Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

PostBy: Devil505 On: Thu Oct 23, 2008 10:42 am

I thought there were threads specifically covering this topic but i can't find any. Since this is an area that causes the most problems for us "Hand Fired" owners, I figured it deserved its own thread.
I added the words "A Mature Fire" because it is my experience that the technique changes after the first few days of burning a new fire, when ash has had time to build up a bit. A new fire, up to a few days old, requires very little (if any) shaking down......one or two gentle shakes is it!
How do you experienced owners shake down your stoves, & what tips can you pass along to any new owners?
Last edited by Devil505 on Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Devil505
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000

Re: Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

PostBy: Dallas On: Thu Oct 23, 2008 11:03 am

I've burned coal for many years, total (as a kid and now), but am relatively new ... "recently" ... since about two years ago.

From before, I remember shaking the fire down and adding coal ... done deal. With my current stove, the Russo C-35, it seems a bit different ... more "technical". My guess is, it's probably the grates (I don't think, they are making the coal different :?:) .

Now, I open the pipe damper, open the ash door and while watching for red coals, shake it down until I see some red coals. At this point I stop shaking. I then, take the poker and loosen the remaining coal/ash bed and add coal to the top, trying to leave a small area with open live coals. Close the loading door and the pipe damper nearly all of the way. Even after all of this, on occasion, I'll have to stick the poker through the coal bed to re establish an airway. I think, this is more necessary, when the temps are more moderate and the relative humidity is higher ... maybe the air going through the ash makes it more moist :?: . For the most part, it works.

Edit: It could be the "coal" :!: I could probably burn nut coal better in my stove, however with the big chunks of rock that are processed through, I can't burn the coal and get the rocks through the grates. So, I have better luck, in that respect, with pea.
Dallas
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Modified Russo C-35
Other Heating: Oil Hot Air
Stove/Furnace Make: Russo
Stove/Furnace Model: Modified C-35

Re: Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

PostBy: Devil505 On: Thu Oct 23, 2008 12:21 pm

I think any new coal burners will find there will be as many different techniques as there are members here. :lol:
Shaking down is definitely more of an ART then a SCIENCE, but once you have mastered it you are Home Free.

I follow the same procedure that Dallas posted but I'll ad a few fine points:

First Thing: Open the ash door
Last Thing: Close ash door

Dallas wrote:I open the pipe damper, open the ash door and while watching for red coals, shake it down until I see some red coals.


I think "Embers" would be a better way of describing my technique. As soon as I start to see red "embers" falling down, I stop.These embers will typically be falling from only one side of the coall bed, so I might give it 1 or 2 more gentle shakes to see if I can get embers from the other side too.....but...don't over shake or you will compact the coal bed so much that you cut off the free flow of air the fire needs. (This is what I did yesterday &, at best it will slow down the shaking down process...at worst you could smother your fire)..When you see Embers...STOP.


Dallas wrote:I then, take the poker and loosen the remaining coal/ash bed and add coal to the top, trying to leave a small area with open live coals.


Me too. I GENTLY probe the coal bed top to break up any bridging & find any air pockets. (paying particular attention to the side where no embers were falling) You will often see your coal bed collapse like a cake.....which is good. Leave a section flaming (to burn off volatile gases to prevent puff-backs) & fill those sections later.
For new people, try to do 1/2 of your fire at a time: Fill one side with fresh coal but leave the other side untouched & flaming. When the freshly covered side begins to flame you can then cover the side you left uncovered.

Follow this side to side procedure until your stove is totally filled to the top of the firebrick.
Watch you stove thermometer....When you add coal, the temp will drop for a few minutes. Wait for the temp to begin rising again b4 adding more coal & keep the ash door open until you are completely done, at the temp you want & with the temp rising!

