to the doors to make it more airtight, then burning wood in it. Is there anyone burning wood in one of these? Any thoughts or advice?
Also, Can hot water be heated with this furnace? There are a few plugs on the front and rear. Would any of these have been to heat hot water. If not, Could I drill the top door and put a coil in there to heat hot water, could I plumb it to my existing electric hot water heater? If so, could you recommend how I should pipe it.
Here is an old thread of mine with pics of the boiler:
Help finding replacements grates for old coal furnace
imaddicted2u
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: American Standard Severn (1957) on bituminous
Coal Size/Type: Unscreened-Fist sized lump to powder-Bituminous

Re: Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

PostBy: franco b On: Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:38 am

I think you can do it.
Rather than a flat steel plate I would look at the cast iron fire baskets for use in a fire place and use it whole or by altering it. You need cast iron with slots so you can reach in and stir with an L shaped poker to get ashes to fall into the ash pit. Otherwise you would have to shovel out from the feed door which would be very awkward.

Don't let burning wood come in contact with the sides of the boiler. Those water cooled surfaces will make for a poor combustion chamber and lead to much creosote buildup. Line with fire brick.

For hot water the model of that boiler I am familiar with had on the right rear section a method of inserting short heavy copper coil of 3/4 tube which in turn was piped to a storage tank and heated by gravity flow.
franco b
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: V ermont Castings 2310, Franco Belge 262
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwood Modern Oak 114
Coal Size/Type: nut and pea

Re: Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

PostBy: waldo lemieux On: Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:49 pm

A stove co. down my way uses 3" cast iron pipe spaced about 3/4" apart. The pipes are supported and held by 3/8 plate that had a series of 3" holes spaced 3/4" apart and then the plate was cut in half lengthwise through the center of the holes giving you two identical pieces which would have to be fit to your firebox. The thing always burned great. And if a pipe breaks a trip to the plumbing store and your set to go. The cast pipe was the type they use above grade in commercial construction. Looks like a solid unit should be easy.

Best
waldo
waldo lemieux
 
Stove/Furnace Make: efm
Stove/Furnace Model: s-20

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Re: Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

PostBy: imaddicted2u On: Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:43 pm

Thanks for the ideas, franco B and waldo lemieux.
There is no place on this model to insert a hot water coil. I'll be sure to line the firebox with firebrick. The idea of using the steel plate to support 3" cast iron pipes is ingenius.
imaddicted2u
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: American Standard Severn (1957) on bituminous
Coal Size/Type: Unscreened-Fist sized lump to powder-Bituminous

Re: Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

PostBy: imaddicted2u On: Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:14 am

I found this cast iron fireplace grate that looks like it will fit into the firebox nicely, as long as the advertised dimensions are right, and will also allow enough room to allow firebrick to line the sides, the grate will hold the firebrick in place. Three of the original five grates will support the fireplace grate above the ash pit.

http://www.homehardware.ca/en/rec/index.htm/Heating-Ventilation-Cooling-Home-Comfort/Heating/Stove-Fireplace-Supp/Grates/19-5-X-14-5-Universal-Deluxe-Fireplace-Grate/_/N-ntimf/R-I5515385
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.
imaddicted2u
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: American Standard Severn (1957) on bituminous
Coal Size/Type: Unscreened-Fist sized lump to powder-Bituminous

Re: Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

PostBy: waldo lemieux On: Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:54 am

The Logwood boiler I used to burn was the bomb, built like a tank. The mfg.is nearby and before I bought I went to talk to him about the design. When I asked him about the thing not being lined with brick he said; why? He went on to say that 60% of the heat transfer was in the bottom 6" of the water jacket ,where the bed of hot coals was in contact with the sides and rear of the firebox. He stated that you wanted keep about 6" of coals and a little ash under that. Therefore Im sure youll
find that the fireplace grate will not allow a build up of coals which also alows the fire to "sleep" without them when the boiler is not called on your fire will eaisily go out. I guess you can try it as it probably is not that expensive and if you find It doesnt work you could try the pipe. But as I said none of the wood boilers Ive seen have open grates like that.

