Using Bituminous - First timer

Using Bituminous - First timer

PostBy: doco2279 On: Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:26 pm

Good morning.
This is my first post. I posted this originally in another thread but decided it needed its own. I recently bought a ton of bit coal form central Illinois. The mine site is about 15 miles from my house. I've been heating with a Tennessee Outdoor Furnace for the past 12 months using wood. However, those familiar with central Illinois, wood is not an abundant commodity. Don't get me wrong, I can get wood, but to purchase a cord in central Illinois of anything decent you are looking at around $300 a cord. My house is rather old and rather large, so I burn about 15 cords a year. Processing that much wood with my busy schedule is difficult to say the least if I process my own and hunting down wood has become a second job. So, I did some research and my boiler is rated to burn coal, albeit it has the standard grate. The air flow is all from underneath, which I understand is not the best for burning bit coal. So, Friday I went and bought my ton just to play around with it and see what happened. At $70 a ton, I wasn't really dropping a load of money for my experiment. Friday afternoon, I threw in a small bag of match light charcoal in the bag, mounded the coal on top and lit it. Presto, in about an hour, seems like everything was going well.
The grate that is in my boiler is not attached, so I simply place my ash rake under the grate and use it as a lever to "shake" the grate up and down, letting all of the ash fall through to the bottom. Now, on Saturday, the boiler was doing a pretty good job of keeping the house warm, but I never got the water temp much above 135. Outside temp was around 30.
I woke up on Sunday and the outside temp had dropped to around zero over night. My house had dropped to around 55 degrees and wasn't keeping up with the 65 I had set the house temp to. I went out to check the boiler and it had plenty of coal in it, but it had mounded over and wasn't flaming, just glowing. So, what the heck, I just kept adding coal. I still wasn't seeing any real rise in water temp above 120 degrees. Later on in the day, discouraged and feeling my experiment was a failure, I opened the door and was like screw it, I'm going to mash that big lump of coal in the middle of my firebox and see what happens. So, I bash the heck out of that big mound of melted together coal and low and behold, flames shoot up and I've got nice glowing hot coals exposed. So every few hours, I'd go out there, pile on some coal, bash it up, and my boiler temp started to steadily rise.
So, I suppose I'm looking for some ideas and advice. Should I keep up my routine of bashing the lump (stoking I guess you could say) with the bit coal? When I first started researching this, seems everyone was saying don't do this. Does that just apply to anthracite? Also, the coal I have access to is smaller in size. Should I try to find a supplier of "stove" coal? Also, should I try and modify my current set up with shaker grates? And what about firebox size? My current firebox is 36" by 40" and I've got around 300 gallons of water in the water jacket. I think I remember someone somewhere saying that maybe filling in all that excess space with firebrick might make my burn more efficient.

Thanks in advance.
doco2279
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Tennessee Outdoor Furnace SF300
Coal Size/Type: Bituminous Stoker - Central Illinois
Other Heating: Propane Hot Water


Re: Using Bituminous - First timer

PostBy: SWPaDon On: Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:48 pm

doco2279 wrote:Good morning.
This is my first post. I posted this originally in another thread but decided it needed its own. I recently bought a ton of bit coal form central Illinois. The mine site is about 15 miles from my house. I've been heating with a Tennessee Outdoor Furnace for the past 12 months using wood. However, those familiar with central Illinois, wood is not an abundant commodity. Don't get me wrong, I can get wood, but to purchase a cord in central Illinois of anything decent you are looking at around $300 a cord. My house is rather old and rather large, so I burn about 15 cords a year. Processing that much wood with my busy schedule is difficult to say the least if I process my own and hunting down wood has become a second job. So, I did some research and my boiler is rated to burn coal, albeit it has the standard grate. The air flow is all from underneath, which I understand is not the best for burning bit coal. So, Friday I went and bought my ton just to play around with it and see what happened. At $70 a ton, I wasn't really dropping a load of money for my experiment. Friday afternoon, I threw in a small bag of match light charcoal in the bag, mounded the coal on top and lit it. Presto, in about an hour, seems like everything was going well.
The grate that is in my boiler is not attached, so I simply place my ash rake under the grate and use it as a lever to "shake" the grate up and down, letting all of the ash fall through to the bottom. Now, on Saturday, the boiler was doing a pretty good job of keeping the house warm, but I never got the water temp much above 135. Outside temp was around 30.
I woke up on Sunday and the outside temp had dropped to around zero over night. My house had dropped to around 55 degrees and wasn't keeping up with the 65 I had set the house temp to. I went out to check the boiler and it had plenty of coal in it, but it had mounded over and wasn't flaming, just glowing. So, what the heck, I just kept adding coal. I still wasn't seeing any real rise in water temp above 120 degrees. Later on in the day, discouraged and feeling my experiment was a failure, I opened the door and was like screw it, I'm going to mash that big lump of coal in the middle of my firebox and see what happens. So, I bash the heck out of that big mound of melted together coal and low and behold, flames shoot up and I've got nice glowing hot coals exposed. So every few hours, I'd go out there, pile on some coal, bash it up, and my boiler temp started to steadily rise.
So, I suppose I'm looking for some ideas and advice. Should I keep up my routine of bashing the lump (stoking I guess you could say) with the bit coal? When I first started researching this, seems everyone was saying don't do this. Does that just apply to anthracite? Also, the coal I have access to is smaller in size. Should I try to find a supplier of "stove" coal? Also, should I try and modify my current set up with shaker grates? And what about firebox size? My current firebox is 36" by 40" and I've got around 300 gallons of water in the water jacket. I think I remember someone somewhere saying that maybe filling in all that excess space with firebrick might make my burn more efficient.

