To all you "seasoned" veterans of coal burning, you may want to find a more interesting thread, because these writings may be redundant. (unless you're interested in a little "critiquing".) This is a quick (I hope) summary of what you people have taught me in my 1st full season of operating my new/old hopper fed Surdiac 513.
The original intent of purchasing this stove, almost 15 yrs ago, was mainly ambiance for a 3 season sunroom addition I built off my living room. I was hoping to throw some logs on a fire while entertaining guests, or just relaxing during a cold winter night. Never being an owner/operator of "any" solid fuel burning devices, I purchased this stove purely with ignorance, thinking the glass door would allow me to view a comfortable or pleasant wood fire. Once the price of acquiring a brandy new double wall SS chimney pipe system was brought to light, this was the only reaction I could muster.
The stove only cost me a couple hundred bucks used, and I surely wasn't interested in paying 2-3 times that in pipe, so my wait began for the next 5 yrs searching classifieds for used pipe. I was successful in my quest, and once I got it home, it immediately went into my cellar...for almost 10 yrs.
Fast forward to less than a couple yrs ago, as we had been staring at a non-functioning stove for all that time, and the wife chimes in,"you know, with the price of fuel oil not looking any better for the future, (given the new administration), you should think about using that coal stove in the house." That's all the incentive I needed, and I went to work last winter, (with the blessing of the town inspector), and finished my installation towards the end of the season. This is also the time I joined NEPA Crossroads and was overwhelmed by the knowledge and enthusiasm of all the members. And I'll admit it was very contagious. There aren't very many hobbies out there that can be considered financially beneficial, while providing comfort, "and" entertainment, all at the same time. It's definitely a win/win proposition.
My initial installation was nothing more than the stove mounted on a new slate/tile hearth with a red brick veneer non-combustible wall behind it, suspended 1" off the sheetrock. The chimney is 6" black pipe off a 5" reducer behind the stove approx only a foot long, parallel with the floor, connecting to a wall thimble, exiting to the outside 90* Tee/cleanout, where the system heads skywards about 15' topped off with a cap.
My very 1st attempt to lite the stove proved very problematic, till I removed the pink insulation I stuffed in the cleanout while building my chimney system.
(It was to prevent cold air from entering the house while I had a hole in the wall. Forgot to remove it when I put the stove in place) Then the learning curve began on the best way for me to lite a coal fire. I'm still trying to hone in on this art, but as of yet, have been most successful starting with wood scraps and shredded paper, mixed with a little "wax brick" for flavor. Starting times range from 45 mins to 3 hrs or more depending. My next hurdle was trying to increase the burn times from what I witnessed to be no more than 2-3 hrs without "tending". Not being familiar with the "color' or temps of the fire, I was constantly scraping and cleaning the grates in an attempt to keep the coal bed "lively". The knowledgeable members here loaded me with great advice which I absorbed like a sponge. Not to bore you fine folks anymore than I have, I'll finalize this story bypassing all the experiments and say, now that the season is beginning to close for me, this is where I'm at.
The "biggest" asset at this time for me, was the installation of the MPD, "AND" the manometer, as a pair. I couldn't see owning one with-out the other. a baro-damper wouldn't hurt either, but at this time doesn't appear to be all that necessary. It was difficult to control the fire using only the stove thermostat, because of the excessive draft I was experiencing. Once the MPD went into effect, it was "somewhat" helpfull, but I still wasn't confident on how to operate it. i learned the stove was intended to run with a .04 draft, and it wasn't until I installed the manometer that I could actually see what the chimney system was doing.
I can now comfortably slow my burns down or increase them using a combination of the thermostat position and the MPD, while monitoring them with the manometer. The best burns I've gotten so far is about 8 hrs, which is very pleasing to me, meaning my sleep times can now also increase. I'm sure next season will continue to educate me.
I know I've thanked you people countlessly for all your assistance, and am fortunate to be part of this great site. To all you newbies (like me), don't take this lightly when I tell you it's amazing how much your life can be enrichened by something as simple as a small group of enthusiasts sharing their stories and experiences in the hopes of providing you/us with, if nothing more, than a little comradery (?), and knowledge, with the focus on these time tested devices called "coal stoves". Now, if you'll please excuse me, I need to go check on my fire.