Newbie with Shipmate 212

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Hand Fed Coal Stove: Shipmate 212
Coal Size/Type: stove coal

Post By: jpg » Sun. Nov. 25, 2018 11:53 pm

This spring I will become the owner of a Shipmate 212. I have a source of stove coal. I've been reading up on how to manage the fire, and I'm not sure on the details. The pics below are the stove I will own, then 2 pics of the rusty interior of the same model stove, not mine. I understand the damper needs to stay fully open whenever the stove is running. I understand the notion of establishing a strong bed of hardwood coals, then adding coal in layers to build up a good fire. I understand the need for some air above the fire to allow the volatile gasses to burn. I've read that one has to bank the fire to leave a corner of the active fire exposed, again to burn the volatile gasses. I've read that some stoves don't need this, because they allow some air to enter the box above the fire. This stove's doors hardly seem airtight, so I'm guessing I don't need to worry about leaving a corner of the fire exposed. Once the fire is well established, do I need to do more than shake down, fill to the top of the bricks, leave the ash door open for a few minutes to allow the new fill to start, and then control the air entering below the grate? The stove is the only source of heat in the boat, so it's both stove and furnace, and will run continuously all winter when we're living aboard.

I figure it needs a good cleaning and a coat of stove polish paste on the outside. Is there anything else one should do before firing up a stove that's been idle for years?

Thanks,
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CapeCoaler
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Post By: CapeCoaler » Mon. Nov. 26, 2018 12:11 am

Check to see the doors fit tight an do not leak...
Dollar bill should resist when pulled thru closed doors...

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Sunny Boy
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Post By: Sunny Boy » Mon. Nov. 26, 2018 8:38 am

Welcome Jpg,

The shipmates are great stoves. My brother's Casey built yawl had one - with a deck plate fed coal bin built in back and under it. But, they are very limited in firebox size for a round the clock heater. It was taken out and replaced with a kerosene stove.

If your going to run it full time, then stove sized coal will be too big for such a small firebox. It won't hold as much fuel and the bigger airspaces around stove coal will make it tougher to get the fire to burn slow and last through a night.

At most use nut coal. Better yet, a mix of nut and pea coal (aka "range coal" ), or just pea coal. The smaller sizes have smaller air gaps. That will help you slow down and control the firebed better. And dropping down in size from stove to nut will fit about 10% more fuel in the same space for a longer burn time. Similar increase again dropping down to pea coal.

You really should use two dampers to control a coal fire. The primary air damper down under the firebed and the MPD (Manual Pipe Damper) in the stove pipe as high up in the pipe as can safely be reached by all who will be using the stove. Without the MPD the primary can only do a so-so job of controlling the burn rate and stove's cooking/baking temps. The MPD adds some resistance to exhaust flow to help slow down the exhaust and give it more time to transfer heat to the stove, the pipe, and then the cabin. Plus it forces the hotter part of the exhaust stream running in the center of the pipe out closer to the pipe surface as it goes around the edge gap of the MPD damper plate, for yet even more heat transfer. For just a few dollars cost to get an MPD plate and handle, it will save it's cost equivalent in coal in the first month. :yes:

Before you fire it, check it over carefully for any cracks or seams that need to be sealed. In a darkened area run a bright flash light around all the surfaces and seams and check if you see light on the other sides.

If there are any cracks in the firebricks, patch them with Hercules furnace cement available at Lowes and Home Depot.

Make sure primary air can't leak around the bricks and bypass having to go through the firebed. If it does it will make the fire tough to get going and sluggish in operation. And, if a lot of air can bypass it will make it near impossible to keep it burning.

Paul

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Hand Fed Coal Stove: Shipmate 212
Coal Size/Type: stove coal

Post By: jpg » Mon. Nov. 26, 2018 6:43 pm

Thanks! Pea coal it is.

That leaves one outstanding question. Once the fire is going well, do I just fill the box to to the top of the bricks, or do I try to leave a corner of the actively burning fire exposed as a "pilot" flame to ignite any volatile vapors released? If the latter is important, I wonder how folks maintain this when the boat is under way, getting smacked around by waves. It seems that would shake up the coal and undo any careful arrangement of the fill. Is there such thing as banking a fire on a vigorously moving boat? Or do I just fill it to the top and nearly close the dampers?