Waldo
waldo lemieux
 
Stove/Furnace Make: efm
Stove/Furnace Model: s-20

Re: Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

PostBy: imaddicted2u On: Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:02 am

Thanks Waldo. I understand what you mean about building a bed of coals. Originally I was thinking about using a steel plate resting on the remaining grates. I also considered using a layer of firebrick resting on the remaining grates. I had planned to leave a gap at the front of the firebox that would allow ashes to be dragged so they would drop into the ash pit. It's impossible to make anything that is one piece because the door opening is only 14.5 inches (16 inches corner to corner) and the firebox is 17.5X21 inches. So a layer of firebrick would be cheap and simple to custom fit to the firebox.

I had a Kerr Scottsman wood furnace once, It was not a boiler but had a fan and ductwork. It was just a firebox with no ash pit and they insisted on not using firebrick in the combustion chamber. My original thinking was based on the fact that the Scottsman furnace worked good.
Image

I have the choice of the combustion air entering from slots in the the door and/or entering from the back of the ash pit under the fire. The draft control on the back could be motorized and tied to a thermostat. If the rear draft control was used the air would travel under the firebrick to the slot at the front and over the fire. There are also slots around the outside edge of the combustion chamber where air can enter although they might get blocked if I put in firebrick. So, you don't think I need to line the outside edges to keep the fire away from the water jacket?
imaddicted2u
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: American Standard Severn (1957) on bituminous
Coal Size/Type: Unscreened-Fist sized lump to powder-Bituminous

Re: Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

PostBy: franco b On: Thu Mar 28, 2013 2:37 pm

waldo lemieux wrote:The Logwood boiler I used to burn was the bomb, built like a tank. The mfg.is nearby and before I bought I went to talk to him about the design. When I asked him about the thing not being lined with brick he said; why? He went on to say that 60% of the heat transfer was in the bottom 6" of the water jacket ,where the bed of hot coals was in contact with the sides and rear of the firebox.


That's exactly why so many of these types of units are such crap. Dirty smelly smudge pots designed by people who have no understanding of combustion of solid fuel.

You first have to burn the fuel in the most efficient way possible and then transfer that heat produced to the medium used to heat the house. They are two separate functions that have opposite needs. Combining the two functions to an excessive degree is why these units are junk.

This was well understood back in the 1850s but the lesson had to be learned over with oil burners and with coal and wood burners too.
franco b
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: V ermont Castings 2310, Franco Belge 262
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwood Modern Oak 114
Coal Size/Type: nut and pea

Re: Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

PostBy: franco b On: Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:00 pm

imaddicted2u wrote:I found this cast iron fireplace grate that looks like it will fit into the firebox nicely, as long as the advertised dimensions are right, and will also allow enough room to allow firebrick to line the sides, the grate will hold the firebrick in place. Three of the original five grates will support the fireplace grate above the ash pit.

http://www.homehardware.ca/en/rec/index.htm/Heating-Ventilation-Cooling-Home-Comfort/Heating/Stove-Fireplace-Supp/Grates/19-5-X-14-5-Universal-Deluxe-Fireplace-Grate/_/N-ntimf/R-I5515385
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.

If you use a basket like that then I think you will not need the firebrick. My original thought was to just use the flat bottom portion of a basket to cover the grate area with fire brick for the sides of the fire pot.
franco b
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: V ermont Castings 2310, Franco Belge 262
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwood Modern Oak 114
Coal Size/Type: nut and pea

Re: Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

PostBy: waldo lemieux On: Thu Mar 28, 2013 6:33 pm

you absolutely dont need to line the inside unless the exposed surface is not backed by water, like maybe the front under the door.
lining it with brick wont make it burn any better, the closer the fire is to the water jacket the higher the transfer rate. Think about a stove, if you hold the frying pan a foot over the fire will your eggs fry faster or slower? The only reason for firebrick is to protect your fire box but if there's water behind it your good to go.

