Newbie Issues

Newbie Issues

PostBy: Dann757 On: Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:48 pm

I've had 2 coal fires going, each lasted about 2 days. I think I know what is going on, but don't know how to regulate the fire. I start the fire with a small wood fire, and start tossing in stove coal. The load of old basement coal I got has seemingly every size in it, but mostly stove and chestnut size. My firebox is lined with 9" x 4.5" firebrick and is about 14.5" diameter. The coal starts easily and I keep putting in more coal until I have a bed of glowing burning coal with unburnt coal on top of it. This initial fire burns very well with all that underfire air coming up through all the space around the coal. I have my underfire air knob, my overfire air knobs which I haven't used, a mpd which I haven't used for fear of CO coming back, and my baro which I just installed, but can't set up precisely without a manometer.
So my initial fire gets really hot and roasts me to the point of having to open windows. I have tried closing down the underfire knob pretty far, but haven't closed it completely. I've set the baro to "2" to cut the draft and tame the fire down. This initial fire that is too hot seems to produce a stack temp of 250* which makes me feel good at least that is not too hot.
Then the fire settles down after about 8 hours, and for the next 8 or ten hours it keeps the place perfectly warm around 75f. I poke it a little and add a few handfulls now and then. By this time the unburned coal is at the top of the firebrick, and there is a hot coal fire underneath. I get blue ladies and it looks like a good fire.
Then the burning coal seems to break down into very small pea size particles and I can tell the airflow is being diminished. I've had some success in poking down through the fire to let air in, but eventually I end up shaking the grate and a lot of this glowing small stuff comes down through. I don't think my grate has the best design. I had poked and stirred the diminishing fire once, enough to really rejuvenate it. Today it was warm around 40*, I left with the underfire knob pretty wide open, came back and the fire had gone out.
Sorry to write a novel here, I've come along so far, all due to the help here. I know it is a hand-fired stove with it's own behavior, just seeking advice once again!!!!
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Re: Newbie Issues

PostBy: grizzly2 On: Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:58 pm

A lot of your problem may be with the coal. If you have a lot of fines in it, it will tend to not breath well from bottom to top. However, if I had some free coal I would try to burn it too. If you have much coal in the mix that would pass through a screen with 1 sqare inch holes, then you may need to actually pour your coal through such a screen and throw away anything that passes through the screen. With your baro. damper set at 2 it should be partially open most of the time when the fire is burning. If it is not, your chimney probably does not have enough draft to support a coal fire. That would be a whole new issue to address. After getting your coal lit, keep adding an inch or two deep layer, waiting for the burn to reach the top before adding another layer. Keep adding layers until you are at the top of the firebricks, or bottom of the door, whichever comes first. Coal burns best in a deep bed. Set your baro damper to 3. My Field Controlls damper is very accurate if the adjustment knob is set dead center over the 3 line (make sure you have mounted the baro damper level and plumb). Now, that you have a good deep fire burning with a proper draft, you will need to determine the proper air intake draft for the heat output you want without snuffing the fire out. If you have an owner's manual refer to it for an initial setting. Error on the side of producing more heat than you want rather than starving the fire for air. Coal I have discovered is very slow to react to change, therefore start reducing air intake gradually, maybe a 1/4 turn each 4 hours until you have the heat output you want, keeping track of how many total turns out you are at each time you make an adjustment. Shake the grates once every 8 hours to start with. Do stop when you start geting red pieces with every stroke of the shaker. Don't play with the fire! Avoid poking, stirring or moving coals arround at this point. You shouldn't have to.

If all this doesn't work I would suspect bad coal, or a poorly designed stove. Good luck and keep us posted. :roll:
grizzly2
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 30 - 95
Coal Size/Type: pea and nut/ anthracite
Other Heating: Jotul #3 wood stove in garage. Oil backup in house. Electric backup in house.

