can't seem to get a decent coal fire

can't seem to get a decent coal fire

PostBy: iowaboy.17 On: Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:55 pm

Trying to burn anthracite 1-1/2 - 3/4" in an Ashley CAC. I can get a decent wood fire going, lots of red-hot coals after the wood has burned down, cover most (but not all) of the coals with coal and in 10 or 20 minutes open the loading door and put more coal on top of the coals that are there. However, every time think it is time for more coal and open the loading door, the amount of red-hot coals is smaller and eventually the whole thing goes dark. The darn thing burns wood just fine, but I am baffled about how to develop a strong coal fine. I have to leave the manual damper (no barometric) wide open, and I also have to leave the ash door open for air intake. I can't even burn wood with any success if the ash door is closed. The only air admission point is a tiny 1-1/2 x 2' opening controlled by a chain fastened to a coil spring. The Ashley inst. manual says to "never operate with the ash door open or the stove will overheat". Hah. Darn thing won't even burn dry kindling with the ash door shut.

I have read all the posts about how to start a coal fine, and experimented with several of the suggestions to no avail. I've got about 3 ton of coal and wonder if it is the correct size for this stove, 1-3/4 - 3/4 ". Any and all comments appreciated. Oh, the amount of coal I add at any time is a coal scoop, about a pound I would guess. Just enough to cover about 90% of the red-hot coals. Hope to hear from someone who knows how to make this work.
iowaboy.17
 
Stove/Furnace Make: none
Stove/Furnace Model: none

Re: can't seem to get a decent coal fire

PostBy: TimV On: Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:25 pm

Try cleaning out ash pan first.Load some very fine softwood dry kindling split very small in the ashpan. Not a lot but plenty to create a hot fast fire for a few minutes .
Before you light it put a few more pieces of split very fine kindling wood on grates. Then add a fair amout of coal enough to at least fill the firebox 3 or 4 inches deep. 4 or 5 pounds at least.
make sure all dampers are open wide.
set thermostat on front of stove at high.
Light the kindling in the ashpan. Leave the ashpan door open a little, say an inch or so. Close main door
Let it burn for a 10 minutes or longer till your sure coal is glowing and on fire. Add more coal leaving a little burning on edges . Add maybe at least a couple to 3 pounds . Wait for it to really start burning and add even more coal till your very near top of bricks without covering alll the fire completely.
make sure it burning good and shut the ashpan door .Check in big door and make sure its burning and if it is going good set thermostat back down to 3/4 or so and adjust as needed. If all the coal is going good set it down to where it gives you desired heat.
The key problem i think your having is not adding anywhere near enough coal. You need a full coal bed for it to burn properly.
that stove will probably take 25 to 40 pounds of coal to intially fill it.
Remember its coal you using and not wood. Unlike wood that runs away with too much inthe firebox coal needs a deep bed and is controled by the amount of air you let let it burn .
TimV
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Energy King Furnace
Stove/Furnace Model: 480 EK

Re: can't seem to get a decent coal fire

PostBy: TimV On: Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:40 pm

Old age is setting in....dah...I forgot...LoL
Is your flue size large enough ? For that stove it needs to be 6 inches(had 2 of them) (burned like blast furnaces). Yes dont leave the ashpit door open(just to start a fresh fire) or it can quickly run away. Never leave it open as part of normal operation . The area of intake is adequate for the stove. Is you flue tall enough? Does it have a good draft >Is your baromertic draft set properly? Was it too warm outside when you tried burning the coal?
That Ashley is a great stove I suspect the barometric damper is set wrong opens too far to fast or flue maybe plugged or is is a low chimney?
my guess is start looking at the flue for answers
TimV
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Energy King Furnace
Stove/Furnace Model: 480 EK

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Re: can't seem to get a decent coal fire

PostBy: iowaboy.17 On: Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:06 pm

