Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

PostBy: blackhawk5421 On: Sat Dec 06, 2008 6:01 pm

Hello, coal gurus!!

I am new here, but I have been lurking for a few days. Quite a wealth of knowledge here. My family has just purchased our first coal stove, and I have some questions. Please forgive any of my noobitude. :D

First, I am a bit if a young'un, at 21. However, I am making this post for my father, as it is his stove, and he is computer-handicapped. We have burned wood at our home ever since we moved here 20 years ago. Now that I am getting older, I will be leaving home soon, and Pops won't have anyone to help do wood, and he always wanted to burn coal. This fall, he he decided it was time, and bought a Wondercoal wood/coal burner from the local Tractor Supply store. I was not aware of this until he put it on order, so I didn't get to do any research, and he said he already did some. We got the stove, and installed it. Not bad up to this point, so we burned wood in it for a few weeks while my father found a local coal supplier. We ended up buying a ton of Anthracite nut coal from Geer Farm Service in Alexander, NY. $246 per ton, and we went and got it with our truck. We just started burning it this past week.

We had problems the first few days, as Dad would start it with a wood fire, then add layer after layer, and when it was loaded good, he would close it down. Too much. It would be almost out by morning, and we would start over. I found through many searches on here, that he wasn't giving it enough air with the vent control and shutting the stove down before the fresh layer ignited. Last night, I did it the way many have described on here and it worked swimmingly. I did not load it completely up to the top of the firebricks, but maybe 3/4 of the way. We left the vent control open about 2/3 and the stove maintained a lovely 78° throughout the night. This morning, it had a nice cherry red bed of coals and the stack was still around 320° or so. I gave the stove a few good shakes until some ember came through, then added another layer of coal, left the ash pan door open until the blue ladies came through, repeated once more, and then closed it back down to where we had it set for the night. This was at 6 a.m. and I monitored it until 11 and it was fine. We left to get a Xmas tree, and when we came back 2 hrs later, the temp was down to around 200, and the edges of the coal bed were dark. I gave it a few more shakes to hopefully get rid of the ashes and re-ignite it. No such luck. We now have wood in it on top of the smoldering coals to keep the warmth up. We are just now adding coal to hopefully start it up again.

I don't like the grate design. It's a sliding type with a handle in front. But it seems whenever we shake it, large chunks get caught in the back, and lock it up. This also prevents us from loading up the back of the stove and banking it down to the front. I did some more searches on Wondercoal's and the consensus seems to be they are no good. I don't particularly agree, as this stove was phenomenal yesterday evening, last night, and this morning.

What might you all suggest? I'm sorry for the novel, but none of the posts I found through searching had the specific answers I was looking for. I have some pictures of the stove and everything if need be.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and for any help. Love this site!!

Vince
blackhawk5421
 
Stove/Furnace Make: U.S. Stove Company
Stove/Furnace Model: Wondercoal B2827B

Re: Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

PostBy: gitrdonecoal On: Sat Dec 06, 2008 6:10 pm

i also have a furnace that burns great on wood, but it is finiky on coal. check your pm messages, you will be suprised lol
gitrdonecoal
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker 90
Stove/Furnace Make: USSC
Stove/Furnace Model: Hotblast 1557

Re: Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

PostBy: grizzly2 On: Sat Dec 06, 2008 6:24 pm

Please check out my answer to Dann in the Newbie Issues thread. Most though not all of my suggestions apply to you too. Good luck. :beer:
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.

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Re: Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

PostBy: blackhawk5421 On: Sat Dec 06, 2008 7:08 pm

Thanks, guys.

Here are some pictures of the demon.

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Last edited by Richard S. on Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: <removed dead image link>
blackhawk5421
 
Stove/Furnace Make: U.S. Stove Company
Stove/Furnace Model: Wondercoal B2827B

Re: Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

PostBy: TimV On: Sat Dec 06, 2008 7:41 pm

:( I see one great big no no from a pic you posted .
It looks like you have the vents in the door wide open. Must be closed off after coal has started to burn so it draws from under the grates. Fill that sucker right up over the grates with coal.(Mound it a little) If your 2 inches down your bed is only 5 or 6 inches deep. Deeper the better.
Dont toss a bunch of wood onto the top of your coal trying to get it to burn...it wont .
I have had two of the very same stove one was an original Ashley and my newest is a US Stove Version of the Ashley brand they bought. Its an awesome heater. Galvalum sheetmetal and it transfer heat so well its unbelieveable.
Your right its not a $2/3 Thousand stove but for the money it heats as well as any ever made pound for pound.
I find it works better for me to put long dry softwood kindling in the ash pan to start my coal . The wood ashes in the bottom over the grates seems to impede the coal drawing air .
TimV
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Older Ashley Cabinet ( pre US Stove gobble up)
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Energy King 480 EK
Coal Size/Type: Warm weather smaller coal. Cold weather larger coal.
Other Heating: Oil Furnace Backup when repairs are needed
Stove/Furnace Make: Energy King Furnace
Stove/Furnace Model: 480 EK

Re: Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

PostBy: blackhawk5421 On: Sat Dec 06, 2008 8:01 pm

I usually keep the door vent closed. i opened it for the picture and too look inside real quick. it always stays closed. thanks!
blackhawk5421
 
Stove/Furnace Make: U.S. Stove Company
Stove/Furnace Model: Wondercoal B2827B

Re: Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

PostBy: h00tie On: Sun Dec 07, 2008 12:49 pm

Hi Blackhawk,

I'm pretty new here too but I burn a similar stove, mine is an Atlanta homesteader circulator and I had very similar "comatose fire" problems with it at first. When my stove dies down to just a circle of hot coal I put some fresh coal on top and open the ash door for about 20 minutes BEFORE I dirsturb the fire by shaking it. It still goes out now and then (last night actually) but I have more success. Last night when I lost the fire , it had been burning for 35 days which is probably a record for me.

