AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

PostBy: lsayre On: Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:01 am

I started losing efficiency a day or two ago (thankfully just post the back to back -17 and -8 degree nights) , so I spoke with Darren at AHS and he pointed me right to the issue. There is an approximately 1.5" x 2" channel that runs from the inside wall of the cyclonic separator across and into to the main swirl chamber of the boiler. As this channel gets plugged up it causes a sudden loss of efficiency and it also causes the sight tube (flapper) cover to not get strongly pulled in when the fan comes on. I had this happening also all at once in conjunction with losing efficiency.

Last night I emptied out the coal hopper and I woke up this morning to a cold boiler. Let me be clear that you can't see this channel if you do not remove the cyclonic separator tube, as it is behind it. I pulled the cyclonic separator out and worked (OK, forced, it took some effort) a boiler brush through the channel from the cyclonic separator end until it finally broke on through to the swirl chamber (at which time the brush head was in the channel by what felt like nearly a foot, and then it suddenly fell on through into the large swirl chamber indicating success). I worked the brush to clean this area, and I cleaned the cyclonic separator area (which otherwise was pretty clean), and I also cleaned the flue pipes and the baro damper while everything was out.

Got it all back together and as soon as the fan was initiated the sight tube cover slammed closed with good force. This was the first indication of success. Loaded it with some ash (2 scoops) and with roughly 320 lbs. of coal, and repeated the flapper cover closing test successfully. The sight tube cover slammed shut immediately. Darren at AHS had led me right to the problem area. Needless to say I'm in my 3rd winter season and until I spoke with Darren I didn't know that this all important channel was there at all, so despite cleaning the swirl chamber and the cyclonic separator and the flue pipes I had never before cleaned this all important channel. Now it will be a part of every cleaning. I also greased the pillow block bearings for the fan and oiled the chain and bearings for the ashing motor.

When I do my summer cleaning I will pull the back side apart for a full and major cleaning and clean the swirl chamber proper. I will also clean the formerly missed channel, etc.. from, now on.

Presently firing back up and so far all is going quite well. Lesson learned. Thank you Daren Bricker!
Last edited by lsayre on Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:13 am, edited 3 times in total.
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (if I ever get it fixed)

Re: AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

PostBy: whistlenut On: Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:06 am

Larry, I'd be very surprised if the swirl chamber had anything in it. Unless you had some crap coal, it will self clean. Regarding the port cleaning, you can easily get at it from the top if you remove the smoke pipe while investigating the ashing cone. Make a 90 degree rig for your vacuum and it fits right into the swirl chamber....straight down to vac the cone, if there is anything in it. Good plan to advise folks to check out the stoves, boilers, radiant units.
whistlenut
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AA130's,260's, AHS130&260's,EFM900,GJ&VanWert
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Franks Boiler,Itasca415,NYer130,Van Wert
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Yellow Flame
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska-4,Keystoker-2,
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Alaska,Gibraltor,Keystone,Vc Vigilant 2
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Van Wert, NYer's, Ford,Jensen.
Coal Size/Type: Rice,Buck,Pea,Nut&Stove
Other Heating: Oil HWBB

Re: AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

PostBy: lsayre On: Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:27 am

whistlenut wrote:Larry, I'd be very surprised if the swirl chamber had anything in it. Unless you had some crap coal, it will self clean. Regarding the port cleaning, you can easily get at it from the top if you remove the smoke pipe while investigating the ashing cone. Make a 90 degree rig for your vacuum and it fits right into the swirl chamber....straight down to vac the cone, if there is anything in it. Good plan to advise folks to check out the stoves, boilers, radiant units.


Whistlenut, do you think I can go 2 years (or more) between pulling the back side open for direct swirl chamber cleanings? That is the tough job. The rest of cleaning it is easy by comparison.
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (if I ever get it fixed)

Re: AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

PostBy: whistlenut On: Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:57 am

Yes to two year intervals.....heck I've taken apart units that appear to never have apart......40 years old......still burning.....not well.
whistlenut
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AA130's,260's, AHS130&260's,EFM900,GJ&VanWert
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Franks Boiler,Itasca415,NYer130,Van Wert
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Yellow Flame
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska-4,Keystoker-2,
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Alaska,Gibraltor,Keystone,Vc Vigilant 2
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Van Wert, NYer's, Ford,Jensen.
Coal Size/Type: Rice,Buck,Pea,Nut&Stove
Other Heating: Oil HWBB

Re: AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

PostBy: Rob R. On: Sat Feb 01, 2014 12:04 pm

If the boiler burns less coal now you are going to have to retract those things you said about the Blaschak coal. :D :lol:

All jokes aside, it is good that you got it figured out. It would have been great if you had pictures. Maybe the next time you take it down for service you can write up a how-to for other people to follow.

