Lighting Nut Coal

Modern and vintage hand fired coal stove are similar to a wood stove and in some cases can burn either. They need to be regulated and fed by hand usually every 12 to 24 hours depending on your usage. They require no power to operate making them ideal for rural settings with long power outages.
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coldcoal
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Post Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 1:07 pm

HELP! Hi all, first post, first time trying to light coal in the stove. Previously burned wood in it, now trying coal. My Harman seems to be fit for nut coal so just went out and got a few bags. Did the kindling fire, embers would not light it. Burned kingsford in it next, it seems to be lit and red, no nut coal is flaming, some might be red though but it's hard to say what's what. The stove won't break 150 degrees! The bottom door is open for 1.5 hrs, I've added more, it crackles a lot... that's about it.

If coal burns hotter than wood I see no evidence, here's what I have in the stove now after 1.5 hrs...

**Broken Link(s) Removed**

So, lighter fluid? Gas? Thermite!??? At this point I'm leaning toward the thermite as it hits about 2000 degrees, but maybe you kind folks have better ideas?!

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Poconoeagle
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Post Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 1:17 pm

wicked hot wood fire, layer of coal,air up thru bottom,start glowing red,nother layer, more,more.....and you will see 8-)
"Do it Right the First Time" dont leave it for the next guy, as YOU may be the Next guy!!

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coldcoal
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Post Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 1:21 pm

Thanks for reply! Ok I have no wood, but I can gather loads of sticks. I also cant take these coals out so should I light fast burning sticks on top? Why didn't the wood or charcoal light it the first time? I hear it's supposed to burn with a blue flame, no signs...

Off the the woods for yet more sticks...

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titleist1
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Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Mag Stoker (old style) one in basement, one in workshop
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Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite; Nut/Anthracite
Location: Cecil County, MD

Post Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 1:26 pm

I agree....start with good established wood fire, add a few small shovels of coal spread out among the wood, add coal about every half hour covering all the grate area so that no air can get by the coal bed.

You should not have to have the ash door open after getting the wood fire established. Maybe have the spinner knob open about 5 spins for the wood fire and first two additions of coal. Then you should be able to close the spinner down to 2 turns and finally about 1 turn when the full load of coal is going good. You should end up with the coal all the way to the top of the fire brick, it will slope from back to front because of the firebrick being sideways in the front and longways in the back.

Got a pic of your stove, we could probably tell you what model it is based on that and the number of separate grates that are in the firebox.

It would help to have some larger sticks that take longer to burn than just kindling size.
Last edited by titleist1 on Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Poconoeagle
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Post Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 1:27 pm

it takes heat to get the coal going . either a real good wood fire , I like much small kindling or even "fatwood" from the hardware store,

then when its roaring load a inch or two layer of coal on it and let it roar up thru it. maybe 15 min then load it up deep

naturally we figure you have good draft in the chimney.... pics are the way to go for help here
IMG_2761.JPG
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coldcoal
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Post Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 1:47 pm

titleist1 wrote:
Got a pic of your stove, we could probably tell you what model it is based on that and the number of separate grates that are in the firebox.
**Broken Image Link(s) Removed**

I think it's from the 80s.

Ok 400 degree stick fire going, that is to say stove temp 400, let's see if it lights anything. And yes I know not to keep bottom open during a wood fire, but I read in starting a coal fire leave it open until all is loaded and burning. That seems to take 2 hrs... then it goes out and you need more sticks!

Pocono, yes chimney is great and freshly cleaned. What I'm seeing is red coals don't light more coals put on top of them. Your pic above actually has a flame, not just red glowing coals, looks hot if you can get it there!

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Richard S.
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Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite
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Post Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 2:04 pm

Sounds like you have bottom draft? All air needs to come up through the coal, any drafts on the top should be closed and remained closed.
coldcoal wrote:but I read in starting a coal fire leave it open until all is loaded and burning
The ash door or the draft? You can leave the ash door open and probably should while lighting but if you let it open for two hours after establishing a fire you're going to over fire the stove, may even damage it. The bottom draft should be wide open when starting, once established you can knock it back to 1/4... really depends and you'll have to work this out once you have burned some coal. This controls how much heat you'll make and how fast the coal will burn. Most set it so they get 12 hour burn with enough coal left to reload and burn more. Once you have decent fire going you want to fill the stove as much as possible, this isn't like wood.
coldcoal wrote:I also cant take these coals out so should I light fast burning sticks on top?
You need to start fresh if fails to light.

