Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

PostBy: Lightning On: Sun Mar 16, 2014 1:53 pm

Do you have a Clayton / Hot Blast or other similar US Stove hand fed appliance? The information here can also apply to copycat models from other companies like Fire Chief, Jensen and Vogelzang. All of these can be excellent anthracite coal burners with just a small modification. This is my third year with a Clayton 1537G hand fed furnace. With lots of trial and error I've learned how to consistently get the normal 12 hour burns during the coldest parts of winter and 24 hour burns during mild weather. This write up was tailored keeping in mind that the persons benefiting may be new to coal and coal burning appliances.

To better understand, let's cover some basics. These furnaces are called multi fuel units because they can burn wood, bituminous (soft) and anthracite (hard) coals. Truth is, since they are designed for multi fuels, they aren't set up for anthracite to get the best results. They simply need a minor modification and a somewhat specific shake and load routine.These three different fuels have their own combustion requirements. Wood and bituminous are similar in that they both need a fair amount of secondary combustion air thru their burn cycle. Secondary combustion air is air that comes in over the fuel bed to burn gases as they are baked out of the fuel. Anthracite has only a small percentage of these volatile gases. They are baked out shortly after loading, making secondary air not quite so important thru most of the burn cycle. Anthracite likes most of its combustion air from underneath, up thru the grates. This is primary combustion air.

In these particular units the secondary air is provided two ways. The first way is thru the vents on the load door. The other way is not so obvious. There are two plates located at each end of the fuel bed called the front and rear liners. These liners have air passages for primary combustion air (air coming in under the grates) to bypass the fuel bed and come up over the fire. I believe the manufacturer used this design to guarantee some secondary air if the load door vents where closed. Since anthracite requires it's air too come up thru the grates, this design doesn't work very well. Here's why; as anthracite burns, ash begins to accumulate on the grates. As the grates get covered with ash, the primary combustion air gets blocked from going up thru the grates and is then rerouted around the coal bed later in the burn. Its the case of, "path of least resistance". You've most likely seen this happen if you have tried to burn anthracite. It results with loss of heat output or a dead fire before the coal bed uses half of its fuel. Its also likely you are cleaning out the fire box every few days to keep a decent fire going with good heat output.

Don't despair, there is an easy fix. It only requires some fiberglass insulation between the liners and the fire box wall. And no, fiberglass insulation will not burn. Use insulation that is about an inch thick. Cut a strip about 24 inches long and 2 inches wide. Wrap it around the top back side of each liner, secure it with tape for the installation. Pinch the fiberglass insulation between the liner and fire box wall as shown in the pictures. This seals the ash pan area so that primary air has no choice other than up thru the fuel bed. This is the single most important modification needed for burning anthracite.

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Next, let's look at the grates. A few things worthy of mention. Firstly, it appears they are symmetrical, but they are not. They do in fact have a top and bottom. The bigger openings in the grates need to face downward. This orientation is needed so ash doesn't become compacted in the grates' openings. Also the grates will sit lower in the frame which improves clearance to help prevent coal jams. I ran mine with the grates upside down for three months. Things went much smoother for me after this discovery.
For more information on the grates upside down..
Grates Upside Down

Secondly, on the bigger units with two inline grates, there can be some slop where the two grates join in the center which prevents good ash evacuation in the back of the fuel bed.
For more information on fixing slop between the inline grate system..
Fixing Play Between Inline Grates

Thirdly, its very easy to break the grate nub that the handle slides onto. I've broken two of them. The remedy is to slide a chunk of square steel stock into the handle to balance the twisting forces against the grate nub. I also cut an end off my ash pan so ash would slide off it easier and it also makes better access to the grates for poking and slicing underneath.
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Now, lets learn about shake down and load technique that will make your results even better. I've come up with a few tools, most hand made out of stuff I found at the hardware store.
Here is a snap of my coal tending artillery.. From left to right..
You will see how I use these in the video.

