Returning to Burning Coal & Having Burn time Problems

Returning to Burning Coal & Having Burn time Problems

PostBy: Paul in PA On: Sun Feb 03, 2008 8:43 am

I have just returned to burning coal as a heat source after a ten year hiatus and I am having some problems with the length of time may coal stove is burning for. Currently I am using a Harman Magnafire Elite Insert, burning nut coal; and only getting a burn time of around 9 hours for a coal scuttle of coal. This does not seam right to me.

First, in my other house I use to burn Nut coal in a Waterford Coal stove and get as twelve hour burn out of it before having to reload it and shake it down. Quite convenient and easy to do, kept the old house toasty warm - actually too warm (around 80% F). Harman's brochure actually says that Magnafire Elite Insert is "Able to generate up to 80,000 BTUs and burn for over 24 hours".

Now let me state the facts about my current burning practice. I load coal almost to the top edge of the fire brick, sloping down to the top of lower front fire bricks. I shake two or three times in a nine hour time frame, and keep the draft open only about 1 to 1/2 turns. Before reloading coal, I rake the coal bed to get the ash to drop from the front and rear grate edges (I read on this site that the Harman Grates have some issues that you have to learn how to operate with). Then load coal, get the fire back up, then shake, and lastly top off with more coal. After getting the stove temperature back up, I return the draft to my normal 1 1/2 turns. My stove temperature operating rank is in the 325 to 400 range.

Any ideas what I am doing wrong? How come I am not getting a longer burn time? Folks on this web site using a Harman Mark II or III appear to be getting burns longer than 12 hours. The Elite insert is about the same size as the Mark III.

Just trying to lessen my wife's work load and not feel tied down to the stove like a wood fire. That being said, I like my stove and after two weeks I have been able to keep my 3,000 sg ft house a comfortable 75 in the family room with the stove, 70 in the rest of most of the house, with the coldest and fartherest room from the stove 65. Outside temperature is 20 at nite and 35-40 during the day.
Paul in PA
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Magnafire Series Coal Insert

Re: Returning to Burning Coal & Having Burn time Problems

PostBy: lincolnmania On: Sun Feb 03, 2008 8:54 am

welcome to the forums!
it could be the coal that you are burning that has an effect on your time between tending are you in coal country?.......i'm not familiar with the brand of stove you have but could it be possible that it is getting too much air from under the grates (on our Kenmore if you leave the shaker handle flap open it goes into mega heat zone and about a 6-7 hr burn
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: Returning to Burning Coal & Having Burn time Problems

PostBy: Wood'nCoal On: Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:03 am

Welcome Paul.
2 questions:
1) Have you checked the draft on the stove? That can have a great effect on the burn time.
2) Where is the coal from? I have found that the number one reason that the stove doesn't perform as expected is due to poor quality coal. Inferior coal will cause my Harman to self-extinguish after 8 or 9 hours. I've had coal so poor that I practically had to baby sit the stove all day just to keep it lit.
That said I think you should be able to resolve this issue easily.
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

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Re: Returning to Burning Coal & Having Burn time Problems

PostBy: Paul in PA On: Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:12 am

I am in Bucks County, Pennsylvania - Not coal country, but close. I buying coal from my previous supplier. I don't know which mine / supplier he buys from. I have not check the draft. How much coal do folks put in their Mark III or the Insert.

I think part of the issue may be that I am not filling it up enough. This morning, I raked, loaded a coal scuttle, brought it up to temperature, shaked the ash out and reloaded almost 2/3rds of another coal scuttle. Cold this be the issue, I need to add more coal? I needed to add another 2/3rds of a coal scuttle to bring the coal back up to the edge of the brick?

I think the problem is a learning curve more than my set-up. Thanks All
Paul in PA
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: Magnafire Series Coal Insert

Re: Returning to Burning Coal & Having Burn time Problems

PostBy: Wood'nCoal On: Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:16 am

Fill it all the way to the top of the firebrick. I usually mound it up in the middle as well. What does the ash look like? Can you post a photo? I have a Mark I, same as the II or III, only smaller.
Try a little coal from another supplier. I've gotten good and bad coal from the same dealer, depends on what they bought. I think some of them really are not that fussy or interested in the quality of the coal they are buying.
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: Returning to Burning Coal & Having Burn time Problems