The whole procedure should usually take maybe 15-20 minutes. (Faster with colder weather & hotter fires)
Last edited by Devil505 on Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Devil505
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000

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Re: Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

PostBy: M1KEMASS On: Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:33 pm

I open the ash pan door and get the coals glowing pretty good, but my stove has a hopper so after I do the shakedown - I open the glass door and poke the front of the coal bed - it usually sinks at that point and begins to burn well - then close the glass door. Then I add more coal in the top. I keep the ash pan door open for 5 or 10 minutes till it gets good and hot again, then close the ash pan door.
M1KEMASS
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Chubby
Coal Size/Type: nut

Re: Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

PostBy: greentjdude On: Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:43 pm

i found i can fill all the way after doing the ash door open for 15 minutes trick. (after finally listening to what devil was typing) i was just leaving it open for about 5 minutes or so or until i saw blue flames. i need to leave it open longer or the blue flames realy arent established. about 10 to 15 minutes and its good to go when i close the ash door. the flames are about 4-5 inches tall and when i close the door they gradually go down to 1-2 inches.

i still need to poke underside of my front grate, maybe its the design of the russo grates?
greentjdude
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Russo
Stove/Furnace Model: C-80

Re: Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

PostBy: Dallas On: Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:55 pm

greentjdude wrote: i still need to poke underside of my front grate, maybe its the design of the russo grates?


What size coal are you burning in your Russo? I'm beginning to think, my Russo grates don't tip far enough to dump the rock in NUT and the fingers are wide enough to allow the PEA to clog them. :?: :?: While I can burn PEA, I think, it requires loosening, whereas NUT would probably work better, if it wasn't for the rock.
Dallas
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Modified Russo C-35
Other Heating: Oil Hot Air
Stove/Furnace Make: Russo
Stove/Furnace Model: Modified C-35

Re: Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

PostBy: Devil505 On: Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:02 pm

greentjdude wrote:i need to leave it open longer or the blue flames realy arent established. about 10 to 15 minutes and its good to go when i close the ash door.



You'll find that time shortens when the weather gets colder. The colder the weather the easier it gets to operate your stove! :up: (better draft)
Devil505
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000

Re: Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

PostBy: Jeffb227 On: Thu Oct 23, 2008 11:17 pm

I have a question hopefully one or some of you can answer for me. This is my second year burning coal and it is definately a learning experience. I have a Vermont Casting/Dutchwest Federal Airtight stove. Got it second hand with all manuals and paperwork showing it was bought in 83, however looks brand new and the guy I got it from only used it for two seasons burning wood. Anyways I took it and put all the pieces in to convert it to a coal burner. Her is my problem; when I burn it is great for about 24 to 30 hrs (I refill it every 12 hrs or so), then it seems to slowly burn out. I have read the previous posts and understand I should shake it down until I see a few orange embers falling into the ash pan. My problem is that this takes about a minute to minute and a half of shaking before I see embers. I think I'm shaking too much and packing the coal so tight that it won't breath. Should I just shake for 10-15 seconds and not worry about the embers falling? Is my stove building up too much ash too quick? Should I try to shake more frequently for shorter periods of time? I'll tell you, I love the heat and the fact that I only have to fill the stove twice a day, but burning coal can be a very fustrating learning experience. I appreciate your expertise and help in this matter, thanks, Jeff
Jeffb227
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Vermont Castings/Dutchwest
Stove/Furnace Model: Federal Airtight

Re: Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

PostBy: Devil505 On: Fri Oct 24, 2008 6:05 am

I used to have a Dutchwest Federal but mine was anything but airtight!...Have any pics of it? Does it have 3 shaker grates that you shake with a tool?
A few more questions:

What coal are you using?
Are you filling the stove up with as much coal as you can get in there? (I added a metal lip to the front to make the coal bed deeper)

Jeffb227 wrote:My problem is that this takes about a minute to minute and a half of shaking before I see embers. I think I'm shaking too much and packing the coal so tight that it won't breath.