Thanks in advance.


Welcome to the forum.

Yes, shaker grates will help you immensely. (evacuates ash better so your fire can breathe)
And yes, poking, as you found is a requirement with all the bituminous coals that I've used. The only difference is the time frame on the poking............some bituminous coal needs it sooner than others.
I haven't used it, but they claim the Kentucky Lump coal is the best out there, if you can find it.

Hope this helps, Don
SWPaDon
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1600M
Coal Size/Type: Bituminous
Other Heating: Oil furnace

Re: Using Bituminous - First timer

PostBy: doco2279 On: Mon Jan 11, 2016 1:10 pm

Thanks Don. I know my boiler has an option for shaker grates. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get in contact with the boiler manufacturer yet to check on a price. Was considering some DIY option but I haven't figured out what that will be yet. The dang firebox is so big, I"m not sure if I should build up the sides with fire brick and install a smaller set of shaker grates. I just don't know how big (length x width x depth) that I should pile the coal in to get the best burn.
doco2279
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Tennessee Outdoor Furnace SF300
Coal Size/Type: Bituminous Stoker - Central Illinois
Other Heating: Propane Hot Water

Re: Using Bituminous - First timer

PostBy: doco2279 On: Mon Jan 11, 2016 1:14 pm

Thought I would post a picture of the firebox for anyone that might have some ideas.
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doco2279
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Tennessee Outdoor Furnace SF300
Coal Size/Type: Bituminous Stoker - Central Illinois
Other Heating: Propane Hot Water

Re: Using Bituminous - First timer

PostBy: SWPaDon On: Mon Jan 11, 2016 1:35 pm

Have you tried this number?



931-684-9263
SWPaDon
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1600M
Coal Size/Type: Bituminous
Other Heating: Oil furnace

Re: Using Bituminous - First timer

PostBy: McGiever On: Mon Jan 11, 2016 1:36 pm

:idea: Drop this in there along w/ filler bricks to reduce fire box. :idea:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vtg-3-Section-C ... 1501088412?

Image
McGiever
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AXEMAN-ANDERSON 130 "1959"
Coal Size/Type: PEA / ANTHRACITE
Other Heating: Ground Source Heat Pump
Stove/Furnace Make: Hydro Heat /Mega Tek

Re: Using Bituminous - First timer

PostBy: doco2279 On: Mon Jan 11, 2016 4:49 pm

Don and Mcgiver,

Thanks for the input. I finally got a hold of Tennessee Outdoor Furnace and I've posted a picture of the grate available for my particular boiler. It doesn't look like any shaker grate I've ever seen and they want $375 for the set up. Not sure if I'll go that route or if I'll look for something like Mcgiver posted.
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doco2279
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Tennessee Outdoor Furnace SF300
Coal Size/Type: Bituminous Stoker - Central Illinois
Other Heating: Propane Hot Water

Re: Using Bituminous - First timer

PostBy: blrman07 On: Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:29 pm

That looks likes something I tried to make out of rebar one time that lasted two fires.
blrman07
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Bucket a Day
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vigilant Casting 2310
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Wood in the VC and anything that will fit in the Bucket a Day. It's not fussy.


Re: Using Bituminous - First timer

PostBy: doco2279 On: Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:38 pm

Yeah, it looks pretty simple. I'm just not sure how it would work. The current grates I have seem to be the same size. Not sure why I couldn't just insert a rod under the grates and shake the crap out of it. Like I said, I have no experience with any of this.
doco2279
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Tennessee Outdoor Furnace SF300
Coal Size/Type: Bituminous Stoker - Central Illinois
Other Heating: Propane Hot Water

Re: Using Bituminous - First timer

PostBy: SWPaDon On: Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:43 pm

I have no clue whether that would work or not. I'm accustomed to using grates like McGiever posted above. It kinda looks like it would sit on top of the grate you currently have and move back and forth.
SWPaDon
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1600M
Coal Size/Type: Bituminous
Other Heating: Oil furnace

Re: Using Bituminous - First timer

PostBy: Smitty275 On: Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:06 pm

I'm rather new to coal but I've learned a lot over the last couple of years. Some from experience and alot from this forum. Though I've been in the steel making equipment industry for a long time. So I do know a little about controlling heat, even if I'm still a little green at making it.

