Thank you for this forum.
My girlfriend has lived in her house for eighteen years. It is a bi-level with the stove at the back of the finished basement. She had an automatic feed coal stove for five years, bought a used Harmon to replace it, and then only fired it once right after it was put in to make sure it worked. She wanted to start using it when the temps really dipped. I’ve never used a coal stove but have a cabin that had an open fireplace and now a wood burning insert.
On Saturday Jan 4 we started with a wood fire but knew we didn’t have enough to get a good fire going. We didn’t have any charcoal. Still we tried but I finally left and drove around looking for someone selling wood. Got a small load, drove back to the house, split some down to kindling and started a proper wood fire.
Added coal and had a nice fire going but there wasn’t much fuel in box. I was bouncing between searching the internet and watching the fire. Finally that night determined we could load it up and I did just that.
In the morning the house was cold and we were sure I had smothered the fire. We turned the electric heat back on and went out for Sunday shopping.
We came back to the house, ate lunch, and then got ready to mess with the stove. We figured we would have to scoop all the coal out and restart with a wood fire.
See anything missing? We stood on the stairs and looked across the basement at the dark window. We never actually walked to the stove to see what was going on. When I went to the stove I could see a little red in the bottom and the stove was slightly hot. Opened the ash door and sat down and waited. Soon enough the coal was burning. When it was going good I gave it a shake until I was getting some hot embers. Closed the ash door, gave some more coal, and let it rest. In an hour we had the electric back off. We even had the door to the garage open for a while. Not that the stove was that hot, but just getting used to how it was going to burn.
Then it was a few days of finding the right opening on the draft knob and fighting the single digit temps. It is funny now to say that the house was cold at 70 some mornings because when I lived alone I regularly kept my house at 64 with gas fired hot water. I’m becoming domesticated.
We made some mistakes. Both of us have had the ash door open too long after loading the coal. While we’ve never come as close to losing the fire as the first day it has been low a few times. Yesterday she said she shook it too hard in the morning, got the grate stuck, and had a lot of embers fall through? I didn’t understand. She got the grate moving at lunch and everything was okay last night.
As usual, she has now taken over running the stove. I haven’t even moved any coal or ashes for a week. It’s wonderful to have a good woman take care of you.
In the detached garage she has three tons of stove size coal in a bin. The bin has no access on the sides, all the coal comes out the top. I’ve been looking at the pictures and figuring out modifications to make this summer. I think she only wanted to run this for a week but now we’ll be going until April and starting again in October.
When I get home I’ll add some pictures.
Again, thank you for the forum. When we first started I didn’t even know what questions to ask but I was able to read enough to figure things out, keep the fire going, not burn the house down and hopefully not ruin the stove.