Convert boiler back to coal?

Convert boiler back to coal?

PostBy: smrfld On: Tue May 06, 2008 10:30 am

Hi,

We bought and are restoring an old manor house near West Point Academy [go ARMY!] in New York State [6,000 sq ft.] built in 1905. Our first Winter 2 years ago cost $6,000 to heat the house. You can imagine what we are paying now. Although we are replacing windows and adding insulation, the price of oil is scaring the heck out of us. The steam boiler is the size of a VW Bug and was converted to oil from coal at some point. We found some of the original pieces [grate and tools] and thought we'd look into converting it back into a coal boiler.

I imagine it would need to be hand-fired [I believe the attic apartment was for a caretaker to handle such things]. I've had a number of heating "experts" throw up their hands in disbelief at the thought. When it was converted, they replaced whatever the mechanism was between the boiler and the chimney that regulated the pressure and reduced the diameter of the exhaust by several inches. It was suggested that replacing that was the first challenge. They also suggested using coal pellets would be preferable.

Overall, I would think having a few things fabricated would cost less than replacing the whole thing. I can't remove it - its immense - and all asbestos. It is like a municipal system! If I had to, I might be able to install a new boiler next to it if the venting to the chimney could be figured out. I can email a picture if anyone wants to have a look.

Also, its a steam system and converting to hot water is not an option due to the structure of the radiators.

Any thoughts on converting it back to coal?
smrfld
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Unknown
Stove/Furnace Model: Unknown

Re: Convert boiler back to coal?

PostBy: Rob R. On: Tue May 06, 2008 10:38 am

Can you take some pictures and post them? You can upload them directly to the forum or use another image hosting service.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Convert boiler back to coal?

PostBy: LsFarm On: Tue May 06, 2008 11:32 am

I suggest contacting forum member 'berlin' via PM. He has several underfeed stoker units like the one pictured below. this may be a much easier way to fire your boiler than with hand feeding. I'm not sure if he has any for sale,, but he might

Greg L
Iron fireman.jpg
(22.19 KiB) Viewed 44 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
[nepathumb]4198[/nepathumb]

.
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

Visit Hitzer Stoves

Re: Convert boiler back to coal?

PostBy: Yanche On: Tue May 06, 2008 4:35 pm

In the late 80's I was given a National Brand oil fired boiler by a co-worker who was installing a new natural gas fired boiler. The boiler was originally a coal hand fired boiler. Believe it or not at the time I was able to find all the grates, shaker handles and flue draft regulators to convert it back to hand fired coal. The only thing I couldn't get was the ash pit door. All were purchased from a third generation Baltimore stove dealer. His business was dying a slow death 30 years ago. I'm sure he's dead now and the building is long gone and re-developed.
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

Re: Convert boiler back to coal? - Pics

PostBy: smrfld On: Tue May 06, 2008 4:50 pm

Ok, here are a few pics. I can take more later when I get home. Like I described it, it is much like a municipal plant!
Attachments
boiler.JPG
(529.24 KiB) Viewed 117 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
Here are two photos. In the background you can see the hot water tank [currently bypassed]. The other show the oil burner installed where the cleaning door was. I have that door.
[nepathumb]4200[/nepathumb]
boilerburner1 (1).JPG
(518.71 KiB) Viewed 49 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
This is the burner.
[nepathumb]4201[/nepathumb]
smrfld
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Unknown
Stove/Furnace Model: Unknown

Re: Convert boiler back to coal?

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Tue May 06, 2008 5:43 pm

OH YEAH! If that was mine, it would be on coal in a heartbeat. :)

Stoker or hand fired, either way, but get that puppy back on the product it was made for. That sauce your using will kill you this winter.

Can we get some more pics from the front and a couple inside those pretty doors? Also, any parts you have found kicking around it that you might think went with it. You may be ready to rock.
coaledsweat
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

Re: Convert boiler back to coal?

PostBy: Scottscoaled On: Tue May 06, 2008 10:20 pm

The burner's installed in the ash cleanout. :) Scott
Scottscoaled
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520x3, 700 Van Wert 800
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: EFM 150, Keystoker 150
Coal Size/Type: Lots of buck

Re: Convert boiler back to coal?

PostBy: Freddy On: Wed May 07, 2008 6:08 am

What a beautiful beast! My parents had one similar, some smaller though. Yup, oil burner stuffed into the ash cleanout. Alas, one day the asbestos fairies came and made it disappear.
Freddy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 130 (pea)
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Reading piece o' junk in the barn (rice)
Coal Size/Type: Pea size, Superior, deep mined

Re: Convert boiler back to coal?

PostBy: Richard S. On: Wed May 07, 2008 6:52 am

Just some food for thought but my suggestion would be to look into getting a new(er) unit. That beast may be nice ornamental piece but its probably not very efficient and it's going to be a lot of work keeping a 6000 sq. ft home heated with a hand fired furnace.