Just my opinion: You'd be better off with a shaker grate more like what is in many of the stoves and used by many companies.
The shaker runs length wise and is rotated a few degrees both ways with a handle to do the shaking. The commercial cast iron grates are usually about 5/16 to 3/8 thick. If you make your own use structural steel that is 1/2" thick and hot rolled.
If you skip to this thread;

WHAT MODS WOULD YOU DO.... HOTBLAST 1321

You can see the one I built for my stove. Albeit a bit smaller at 9 3/4 X 24 the idea would be the same. I've only had this in for about a week and wow what a difference it made. Much easier to de-ash the pile and I'm burning less coal since I'm not disturbing it as much. I wish I had done this a couple of years ago. I used to have a problem with the coal bridging over like yours is doing Switched suppliers and now I don't.
This year I also went to a larger coal size. In my case that helped even more. I can now go a solid 12hrs with out worrying about it. Would probably still be hot enough at 24hrs to just shake & load. But the 12hr mark keeps the house fairly even tempered.

You had asked about fire brick. If you can get them to sit tight to the side walls it'll serve two purposes. One is it'll direct the heat upward into your boiler instead of getting quenched out through the sides. Two is your furnace will last longer. Most likely the sides of the fire box are not thick enough to handle the direct heat from glowing coal and will eventually burn through.

I pile it 8-10" deep. Bit likes a pyramid shape or upside down V shape. You've got to let it burn off the volatiles before you close the air down. Otherwise it can literally smoke itself out. (That experience thing there.) Every batch of coal will burn a little different. ( learned that here and proved it through experience) so don't be afraid to experiment a little. When I had coal that bridged over like yours is doing it helped to build the bed a little at a time (suggested by guys on here). Still had to crack it open but wasn't as bad of a gooey mess.

So take it for what it's worth. One man's opinion. Others will very. Hopefully you can take at least something from all this and usevut to your advantage.
Smitty275
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Hot Blast 1321
Coal Size/Type: Egg & Lump
Other Heating: natural gas

Re: Using Bituminous - First timer

PostBy: fig On: Fri Feb 12, 2016 11:40 pm

Where in Illinois did you buy your coal? I may need some in the future. I live not too far from the mine over by Elkhart and wondered if they sell to the public. I don't suppose this is where you go?
fig
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Round Oak 1917 Door model O-3
Other Heating: woodstock fireview, enviro omega
Stove/Furnace Make: Propane

Re: Using Bituminous - First timer

PostBy: doco2279 On: Thu Feb 18, 2016 10:55 am

Smitty275 - Thanks for all the input. I've been experimenting a lot and I've gotten better burns for sure. Layering seems to be the key with this coal. As far as modifying/buying/building grates, I simply take the bar I've got to clean out the ash, shove it under the grates and shake with quick up and down motion. This seems to do a really good job of clearing the grates. I still get those hard masses, but I think that is mostly due to the coal I'm burning, which seems to be the only coal available locally. I'm considering adding a secondary burn to my system along with firebrick on the bottom and sides. I'll draw something up and ask some opinions when I get a second.

fig,
I do get my coal from Viper in Elkhart. They are currently selling it $70 a ton. I bring my little 5x8 utility trailer and they fill me up, usually 1500 lbs being that is all my trailer is rated for. Last time I was there, 1500lbs with taxes came to $55.00.
doco2279
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Tennessee Outdoor Furnace SF300
Coal Size/Type: Bituminous Stoker - Central Illinois
Other Heating: Propane Hot Water

Re: Using Bituminous - First timer

PostBy: doco2279 On: Thu Feb 18, 2016 2:28 pm

Sorry for the crude drawing. This is what I'm considering. First pic is original firebox. Second Picture is with added firebrick and secondary burn. Third pic is the design that inspired me.

Thoughts?
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doco2279
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Tennessee Outdoor Furnace SF300
Coal Size/Type: Bituminous Stoker - Central Illinois
Other Heating: Propane Hot Water

Re: Using Bituminous - First timer

PostBy: SWPaDon On: Thu Feb 18, 2016 5:26 pm

I don't see the firebrick below the grate as being necessary, because the only thing below the grates should be ash.

The design of the typical coal furnace has the firebox and the ash compartment separate, with a separate air control for each one. Sometimes more air is needed underneath the coal bed than over the top.

I don't know a lot about the air tubes, but the people I've seen here that have done it, use a seperate intake air from outside the furnace.
SWPaDon
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1600M
Coal Size/Type: Bituminous
Other Heating: Oil furnace