1900 era fireplace insert

1900 era fireplace insert

PostBy: sparebmason On: Thu Nov 20, 2008 4:29 pm

I have a home built in 1900 which has its original coal fireplace insert. The insert firebox is about 2' deep, 2' across at the front and 1.5' across at the back and from the bottom of the basket to the bottom of the back damper (fill line), it is about 1.25'. It is mostly cast iron pieces. It has stamped "UP TO DATE" on the inside back, which may be the stove or who knows what. It has two dampers. One is in the back and opens straight up the chimney. The other is in the front and draws air against the front cast iron insert plate and back over the top of the firebox then up the chimney. The coal basket is freestanding and is about 2 inches off the base of the fireplace and is about 4 inches deep. In front of the coal basket there is a decorate floorplate that allows are through and starting about 5 inches from the base of the fireplace is a cast iron front piece with allows air to pass through its decorative design and holds in coal piled up in the firebox. Above that is the opening which is closed by a large iron plate which rests on that front piece and seals the firebox.

I have been burning soft coal of nut size (from Clearfield County PA) for about a month with a five gallon bucket's worth lasting about 10 hours depending on how cold it is, but with tending needed about every 6 hours. I have pretty much no control over the draft. It was running OK, but I really would like to have it run with less need to tend. I brought home some anthracite nut and added it to the fire and it was OK for a few hours, but seemed to burn more quickly. Then I added more before going to bed and it went out.

I know I'm not providing the best information, but I really don't know how better to describe the insert. My biggest problem with the soft coal was bridging and then going out if not broken up and new coal added. The anthracite doesn't seem to want to stay burning as easily and I have little control over conditions. So, I'm thinking I may have to stick mainly with soft coal. But it still leaves some questions:

1. Should I be using nut or some other size? Pea probably would fall through the coal basket, but maybe using stove would be better?
2. Should I perhaps mix hard and soft coal or is that a bad idea?

Due to the decorate nature of the insert and the fact that it remains with the original fireplace in this home which we are restoring, I don't want to replace it. But, I would like to continue to use it because it alone provides about 30 degrees of heat to 2800 sq ft of high ceiling living space.

I've attached a couple pictures to show the insert so you know what the heck I'm babbling on about.
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Fireplace insert without front plate in place that covers the opening. The front damper is not visible, but is just inside the top lip of the insert.
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Insert with front plate in place.
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sparebmason
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Uncertain
Stove/Furnace Model: Uncertain

Re: 1900 era fireplace insert

PostBy: jeromemsn On: Thu Nov 20, 2008 4:47 pm

I don't know for sure but I think You may be able to burn camel coal in it. I only heard of the camel coal from the coal yard I go to if I run out of coal before I run up to the breakers. This camel coal are very large pieces of soft coal, bituminous coal I believe. A lady was buying it the day I was there, said it burned good in her old time fireplace and kept her very warm. The coal yard was Wertz coal in Mechanicsburg Pa. Hope this may help you. Others I'm sure will chime in.
jeromemsn
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker 90 dvc
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman elite fireplace insert

Re: 1900 era fireplace insert

PostBy: sparebmason On: Mon Nov 24, 2008 10:47 am

Interesting. That is not a size I have ever heard of. I'll have to look into it. Thanks.
sparebmason
 
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Re: 1900 era fireplace insert

PostBy: inline On: Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:19 am

That's a very nice looking fireplace.
Is your chimney lined? We have a very similar fireplace that isn't lined. It currently has gas logs in it.
If I could burn coal in it I would remove the gas logs....

Chris
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Stove/Furnace Make: Russo, Alaska, Alaska
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Re: 1900 era fireplace insert

PostBy: jeromemsn On: Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:34 am

Inline all I have to say is.............WOW what a room you have there. What workmanship.
jeromemsn
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker 90 dvc
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman elite fireplace insert

Re: 1900 era fireplace insert

PostBy: inline On: Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:31 pm

Thanks. The wallpaper took a week to hang!
inline
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Russo, Alaska, Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: CW, Kodiak, Channing 3

Re: 1900 era fireplace insert

PostBy: sparebmason On: Fri Dec 05, 2008 11:43 am

The chimney is unlined. The front plate is needed for the coal to really burn. Yours looks like it was designed to burn coal, but you'd need that plate I would think.
sparebmason
 