-Rob
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

PostBy: Pa papa On: Sat Feb 01, 2014 12:40 pm

Yep, that's a tough clean.
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Flue gas passage into separator
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Pa papa
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS-130
Coal Size/Type: Pea; anthracite
Other Heating: oil fired boiler; LP insert

Re: AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

PostBy: lsayre On: Sat Feb 01, 2014 1:49 pm

This came on suddenly. it wasn't gradual. it's like one minute the boiler was fine, and the next minute it ran for hours to keep up.
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (if I ever get it fixed)

Re: AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

PostBy: EarthWindandFire On: Sat Feb 01, 2014 4:30 pm

Larry,

Do you think you could have seen the problem by using one of those flexible neck camera systems and snaking it through different access points?

Just curious....
EarthWindandFire
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Leisure Line Lil' Heater.
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer model 75.
Other Heating: Oil and Natural Gas.

Re: AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

PostBy: lsayre On: Sat Feb 01, 2014 4:37 pm

EarthWindandFire wrote:Larry,

Do you think you could have seen the problem by using one of those flexible neck camera systems and snaking it through different access points?

Just curious....


Not while the boiler was running, but a toy like that sure would be nice!
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (if I ever get it fixed)

Re: AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

PostBy: lsayre On: Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:40 am

Follow-up 24 hours post the re-firing:

Back to normal, with the boiler firing only to satisfy T-Stat or shower/laundry heat calls, and then quickly coming back up to my 180 degree fan cut off set point temp and idling comfortably until the next heat call. The house is toasty warm again. I won't be so stupid as to go 2.5 years of 24/7 running (sans for annual clean-outs) without cleaning "the channel" (I'm sure it has a real name, but I don't know it) again.

I'm now officially a 'one match club' drop-out for this heating season. Is that multi-match club that was popular a year ago still active? ;)
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (if I ever get it fixed)

Re: AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

PostBy: Carbon12 On: Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:41 am

No worries, dropping out of the 1 match club for maintenance doesn't count. :D
Carbon12
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite
Other Heating: Heat Pump/Forced Hot Air Oil Furnace

Re: AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

PostBy: lsayre On: Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:18 pm

Rob R. wrote:If the boiler burns less coal now you are going to have to retract those things you said about the Blaschak coal. :D :lol:


You may well be on to something there Rob. So far it seems that the coal consumption of the Coal Gun is going way down, and it may be getting back in the range of where I was at with the Harmony coal. I may soon be taking back all of my grumbling about Blaschak.
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (if I ever get it fixed)

Re: AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

PostBy: Carbon12 On: Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:22 pm

What's that they say,,....an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of coal?!!? :D Learn while you burn as you all say. Next year, you'll be ready!
Carbon12
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite
Other Heating: Heat Pump/Forced Hot Air Oil Furnace

Re: AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

PostBy: lsayre On: Sat Feb 08, 2014 7:06 pm

It's a bit premature for the official call here, but so far it looks like I'm burning about 1.38 lbs. per HDD at present, vs burning about 1.5 to 1.52 lbs. per HDD before the cleaning. Last year with Harmony I was burning at a rate of 1.34 lbs. per HDD. The Blaschak I'm burning this year is not bad by comparison. The "proper" cleaning seems to have done the trick.

If that's the case, then my formerly 70.2% efficient boiler is now a 76.8% efficient boiler. :D

1.51/1.38 x 70.2% pre-cleaning = 76.8% post-cleaning for Blaschak pea

With Harmony by the same reckoning it was 79.1% efficient.
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (if I ever get it fixed)

Re: AHS S-130 Coal Gun mid-season cleaning (and lesson learned)

PostBy: lsayre On: Thu Feb 13, 2014 7:28 pm

Still to early to write this in stone, but with the last few top-offs I'm now sitting at 1.30 lbs. burned per HDD for the entire month of February to date (excluding DHW demand here to look only at home heating). This seasons Blaschak pea is now exceeding the best efficiency I saw from last seasons Harmony pea. I can't emphasize how much difference there has been post cleaning the mysterious channel.

The Coal Gun's efficiency is now potentially in the vicinity of 81.5%.
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (if I ever get it fixed)