Well, I guess this is how I respond to some of the questions Tim V. asked. First, there is no barometric damper, only a manual quarter turn and it closes. I leave it wide open. The flue size is 6"; there is a 90 degee elbow immediately at the stove exit, the pipe rises vertically for three feet with the manual damper halfway up this rise, then a 90 degree elbow turning the pipe to the horizontal for five feet, then another 90 degree elbow turning the pipe vertically again for almost 30 feet. There is a rain cap on the top of the pipe. Draft sure seems good but tomorrow I will borrow a manometer and check the reading, although I don't know how many inches of water should show on the meter.
The outside temperature is in the high 30s to low 40s.
Well, I will try your method tomorrow, one I have never heard of but sounds like it might work. Ten pounds of coal???!!!!! Wow. I have a sinking feeling that nothing good is going to happen but I am sure willing to give it a try. How about the coal size? Is that what they call "chestnut" coal. Is it the proper size? If it isn't, I've got 3 ton that won't work. In any event, many, many thanks for the helpful response. I'll keep you posted. tom
iowaboy.17
 
Stove/Furnace Make: none
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Re: can't seem to get a decent coal fire

PostBy: TimV On: Sat Oct 25, 2008 1:43 pm

Have you ever cleaned your chimney? You said you burned wood in it before trying coal . It may be partially plugged.
10 pounds of coal wont be enough to opertate correctly if your pipe isnt plugged. That stove needs a full bed of coal to work .
Does this stove smoke back inside or puff smoke out the door when you first light it?
Also if you burned wood that was not seasoned enough and you have a insulated metal chimney the cap is where the problem with creosote shows up ,at least that is how it is with mine . Pipe never got clogged but cap would because it was out in the open and cold and formed tar like buildup and would cause crusty buildup when burning wood.
Let us know what a visual up the pipe with a mirror reveals.I hope the 90 leading to the 30 foot vertical is a tee with a cleanout
TimV
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Energy King Furnace
Stove/Furnace Model: 480 EK

Re: can't seem to get a decent coal fire

PostBy: iowaboy.17 On: Sat Oct 25, 2008 5:50 pm

Well Tim, by golly it worked!!! I did just as you recommended with kindling in the ash pan and kindling on the grate and covered it with about 3" of coal and lit 'er off. 15 minutes later I checked and blacker than the inside of a cat, but I dumped another 5 or 6 lbs of coal in and closed it up and left it alone for an hour. Checked, and saw a tiny, tiny red spot on the coal so closed it up again and an hour or so later peeked and, wonder of wonders, there were red spots all over and little blue flames and heat!!! Put in enough coal to bring it to the top of the brickwork, and now, 5 hours after starting the experiment, a whole firebox full of red-hot coal and 80 degrees in the room! Can't believe it, but thank you, thank you, thank you. I was just about ready to give up and go back to splitting wood. Hah. Looks like coal for me for this Vermont winter.
iowaboy.17
 
Stove/Furnace Make: none
Stove/Furnace Model: none

Re: can't seem to get a decent coal fire

PostBy: TimV On: Sat Oct 25, 2008 8:39 pm

Glad you got it to burn ok!!
Now leave it alone for about 10/12 hours and shake down the grates. Not to harsh but enough to get the fine ash down and off grates. Then after you shake it down add more coal but be carefull not to cover up the whole complete pile of nice red coals.(Search "banking coal" on here) You need to leave a little of them showing to burn off the gases created when you add fresh coal. Remember to leave the air intake open for a good while while the new coal you added burns in and the gas is gone. You cant hurry this part so be patient ...Because if you close it off to quick after filling you will have an explosion that will scare the living crap right out of you!! Besides it will make an awful dusty mess i know i got a little too quick on the draw after filling my furnace. it taught me new respect for fresh coal.
just remember coal is not wood so you need to learn the basics for coal.
Also you best find a barometric damper because I think when the air temps drop your 30 foot chimney will suck the coal right out of the stove...maybe not that much but you lose a lot of heat right out the chimney.
Also a coal fire likes privacy!! Dont poke at with a shovel or disturbe it until you shake it down on schedule (no shovels unless you bank it)which in cold weather should be about twice a day unless you really need to crank it up.
Also dont toss that empty paper trash in to the coal fire it wont do it any good at all i know it sounds crazy but your not burning wood anymore.
All this is stuff I learned the hard way :roll: Happy Heating
For more info go to the "Hand Fired" section of the board and find plenty of info
TimV
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Energy King Furnace
Stove/Furnace Model: 480 EK

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