Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

PostBy: tmiraglia On: Mon Jan 07, 2008 3:57 pm

OK, my dad lives in Trucksville PA, burns a 23 year old Vermont Castings vigilant. I used to burn it at the same house years ago. It's often been a tricky stove and maybe I wasn't the best at it, but now it seems to be requiring a rebuilding as burning is really inconsistent. It's really hard to maintain efficient heat. So I suggested my Dad look at stokers which I thought would be easier for him. Well, we saw this model the "Lehigh" which is made by Reading and it's the only "Radiant Only" stoker I've seen. It's cast iron, not steel. So it doesn't have a built in blower (apparently one is optional and sits across the top of the stove). It also doesn't have the "double wall" construction which I believe is related to a blower technology. The Vigilant is a hand fired radiant and we like the intensity of the radiant heat and would prefer not to have to rely on the blower. Just would like to know if anyone has this stove or any thoughts on the idea of getting a radiant only stoker. I presume the Lehigh would still have a combustion fan and so, without a blower, you'd hear the combustion fan and auger running. But it has to be quieter. My Dad is also struggling with losing the ambience of the nice looking Vigilant and would love to run a hand fired but it just time and time again is hard to get it just right. Any thoughts?
tmiraglia
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Vermont Castings soon to be LL
Stove/Furnace Model: Vigilant soon to be Pioneer

Re: Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

PostBy: av8r On: Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:17 pm

My thoughts are that buying a radiant only that has a blower as an afterthought, is crippling yourself before you get started. A modern stoker will have the benefits of a radiant when the blower isn't running but also have the advantage of being designed to heat more efficiently when the blower is turned on. The airspace/plenum that is created on a modern stoker will still move air via convective currents when the blower is off and the stove is acting like a radiant. Turn the blower on and you get MUCH more heat and better control over the temp in the space you're trying to heat.
av8r
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Leisure Line Hearth with twin turbos (sounds like it)
Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: Hearth model with twin turbos

Re: Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

PostBy: coalstoves On: Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:18 pm

Here in this forum the Reading Line of Stoves is probably one of the most least discussed Stoves, I am assuming it is prolly one of the least sold brands also, when I looked at them I was immediately turned off by the physical appearance, then found they use the what I call outdated Tri - Burner stoker mechanism, it works and there are a lot of Tri - Burners out there but it is prolly not the best .
A quick look at the specs show it is listed at 70,000 BTU modest for a stoker and you appear to be happy with the idea of less features such as a convection blower . From my own experience going from a hand fired unit to a stoker the idea of the unit being simpler is appealing at first, but as your Dad becomes more experienced with the stoker and you begin to see and hear what others are using and are capable of doing he may begin to regret the decision to have purchased a stove that was limited straight out of the box .
Just some thoughts to consider, because I am sure there are many folks who own one and are thrilled with it.
coalstoves
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman and Liberty
Stove/Furnace Model: Magnum and Victory 700

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Re: Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

PostBy: tmiraglia On: Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:38 pm

Thanks for those initial responses. two related questiosn - Are there any other cast iron stokers out there? Also, I know some stokers the blower is controlled by the burn rate -- are there stoves where the blower is independently controlled - thus allowing you to use it more as a radiant?
tmiraglia
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Vermont Castings soon to be LL
Stove/Furnace Model: Vigilant soon to be Pioneer

Re: Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

PostBy: av8r On: Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:42 pm

tmiraglia wrote:Thanks for those initial responses. two related questiosn - Are there any other cast iron stokers out there? Also, I know some stokers the blower is controlled by the burn rate -- are there stoves where the blower is independently controlled - thus allowing you to use it more as a radiant?


Alaska makes a cast iron top for some of their stoves. The convection blower can be manually controlled on pretty much any stove. Even with the Coal-Trol unit, you could simply connect the blower to an outlet and use a rheostat to bypass the automatic control.
av8r
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Leisure Line Hearth with twin turbos (sounds like it)
Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: Hearth model with twin turbos

Re: Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

PostBy: gambler On: Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:49 pm

av8r wrote: Even with the Coal-Trol unit, you could simply connect the blower to an outlet and use a rheostat to bypass the automatic control.


I think you could upgrade the coal trol at the time of purchase to include a manual override on the convection fan.
My T-stat has this option but I purchased the coal-trol as an add-on for the used stove that I bought.
gambler
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: Pioneer

Re: Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

PostBy: tmiraglia On: Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:53 pm

Are people who have switched from hand fired to stoker happy they made the switch? Maybe I should go ask that question on the hand fired forum too...
tmiraglia
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Vermont Castings soon to be LL
Stove/Furnace Model: Vigilant soon to be Pioneer

Re: Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

PostBy: av8r On: Mon Jan 07, 2008 5:04 pm

gambler wrote:
av8r wrote: Even with the Coal-Trol unit, you could simply connect the blower to an outlet and use a rheostat to bypass the automatic control.


I think you could upgrade the coal trol at the time of purchase to include a manual override on the convection fan.
My T-stat has this option but I purchased the coal-trol as an add-on for the used stove that I bought.

