Burning but Not So Hot...

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.
imaginera
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Posts: 9
Joined: Tue. Jan. 22, 2013 11:48 pm
Coal Size/Type: Pea
Other Heating: Oil
Stove/Furnace Make: Vigilant II
Stove/Furnace Model: 2310
Location: New York

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2013 1:19 pm

Hi all, I've enjoyed reading the posts here and have gotten some great tips from you all (THANK YOU!). But, there's one small matter we could really use your help with. We're still cold!!

Our brand new Vigilant II 2310 was installed 5 days ago now, and we've had our challenges. To recap...
.We already had a load of anthracite pea coal, then realized our dealer hadn't removed the air restrictor plate. Luckily, my husband was able to tackle that with no problem, and he took out the plate.
.We built our first fire, using wood and charcoal. The fire burned bright and hot, and the anthracite pea coal caught. It was awesome! However, once we filled the stove, the red embers and blue flames petered out, never to return.
.At that point I started to question whether the "leftover" metal piece that the installers said didn't belong to our stove actually did belong. Turned out it was the right cleanout cover, and most certainly did belong to our stove. We had to let the fire go out entirely, and again, my husband went to work and put the plate in place.
.All along, I'd been reading the posts here and felt ready and confident that this time we'd have a success. Starting the fire for a second time, the kindling, charcoal and anthracite were kicking butt, and it felt GOOD! We added coal a little layer at a time, letting the layers catch. But alas, in the end the coals over the first bed of red never got good and hot. We were burning, but not brightly, and no heat. Tried damper open, damper closed, air inlet flap open a little, middling, and a lot.
. I stayed up late that night reading all the posts I could find. Came across a great post by VigIIPeaBurner (Vermont Castings Stove, Need Info) and followed the specific foolproof step by steps. When I got to the part that had me "poke down thru the fire from the top in three or four places", I knew I was getting somewhere. The all anthracite fire was finally burning with blue flames, although still not much red.
.However...STILL COLD IN HERE!!

We don't have a surface thermometer yet (very hard to find), but I am using a regular digital thermometer, and right now, although I have a decent red bed and blue flickering on top (see pics), damper closed, air inlet flap at 1/8", the temp is only 73 five feet away directly in front of the stove! I grew up with a coal stove in this house, so I know this just isn't right.

Please... any ideas???

Thank you. :D
g

1/25/13 eta
What I've learned...
I thought I'd post a summary of what I've learned so far from the kind posters at nepacrossroads, so that anyone else with a similar problem can see it at a glance...

Reasons for low heat output
  • Draft - low heat output is likely a draft issue
    Pea coal - use nut or stove for better draft/heat, or mix it with pea - experiment!
    Chimney not high enough - chimney must be about 2 ft higher than highest point of roof w/i 10 feet
    Ash - need to really shake shake shake
    Clean out plates - need to be properly in place or the air will bypass the coal bed (Vigilant ii)
    Pipe Damper - may need a manual pipe damper (check your stove manual, as some, like the Vig II, do NOT recommend this)
    Restrictor Plate - On the Vigilant II, the restrictor plate must be removed if burning Anthracite coal (see manual to DIY)

Attachments
photo(2).JPG
photo(3).JPG
Last edited by imaginera on Fri. Jan. 25, 2013 11:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Rob R.
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Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy
Location: Chazy, NY

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2013 1:36 pm

It can be tough to get decent heat output when burning pea if the chimney does not have good draft. Nut or stove size is my preference for hand-fired equipment.

How tall is the chimney in relation to the house? Any chance you can post a picture of it from outside?

CoaLen
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Posts: 565
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Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker Koker
Coal Size/Type: rice
Location: Northeast Ohio

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2013 1:40 pm

Until someone that can help you comes along I'll suggest you take a look at this thread:

Ash Build up in My Vermont Coal Stove??

VigII has embedded some videos that may help you.