Re: Newbie Issues

PostBy: rockwood On: Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:32 pm

Dann757 wrote: a mpd which I haven't used for fear of CO coming back


The mpd looks shut in the photo. It's open now right?
rockwood
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Stokermatic coal furnace
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Rockwood Stoveworks Circulator
Baseburners & Antiques: Malleable/Monarch Range
Coal Size/Type: Soft coal: Lump and stoker (slack coal)

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Re: Newbie Issues

PostBy: Dann757 On: Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:53 pm

Hey Rockwood,
Good eye! It was shut with the stove empty and stone cold when I took that pic. I was a little reluctant to even put in the MPD, but that's what the CO alarm is for. God forbid I ever left it closed. You find out about that very soon after starting a wood fire, being new to coal I want to be very cautious! I don't know if any of you guys use the MPD when regulating the fire, I was hoping the under fire air control would do mostly the same thing, without restricting the stack at all. I wouldn't want to close the MPD partially and have invisible CO pouring out all the cracks...
Dann757
 

Re: Newbie Issues

PostBy: Dann757 On: Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:06 pm

Griz,
Thanks. I definitely have to make a screen box. I've just been scraping off the top of the pile into a spackle bucket and tossing in scoops from there. There is a lot of fines in the pile. My baro floats open at 2 with the fire going good. It's level and plumb. I think the chimney has adequate draft when it's in the low 30's and below outside. I took my old Gold Marc stove off the side of the road many years ago, made in 1980, I'd love to find an owner's manual. They were made in Monticello, NY. I've found a little info on them. I don't think it's the greatest design, but it's a simple solid stove. I'll quit playing with the fire, lol. I'll let the coal all get going before I add more.
I have had it idling consistently over several hours at a time, that beats wood right there.
Dan
Dann757
 

Re: Newbie Issues

PostBy: LsFarm On: Fri Dec 05, 2008 2:48 am

Hello Dann, what sort of shaking or sliding mechanism does your stove have for the grate under the fire? What you describe is your coal burning properly untill the firepot is full of just ash, and the ash is not being shaken out of the firepot into the ashpan below.. All coal burning stoves need a way to shake or agitate the base of the fire to get the coal ash to fall through the holes and slots in the grates and into the ash pan..

If your stove does NOT have a slider, or shaker grate, then the only way you will be able to keep a coal fire going is to go under the grate, and using a poker, go through the holes or slots in the grate and get the ash to fall through into the ashpan area.. the level of the fire will drop as the ash falls into the ashpan,, then you can add more fresh coal onto the top of the fire.

The normal process is to shake the fire, add fresh coal, then 6, 8 or 12 hours later, [this depends on the stove, burn rate and other factors] shake again, and add more coal.. With a good shaking mechanism, and shaking technique and good coal,, you can start the fire once in the fall, and let it go out in the spring.

Read some of the other posts on the hand feed forum about other stoves not burning long enough, hot enough, the burning of anthracite coal is pretty universal, with minor variations for stove design, chimney capabilities and burn rate .

Greg L
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

Re: Newbie Issues

PostBy: Dann757 On: Fri Dec 05, 2008 10:49 am

Greg,
That's very encouraging! I have a lead for more basement coal, sounds like stove coal size, and if I don't think about the labor and just go get it, I'll have quite a supply. Here's my grate, it's 14.5" when inside the stove, the firebricks surround it. It's got a crack in it and when I get the 220 line hooked up for my buzz box I want to weld it with nickle rod. There's a cast iron handle that attaches to the "double H "shaker and also the ash pan below it. I have burned a lot of wood in the stove without firebrick lining, and used to be able to shake the whole grate in its seat. Not practical now since the bricks rest on the grate. I would be thrilled if it's my inexperience that's causing these initial problems... I plan to eliminate the fines from the coal as I burn it, resist the temptation to poke the fire when it gets kind of hollow in the burning part, be careful about when I put fresh coal on the fire.
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Re: Newbie Issues

PostBy: Gary L On: Sat Dec 06, 2008 1:24 am

Hi Dann, We have spoken before in PMs about your stove. I just picked up the same stove tonight and will be working to get it ready in the next few days.

Something you said does not ring right. Mine has the 4.5 X 9 inch fire bricks but they do not sit on top of my grate. I can actually completely remove my grate and leave all the fire bricks right where they are because the fire bricks sit on a steel ring and so does the grate but inside the fire bricks. My grate is 14 inches accross and says Cowanesque Valley Iron Wks, Cowanesque, PA. NO. 0 S.D. Grate ring on the under side. On the double H part it says INDIANA FDRY. CO., Indiana PA. NO. 0 S.D. DRAW CENTER GRATE.