1) Coal Pusher
2) Clinker Buster
3) Grate Poker
4) Center Frame Slicer
5) Grate/Frame Slicer
6) Wire Fire Box Brush
7) Coal Bed Leveler
8) Flash Light (on the bottom)
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Here is a short video on my latest shake and load routine. I call this the "double shake". It incorporates the use of tools between shakings to better evacuate ash from the fuel bed.

http://youtu.be/MPClFQvUNaY

I recommend the use of a barometric damper since these units don't have any way to automatically regulate combustion air. This device limits draft strength which results in a smooth consistent heat output between tending. I also feel the use of a manometer is mandatory. This device measures the draft pressure and can help diagnose issues with your appliance. It can also warn you if draft is heading towards failure so you can take steps to prevent it. Most importantly, have working Carbon Monoxide detectors in your home, at least two of them, near bedrooms.

Click on these links to see more information about some of the things you saw in this thread..

For more information about the window I installed in the load door..
Load Door Window Installation

For more information on the secondary air pipes in the fire box..
Secondary Air Distribution System

For more information about the hot water coils..
Hot Water Coil Project

For more information on the negative pressure ash can..
Dust Free Ash Pan Dumping
Last edited by Lightning on Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Lightning
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1537G
Coal Size/Type: Nut/Stove Size Mix

Re: Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

PostBy: hotblast1357 On: Sun Mar 16, 2014 3:11 pm

Thanks for all the great info!! I have been thinking about these mods ever since I got the hot blast, now seeing that someone has did them successfully makes me think I'm gonna be pretty busy this summer, I am deff considering the glass door mod and the secondary air mod, I open the secondary air control on my feed door, normally for wood, when reloading, and I can see into the fire box and watch the lady's dance, but having tubes all the down the sides would deff be more effective, I was thinking about pre heating the air also by running it under my baffle plate first then loop down to the tops of the firebrick, if you can picture that, but i wasn't going to attemp it due to the fact that I couldnt watch the results, but now I will be able too, the dhw now is a different story, my electric bill is only running about 70$ a month in the winter, heating water with electric hot water tank, I don't think it would be cost effective to design the dhw coil, plus run circulator pumps, cuz I have no way of setting up natural syphon, and I would be to worried about loosing power and blowing the place up
hotblast1357
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: hot blast 1357M
Baseburners & Antiques: coral andes 213 baseburner
Coal Size/Type: anthracite stove/nut/pea
Other Heating: oil furnace

Re: Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

PostBy: hotblast1357 On: Sun Mar 16, 2014 5:47 pm

Awesome video! I deff don't mess with my coal as much as you do wow lol I would be so afraid of it going out, I'm deff going to be more aggressive tonight with mine, after 12 hours though I don't have nearly as much unburied coal and it's got way more ash in the center, but we will have to see what goes on after I change my shake technique, I'm hoping that the pea size will work out as good as the nut size
hotblast1357
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: hot blast 1357M
Baseburners & Antiques: coral andes 213 baseburner
Coal Size/Type: anthracite stove/nut/pea
Other Heating: oil furnace

Visit Hitzer Stoves

Re: Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

PostBy: Lightning On: Sun Mar 16, 2014 5:56 pm

hotblast1357 wrote:I would be so afraid of it going out
Thanks for the kind words.. :D If my fire is burning low and slow like during warm weather burns, I'll open the ash pan door for 5 minutes and let it get hot before shaking. This insures that I won't kill it with all the molesting going on.. :lol:
Lightning
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1537G
Coal Size/Type: Nut/Stove Size Mix

Re: Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

PostBy: lsayre On: Sun Mar 16, 2014 6:27 pm

Great tutorial and video! You should consider contacting Clayton and asking them if you can write your anthracite burning information directly into their manual.
Last edited by lsayre on Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Stockton Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (13.5 KW)

Re: Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

PostBy: michaelanthony On: Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:36 pm

It is fair to say we will never see $2.00 / gal heating oil, many would be happy with $3.00 / gal. I need it to be $1.60 / gal to stop using coal and NG and coal can be close in CERTAIN AREAS! We all know about PROPAIN! :mad:
Therefore many with limited funds, or bought a home with one, or just want this type of furnace can successfully heat their home and see a return on their investment including a couple tons of coal in a reasonable amount of time.
Nice thread Lee, many visitors will see this and hopefully stick around! :up: Mike.