Welcome to the forum!
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ONEDOLLAR
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Posts: 1867
Joined: Thu. Dec. 01, 2011 6:09 pm
Hand Fed Coal Stove: 2014 Chubby Prototype
Coal Size/Type: Nut/Anthracite
Location: Sooner Country Oklahoma
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Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2013 1:46 pm

By no means am I an expert but I don't see a Manual Pipe Damper in the photo. Perhaps it is there and I don't see it. But without one a lot of heat can go right up the ole chimney instead of staying in the stove and more importantly in the house.

I know if I leave my MPD open on my little Chubby Jr the heat output is greatly reduced.

Just an idea.
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Cyber36
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Posts: 480
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Hand Fed Coal Stove: Marathon/Logwood
Location: Byron NY

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2013 1:48 pm

Consider burning a mixture of pea & nut. 60 nut/40 pea. Experiment with it. Learn as you go......

imaginera
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Posts: 9
Joined: Tue. Jan. 22, 2013 11:48 pm
Coal Size/Type: Pea
Other Heating: Oil
Stove/Furnace Make: Vigilant II
Stove/Furnace Model: 2310
Location: New York

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2013 2:09 pm

Rob R. wrote:It can be tough to get decent heat output when burning pea if the chimney does not have good draft. Nut or stove size is my preference for hand-fired equipment.

How tall is the chimney in relation to the house? Any chance you can post a picture of it from outside?
Hi Rob, Thank you for your thoughts. I wondered if the bigger coal would make a difference. My supplier only sells coal on Saturdays, so I'll definitely get some then. I wasn't sure if I was having a draft problem or not - is that what it seems like to you then?

I posted a pic of the chimney. Of course we're hoping it's adequate, but what do you think?

Thanks!

g
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imaginera
New Member
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue. Jan. 22, 2013 11:48 pm
Coal Size/Type: Pea
Other Heating: Oil
Stove/Furnace Make: Vigilant II
Stove/Furnace Model: 2310
Location: New York

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2013 2:13 pm

ONEDOLLAR wrote:By no means am I an expert but I don't see a Manual Pipe Damper in the photo. Perhaps it is there and I don't see it. But without one a lot of heat can go right up the ole chimney instead of staying in the stove and more importantly in the house.

I know if I leave my MPD open on my little Chubby Jr the heat output is greatly reduced.

Just an idea.
Thank you for your post. I could be wrong, but I believe the installation instructions for this particular stove told us not to have a manual damper on the stove pipe. This is what it says...if it's not what you were referring to, please let me know - I'm new to all these terms!

Because of the draft requirements of our stoves, we do
not recommend the use of an in-flue damper. Not only
is this an unnecessary restriction in the flue, but it is an
additional surface directly in the path of the flue gases
upon which deposits can form, creating a potential hazard.
Combustion air entering your Vigilant Coal stove
is controlled effectively by the thermostat, so no flue
damper is required.

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Rob R.
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Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy
Location: Chazy, NY

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2013 2:41 pm

The chimney looks shorter than the roofline of the house...it probably works fine for burning wood, but the cooler flue temperature from a coal fire might not allow the chimney to draft properly. For optimum performance the chimney should be a few feet taller than the house. With that said, I would experiment with some larger size coal before I worried about the chimney.

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coalkirk
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Stoker Coal Boiler: 1981 EFM DF520
Coal Size/Type: anthracite/rice coal
Location: Forest Hill MD

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2013 3:39 pm

VigIIPeaBurner is the man you need to talk to. In the mean time you should give alittle more info about where the stove is located, how much area you are trying to heat with it, where you live (arctic circle or further south :lol: )

Some folks here swear by a manual damper. My preference would be a barometric damper. I burn a jotul 507 with a short metal chimney in my outbuilding and it works fine.
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Burning rice coal in a 1981 EFM DF520, nut coal in a hand fired Jotul 507.

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SMITTY
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Patriot Coal - (custom built by Jim Dorsey, Taunton MA - RIP 4/18/13)
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III (SOLD!)
Coal Size/Type: Rice / Blaschak anthracite
Other Heating: Oil fired Burnham boiler
Location: West-Central Mass

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2013 4:02 pm

If that highest part of the roof is 10' or less from that pipe, your probably going to want to add at least 4' to it. Needs to be at least 2' taller than ANYTHING within a 10' radius.
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vmi1983
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Posts: 233
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Hand Fed Coal Stove: Godin Large Round/ La Belle Epoque
Coal Size/Type: Nut/Anthracite
Location: Wadhams, NY

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2013 4:30 pm

Hello,

Make sure the restrictor bit/wood plate is removed, thats in the lower rear, left side....you probably already know this.