The grate has a dual purpose. For shaking the fire you would rotate the grate side to side with your tool until the reds start coming down in the ash pan. The double H part is the dumper grate for when the fire does go out and you want to remove all the ash and clinkers before restarting. You would use your tool and pull this part outward to open the square hole in the middle of the shaker grate.

These stoves sure do look like they should be excellent coal burners and they are very well built. It might just be a matter of learning the right techniques and your stoves quirks.

Please let me know if you do attempt to weld the cracks in your grate and how they hold up after the repair. Mine also has a couple cracks in just about the same spot as yours. I attribute this to one of two things, shaking too vigorously and allowing hard unburned pieces to get caught while shaking and/or allowing the grate itself to get glowing red by either leaving the lower door open or opening the lower dial to far and leaving it open until the grate is over heated and glowing red.

Maybe someone here can give us both some pointers on welding cast iron grates or even if it is an option worth messing with. At present mine will function but I sure would like it to be crack free.

Gary
Gary L
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Russo #1
Stove/Furnace Make: Russo

Re: Newbie Issues

PostBy: coalvet On: Sat Dec 06, 2008 9:27 am

Hello, concerning your cracked grates, if you can't get them welded you might find a replacement here.

http://www.woodmanspartsplus.com/4870/S ... -Dump.html
coalvet
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane Model 404
Coal Size/Type: Nut
Other Heating: NG Boiler

Re: Newbie Issues

PostBy: Dann757 On: Sat Dec 06, 2008 10:50 am

Gary that's awesome! Please get some pictures posted! I actually never looked close at the grate for foundry marks. I may need to have a much closer look at how I put the firebrick in. I have the retaining rings, one on the bottom might be misaligned. One ring is fair, the other is in need of repair or replacement. There's a lot of stress on that grate if you rotate it with the tool, but that makes sense to try to get it set up correctly. I see how that would shake out the whole bottom of the fire!

I went to welding school many years ago and we were taught a technique for welding cast iron. You get the piece slowly heated up with oxy-acetlene in a bed of sand to retain the heat. Then you weld the crack with nickle rod and immediately tap on the weld with your welding hammer. Then bury the piece in sand to let it cool slowly. They also have cast iron rod. I can braze too but I don't know if that's a good alternative. Will post pics when I get to that. I don't know if you have to get that elaborate, I'll probably do it that way though. I think you could just run the bead and hope for the best.

Did you get a blower with your stove? I'd like to find one with a variable speed to further tweak my heating situation here. I've had a fire going for 14 hours now and I didn't touch the fire except to put in coal. I only used lumps, adjusted the fire air a lot to see how it responds. Much better luck this time- fire is at a critical point now where it had tended to lose its free flowing under fire air. Still idling very nicely though!!!

This information is once again much appreciated. It's 29f outside and 70f in here!
Dan
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Re: Newbie Issues

PostBy: Gary L On: Sat Dec 06, 2008 12:00 pm

Thanks Coalvet. I just happen to have a Crane "Coal Cooker" 44 sitting out in the garage awaiting my attention also.
I looked last night at the various places that might have grates and have not found one in 14 inch yet.

The Gold Marc "Monticello" I got last night is identicle to yours Dann but does have some issues to be dealt with. I did get the variable speed blower that works perfectly.
The fellow who had it previously did some alteration and attached a hood right on the top so the blower air could be routed in to another room. Great idea but he actually cut a 20.25 X 9.75" rectangle right out of the top surface 1/4" plate steel for the hood to mount into. I will get some photos posted later. I think his system had the front blower grates blocked off so that all the blower air went up thru the hood and to another room.

As for the two rings you show with your inside grate, are they cast iron or steel? I have not really had any time to really look my new stove over but my bottom ring where the bricks and grate sit appears to be steel and welded right in to the inner cylinder. I might very well be missing some of the innards and will investigate further in the next couple days. I know my Russo stove has a solid cast iron basket frame that the grate sits in and this frame also holds the bricks in place.

