KTM, my boiler is custom made to fit into my outbuilding, the design is a combination of my old small boiler, several outdoor boiler designs and a LOT of web searches. Look in the 'Pictures of Your Stove' thread, I have two photos there.
I have the same problem with the coal 'bridging' over the base of burning coal. I have to knock holes or gently stir the hard top crust and it falls onto the hot coals and then the fire really takes off. This needs to be done about three hours after loading the coal, but I'm either gone or sleeping at this time.
I think the stoker stoves are the answer, but there is no way I will figure out how to install a stoker/feeder into my boiler. Much less find a source of good graded-sized coal here in SE Michigan. So I'm gonna live with it and try to figure it out.
Although, I could make an adapter to fit in the large loading door, with a feeder on the bottom and a smaller door above the feed..... Naw, not likely.
I'm surprised, like you, that the beautiful glowing-red bed of burnt-down coal doesn't actually produce enough heat to keep the water above 140*. I think the hot-coals stage of a fire from red oak has more heat output, but has a shorter life than coal.
KTM, like you I'm trying to get a consistant pattern with desired heat output, fuel loaded, blower settings, effective burn duration etc etc. I think it is going to be difficult with the warm weather extremes we are having, I think we could figure it out for say 15* nights with 25* days, if it would stay that way for a week or two. But the 35* nights with 45* days are hard to heat without overfiring the boiler. The real aggravation is when I don't load enough fuel and the fire is dead 8-10 hours later and I have to start with kindling and paper to get a fire going again.
I think with the warm nights rather than getting woke up from a 90* house, maybe you could half-load the coal, set the alarm for 0300 and reload for the rest of the night. At least you would not have to try to get back to sleep in a sauna!
I attached a photo of the firebox of my boiler. The grate on the bottom is 7" wide, and 48" long. The firebrick line the 'V' beside grate and the vertical sides of the box. The width from side to side [brick to brick] is 22". Right now I'm using about half the box, the back 24" has a firebrick 'dam' to keep the coal up front and the rear grates are covered to force all air up through the front bed of coal.
Sparky, I agree, I sure don't want to see 0* or below. I remember a week of highs in the 5* range and lows -15*, and it was rough! But that was when I was burning propane and only heating the house to 59*, now with a 70* house temp, I think the pipes in the walls won't freeze as easy. Got to love old farmhouses!!
Thanks again. Greg L
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Last edited by LsFarm
on Sat Feb 04, 2006 2:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.