Okay, hey thanks to all of you people here being patient to us newbies. Let me preface this with the fact that I have NEVER burned coal, nor even wood or used a wood stove. So, safety was a primary concern for me.
FINALLY I got the rest of my Selkirk Metalbestos chimney hooked into black double wall pipe to my Harman Mark II Magnafire. I've been burnng antracite pea & nut coal all weekend. I thought it might be easier to get the pea started rather than the nut size. I have been buying the 40# pastic bags for $6.29 - $6.89/ 40# bag. (Bagged, the price is about $269 - $317 here locally, per ton). Wow! I LOVE my new stove!
The first light I was a bit nervous and it took me about a 1/2 day to summon the courage to actually LITE the thing. But I took all you's advice and have 2 pair of welders gloves handy, 2 pair of safety glasses handy for use when loading. I also have 2 large fire extinguishers, (althought I hear your comments about using baking soda to suffocate the fire if possile to make less mess). I have a carbon monoxide detector right on the floor behind the stove, (isn't carbon monoxide heavier than air, and thus usually concentrates along the floor?) and another in the next room.
My first light I used wood kindling and about 18 charcoal brickettes used for BBQ that were wet with BBQ Lighter Fluid in a plastic pail before placing into the stove. Here was the method I used, feel free to critique this:
As per manufacturer's directions I crumpled 8 whole newspaper pages and stuffed them from left to right. This packed a good (fairly tight) layer of crumpled newspaper across the top of my grates. After this I layered some kindling, first horizontal, then perpendicular to the first layer. Then I placed a few scrap cut-offs scavenged from my barn where I had several boxes of wood pieces I always thought I might be able to use some day, (Maine-iacs are known pack-rats). So I had maybe 6 or 8 short pieces of 2x4 and 4x4.
Once I lit the newspaper the kindling lit nicely and I had good flames in seconds. Fortunately my draft was good and the smoke exited nicely. My first light I believe I left the flames too long. I was waiting for the "bed of coals" the manufacturer suggests for lighting the coal. I then carefully laid in about 18 BBQ brickettes, slowly, 6 at a time, until I had them glowing nicely. I then added antracite pea coal about an inch thick, carefully leaving some HOT COALS exposed so as NOT to ignite that explosive gas everyone talks about.
In retrospect, I believe I had the door open too much, set off an adjacent smoke alarm and nearly soiled my pants, and got my stove temp way too hot. My stack temp, measured about 2 feet up from the back of the stove rose to about 350 degrees, and my stove temp was about 550 degrees approaching 575! In response I kinda closed everything up and shut down the draft. This caused the stove to begin shuting down and my temps decreased precipitously over the next 20-30 mnutes. Following this I was a little reluctant to "open her up" again so I think I UNDER fed the draft and the fire went out in about 4 hours.
My SECOND light I began adding the coal a littel quicker, in thicker amounts, maybe a full inch or so thick, just as the flames from the kindling were reaching a peak. I didn't wait for the hot wood embers as before. Again, I used the BBQ (bituminous???) coal (previously wet with BBQ lighter fluid in a plastic pail OUTSIDE the stove area) to provide hot coals to get started.
But NOW I've learned that by cracking the ASH CLEANOUT door about an inch or so, the draft provides air to that fresh anthracite coal to act like a bunson burner to get it lighted. I've learned that once I get the flames going good from the kindling, I pour the coal on, close the door, and open the bottom ash cleanout, just an inch or so, and those anthracite coals begin sizzling and snapping. I't like a propane torch on those coals!
Does this mean I have too much draft? I only do this for about 5-10 minutes until I see the coals lit and turning red before I close the door and control things with the draft knob.
Also, I noticed if my temps start dropping, I just open/crack, the ash door, and in about 5 min, the coals start glowing, and the temps begin rising. I use a thermometer on both my stack and my stove.
So . . . . . .
My stack temps have been running between 200 & 300 degrees F, and my stove temps have been running between 400-550 degrees, as measured from the top of the stove. Does that sound right? The air coming out of my 18 foot metalbestos chimney is pretty much clean without any black or color. So I uess I seem to be getting a pretty clean burn. My neighbors wood stove looks MUCH different, and MUCH dirtier. I'm VERY happy with the exhaust.
I have emptied the ash pan only twice in 3 days. The first time it was barely 1/4 full, the second time it was pretty much FULL. Does that sound right? For 80# of coal burned?
Also,I went through about 2 40# bags in 3 days; and my fire has burned out by morning. I suspect my draft may be a bit high. I have a barometric damper, but not sure how to set it without a manometer, (I'm on the list). So I have the weight all the way INSIDE the pipe so the damper door stays pretty much closed. I have leveled the damper door both vertically and horizontally across the hinges. In addition, I checked carefully to note the top says UP and has an arrow pointed upward. I've read here in these pages this is a common problem.
Now I'd like to learn how to use LESS coal, and keep it burning all through the night.
Again, without reading and studying these pages carefully the past few weeks, I would NEVER have been able to do any of this.
Thanks again to all who contribute to these pages! This site has been a GODSEND!
PS My furnace has run very little this weekend. My oil man is going to be very unhapy with me.
Women are much like fine English Tea. You never really know how good they are until you get them into hot water. - - - Margaret Thatcher