Need some boiler help.....choices

Need some boiler help.....choices

PostBy: bmac On: Tue May 27, 2008 11:10 am

Hello gang,

Well, everytime I get interested in something, I head for the forums to research the "in's & out's" of the real world. My search for the real world of coal brought me here........great information and advice from the posts I've read to date.

Anyway, I built my house by myself in 1994-95, and installed the fuel oil boiler (Utica Boiler) hot water baseboard system at that time. My house is a single story ranch of 1700 sq. ft, and is (or was) built to code of 6" walls and 10" ceilings regarding insulation, so it's pretty well insulated for the most part.
Replacing the boiler is pretty straightforward, but I guess my quest is in searching for the (my) best option as far as model/brand of stoker. I've read over the pages here and see where the EFM, Keystoker, and Harman, are some of the most popular stoker boilers in the forum. Right now, I've narrowed my choices down to the Harman VF3000, and the Keystoker KA6. I plan on using the hot water coil during the winter/fall & early spring months, and I see where the Keystoker has the coil included, and that it's available as an option in the Harmon. Any pro's or con's to each design ?

My other concerns are build and/or stoker durability, as well as oil backup. I have a newer Beckett burner that I plan on installing as a backup system, and I wondered how the Keystoker "add on" setup compares, as I already know how the add on system that Harman offers works. Their system replaces the side door with the oil burner door with the hole in it, as well as the electronics (manual operation) to switch the systems back & forth.

I live over on the west side of New York state, west of the finger lakes, and any info on dealers of either brand would be greatly appreciated. Right now, Harmon's local dealers offer the VF3000 at $4450-$4500 (which appears to be a common price range), give or take the cost of shipping & (naturally) taxes. The only glitch I see (or read) with Harman is that their policy can be a hurdle when you buy from one distant dealer (for the best price) and then have to deal locally for parts. When it comes to the initial purchase, being the amount of money involved, I don't have a specific dealer loyalty issue, sorry......I'm not sure, but it appears that Harman, in connection with it's dealer policy and network of dealers, is trying to force the customers into their way of doing business, and/or forcing them to stick to a set dealer geography.....regardless of a better deal from one dealer to another. In other words, if you buy your boiler from a given dealer, even though it's an hour or two away, your pretty much stuck with them regarding warranty service issues. Maintenence I can do myself, and I think that you can get parts at any one of them as long as they have no issues because they didn't sell you the boiler in the first place.
Based on what I've read so far, this is the sour spot for me with Harman.......and pushes me toward the Keystoker.....even for the higher cost of the KA6. Aside from that, I've read that Keystoker's feed system isn't quite as durable as the Harman's, and that the KA6's blower runs 24/7 using more electricity...............

Sorry for the long ramble, but please educate me here............


Take care,
Bob
bmac
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Utica Oil Fired Boiler - Yuck!

Re: Need some boiler help.....choices

PostBy: coal berner On: Tue May 27, 2008 11:31 am

Bob Why Not the EFM They have been around the Longest and and have the most adjustment range as far The BTU's and coal lb usage per hr. 2 1/2 lbs up to 25 lbs 21.470 BTU's up to 214.690 BTU's they have a 5 gal hot water coil in them or you can get a 7gal and you can use a 55 gal drum for a hopper or you can feed right out of a coal bin you can also get Refurbs for about 1/4 of the price of a new one PM Member Scrapper 23 JR for Refurb ones or New ones

http://www.efmheating.com/d520.html


http://www.keystoker.com/coaloilboilers.html
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.
coal berner
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1986 Electric Furnace Man 520 DF
Stove/Furnace Make: Electric Furnace Man
Stove/Furnace Model: DF520

Re: Need some boiler help.....choices

PostBy: bmac On: Tue May 27, 2008 11:42 am

coal berner,

The only thing that narrows the field a bit is the price range I guess. I haven't counted the EFM's out, it's just the cost levels. I'm strapped to the $5k range so far, which get's me in the show, but not necessarily front row seating, if you get my point.

I have read where they are probably one of the most popular boilers on the forum, yes. I like the auger feed system as an option, but considering that you have to dump the ash bin anyway, I find that having to do both (fill the bin and dump the ash pan), more or less reminds me, or forces me to follow a given method.
Not that I'm lazy really, but once you get acclimated to a given procedure or process it becomes more automatic for lack of a better phrase.

If I could afford an EFM, I'd probably head in that direction as a first choice.

Take care,
Bob
bmac
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Utica Oil Fired Boiler - Yuck!