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Re: 1900 era fireplace insert

PostBy: jrivard On: Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:32 pm

The bottom panel on your basket is actually there to control the rate of which the coal burns. If you take it out, the coal will have more air flow and will burn hotter. The trick is to keep the front grate off until your coal bed is established, then put the front grate on and cut the damper in half. The coal will burn medium hot and throw more heat in to the room. If you take the grate off while the damper is half, the fire will burn much hotter and the coals will all get red. I have a victorian fire basket of a simliar design but it isn't an insert like yours. I burn Anthracite in a stove coal size successully. However, It does go out after 10 hours because I haven't found a way to shake the old coals out and the coal collapses on itself killing the fire. I am going to try making the home made "L" shaped grate flosser to see if that will work. Have you had any problem with Nut size falling out of the front of your basket? I don't have Bituminuous coal in my area so I am using Anthracite.
jrivard
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Victorian Coal Fireplace Baske

Re: 1900 era fireplace insert

PostBy: WNY On: Mon Dec 08, 2008 1:16 pm

We have a good thread on pics of our Old Houses....check it out, post if you have some of your house

Old House thread...
Old Houses
WNY
 
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Re: 1900 era fireplace insert

PostBy: acesover On: Mon Dec 08, 2008 1:47 pm

I think that it's called channel coal, it's not a size but a type, very volatile.
Ray
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Stove/Furnace Model: insert, modified

Re: 1900 era fireplace insert

PostBy: rockwood On: Mon Dec 08, 2008 2:15 pm

Haven't ever heard of camel or channel coal but I have heard of cannel coal. Maybe that's what you're thinking of.
rockwood
 
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Re: 1900 era fireplace insert

PostBy: Berlin On: Mon Dec 08, 2008 7:52 pm

It's called "cannel coal"; but probably is not actually "cannel coal". True cannel coal looks like black wax and is formed not from dead and decayed plants, but from only spores. True cannel coal is extremely rare and very expensive, more than anthracite. What some people now call cannel coal is simply good high volitile bituminous coal; but this is not cannel coal regardless of what you hear from the guys in the coalyard.

What you need to find is a good high volitile, low fsi (free swelling index) lump (3x7"+) bituminous coal. you will probably have to go closer to ohio to find a coal with a decent low swelling index (a high swelling index is what causes your coal to "bridge" then have to be poked to keep burning).

"Is your chimney lined? We have a very similar fireplace that isn't lined. It currently has gas logs in it.
If I could burn coal in it I would remove the gas logs"

You don't need a lined chimney to burn coal. a liner prevents seepage of creosote tars between the courses of brick from WOOD fires; this seepage is dangerous because during a chimney fire, it can ignite on the exterior of the chimney from the chimney fire heat being generated and thus ignite your home. Coal only produces soot and flyash, there is no creosote tar, no chimney fire danger, and thus no need for a liner.
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Re: 1900 era fireplace insert

PostBy: jrivard On: Mon Dec 15, 2008 8:46 am

Success!! I had my anthracite stove coal burning in my firebasket for a straight 30 hours with out going out. It gets HOT!
jrivard
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Victorian Coal Fireplace Baske

Re: 1900 era fireplace insert

PostBy: eelhc On: Tue Dec 23, 2008 9:04 pm

jrivard wrote:Success!! I had my anthracite stove coal burning in my firebasket for a straight 30 hours with out going out. It gets HOT!


I'm keenly interested in doing this as the cast iron grate in my brick fireplace needs to be replaced anyway. Since there's no shaker I imagine that all the ashes must be poked/sliced down... Does it get messy with no ash bin? Pics?
eelhc
 
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Re: 1900 era fireplace insert

PostBy: jrivard On: Wed Dec 24, 2008 8:46 am

My basket doesn't have a shaker grate either. I have to "floss" my grate from underneath with an "L" shaped poker every 5 - 6 hours to get the ash out and then reload with another layer of coal on top. I've found if you don't see any visible flames then you need to poke up through the coal gently to re-establish open more air pathsways. Does it get messy? No, not really. I have to shovel the ash out form underneath the basket once a day. I'll post pics later this week.
jrivard
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Victorian Coal Fireplace Baske

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