Need help selecting a coal stove

Need help selecting a coal stove

PostBy: chgo comb engr On: Mon Jan 14, 2008 12:35 am

Hi, My name is Brian. I am new here. This forum seems to be a place for level-headed intelligent discussion about coal burning, so I joined

I want to purchase a hand-fired coal stove for supplemental heat and power outage backup. I want to burn Anthracite and possibly Bituminous. I have no interest in other fuel sources for my own good reasons. I don't know which stove to choose. I live in the South suburbs of Chicago. My home is a well-insulated 1400 SF ranch with a basement. I want to heat the large Great Room with cathedral ceiling where I spend most of my time.

Most of my stove research has been on the internet so far. Alaska, Harman, Hitzer, US Stove and Vermont have OK websites with good technical information. The Baker, Buck and Keystoker websites could be better. I don't like the looks of the US Stove Wondercoal coal stoves so they are out of the picture.

I visited 2 nearby stove dealers: A Vermont/Buck dealer and a Harman dealer. Each of these 2 dealers bad-mouthed the competing dealer and competing product. NOTE TO DEALERS: THIS IS NOT A GOOD SALES TACTIC!

The Vermont/Buck dealer did not have a Vigilant (or Buck Model 24) in stock. The Harman dealer had a cannibalized TLC2000 in stock. The cast iron Vermont wood stoves were handsome, but I am concerned that the gasketed sectional construction might be delicate and fussy. The plate steel Harman appears well built but I find it to be ugly.

I placed a call to Keystone and received a printed brochure, but learned that the nearest dealer is in Ohio. I have yet to call Baker and get more information from them. I live about 1.5 hours from the Alaska and Hitzer dealers in North Central Indiana and I have yet to visit them.

From what I have read in this forum, it appears that there are no bad coal stoves on the market - just bad installations. It is difficult to find a rant against any stove manufacturer or any particular stove model. Would you guys please provide some thoughts regarding the selection of my first hand-fired coal stove? I am willing to spend $1500-$2000 - including stovepipe and prefab chimney. I prefer a top flue for close-clearance parallel installation with straight-through-the-roof exit.

Thank you in advance, Brian
chgo comb engr
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Still searching
Stove/Furnace Model: Still searching

Re: Need help selecting a coal stove

PostBy: bksaun On: Mon Jan 14, 2008 1:19 am

Look hard at the Hitzer 254, it comes in several colors, is simple to operate. A batch fed stove that can burn either Anthracite, Bituminous or wood if needed.

You say you are in the suburbs, you might want to give some thought about bituminous, it smokes a lot when put on fresh. Depends on the neihbors.

If you stick with Anthracite no one will even know you are burning coal.

Chicago is not that far from Berne IN. where the Hitzers are made. Go Visit.

BK
bksaun
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Hybrid, Gentleman Janitor GJ-6RSU/ EFM 700
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 503
Coal Size/Type: Pea Stoker/Bit, Pea or Nut Anthracite
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer/ EFM-Gentleman Janitor
Stove/Furnace Model: 503 Insert/ 700/GJ-62

Re: Need help selecting a coal stove

PostBy: coalstoves On: Mon Jan 14, 2008 6:35 am

The trick is you want the option to burn Bitty or Anthracite .
The keystoker handfired and Harmon models don't seem to address Bitty use in their websites but I just looked briefly, the Vigilant is a Cast Iron stove some feel steel is better and again they don’t seem to address bitty the buck looks like wood only and I'm with you on the US stove not even being considered .

A no go wrong shot from the hip from me would be the above mentioned Hitzer for the fact they are well built are sold to burn a variety of fuels ( Not the EZ flow ) looks great and are made close to you . Only problem may be availability they are individually made in a small plant and this time of year can develop a back log .

Anthracite is a superior fuel but you will deal with finding a supplier Blaschak coal is sold in most parts of the nation in conveinient 40lb bags on pallets the price per ton is comparable to what I pay straight from the breaker considering the transportation factor. Blaschak will help you locate a dealer near you if need be and I am sure there are broker options from other sources if you buy a quantity .

Bitty is prolly abundant for you but has a laundry list of issues when burning it, I'm not knowledgeable enough about it to offer comments on its use .

My Vote Hitzer Model 254 or 354
coalstoves
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman and Liberty
Stove/Furnace Model: Magnum and Victory 700

Visit Hitzer Stoves

Re: Need help selecting a coal stove

PostBy: LsFarm On: Mon Jan 14, 2008 6:44 am

Hello Brian,

I second the suggestion to go with a Hitzer. But I will suggest you look at not only the batch feed models, but also look at the hopper top load models. These can save some time and effort and often need tending only every 24 hours instead of every 12-14 hours.