Visit Lehigh Anthracite

Re: Need some boiler help.....choices

PostBy: coal berner On: Tue May 27, 2008 12:15 pm

Bob you have to take the ash tub out and fill the hopper with any coal stoker boil /stoker stove or a hand fed stove you have to put coal in and take the ashes out You can get Refurb like New EFM' from 2000 to 3000 depending what you want with them Like a short auger with tube comes with them but a longer Auger & Tube will be extra so will the Timer & controls with or with out a water coil with or with out the oil gun these are only on the DF520 Not the older AF520 or 350
I think a new one is around the 7000 to 7500 Range And by using a 55 gal drum for a hopper you will have the biggest hopper out of all of the hopper fed boiler's or you can fed out of any size coal bin that you build next to it
Last edited by coal berner on Tue May 27, 2008 12:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
coal berner
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1986 Electric Furnace Man 520 DF
Stove/Furnace Make: Electric Furnace Man
Stove/Furnace Model: DF520

Re: Need some boiler help.....choices

PostBy: bmac On: Tue May 27, 2008 12:16 pm

coal burner,

Thanks..............

PM'd scrapper to see what he has...........appreciate it

It's well worth the ride if it can be done..........!

I'll wait to see if it's a possibility before I start researching feed systems/designs, etc. I'm pulling out one of the 2 fuel oil tanks from my cellar and I'm building a large coal bin/bevelled base, and mounting a coal auger in the bottom of the funnel. depending on the amount of weight on the auger, I plan on storing 2-5 ton in it. I had planned this "auger design" quite sometime ago but abandoned it due to the cost of the EFM new.
As far as coal vs. fuel oil, cost wise & calculated, I'll use 4.7 tons on an average year (June 1st to June 1st) based on an 850 gallon fuel oil consumption for both heat & hot water. Figuring BTU's on both fuel sources, and by todays local fuel oil prices ($4.67 per gallon...ouch)........coal would cost $1200 for 5 tons, as opposed to almost $4000 for the same fuel oil needs. A savings of almost $2800 for the first year.....

Thanks kindly for the tip regarding scrapper.........

Take care,
Bob
bmac
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Utica Oil Fired Boiler - Yuck!

Re: Need some boiler help.....choices

PostBy: bmac On: Tue May 27, 2008 12:25 pm

coal berner (not burner....sorry)

Yeah,

As you stated, I know you have to dump the ashes, but what I was inferring was that since I had to do one (fill the hopper), I could just as easily do both and dump the ashes as a process, at the same time, which most do anyway I guess. So considering it under those terms, an auger wasn't a big issue for me really.
But, I guess maybe I was under the assumption that the auger was an auto fill setup, and not manually operated. Now, I'm thinking (or realizing) that maybe that assumption was premature, and instead of scooping and carrying to fill, you just flip a switch and the auger does the hopper filling detail for you.......right?

Learn something new everyday....... :oops:

Actually I'm quite excited as this opens a whole new area for me instead of the other two..... :D


Thanks.....

Bob
bmac
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Utica Oil Fired Boiler - Yuck!

Re: Need some boiler help.....choices

PostBy: Freddy On: Tue May 27, 2008 12:30 pm

I did the same thing as you, then realized, for an extra couple of thousand, I could have front row seats. So it takes an extra 7 months to pay for itself, it's going to last 30 or 50 years. I have ordered an Axeman Anderson. It comes with auger feed and is one of the more efficient ones out there. For sure the EFM is keeper too. If you just can't swing it, geepers... tough choice between the Harmon and the Keystoker. I think the reason I upgraded to the AA was that I couldn't decide between them! They are both good units.
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: Need some boiler help.....choices

PostBy: bmac On: Tue May 27, 2008 12:42 pm

Freddy,

Yeah, it's a cash outlay thing right now......

Either I spend what I have and enter into the world of coal and cut the loss of using fuel oil, or I run the same system for another year. The cost of doing that would be more prohibitive than doing something now, even on a lower budget. In the $7k plus price range, I even researched the coal gun/gasification units, but quickly realized that they were well beyond reality for me, even at their greater efficiency vs. the "upfront" cost. Like I said, I'm in the ballpark as far as the "ability" goes, just not elaborately so......

The EFM might work if I can get a refurb'd unit, and even be cheaper overall than one of the others I was considering before. We'll see.........?

Bob
bmac
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Utica Oil Fired Boiler - Yuck!

Re: Need some boiler help.....choices

PostBy: coaledsweat On: Tue May 27, 2008 1:10 pm

bmac wrote:The EFM might work if I can get a refurb'd unit, and even be cheaper overall than one of the others I was considering before.