PostBy: coalcrazy On: Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:49 am

paul, one thing i noticed you do that might hurt your fire is maybe to much raking and shaking sometimes its better to get your fire as deep as you can as quick as you can and let it go. i know this because i used ruin many a fires by fooling w/ it. also try stove size coal (from a different supplier?) it helped me alot by allowing ash and air to move through the larger gaps the stove coal is better suited to larger stoves like yours, nut coal tends to sufficate a fire.also you know your coal is good when its black and shiny, not gray and dull and when thrown on a hot fire it should crackel like crazy throwing little coal chips against the inside of the stove. overdrafting will ash over the mid and top section of fire draft only enough to keep it going, fuel lasts much longer to.
coalcrazy
 
Stove/Furnace Make: us stove
Stove/Furnace Model: clayton 1800 wood/coal furnace

Re: Returning to Burning Coal & Having Burn time Problems

PostBy: Richard S. On: Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:55 am

Pea will give you longer burn time. That or nut and pea mixture. Nut burns hotter but won't last as long.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: Returning to Burning Coal & Having Burn time Problems

PostBy: Devil505 On: Sun Feb 03, 2008 10:59 am

I agree with Wood'Ncoal....fill the stove up with as much as you can.
Devil505
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000

Re: Returning to Burning Coal & Having Burn time Problems

PostBy: LsFarm On: Sun Feb 03, 2008 11:27 am

I would suggest not shaking as often. Everytime you shake you put the fire into 'freshen up mode', where the ash drops out of the way and exposes the coal to fresh air, making it burn faster.

Try your proceedure, load, shake, top-off, then don't shake for 10-12 hours, and see if it slows the burn rate any.

A photo or two of the ash would help us diagnose the burn issues too.

Hope this helps, 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: Returning to Burning Coal & Having Burn time Problems

PostBy: jeromemsn On: Sun Feb 03, 2008 3:02 pm

Hello and welcome to the forum Paul.
I also use the Harmon Elite Insert. I use nut coal that Coal_berner (JC) told me to use, amazing coal, burns hot and long in the Harmon.
I set my draft about 1 turn out most of the time.
when I go to reload my firebox I keep the main firebox door closed and open the ash door all the way for about 5 or 10 Min's and let the fire get up to speed a bit. Next I keep the ash door open and open the main firebox door and load in a nice layer of coal one or two coal pieces high is all and close the main firebox door and keep the ash door open and wait till the blue flames come back to the coal, about 10 Min's, then I close the ash door and do my first shake down (all doors closed at this point) (shake seems like a harsh word here it's more like I try to vibrate the grates with very short choppy strokes) to start knocking the ash off and then load again, close all doors and shake, and a third time to fill it seems to let the fire go up through the coal better. This works for me and I make sure I have the time to do it takes me about 30 Min's a day in the am to do this.
I load about 35 to 40 lbs of coal a day this way and it burns for 24 hours without me touching it again.
If there is anything I can do to help let me know, Jerry
jeromemsn
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker 90 dvc
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman elite fireplace insert

Re: Returning to Burning Coal & Having Burn time Problems

PostBy: SJ Coal On: Wed Feb 06, 2008 1:59 pm

Paul,

I am relatively new to coal burning (1 month), but it seems to me like you may be shaking too much.

LsFarm's point:
LsFarm wrote:I would suggest not shaking as often. Everytime you shake you put the fire into 'freshen up mode', where the ash drops out of the way and exposes the coal to fresh air, making it burn faster.


Makes sense to me. I only shake 2-3 times a day depending on how much heat I need to get out of the stove. The less I shake the longer and slower the burn, the more I shake the faster and hotter the burn. You may be overly concerned about the fire going out. Try and allow the ash to build up a little and help control the burn.

Following the advice of other members on this forum has helped me maintain a fire in my stove for 4 weeks now, heating my house to 72 degrees, and my furnace hasn't kicked on once. Having burned wood in the past the greatest differences seem to be how to control the air flow and fighting the urge to mess with the fire.

Thanks to all the members for your help.
SJ Coal
 
Stove/Furnace Make: SAEY
Stove/Furnace Model: Hannover I

Re: Returning to Burning Coal & Having Burn time Problems

PostBy: blackwood On: Tue Feb 12, 2008 6:22 pm

You do not state whether the coal is completely burnt up, or the fire is dying out
befor the coal is completly burnt up.
blackwood
 
Stove/Furnace Make: godin
Stove/Furnace Model: godin

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