^^^^^ditto what Larry said.
michaelanthony
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vigilant 2310, gold marc box, vogelzang pot belly coat rack
Coal Size/Type: Pea, and a little nut
Other Heating: Very cold FHA oil furnace

Re: Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

PostBy: franco b On: Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:00 pm

A truly outstanding job including the video. You really make that broom sing.
franco b
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: V ermont Castings 2310, Franco Belge 262
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwood Modern Oak 114
Coal Size/Type: nut and pea

Re: Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

PostBy: hotblast1357 On: Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:36 pm

please tell us, what is the deal with the ash bucket?
hotblast1357
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: hot blast 1357M
Baseburners & Antiques: coral andes 213 baseburner
Coal Size/Type: anthracite stove/nut/pea
Other Heating: oil furnace

Re: Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

PostBy: Lightning On: Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:45 pm

hotblast1357 wrote:please tell us, what is the deal with the ash bucket?


Oh, I connected a shop vacuum to it that sits outside. The hose comes thru the wall. I rigged a bucket with water that the air from the ash bucket must pass thru. The water bucket prevents any hot embers from getting sucked into the vacuum which would be a bad thing..

I just added a link for it at the bottom of the first post..
Lightning
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1537G
Coal Size/Type: Nut/Stove Size Mix

Re: Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

PostBy: hotblast1357 On: Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:47 pm

GENIUS
hotblast1357
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: hot blast 1357M
Baseburners & Antiques: coral andes 213 baseburner
Coal Size/Type: anthracite stove/nut/pea
Other Heating: oil furnace

Re: Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

PostBy: cmk9180 On: Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:30 am

Lee,

That video is badass!! I love the RUSH t-shirt too!! Had I known that that furnace could do what you've made yours do, I wouldn't have sold mine two years ago. However, I do like the bells and whistles of my Woodchuck furnace. I'm getting about the same burn times with stove coal. I shake mine down and fill it, then run my forced draft fan for about half an hour to stoke it back up, and after that I shut it off. No waiting for it to draft naturally...

WARNING: DO NOT GET SOFT COAL!!! Your wife will not be impressed with the dust and awful stink... Lesson learned the hard way.
cmk9180
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Woodchuck
Stove/Furnace Model: 4000

Re: Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

PostBy: wsherrick On: Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:55 am

I liked your video a lot. I'm sure it will be helpful for a lot of people out there.
wsherrick
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Glenwood Base Heater, Crawford Base Heater
Baseburners & Antiques: Crawford Base Heater, Glenwood, Stanley Argand
Coal Size/Type: Chestnut, Stove Size

Re: Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

PostBy: cbd On: Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:12 am

Wow an excellent video & writings on how these things work. Also anyone can understand what is being said about what. You really hit it out of the park my friend.
Oh and that sound track you rock!
cbd
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: fire chief 500
Coal Size/Type: nut & stove blashack

Re: Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

PostBy: Lightning On: Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:44 pm

A sincere thanks for all the kind words fellas! :D There are a lot of people that have these style units. They are attractive for their price. Or, a new home owner might inherit one with their new house. Or someone strapped for money might pick one up on Craig's List trying to cut heating costs (that was me :lol: ). The primary combustion air bypasses make burning anthracite in these units very discouraging.. This information should help get them going in the right direction.. :)

franco b wrote:A truly outstanding job including the video. You really make that broom sing.

My Wife's friend said I sound better on a Swiffer, but I didn't have one around for the video shoot.. :lol:
Lightning
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1537G
Coal Size/Type: Nut/Stove Size Mix

Re: Clayton / Hot Blast Mods and Tending for Anthracite

PostBy: freetown fred On: Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:02 pm

Very nicely done Lee :) --you kids though---the music calls for me goin & getting a couple aspirin :clap: toothy
freetown fred
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: HITZER 50-93
Coal Size/Type: BLASCHAK Nut/Stove mix

Visit Hitzer Stoves