Get a good used or refurbed unit if money is tight, the little things at install add up quickly. Done right you will have some of your budgeted money left over for a winter's worth of coal and maybe a little more.
coaledsweat
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea

Re: Need some boiler help.....choices

PostBy: bmac On: Tue May 27, 2008 1:41 pm

Waiting for a reply to my PM and see what scrapper has to offer..........

Thanks......

Bob
bmac
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Utica Oil Fired Boiler - Yuck!

Re: Need some boiler help.....choices

PostBy: Richard S. On: Tue May 27, 2008 2:46 pm

bmac wrote:As you stated, I know you have to dump the ashes, but what I was inferring was that since I had to do one (fill the hopper), I could just as easily do both and dump the ashes as a process, at the same time, which most do anyway I guess. So considering it under those terms, an auger wasn't a big issue for me really.


I think what coal berner is trying to say is you still have a hopper for the coal auger. Most people us a 50 gallon drum right in the coal bin. The only way you'd get the entire load to self feed is if you built the bin like a giant hopper. You'd need a very high basement (at least 10 feet)to get a reasonable amount of coal on it doing it that way. Look at this way, the auger sticks out of the pipe a few inches. You can draw a 45 degree angle in any direction from the part that sticks out, it would look like a cone. Any coal on the outside of the cone will have to be shoveled.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: Need some boiler help.....choices

PostBy: Sting On: Tue May 27, 2008 3:43 pm


http://i303.photobucket.com/albums/nn153/iron_fireman/th_iron_fireman_a008.jpg
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.


or install an under bin feed system 8-)
Sting
 
Other Heating: OBSO Lennox Pulse "Air Scorcher" burning NG

Re: Need some boiler help.....choices

PostBy: bmac On: Tue May 27, 2008 7:09 pm

Richard,

Yeah, I had to download the product manual so I could see how the system works before responding any further. I see where the auger is directed into the side, pulling the coal directly into the unit, rather than an outer hopper. I kept thinking there was an external hopper that the auger fed to, but no.
It pays to check it over first so I could get on the same page....... :oops:

I also noticed that the auger is mounted lower on the side of the boiler and, if I'm reading you correctly, was it adjustable for angle on just the end, or does it hinge or pivot up where it connects to the boiler as well?
Still reading on the instruction manual, so it's an educational "curve"...........

Sting...........

I had plans on building a heavy plywood bin that would hold at least a couple of ton, then line it with sheet stainless steel, which I have from an old ventillation hood out of an old school kitchen. I can make a relief pocket section on the bottom that the auger can slide into, and which would be below the bottom edge of the sloped walls. There wouldn't be a piece of coal that would stick on that stainless....guaranteed.

Thanks,
Bob
bmac
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Utica Oil Fired Boiler - Yuck!

Re: Need some boiler help.....choices

PostBy: coal berner On: Tue May 27, 2008 8:52 pm

bmac wrote:Waiting for a reply to my PM and see what scrapper has to offer..........

Thanks......

Bob

Bob PM me I will give you his Number's
coal berner
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1986 Electric Furnace Man 520 DF
Stove/Furnace Make: Electric Furnace Man
Stove/Furnace Model: DF520

Re: Need some boiler help.....choices

PostBy: coal berner On: Tue May 27, 2008 9:10 pm

Richard S. wrote:
bmac wrote:As you stated, I know you have to dump the ashes, but what I was inferring was that since I had to do one (fill the hopper), I could just as easily do both and dump the ashes as a process, at the same time, which most do anyway I guess. So considering it under those terms, an auger wasn't a big issue for me really.


I think what coal berner is trying to say is you still have a hopper for the coal auger. Most people us a 50 gallon drum right in the coal bin. The only way you'd get the entire load to self feed is if you built the bin like a giant hopper. You'd need a very high basement (at least 10 feet)to get a reasonable amount of coal on it doing it that way. Look at this way, the auger sticks out of the pipe a few inches. You can draw a 45 degree angle in any direction from the part that sticks out, it would look like a cone. Any coal on the outside of the cone will have to be shoveled.

Well I would of answered him But you are to Quick with the keybord :lol: I did try to respond to his posted but my PC lock up and I lost my responds I had to restart the PC anyway see ya on Saturday or maybe Friday Night ;)
coal berner
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1986 Electric Furnace Man 520 DF
Stove/Furnace Make: Electric Furnace Man
Stove/Furnace Model: DF520

Visit Lehigh Anthracite