Also, if anyone knows a source for the pot-holders that clamp to the rails and hold a pot in place in a seaway (below), I'd appreciate any pointers. I've tried the obvious places like shipmate & marinestove.

Thanks again,
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Post By: Sunny Boy » Mon. Nov. 26, 2018 8:25 pm

As you build up the firebed in layers you always want to be able top see some red coals through parts of each layer. Worst thing to do is bury the fire with fresh coal so that you can not see any burning coals. Even if it's doesn't puff back on you, it will stall the fire and draft.

When a fresh layer of coal stops doing it's snap, crackle, and pop, it should be about ready for another layer,... again with gaps showing red coals.

Don't be in a hurry to fill the firebox because, as I mentioned above, trying to go faster will just stall the fire and actually make it take longer than if you wait for each layer to get burning with orange/blue flames. You need that hot fire to keep the draft strength up so it can get the next layer burning in as short a time as possible.

Building up the firebed is a classic case of the old saying, "slow and steady wins the race".

Once the firebed is filled to the top of the bricks and all is burning, you can mound it up along the middle of the firebed. That will give additional fuel so it can burn that much longer, plus it will produce more heat volume to help warm the cabin and cook with.

Unless you plan on wake-hopping or "sailing on beam ends", the firebed will stay put.

My guess is search eBay for the pot holders, or fabricate something of your own.

Paul

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Post By: jpg » Mon. Nov. 26, 2018 8:58 pm

Thanks Paul.

That was very clear. So when people talk about "banking" the fire so that it stays alive for a long time, what does that mean in a stove like this? Do I just do what you said above and nearly close the air intake? From what I've read, folks bury all but a corner of the fire with fresh coal, and then nearly close the air intake.

I very much appreciate your taking the time to tutor me on this.

Thanks,
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Sunny Boy
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Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Anthracite Industrial, domestic hot water heater
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwood range 208, # 6 base heater, 2 Modern Oak 118.
Coal Size/Type: Nuts !
Other Heating: Oil &electric plenum furnace
Location: Central NY

Post By: Sunny Boy » Tue. Nov. 27, 2018 7:52 am

jpg wrote:
Mon. Nov. 26, 2018 8:58 pm
Thanks Paul.

That was very clear. So when people talk about "banking" the fire so that it stays alive for a long time, what does that mean in a stove like this? Do I just do what you said above and nearly close the air intake? From what I've read, folks bury all but a corner of the fire with fresh coal, and then nearly close the air intake.

I very much appreciate your taking the time to tutor me on this.

Thanks,
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Banking can mean different techniques to different stove owners because of all the different shapes and sizes of stoves. But with most coal stoves it's putting a blanket of ash over the firebed top and leaving small openings for it to slowly burn through. However, with your small firebox that risks stalling the draft which will slowly kill the fire.

My Glenwood range is at the small end of sizes. So, (pun intended) I'm in the same boat as you. What I do to get the longest burn times is "stuff the firebed", and not bank it with ash.

To start getting the stove ready for the night I open the primary and MPD to get the firebed going strongly. Then I shake ash, empty the ash pan, as I'm also adding layers of fresh coal to eventually fill the firebox right up to the top plates.

Some might think this is a big no-no because getting the firebed right up against the top plates of a cook stove will warp them. That's very true,....during the day,.... when the firebed is running hotter. But at night I close the dampers down to just the primary being open a sliver so I can just barely see a glow coming from the ash pan area. The direct draft damper is closed to the oven position so that the exhaust is going through the oven flues to extract heat and help lower the draft strength, and I close the MPD fully. And the top layer of coal being up against the top plates over the firebox won't burn until the firebed burns down enough to let the level drop. So that top layer of coal actually shields the plates from the higher temp lower down in the firebed.

