how to light a fire in a combustioneer or other underfeed stoker:
The easiest way to light any underfeed stoker (anthracite or bit) is to just use a piece of paper. That's it. Make sure the pot is full of fresh coal, make a big valley in the middle, light a tightly compressed ball of newspaper or packing paper (about the size of your fist) place it in the divot and let it become engulfed. Then sprinkle a small amount of coal over the paper so that it's smouldering. Turn on the stoker (or just the combustion blower if you have separate control). After the combustion blower is turned on, immediately bury the remaining visible paper with about an inch or so of coal. Wait until flames appear (2-3 min) and the coal gas has ignited (leave the viewing door open during this time to prevent possible puff-back). Once flames appear leave the blower running for another 2-3 min (w/bit coal) or longer w/ anthracite. Finally, turn stoker/blower OFF for about 15-30 minutes (make sure the viewing door and ashpan is tightly closed at this point - you want the natural draft to stabilize the fire) to allow the coal bed to burn down into the pot w/ natural draft and stabilize, once this happens, you can turn the stoker/blower back on and you're good to go.
As far as efficiency, the stoker can be tuned to get fairly high steady state combustion efficiency, however, the unit's heat exchanger is too small and the exhaust temps are far too high. I strongly recommend using a "magic heat reclaimer" on the stack. Also, these make a fair amount of flyash, be sure to check the smoke pipe regularly.
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- The fire should be just hitting the tubes in the firebox, any bigger than that and you're wasting a lot of coal, you may have to use the smallest pulley on the unit.