smrfld wrote: The front of my boiler is about 4 feet from the basement wall. Is that enough room for the stoker or can I put the stoker to the side and have that feeding tube at some kind of an angle? Either position would place the stoker conveniently beneath a basement window for easy loading!
The EFM's I believe can have the auger coming out the back or the sides, the others will have hopper. You'd have to make sure it will fit where you need it but that furnace you have now is so large I don't think you'll have any issues configuring any of them if you replaced it.
As far as wall clearance besides whatever the building specs are you'll want some room to get around it. Wherever there are any parts such as the auger mechanism you'll want access to that area and make sure you can disassemble it if you need too. If for example you get piece of rock in your coal you will need to take the tube and auger off to get it out. This is very easy to do as long as you have the room to do it.
If the window is next to where the furnace is you can run the auger right into the bin itself. Get a 55 gallon drum and put that inside the bin as well. If you get hopper design you will of course want an opening near wherever the hopper is. Personally I'd get one with the auger design, for one thing it's ground level as opposed to a hopper that is going to be pretty high, neither are you limited by the hopper size. Your hopper can be whatever you want to build it such as the 55 gallon drum. That's 400lb of coal.
Does the stoker work like an oil lamp -
A modern stoker boiler once set up properly is no different than any other heating appliance except you need to put col in the hopper and take the ashes out. Truthfully.
Last question .. what is the cost of a stoker? You are in PA, so pick-up isn't a big deal.
For a large boiler you're probably looking at start up costs around $6K+