I start my VIGII using Cowboy Charcoal, with nut or pea around the perimeter. open the internal damper...

If the fire is going out, you're not getting enough primary air to the fire... either there is not enough air or it's going around the fire and/or there is a draft problem with
the chimney?

Thanks
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imaginera
New Member
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue. Jan. 22, 2013 11:48 pm
Coal Size/Type: Pea
Other Heating: Oil
Stove/Furnace Make: Vigilant II
Stove/Furnace Model: 2310
Location: New York

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2013 4:41 pm

CoaLen wrote:Until someone that can help you comes along I'll suggest you take a look at this thread:

Ash Build up in My Vermont Coal Stove??

VigII has embedded some videos that may help you.

Welcome to the forum!
Thank you CoaLen! I'm working my way through the thread. Watched the videos last night, but need to watch them again, as things are not going so well today!

**********************************
Rob R. wrote:The chimney looks shorter than the roofline of the house...it probably works fine for burning wood, but the cooler flue temperature from a coal fire might not allow the chimney to draft properly. For optimum performance the chimney should be a few feet taller than the house. With that said, I would experiment with some larger size coal before I worried about the chimney.
SMITTY wrote:If that highest part of the roof is 10' or less from that pipe, your probably going to want to add at least 4' to it. Needs to be at least 2' taller than ANYTHING within a 10' radius.
I was afraid you all would say that. We'll probably wait and see how the nut coal does this weekend, then look harder at that. Hopefully it won't snow any time between! Thank you!

**********************************
coalkirk wrote:VigIIPeaBurner is the man you need to talk to. In the mean time you should give alittle more info about where the stove is located, how much area you are trying to heat with it, where you live (arctic circle or further south :lol: )

Some folks here swear by a manual damper. My preference would be a barometric damper. I burn a jotul 507 with a short metal chimney in my outbuilding and it works fine.
I haven't wrapped my head around a manual damper yet - hopefully won't need to, but only time will tell! My stove is in a 1600 sf ranch in the DR/LR/Kitchn area. There's a cathedral ceiling with a loft that has a blower with a thermostat and ducting to the back bedrooms (my dad rigged this up years ago when he ran his Surdiac stove). Anyway, we're in NY an hour north of the city. It's brutally cold here the last couple of days. Thank goodness we have oil heat as well, but dang, it costs about a whopping $40/day to warm this house with oil on days like this!
Last edited by imaginera on Fri. Jan. 25, 2013 10:54 am, edited 2 times in total.

imaginera
New Member
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue. Jan. 22, 2013 11:48 pm
Coal Size/Type: Pea
Other Heating: Oil
Stove/Furnace Make: Vigilant II
Stove/Furnace Model: 2310
Location: New York

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2013 4:43 pm

By the way, that clean out cover my husband put in fell out into the ash pan! Could that be causing some/all of our issue ya think?

franco b
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Hand Fed Coal Stove: V ermont Castings 2310, Franco Belge 262
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwood Modern Oak 114
Coal Size/Type: nut and pea
Location: Kent CT

Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2013 4:52 pm

Forget the manual damper. The nut coal will make all the difference. It also has to fill that fire box to have enough of a mass of burning coal.

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dcrane
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Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2013 6:58 pm

I wish I had more time to ask questions and put some links to the coal burners almanac among others (someone can link to some manuals on the 404 or 44 if they want as it does give some good tips about coal stoves in general).

im not sure why they say no damper (let me be the first say... "BS" to that) LOL... I don't know alot about this stove and maybe there's some reason im unaware of (but im not seeing it right now).

chimney should go over the tallest roof-line by at least a couple feet, wind is a funny thing and it does not flow off a roof peak in strait lines.

Ill be back tonight with any luck and im sure plenty of people will help give you some idea's

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