I did a google search late last night and found both of the foundarys in Pa. It appears both are not in the same business today but I will investigate this further as one is under a new name.

I just enjoy rebuilding these nice stoves and I guess thats why I am here. My Russo provides almost all the heat I need and is as simple a stove as I could ever want and just keeps a perfect fire 24/7 as long as the outside temp is below 30 degrees.

Gary
Gary L
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Russo #1
Stove/Furnace Make: Russo

Re: Newbie Issues

PostBy: Dann757 On: Sat Dec 06, 2008 2:43 pm

Yeah, Coalvet, thanks for the grate link.
Gary, that's awesome, I thought I had the only "Monticello" on earth. I bet you could weld another top on yours, I guess if you could find a friendly steel shop they could cut out the oval for the stack. You could probably cut it out with a jigsaw and a few metal blades and lots of patience.

The rings that I have are welded steel. I recall them being on the top and bottom of the firebricks when I found the stove. I may have them reversed by mistake. I have the same ring welded to the firebox cylinder that you do, which accepts the cast iron grate. And I do have it set up wrong if I want to do a rotational shake with the grate. My front firebricks are resting on the grate. Thanks to the help from everybody here my fire is still going. I looked up under the grate and saw the ash had clogged some of the grate holes. For the time being I just poked up under the grate through the teardrop holes and that restored the air flow!!!!! Very minimal effort to get the ash out of the way!

This tweaking advice is fantastic-- it's more of a hobby and a challenge and a bit eccentric, but since I'm renovating this cottage and my only other heat is a rigged up gas heater, why not go retro a little bit. I hope it goes below zero this winter ha!
Dann757
 

Re: Newbie Issues

PostBy: Gary L On: Sat Dec 06, 2008 5:10 pm

I have no removable rings. Just the one that is welded inside the stove in the second pic.

The top will be a simple fix if I decide to do it. Might just do as the previous guy did and use the standard duct work to blow it in the back end of the house.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Here is a pic of the grate inside the stove with the old fire brick just there for test purposes. Tomorrow I will get new bricks and some more paint but the grate appears to be the only thing that is necessary to hold the bricks in place and I am sure the coal will do the rest so I don't see a real need for the rings you have.

Image

Gary
Gary L
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Russo #1
Stove/Furnace Make: Russo

Re: Newbie Issues

PostBy: Dann757 On: Sat Dec 06, 2008 10:02 pm

Hey Gary that is so cool! Thanks for the X-Ray view of my stove! I bet my grate has maker's marks and I just didn't see them all these years. My handle tool says INDIANA FDRY CO INDIANA PA on it.

I'm sure your new firebricks will retain themselves due to the circular configuration. I was considering some bevel work on mine for a precision tight fit. I have this Plasplugs wet tile saw that has served me very well, I had to cut a 1" piece to fit and was able to do it by removing the splash shield on it and cutting one side then the other.

If you want the dimensions of the steel rings I'll measure them up for you. Amidst the thousand other things I have to do I hope to be able to repair or refabricate them. Or maybe I could find a steel shop that could do it reasonably. I'm not using the top one and probably didn't really need the bottom one....

Looks like the guy made a nice cut anyway. Maybe you could find a cast grate to put over the hole and just let the hot air right up and out of there.
Maybe we should form The Gold Marc Monticello Wood and Coal Burning Stove Association of New York and New Jersey
Dan
Dann757
 

Re: Newbie Issues

PostBy: Gary L On: Sat Dec 06, 2008 10:21 pm

I doubt you even need to go to the trouble of beveling the brick edges. Looks to me like I need 10 bricks and they shoul fit just about perfect. You could probably use refractory cement between each and make a very pretty inside but I am sure they never came this way so why bother with such trivial stuff. I do not see where there is any need for the retaining rings and still don't know if they ever even came with them when new. Your might be an after thought from a previous owner. My grate fits perfectly right down into the brick lined cylinder and the bricks can't move once the grate is in place. It also swings side to side freely for shaking.

We could form a NY/NJ Gold Marc club but I suspect there might only be a handfull of owners who might have any interest.

For now I just want to get the stove up and running and ready for resale.

Gary
Gary L
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Russo #1
Stove/Furnace Make: Russo

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