There's a very long topic here you might want to read: How to Light a Hand Fired Coal Stove
"The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."

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coldcoal
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Post Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 2:19 pm

There's no top vents on this stove, it has an ash door and a main door, I meant the ash door. Yeah that didn't work, it got them burning red but the red coals light nothing else placed on top. 20 pounds of coal later and nothing productive here at all. I think I'll take the other 160 pounds back for a refund and keep burning wood, it at least lights! Coal sounded like a cheaper and hotter alternative, but 175 a month for a cord wood seems to be the best option. As for now the electric radiators continue to provide some warmth, at about $50 a day I'm sure.

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Richard S.
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Post Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 2:35 pm

Don't give up. A lot of people go through this the first couple of tries and once you learn it's all gravy. You can keep a substantial coal fire going all night, you can't do that with wood. Everything you know about wood and using it does not apply to coal. ;)

There's a couple of possible issues here, might even be the coal.
"The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."

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Poconoeagle
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Post Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 2:40 pm

Not for nothing but from the time stamp of the posts, I firmly believe you have yet come to understand the "properties" of coal and the burning thereof

its like this: it took 3 to 4 million years for it to be formed under pressure and heat
it takes much patience to wait for it to react to adjustments as well as its ignition

then it will take an act of congress to get you to go back to burning wood once you experience the warmth and ease of use it offers!!! 8-)

Welcome to the world of coal. Bee very patient!!! come to understand why we don't let it go out much after the season starts.

you are indeed experiencing what all of us have!! ;)
"Do it Right the First Time" dont leave it for the next guy, as YOU may be the Next guy!!

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coldcoal
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Post Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 2:41 pm

Yeah maybe it's the coal, I sorta doubt it though. I think you just need huge pieces of hardwood going for an hour at 500 degrees to get it going. Just like you need magnesium to light thermite, same principal. I just can't get the heat high enough to get it going and if blazing wood or kingsford won't do it I'm at a loss. YET it glows red for an hour and all goes out.

On wood fires I typically have it burning continually 24hrs for weeks on end, there's tricks there, but if it goes out overnight I'm shocked. Always have enough embers in the morning to get it started again.
Last edited by coldcoal on Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Poconoeagle
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Post Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 2:46 pm

So you bought bagged coal? what brand? is it stored outside in the bag's where its 20* ? naturally if you put very cold coal on a half warm fire it will cool off the hot coals therefore I tend to keep a full hod of coal next to the stove so as to allow it to get to room temp then when I shake and reload it dosnt shock the hot coal bed so much.
"Do it Right the First Time" dont leave it for the next guy, as YOU may be the Next guy!!

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coldcoal
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Post Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 2:49 pm

Blaschak coal, has Santa on the bag. Low sulfer. Made in Mahanoy city PA. It was outside, yes, on pallets. Cold as ice. That doesnt explain why on attempt 2 it didn't light, it was warmed up by then. Now it's all out.

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Poconoeagle
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Post Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 3:00 pm

well then... thats the coal many many many of us burn!

I bet if you dumped the whole dead mess and started with a half a bag of fatwwod sticks laid criss cross on the grates maybe more and got them blazing,

450-500 isnt that much to worry about, then dump 1/2 the rest of the wood on and let it roar.......... then shovel 10 lbs of indoor coal on and continue to let it roar and start to glow. then maybe 20-30 min later shovel another 10 lbs on then 30 min later put the rest of the bag on and close the door and open the knob tree or for tunrs out.... then go wash the dishes or vaccuum the bathroom or somethin......

come back 30 min later and get back to us!! :)
"Do it Right the First Time" dont leave it for the next guy, as YOU may be the Next guy!!

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Poconoeagle
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Post Sun. Dec. 26, 2010 3:16 pm

then crank the knob in most of the way. or the coal will burn up quickly. the Harman experts will tell you.... 3/4 to 1 1/2 turns out....?
"Do it Right the First Time" dont leave it for the next guy, as YOU may be the Next guy!!

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