That all combines to idle the firebed down so that the top plates stay at about 550 - 650 F degrees. No danger of warping them at those temps, and the firebed has the maximum amount of fuel for the longest burn. Plus all that extra depth of coal adds a bit more restriction to airflow through the firebed, thus helping slow it. When I come down in the morning, the top plates over the firebed are around 600 F, the firebed level has dropped about an inch below the top plates protecting them from the now glowing top layer of burning coal, and the stove pipe is around 110-120F about two feet up from the pipe collar.

I've done this every night for nine months of the year, now into my 14th year with this range, and not warped the plates using this "stuffing the firebed" technique.

I will add that many years ago I modified the primary damper openings to get a finer adjustment for slower idle. The primary damper is the slide type with five rectangular slots. On the two end slots I filed the edges on a very slight angle to give a tapered opening so that was the damper is closed the three middle dampers close first. Then that leaves the two end dampers with a narrow tapered opening. As the damper is closed further it leaves a smaller and smaller wedge of opening. I close the damper until 1/2 to 2/3 of each end slot is closed. This gives just enough air at both ends of the rectangular firebed to keep it all burning slowly through a 12 hour night, yet still produce enough heat to keep the kitchen warm and a 2-1/2 quart tea kettle just below a boil off on the non-firebox part of the cooktop.

So, to sum up,
1. All ash cleared until there's a healthy glow in the empty ash pan.
2. Build up the firebed to the top plates to "stuff" the firebed as much as possible.
3. Turn the primary damper down as much as possible, but not enough to choke off all primary air.
4. Oven damper set for indirect draft to extract as much heat as possible before it goes up the pipe.
5. MPD fully closed and let the exhaust go out slowly just through the gaps in and around the MPD plate.

This allows me to consistently get 12 hour burns out of a firebox that only holds about 25 pounds of nut coal and still have plenty of firebed left to make a fast recovery to refuel and shake ash each morning.

When I come downstairs in the morning I open the MPD, put the oven damper in direct draft, and open the primaries. Then I feed the cat and make a cup of instant coffee with already near boiling water from the kettle. By which time the firebed is going strongly and built up a "heat bank" in the stove and chimney so that adding cold coal won't stall the draft. I put on a layer of coal and shake ash. After it finishes popping, I set the dampers for the day. Plus, when I walk into the kitchen, the cooktop is hot enough to start cooking breakfast right away.

Don't trust to learn this at night. This works well for me partly because I have a strong drafting brick chimney that was built for a coal stove. How well it will work for you depends on your stove/chimney system drafting ability. So, try it during the day so that you can monitor it safely and be there to adjust dampers and see how the stove responds. Pop a hatch, or a port or two, and don't be afraid the see at what point of damper settings the fire dies.

Keep in mind that as the outside temps vary, so will the draft strength. Therefore your damper settings will need to be opened a bit more in milder weather and closed more in colder weather.

Paul

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Coal Size/Type: stove coal

Post By: jpg » Tue. Nov. 27, 2018 9:32 pm

Thanks again for more clear guidance.

I read one banking technique where the woman buried large pieces of coal in her coal bed. Since they were surrounded by small coal, air flow remained minimal. The large pieces, once ignited, helped provide the start for the next day's fire. Rather than filling up with only pea coal, I could put in some big chunks, bury them with pea coal, put in more big chunks, bury them, etc. Is there merit in this approach?

Thanks,
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Sunny Boy
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Posts: 16666
Joined: Mon. Nov. 11, 2013 1:40 pm
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Anthracite Industrial, domestic hot water heater
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwood range 208, # 6 base heater, 2 Modern Oak 118.
Coal Size/Type: Nuts !
Other Heating: Oil &electric plenum furnace
Location: Central NY

Post By: Sunny Boy » Tue. Nov. 27, 2018 10:10 pm

I mix nut with stove size coal when I want a hotter fire for cooking and baking . But it doesn't burn as long as just all nut, so I'm not sure how well that bury large pieces would work for banking to get a longer burn verses just use all smaller sized pieces.

All stove setups are unique because of site and chimney system, so the only way to tell with your setup is to try it both ways and time it.

One problem is that the larger coal will take up more storage space than the same weight of smaller coal. And having spent some time living on a sailboat, I know storage space is one of the things in short supply. Sometimes it seems like there's a need for another boat rafted along side just to put all your stuff in. :D

Paul

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