When its all said in done you could probably get by on new install around $8k, you'll need about 15 to 20 tons per year to heat a house of that size. If you have good insulation and windows it will lean more towards the 15 ton range. It would not be unreasonable to get it delivered by tri-axle or trailer every year and half....

The benefits of a new furnace is going to include automation, you'll only need to take the ashes out and make sure you have coal available to the unit. Depending on your setup you may only have to mess around with it every 2 or 3 days in the winter. You're going to have better efficiency. There's also the hot water coil for domestic hot water, if setup properly you can have unlimited amount of hot water for practically nothing. A new stoker will probably outlast you if its maintained well. :) It's a lot of initial investment but it will pay for itself in a few years, it's all gravy after that.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: Convert boiler back to coal?

PostBy: smrfld On: Wed May 07, 2008 10:17 am

Here are more pics
Attachments
backofboiler.JPG
(696.47 KiB) Viewed 35 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
Back view of boiler
[nepathumb]4209[/nepathumb]
tochimney.JPG
(698.3 KiB) Viewed 34 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
This is the part thats was replaced when it was converted to oil. I'm told there should be some sort of pressure management mechanism to manage the burn.
[nepathumb]4210[/nepathumb]
reduceddiameterflue2.JPG
(437.5 KiB) Viewed 22 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
you can see how the flue is a smaller diameter than what was originally there.
[nepathumb]4211[/nepathumb]
insideboiler.JPG
(678.14 KiB) Viewed 62 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
the innards. it was cleaned at the begining of the year ... you can see how fast it gets crudded up.
[nepathumb]4212[/nepathumb]
mechanicals.JPG
(481.1 KiB) Viewed 35 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
mechanicals
[nepathumb]4213[/nepathumb]
smrfld
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Unknown
Stove/Furnace Model: Unknown

Re: Convert boiler back to coal?

PostBy: Berlin On: Wed May 07, 2008 1:26 pm

i believe it would be fairly efficient if fired with a stoker, and since its steam, it will be farily easy to make it "automated". If you're interested i may have a stoker for you.
Berlin
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal

Re: Convert boiler back to coal?

PostBy: Sting On: Wed May 07, 2008 2:14 pm

Richard S. wrote:Just some food for thought but my suggestion would be to look into getting a new(er) unit. That beast may be nice ornamental piece but its probably not very efficient and it's going to be a lot of work keeping a 6000 sq. ft home heated with a hand fired furnace.

When its all said in done you could probably get by on new install around $8k, you'll need about 15 to 20 tons per year to heat a house of that size. If you have good insulation and windows it will lean more towards the 15 ton range. It would not be unreasonable to get it delivered by tri-axle or trailer every year and half....

The benefits of a new furnace is going to include automation, you'll only need to take the ashes out and make sure you have coal available to the unit. Depending on your setup you may only have to mess around with it every 2 or 3 days in the winter. You're going to have better efficiency. There's also the hot water coil for domestic hot water, if setup properly you can have unlimited amount of hot water for practically nothing. A new stoker will probably outlast you if its maintained well. :) It's a lot of initial investment but it will pay for itself in a few years, it's all gravy after that.


Richard -- Yes thats an old fire tube boiler and maybe not as efficient as a machine built today from thinner material -- but if fuel is cheep -- well you all have convinced me that the most efficient is not always the most cost effective when fuel is cheep.

SMRFLD -- how far is the cola bin from the boiler? I am thinking = automated fuel feed !
Sting
 
Other Heating: BurnHAM=NG-gas

Re: Convert boiler back to coal?

PostBy: smrfld On: Wed May 07, 2008 3:22 pm

Ah well, there is no bin. I thought of eliminating the big white storage tank [asbestos] to make room for a bin. What really confuses me is how to feed the boiler automatically. Would I replace one of the doors with a chute?
smrfld
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Unknown
Stove/Furnace Model: Unknown

Re: Convert boiler back to coal?

PostBy: Rob R. On: Wed May 07, 2008 3:47 pm

The efficiency of the current oil-burner setup must be terrible, no wonder your fuel costs are so high. That said, where was the coal stored previously when the boiler was hand-fed?
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Convert boiler back to coal?

PostBy: Richard S. On: Wed May 07, 2008 3:48 pm

smrfld wrote:Ah well, there is no bin. I thought of eliminating the big white storage tank [asbestos] to make room for a bin. What really confuses me is how to feed the boiler automatically. Would I replace one of the doors with a chute?


Stokers come with either a hopper on the side or a auger. If it's auger you could put it right inside the bin. Usually you'll have a 55 gallon drum the auger goes into either inside or outside the bin. You only need to fill the barrel, 55 gallon drum is about 400lb. of coal.

Now if you realy high ceiling and planned for it you could just build your bin as giant hopper that disperses all the coal right onto the auger.... You could almost do the same thing with hopper fed stoker but you'd have to put the coal bin outside with the top way above ground level. I had customer with a 12 foot ceiling in his basement that did this with a auger fed stoker. He never had to shovel anything and the bin could easily fit 10 tons dumping it right in. You need a lot of height to do this though.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Visit Hitzer Stoves