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New stove, newbie problem

Posted: Mon. Nov. 19, 2018 7:46 pm
By: TheCommissioner
Hello Fellow Coal Consumers! I have small, two lid, Franklin 82 coal stove manufactured by Tennessee Stove Works in Chattanooga. No idea how old this thing is. A photo of the exact model is here: Image

Anyway, I am trying to get an all-night burn for a small (130 SF) cabin and not having any luck. I have a lot of experience burning wood but coal is new to me. All my mother's side of the family hails from Wilkes-Barre, PA and they grew up burning anthracite but apparently that knowledge wasn't transferred to me, thus my appearance on this great forum.

My best performance so far is getting a good coal fire going, i.e. dancing blue flames across most of the coal bed. Then as the starter fuel fire dies down, so does the coal fire. I can burn wood in the stove without problem and believe the stovepipe/chimney installation produces adequate draft. There is no damper on the stovepipe. I've been keeping the sliding cover on the ash door fully open (all slots exposed).

Much of the advice on the forums is 'don't mess with the coal fire.' It seems that whatever I do, whether adding (sprinkling) more coal on the burning bed, poking at the grate to remove ash, etc. is actually detrimental. Needless to say, it's very frustrating. When the fire dies, I am stuck removing completely unburned coal nuts and partially burned (white on the outside, black on the inside) pieces from the inside. And then I start over again and fail again.

If anyone has ideas on how to break the cycle of failure, I'd love to hear them. Many thanks!

Re: New stove, newbie problem

Posted: Mon. Nov. 19, 2018 7:59 pm
By: franco b
To restart a dead coal fire, get rid of as much ash as you can, and then hollow out a spot in the center and make a new fire. Charcoal works best.

If the incoming air in the stove has no choice but to rise up through the grates and coal, it will burn well. Find out why yours is not doing that. Look for ways the air can bypass the coal bed.

Could not find the picture.

Re: New stove, newbie problem

Posted: Mon. Nov. 19, 2018 8:18 pm
By: TheCommissioner
Thanks, franco b.

There are 'plates' inside the firebox that presumably 'insulate' the steel from the heat of the coal fire. In effect, they are pieces of curved steel that are formed around the inside of the stove's body to keep the exterior from getting too hot. I've noticed when burning a wood starter fire below the grate, just inside the ash door, that the flames will go up and around the steel plates. Obviously there is air moving around the grate. I doubt there are any pieces of the interior missing. Everything looks intact.

Perhaps this is one of those combination coal/wood stoves?

Re: New stove, newbie problem

Posted: Mon. Nov. 19, 2018 8:22 pm
By: franco b
Stuff some rock wool in there or even fiberglass insulation, to stop that bypass action.

Re: New stove, newbie problem

Posted: Tue. Nov. 20, 2018 3:43 pm
By: rmchambers
Those pieces of steel sound like bypass air on jet engines, the air gets heated by the inner burner part of the jet and that heat is carried off to heat the aircraft. In your case however it's at the expense of the air going THROUGH the coal bed and air (like water) is going to take the easiest route... go through a lot of coals or bypass it and go around the bed of coals and up the outside. If you can get the air to go through the coal bed I'll wager your burn rates would improve dramatically

Re: New stove, newbie problem

Posted: Tue. Nov. 20, 2018 4:01 pm
By: Lightning
I agree with the others. This case sounds just like the liners of my furnace which is a wood/coal burner. I have to pack fiberglass insulation between the liners and fire box walls to prevent primary combustion air from bypassing the coal bed. It makes the difference between success and failure.

Re: New stove, newbie problem

Posted: Fri. Jan. 11, 2019 7:22 am
By: TheCommissioner
UPDATE

I followed the advice given in this thread to use insulation to block air that was bypassing the grate and got much better results. The latest burn was the best so far. Many thanks to everyone who contributed solutions!

Incidentally, I discovered one of my the interior plates which forms the 'bowl' above the grate was missing. Thankfully it is identical to an existing plate so I am having a foundry make a match. Once the new plate is added, I believe the burn will be more consistent.

Re: New stove, newbie problem

Posted: Fri. Jan. 11, 2019 9:18 am
By: Bubbalowe
Welcome! Are you able to share the name of the foundry? Sadly old stoves get retired because of inability to get parts. In days past foundries were plentiful but today is like finding a blacksmith.

Re: New stove, newbie problem

Posted: Fri. Jan. 11, 2019 5:04 pm
By: TheCommissioner
Bubbalowe wrote:
Fri. Jan. 11, 2019 9:18 am
Welcome! Are you able to share the name of the foundry? Sadly old stoves get retired because of inability to get parts. In days past foundries were plentiful but today is like finding a blacksmith.
I am having Tomahawk Foundry in Rice Lake, WI make the new part. They advertise their capability to make parts for antique stoves. http://www.tomahawkfoundry.com/

Re: New stove, newbie problem

Posted: Fri. Jan. 11, 2019 5:53 pm
By: VigIIPeaBurner
TheCommissioner wrote:
Mon. Nov. 19, 2018 8:18 pm
Thanks, franco b.

There are 'plates' inside the firebox that presumably 'insulate' the steel from the heat of the coal fire. In effect, they are pieces of curved steel that are formed around the inside of the stove's body to keep the exterior from getting too hot. I've noticed when burning a wood starter fire below the grate, just inside the ash door, that the flames will go up and around the steel plates. Obviously there is air moving around the grate. I doubt there are any pieces of the interior missing. Everything looks intact.

Perhaps this is one of those combination coal/wood stoves?
Am I reading this correctly? Starter fire should be on top of the grates. As the wood/charcoal burns to embers it continues to support anthracite coal combustion.

How long did your best burn last after filling the voids?

Re: New stove, newbie problem

Posted: Sat. Jan. 12, 2019 9:45 am
By: TheCommissioner
The idea of starting a wood fire below the grate was to avoid getting ash/embers in the grate below the coal. In effect, keeping the grate as 'clean' as possible in order to maximize airflow through the grate. That was one of several 'experiments' to see if I could start and maintain a coal fire.

The best burn so far was about six hours. I think that rate was too fast and will cut back some air to see if I can extend it. I was afraid of having it die out so, thus the slots on the ash door were kept wide open.

Re: New stove, newbie problem

Posted: Sun. Jan. 13, 2019 8:46 am
By: Bubbalowe
TheCommissioner wrote:
Fri. Jan. 11, 2019 5:04 pm
I am having Tomahawk Foundry in Rice Lake, WI make the new part. They advertise their capability to make parts for antique stoves. http://www.tomahawkfoundry.com/
Thank you!

Re: New stove, newbie problem

Posted: Sun. Jan. 13, 2019 5:59 pm
By: Lightning
TheCommissioner wrote:
Sat. Jan. 12, 2019 9:45 am
The idea of starting a wood fire below the grate was to avoid getting ash/embers in the grate below the coal. In effect, keeping the grate as 'clean' as possible in order to maximize airflow through the grate. That was one of several 'experiments' to see if I could start and maintain a coal fire.
I understand your logic here but it's not really necessary. Since wood is only roughly 1% ash (by weight) there isn't enough in the way once the wood is burned up. Even so, a little shake of the grate or riddle will clear any remnants once the wood is burned up.
TheCommissioner wrote:
Sat. Jan. 12, 2019 9:45 am
The best burn so far was about six hours. I think that rate was too fast and will cut back some air to see if I can extend it. I was afraid of having it die out so, thus the slots on the ash door were kept wide open.
Six hours is a very short burn cycle. Try getting more coal into it, 8-10 inches deep minimum all the way around the fuel bed.