Burning Bituminous as the two members above have stated has it's issues, read up on it on the forum.

I have the name and number for a good anthracite coal retailer in Nappannee Indiana. PM me for his phone number. I also know of a Hitzer dealer up near Grand Rapids, who usually has a few in stock. He sells coal too.

The Harman products are also very good and well made, factory support is virtually nonexistant. So you will be depending on the local dealer for support, unfortunately your local dealer has issues it appears.

Hitzer is nearby, and will support you directly if needed. They are nice folks. With stong well built products

You will need to spend more than $1500-2000 to buy a new stove and install a prefab chimney, the chimney may cost that much alone. Get some quotes.

Keep an eye on Ebay, and your local papers. There was a Harman Mark I on ebay in SE Michigan a month or two ago, sold for around $600 I think. Used handfired stoves from good manufacturers are pretty much bullet proof. I wouldn't fear buying used.

How tall would your chimney need to be to get above the roof peak?? With the slowdown in house construction, you may find a mason looking for work who will build you a concrete block chimney for a lot less that a SS prefab, and the looks of a block chimney often looks better than the shiny SS prefab ones. This I know is personal preference.

Hope this helps, and welcome to the forum

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: Need help selecting a coal stove

PostBy: lincolnmania On: Mon Jan 14, 2008 7:31 am

the wondercoal is a piece of junk in my opinion
lincolnmania
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: efm af-150 1982
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: alaska kodiak stoker 1986
Hand Fed Coal Stove: warm morning 1980 kenmore

Re: Need help selecting a coal stove

PostBy: bksaun On: Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:19 am

LsFarm wrote:Hello Brian,

I second the suggestion to go with a Hitzer. But I will suggest you look at not only the batch feed models, but also look at the hopper top load models. These can save some time and effort and often need tending only every 24 hours instead of every 12-14 hours.

Burning Bituminous as the two members above have stated has it's issues, read up on it on the forum
.

Remember, you can't burn bituminous in a hopper fed stove, but if you buy the Hitzer 30-95 the hopper is removeable, the larger 50-93 is not.

BK
bksaun
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Hybrid, Gentleman Janitor GJ-6RSU/ EFM 700
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 503
Coal Size/Type: Pea Stoker/Bit, Pea or Nut Anthracite
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer/ EFM-Gentleman Janitor
Stove/Furnace Model: 503 Insert/ 700/GJ-62

Re: Need help selecting a coal stove

PostBy: New York Bear On: Mon Jan 14, 2008 6:36 pm

I have the Hitzer 354, heating basement and house, about 2,000 sq. ft. VERY happy with stove, easy to maintain.
New York Bear
 

Re: Need help selecting a coal stove

PostBy: Devil505 On: Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:07 pm

Just to add to your confusion, I recomend the Harman TLC-2000. It is the best stove I've ever owned, & i've owned 3 coal stoves....Easy to load & unload, large ash pan & accurate air controls. (You can get it to burn a very low temps for warmer weather, if your draft is ok) I too was concerned about the joint in the Vermont Castings, & I think they (V. Castings) has been sold to a fgn company & they are not what they used to be) Cant change your mind about looks though (although I think the TLC2000 is very nice looking)
Devil505
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000

Re: Need help selecting a coal stove

PostBy: VigIIPeaBurner On: Wed Jan 16, 2008 9:05 am

I've owned to Vermont Casting stoves and used both yearly: '79 Defiant wood and '00 Vigiant II Coal. No problems with the castings/joining. Never replaced a part other than gaskets. Did have some dealer instations issues that I had to flush out myself. The only special treatment that I did to both stoves was to break them in starting with a small fire/allow to fully cool cycles, daily, up to normal burn sized fire. With nearly thirty years of hand fireing, I'd like to get a stoker but there's none out there I found that satisfy the wife's eye like the VC stove do. Guess I'll keep working ideas her way toward a furnace to hook up to the hot air system.
VigIIPeaBurner
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker Koker
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vermont Casting Vigilant II 2310
Other Heating: #2 Oil Furnace

Re: Need help selecting a coal stove

PostBy: JerseyCoal On: Thu Jan 17, 2008 12:13 am

Hi Brian and welcome to the Forum:

I can't add to anything the other fellows have said about stove choices but, I did want to make a comment about your Great Room with the cathedral ceiling.