That's true. The TS1 has that now. Coal-Trol has said that they will be offering a firmware upgrade for the TS2 that will enable manual fan controls among other things. I think this will be a very beneficial upgrade for most.
av8r
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Leisure Line Hearth with twin turbos (sounds like it)
Stove/Furnace Make: Leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: Hearth model with twin turbos

Re: Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Mon Jan 07, 2008 5:49 pm

tmiraglia wrote: Are there any other cast iron stokers out there?


I wouldn't be on a quest for something in iron. It may seem to be the choice because of its excellent high temperature properties. It is not when dealing with coal fired residential heating. Don't pass up a good buy because its steel. Unless you cut it up with a torch for scrap, any of the major brands will last longer than all of us.
coaledsweat
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

Re: Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

PostBy: LsFarm On: Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:18 pm

Cast iron has good heat resistance like coaledsweat stated. This is why coal grates are made of cast iron. But using cast iron to build a box for enclosing a coal or wood fire in is not easy to do well. Cast iron is cast into plates, the top and bottom, sides, front and back of the enclosing box. These pieces must be mated together and sealed to keep the fumes and gases from burning coal or wood inside.

The mating joints in cast iron stoves are subject to leaks. And cast iron is very brittle, a hot spot can create cracks, and repairing cast iron is a difficult process that is often not successful.

With all the above issues with cast iron, many of which I learned by owning and opperating a cast iron stove, I would never want another cast iron stove. Steel is a much more forgiving material to work with, and is used as the material for the vast majority of stoves built today for this reason.

Personally I would not buy a cast iron stove.

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

Re: Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

PostBy: rberq On: Mon Jan 07, 2008 9:40 pm

You make it sound like a choice between staying with the Vigilant, or going with a stoker. If you have to buy something anyhow, and if he likes and is still capable of running the hand-fed stove, then why not get a new hand-fired to replace the Vigilant? It probably won't be as pretty, but it will work better. I agree steel is the way to go, not cast iron. I'm also one who would prefer a purely radiant stove without a blower, but I don't know if there are any....
rberq
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine 1300
Coal Size/Type: Nut -- Kimmel/Blaschak/Reading
Other Heating: Oil hot water radiators, propane

Re: Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

PostBy: tmiraglia On: Tue Jan 08, 2008 1:03 am

To R-berg, that's a very fair question, about considering a hand fired. I guess we're thinking the stoker will reduce the likelihood of "user error" and also provide a more consistent heat. (I used to burn the Vigilant at the house years ago and I got pretty good results -- however, it was funny, I'd come home from work, stove would be at a low point -- get it going real good, go to bed, wake up, stove at a relative low point again, get it going real good, go to work....
tmiraglia
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Vermont Castings soon to be LL
Stove/Furnace Model: Vigilant soon to be Pioneer

Re: Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

PostBy: LsFarm On: Tue Jan 08, 2008 9:35 am

Hello tmir... a stoker is less work, and has less likelihood of operator errors, at least once it is set up and the controls set. The ash falls into the ash pan, so there is no shaking of grates or under or over shaking. And no build up of clinkers or ash to clog the grates.

The only item that can have some operator error is in a stoker stove with manual controls. When I was operating a manual controled stoker in my shop, I had to have patience, if I made an adjustment on the feed, I had to wait for an hour or so to see the results. We have become acustomed to turning a knob and seeing instant results. Well the knob still controls the fire of a solid fuel, which doesn't react instantly. so I learned to have patience.

I would recommend a stoker over a hand feed, but there are some very good hand feed stoves available. and even the ones with a fan still radiate a lot of heat, so you could either leave the fan off [lots of wasted heat goes up the chimney] or put a reostat on the blower and turn it down so it isn't noisey. [if that is your objection to a fan].

Either way, a newer design hand feed or a stoker, it will be more reliable and give much more steady heat than your current stove.

Greg L

.
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

Re: Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

PostBy: Ed.A On: Tue Jan 08, 2008 12:25 pm

I think your Dad or you would be more than pleased with a new Stoker as well. Readings were the 1st I inquired about and it came up short all around for needs. I've found my Alaska to be beyond expectations as far as ease of use and efficiency. ( and I only use the stock reo-stat control...piece of cake). Leisure Line, Harmons and Alaska seem to be the Stokers of choice, judging by user profiles that is.
Ed.A
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska Channing III/ '94 Stoker II
Coal Size/Type: Rice

Re: Purchasing a stove - anyone burn the "Lehigh"?

PostBy: coalstoves On: Wed Jan 09, 2008 8:47 am

I would also add that when visiting dealers to shop for a stove try to find a dealer that carries more than one brand to lessen the chance of being steered . A dealer near here carries three different lines, he chose them to try and best suit the different types of folks he has come thru the store hey refers to them as the Cadillac then there’s Ole reliable and his latest line for the folks looking for a lower cost . He takes some time and talks with them awhile and does a good job matching them up with a stove .

Please keep us posted with your progress .
coalstoves
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman and Liberty
Stove/Furnace Model: Magnum and Victory 700

Visit Lehigh Anthracite

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