H00tie.
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h00tie
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Atlanta
Stove/Furnace Model: Homesteader

Re: Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

PostBy: Devil505 On: Sun Dec 07, 2008 2:37 pm

blackhawk5421 wrote:Dad would start it with a wood fire, then add layer after layer, and when it was loaded good, he would close it down. Too much. It would be almost out by morning, and we would start over


Coal likes allot more air than a wood fire & reacts MUCH slower. Once you get used to it though, it is much easier to control!
Devil505
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000

Re: Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

PostBy: Razzler On: Sun Dec 07, 2008 3:03 pm

Blackhawk, My dad had a stove like that, It was an older one. He faugh with it for a year trying to get it burn coal good. It would start off good the first two days then it would just go down hill from there. I think that the shaker grates are just a poor design. It dosen't get all the ash out. He could keep it going for about five days or so then it would go out. He would clean it out and start over just to get another week or so and lose the fire again. After a hole heating season like that he had a nuff and went and found a good used Harman Mark II now he starts one fire a season! Good Luck I hope you have better luck with it then he did! :notsure:
Razzler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Coal Size/Type: Buck

Re: Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

PostBy: LsFarm On: Sun Dec 07, 2008 3:21 pm

If the shaker system is marginal at getting enough ash to shake down, you may need to make up a 'L' shaped poker that you can make from a piece of 1/4" or 3/8" round steel rod.. the metal frame from old political signs works well. Make the poker about 30" long with about a 4" 'L' on the end, you may want to bend a loop on the opposite end for a handle..

You would use the poker from underneat the grate. You would need to get down low enough to look at the bottom of the grate, look for dark [cool] spots, and use the poker to aggitate the ash in the dark spots.. you will get a shower of ash and this will open up the airway, and soon you will not have a cool spot there anymore.

You may be able to figure out a once a week or once every few days schedule for the 'pokiing the ash' through the grate,, but with your type of shaker grate, it is pretty difficult to really break up blocked areas on the grate without a poker..

Hope this helps..

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: Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

PostBy: blackhawk5421 On: Sun Dec 07, 2008 3:32 pm

Thanks for all the replies, everyone! We fought with it all day yesterday to get it back up, but we now have it loaded up just shy of the top of the bricks. It's running at around 250° on the magnetic temp gauge and it's nice and toasty in here. Not sure if that has to do with it being 22°F out with a stiff 25 mph wind, but we shall see what happens when the weather warms up out here in the next few days. I have seen the suggestion for the under-grate poker and I made one today with some steel rod I had in the shop. We're going to keep trying a few different things, and go from there.

I appreciate all the help, and so does my family!

Vince
blackhawk5421
 
Stove/Furnace Make: U.S. Stove Company
Stove/Furnace Model: Wondercoal B2827B

Re: Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

PostBy: LsFarm On: Sun Dec 07, 2008 8:45 pm

The cool temps and strong wind will help create a very strong draft, which will pull a lot of air through the fire, creating a lot of heat,, but fast burn rate of the coal.. So you may want to feed the stove every 6-8 hours untill you learn it's idiosyncracies..
Once you get it figured out, you will enjoy burning coal over wood.

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: Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

PostBy: wnyjim On: Mon Dec 08, 2008 10:04 am

What Greg L recommends helped me out immensly(been doing this for the past week now). Thank you greg! Of all the things I have tried this has made the largest improvement in keepin my coal going.
The other thing that has helped alot is taking the slop out of the grates where they connect together. I drilled and tapped mine and used set screws, some have used shim material. Also be careful shaking too aggressivly. I have a US Stove with the Chineese grates and broke off the nub last week. From what I read it happens if your not careful and tying the grates together can help by improving the shake in the rear you dont have to shake as aggressivly to clear the back grates. I still use the poker method everytime after I shake.
wnyjim
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hot Blast Model 1500

Re: Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

PostBy: gitrdonecoal On: Mon Dec 08, 2008 10:31 pm

i also tried putting a set screw type of device through both grates. this might have hindered it more than it helped. just the other day in the middle connection the nub broke off where i tapped a hole for the set screw. i read here somewhere to slightly tap the grates together with thin gague steel, griding down the male end if needed to accept the steel shim. got a new shaker grate comin from USSC and i will do this. also heard on this forum (this is a good place lol) that sometimes the breaking on these grates are because coal gets jammed up when shaking. people have used rebar type of material to poke from underneath, i just use my poker to get these out. food for thought, thought i would tell ya all
gitrdonecoal
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Keystoker 90
Stove/Furnace Make: USSC
Stove/Furnace Model: Hotblast 1557

Re: Wondercoal seems good, but not good enough

PostBy: wnyjim On: Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:16 pm

I just tapped a hole in the female part of my front grate so the screws pinch the nub when tightned.

I didnt drill into the nub part of the rear grate. So far its still working good. Possibly drilling through both parts is a bad idea?
wnyjim
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hot Blast Model 1500

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