My living room also has a very high ceiling and much of the heat from my coal stove would simply hang out at the ceiling while my feet on the floor were chilly. Last year I installed a ceiling fan on a down-rod so that the blades are about 8.5 feet above the floor. It does a wonderful job of pulling the cooler air off of the floor, mixing it with the super-heated air on the ceiling, and raining the resulting warm air back down on me and my children. The living room is much more comfortable with the fan. If you don't have ceiling fans in your Great Room, I highly recommend them.

Good luck in your search for a stove. There's plenty of great knowledge and experience on this site.

John C.
JerseyCoal
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Franco Belge model 10.1475

Re: Need help selecting a coal stove

PostBy: cokehead On: Thu Jan 17, 2008 1:19 am

My parent's bought a Vermont Castings wood stove 15 or so years ago. The top casting cracked and the front twin doors warped. They bought it because it was attractive.

A friend of mine has a Vermont Castings Coal stove and he has given up on coal. He had nothing but problems with it. The grate shaker handle broke. He wasn't able to get a long burn or enough heat to make his house comfortable with coal in that stove. He has reverted to wood in the VC and is planning to replace it with a wood only stove of a different brand.

Personally I'd steer clear of Vermont Castings.
cokehead
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Locke, Godin, Tarm in da works
Stove/Furnace Model: Warm Morning 617-A, 3721, 502

Re: Need help selecting a coal stove

PostBy: Wood'nCoal On: Thu Jan 17, 2008 8:28 am

From personal experience I'd recommend Harman. Very well built, but poor factory support, you do have to depend on the dealer you buy it from. However there are many Harman owners on this forum who can help out.
Wood'nCoal
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1959 EFM 350
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Magnafire Mark I
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Fisher Fireplace Insert

Re: Need help selecting a coal stove

PostBy: VigIIPeaBurner On: Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:37 am

Regarding VC stoves, I can't dispute other's experiences similar to cokehead's. I've heard more than a few myself. Keep in mind there are two version of the VC Vigilant coal stove; the original wood version with optional coal hopper insert (trouble) and the redesign 2310 dubbed the "II". My six years with the 2310 "II" unit; no problems to date and it heats my 3,100 sq ft home. Even made it thru the last three cold days down to 8.5 F w/o running the oil. I diligently watch the thermometer and recently began using an IR unit. They are hand-fired units. Good luck with whatever you choose.
VigIIPeaBurner
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker Koker
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vermont Casting Vigilant II 2310
Other Heating: #2 Oil Furnace

Re: Need help selecting a coal stove

PostBy: Wood'nCoal On: Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:43 am

VigIIPeaBurner wrote:Regarding VC stoves, I can't dispute other's experiences similar to cokehead's. I've heard more than a few myself. Keep in mind there are two version of the VC Vigilant coal stove; the original wood version with optional coal hopper insert (trouble) and the redesign 2310 dubbed the "II". My six years with the 2310 "II" unit; no problems to date and it heats my 3,100 sq ft home. Even made it thru the last three cold days down to 8.5 F w/o running the oil. I diligently watch the thermometer and recently began using an IR unit. They are hand-fired units. Good luck with whatever you choose.


Hey Vig,
Are you on top of some tall mountain, maybe a pile of stale hot dog rolls from Hot Dog Johnny's or something?
It's been in the 20's up here in Sussex county. 8.5 degrees? I'm just confused!

John
Wood'nCoal
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1959 EFM 350
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Magnafire Mark I
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Fisher Fireplace Insert

Re: Need help selecting a coal stove

PostBy: VigIIPeaBurner On: Thu Jan 17, 2008 8:10 pm

Nah, no recent nitrate fix for me, but I am a few hundred feet higher than those dogs are. Well, I tired to word that thought the best I could ... after a busy 10 hr overnight shift ! I didn't say past three but chose "last". Tried referring to the last cold snap we had back around the 1/3. Then, go figure, five days later it got to 65 and the honeybees were flying.

I got a tip for you, better hurry if you want to satisfy that grease, onion and buttermilk pang. Better come-and-get-it before Patsy takes off for FL in a week and half or it'll be till the middle of Feb. when you can.

Back to the thread ... most people I know love Harman stoves too. Steal is more forgiving. That said, cast iron has not failed for me in 29 yrs. of tending fully radiant stoves. I get consistant 12+hr heating burn times when the temps are in the 20s and longer when its warmer. Let the power go out!

Dave
VigIIPeaBurner
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker Koker
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vermont Casting Vigilant II 2310
Other Heating: #2 Oil Furnace

Visit Hitzer Stoves