Starting a fire in a Harmon III

Starting a fire in a Harmon III

PostBy: camplate On: Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:01 am

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.

Kevin
camplate
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman III
Coal Size/Type: stove
Other Heating: Electric

Re: Starting a fire in a Harmon III

PostBy: theo On: Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:07 am

Good Job!! House will be warm plus a warm GF,,, means a lot!! Just make sure you have a couple CO detectors in the house!
theo
 
Stove/Furnace Make: LL
Stove/Furnace Model: Hyfire 2

Re: Starting a fire in a Harmon III

PostBy: Duengeon master On: Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:39 pm

Hi, Welcome to the forum!!! I have a Mark III also. If you use stove coal, which the stove burns well, it usually takes longer to light than nut or pea and needs a bigger wood fire to get it started. You also mentioned that you didn't put much coal in it. Fill the stove to the top of the firebrick and even a bit higher if you want. This will give you a good long and hot burn.

When I light mine, I put a slight layer of coal on the grate and make a hole in the center Then add charcoal directly to the grate. ( this concentrates the draft to the charcoal getting it hot faster.) Then when the charcoal gets going, then add a small layer of coal until it is going good then add more and so on until the coal is as high as the fire brick.
Duengeon master
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harmon Mark III
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite pea and nut mix. Bituminous lump

Visit Hitzer Stoves

Re: Starting a fire in a Harmon III

PostBy: camplate On: Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:09 pm

Theo: We have CO detectors, at least two.

Duengeon master: When I started I didn't have enough wood to start the coal and no charcoal. Then when I did have a good fire going with coal I didn't fill it like like I know to do now. And I thought the first night I had put in too much, but really I just didn't get the fire back to hot.

When we started the wood fire the one CO detector in the basement jumped up to 50. We opened the windows and got it back down. The wood fire had terrible draw at first, even after an hour smoke would billow out when adding coal. Yes, the chimney was clear. Everything is fine now.
camplate
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman III
Coal Size/Type: stove
Other Heating: Electric

Re: Starting a fire in a Harmon III

PostBy: blrman07 On: Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:27 pm

Welcome to the land of burning black rocks. It is a mysterious phenomenon that takes a grip on you.

First you ignore it, then you look at it, then you try it for the first time and it teases you. It shows you what the potential is and it moves up your ladder of importance. Then you get that first good fire and some thing primeval bubbles up and you find yourself mesmerized by the fire. Not like a wood fire with popping and throwing sparks and blasting with heat. A coal fire is steady and continuous, not loud and boisterous like a wood fire. You find yourself staring at it and then realize how much time has passed without thinking a single coherent thought.

You tend it and look forward to the hours going by so you can tend it again. Then you start keeping track of how long it went without doing anything and then that day comes when you pushed the envelope a little too far and you lose the fire. You clean it out and start again and the strange dance starts again.

Your hooked......

Rev. Larry
New Beginning Church
Ashland Pa.
blrman07
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Bucket a Day
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vigilant Casting 2310
Baseburners & Antiques: rebuilding a 1906 March Brownback Double Heater, reblacking a UMCO 1920's Pot Belly
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Wood in the VC and anything that will fit in the Bucket a Day. It's not fussy.

Re: Starting a fire in a Harmon III

PostBy: theo On: Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:33 pm

camplate wrote:Theo: We have CO detectors, at least two.

Duengeon master: When I started I didn't have enough wood to start the coal and no charcoal. Then when I did have a good fire going with coal I didn't fill it like like I know to do now. And I thought the first night I had put in too much, but really I just didn't get the fire back to hot.

When we started the wood fire the one CO detector in the basement jumped up to 50. We opened the windows and got it back down. The wood fire had terrible draw at first, even after an hour smoke would billow out when adding coal. Yes, the chimney was clear. Everything is fine now.
:up:
theo
 
Stove/Furnace Make: LL
Stove/Furnace Model: Hyfire 2

Visit Hitzer Stoves