Waldo
waldo lemieux
 
Stove/Furnace Make: efm
Stove/Furnace Model: s-20

Re: Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

PostBy: franco b On: Thu Mar 28, 2013 6:58 pm

waldo lemieux wrote:the closer the fire is to the water jacket the higher the transfer rate.

That's true but it is exactly where heat transfer should not occur if efficient combustion is desired. Cooling the fire is not the way to go for high efficiency. It's a two part problem and those units that best separate combustion needs from heat exchange are always the cleanest and highest efficiency.
franco b
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: V ermont Castings 2310, Franco Belge 262
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwood Modern Oak 114
Coal Size/Type: nut and pea

Re: Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

PostBy: Tamecrow On: Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:44 pm

imaddicted2u wrote:I live in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I have an old coal boiler. Coal here has become hard to get and the quality is usually low.


Addicted, Where about in Cape Breton do you live? There's no shortage of high quality bit coal on the island. As a matter of fact I haven't burned coal this good since Phalen mine and that was the best coal I've ever burned. If you want good quality coal go see Malcolm S. Macdonald trucking on the # 4 highway. He'll sell you all the coal you want. Top quality coal. It would be a shame, IMHO, to turn the old girl into a wood boiler when they perform so well using coal. There's still grates and other parts for that boiler available on the island. If you're interested I'll dig you up a set. I sold one complete Severn coal boiler this season and two sets of grates. Great coal boilers.
Tamecrow
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Warden King Ltd.
Stove/Furnace Model: Viking Jr. Boiler/Will-Burt 30

Re: Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

PostBy: Tamecrow On: Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:03 pm

waldo lemieux wrote:So, you don't think I need to line the outside edges to keep the fire away from the water jacket?


You definitely don't want to line a Severn boiler with brick for burning wood. When burning wood in these boilers the creosote forms at the top in the heat exchange section, not in the firebox. Quite different from a steel plate boiler where the firebox will cake up with creosote. I know several people burning very wet wood (fresh off the stump) in these things during the fringe heating months and the only part that needs creosote cleaning is the heat exchanger. And even there it's not much worse than a hot air appliance would be.
Tamecrow
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Warden King Ltd.
Stove/Furnace Model: Viking Jr. Boiler/Will-Burt 30

Re: Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

PostBy: imaddicted2u On: Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:41 pm

Tamecrow wrote:
imaddicted2u wrote:I live in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I have an old coal boiler. Coal here has become hard to get and the quality is usually low.


Addicted, Where about in Cape Breton do you live? There's no shortage of high quality bit coal on the island. As a matter of fact I haven't burned coal this good since Phalen mine and that was the best coal I've ever burned. If you want good quality coal go see Malcolm S. Macdonald trucking on the # 4 highway. He'll sell you all the coal you want. Top quality coal. It would be a shame, IMHO, to turn the old girl into a wood boiler when they perform so well using coal. There's still grates and other parts for that boiler available on the island. If you're interested I'll dig you up a set. I sold one complete Severn coal boiler this season and two sets of grates. Great coal boilers.


Crap, I already have the wood on the way. I live in Sydney. Maybe I'm doing something wrong but the last coal I got hardly wanted to burn, just made a lot of smoke, the people that lived here before me had the same problem. Can't remember who I got the coal from or where it came from. I sure would appreciate more info on grates, what would they be worth. I still have a few tons of coal in the basement would be nice to use it. What's a ton of coal going for in good ole' CB these days.
Thanks for the reply.
imaddicted2u
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: American Standard Severn (1957) on bituminous
Coal Size/Type: Unscreened-Fist sized lump to powder-Bituminous

Re: Can I convert old American Standard Severn boiler to wood?

PostBy: Berlin On: Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:31 am

What tamecrow said. Sell the wood. There's plenty of very good coal in NS. Why would you want to clog up your boiler and stack w/ gooey creosote when you could burn coal for twice the convenience?
Berlin
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal

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