I think so too. Try poking lightly from the top to beak up any bridges that may be preventing embers from falling.
Devil505
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000

Re: Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

PostBy: JB Sparks On: Fri Oct 24, 2008 8:31 am

Well, after reading this post i don't feel like the lone ranger anymore. So far i like everything about burning coal (so much easier than wood) and everthing about my Harman Trident except for the shaking. Yesterday while shaking a good size piece of nut jammed in the grate so i put a little force on the shaker handle to clear it. while that worked, the shaft that goes between the handle and the , what i'll call the pitman arm that connects to the rest of the grate system, came loose so that i was shaking the handle put the grates weren't moving. So i let the fire burn out cleaned out the stove and took apart the shaft and pitman arm. They are just swedged together and that joint came loose. So took the two pieces line them up so the shaker handle would be oriented properly and drilled a hole thur the two pieces big enough for an 8/32 screw. Put it all back together and it worked fine. Now i figure to keep that from happening again i put in a piece of steel cloth over the grates. the cloth is 1/2" so as to keep the big nut chunges from jamming in the grate.
Seems to be working, however, when i used the shaker this morning didn't get all that much ash droping into the pan. I still had a nice hot fire so i took a hoe and in one section at a time dug thur the coal to clear the ash. Then added more coals. That was about an hour ago and right now in the front only there is hot coals and water temp. is down to 140* so i opened the ash door to see if it will pick back up.
I like everything about burning coal, but got to get this shaking thing down pat! :?
JB Sparks
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman - Chubby
Stove/Furnace Model: Harman: SF160 - Chubby Sr.

Re: Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

PostBy: Devil505 On: Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:08 am

JB Sparks wrote:Now i figure to keep that from happening again i put in a piece of steel cloth over the grates. the cloth is 1/2" so as to keep the big nut chunges from jamming in the grate.


I would remove that as it will impede ash from falling & probably just foul the grates over time. You wont need it if you shake correctly for a Harman shaker mechanism...Short, choppy shakes....not full travel of the shaker arm.


I made a "STOP" block for my Harman TLC that might work with your Harman too. "Stops" For Harman Shaker Mechanisms?
Devil505
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000

Re: Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

PostBy: Dallas On: Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:23 am

The thing, which puzzles me is, I don't remember it being like this! :?: ... in yesteryear.

This morning the fire was pretty well burned up, but the remaining bed of coal was hot and glowing. I shook it down and loosened it with the poker and added coal. About an hour later went to have a look. The coals underneath were red, but the fire wasn't "flaming". I took the poker and ran it down to the grates in one area only ... immediately the coal gases ignited and everything came to life. In my stove, it seems to be getting choked by the ash and "pretty easily, at that". Once I can establish an airway, everything is fine.

Keep in mind, the stove is supposed to burn NUT, but I'm using PEA, so that I don't have to dump the fire once a week to get the rock out. From what I've heard from some of the other Russo users, it might be a design flaw, which has never been addressed. I may try to modify the shaker system to have more of a "throw", so that it might dump the rock, when required. If I were to do that, then I could probably burn NUT with less problems.
Dallas
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Modified Russo C-35
Other Heating: Oil Hot Air
Stove/Furnace Make: Russo
Stove/Furnace Model: Modified C-35

Re: Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

PostBy: Devil505 On: Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:37 am

I'd love to try PEA but none of the dealers I use have anything but NUT size. I've never burned anything but NUT in any stove so I can't offer you any input on your problem.
Devil505
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000

Re: Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

PostBy: Dallas On: Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:40 am

You can make your own PEA. All you need is a hammer. :lol:
Dallas
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Modified Russo C-35
Other Heating: Oil Hot Air
Stove/Furnace Make: Russo
Stove/Furnace Model: Modified C-35

Re: Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

PostBy: EasyRay On: Fri Oct 24, 2008 4:32 pm

I use both. Nut is easier to come by, but if I can get Pea I'll take it. They both burn nice in my stove.
EasyRay
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman TLC 2000
Coal Size/Type: Pea,Nut or Stove

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