Need Coal Information Urgent!

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.
Dann757
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Post Wed. Nov. 05, 2008 5:01 pm

I have a place that will give me a big pile of coal free. I checked it out today, it's in the basement of an old building and the guy said it must have been there 40 years or more. I think it's a couple of tons. I took a handful of it home and it was enough to put in a coffee can. I don't know what anthracite looks like. It almost looked like slate, it can be split, and looked shiny when split. I punched holes in the bottom of the can and broke up some of the coal into little pieces. This coal must be chestnut size. There was a piece of what looked like charcoal in it too. ( Did they ever mix charcoal in with coal?) I surrounded the can with bricks and tried to light the coal with a propane torch. It was a losing battle, I could get the coal to glow orange but it went out by itself.
Then I took my oxyacetylene torch to the pile in the can and actually got the center to white hot. It seemed to be lit but went out in a short time. Is this an unrealistic way to test the coal in such a small can?
I don't want to waste the guy's time, he's the maintenance chief at a school where this coal is located.
Ignorant questions: Coal doesn't go bad does it? This wouldn't be coke would it?
I really want to burn this coal in my old Gold Marc "Monticello" stove. I could get another test amount of coal and try to actually burn a larger amount in the stove itself.
Thanks, I'm about to do a lot of labor to haul this load out of the basement and don't want to take something unburnable.

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billw
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Post Wed. Nov. 05, 2008 5:11 pm

For coal to burn there has to be an air draft coming from underneath the coal bed. Hand fired stoves have a draft and stokers have a fan that forces the air up through the coal. It sounds like you got it lit but it went out because of a lack of draft.

Dann757
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Post Wed. Nov. 05, 2008 5:23 pm

Thanks for the fast reply! I think I should get my stove hooked up and do a test burn with some more coal.

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LsFarm
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Post Wed. Nov. 05, 2008 5:36 pm

Coal stored in a coal bin, out of the weather should be good for more than 50 years.. It must be Anthracite, or you would have had a fire in that can..

I'd say it's worth the work. It should burn fine in a stove that burns anthracite coal.

Greg L.
Burning Pea/Buckwheat through an antique stoker [semi retired SSboiler],
Running an Axeman-Anderson 260M boiler burning Pea, About 150-250#per day
Farming, Fixing, Fabricating and Flying: 'spare time' what's that?

Dann757
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Post Wed. Nov. 05, 2008 6:43 pm

Greg,

Thanks very much for the encouragement!
Any comments appreciated, since I'm new to the world of coal.

Here is a link to a few pics of my "Monticello".
Last edited by Dann757 on Sat. Apr. 01, 2017 1:06 am, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: <removed dead image link>

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Uglysquirrel
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Post Wed. Nov. 05, 2008 7:00 pm

Sounds like anthracite, bitumeous (sp) is not shiny and has an inherent powder to it. Anthacite may leave a bit of black deposit on your hands, bitumeous will really dirty your hands.

duck
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Post Wed. Nov. 05, 2008 9:34 pm

Dann,
Had a similar situation 3 years ago, a plumber friend was working on an older home renovation, in the basement was a coal fired steam boiler and a bunker with 4 tons of stove coal that the owner wanted removed. The delivery slip showed the coal delivered in 1963, didn't say what it was ant. or bit. Did a similar test like you and figured it was anthracite. Hauled coal home using my Ford Ranger, it burned great!!! Too bad about the boiler it was in teriffic shape including all the tools and manuals - went for scrap.

GOOD LUCK
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Dann757
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Post Wed. Nov. 05, 2008 10:02 pm

Hey thanks! I was really looking for some encouragement!
There's a lot of BTU's locked up in that pile, will get pictures and post a link here- this is an old building on a private school campus. Not too far away ,but there's 2 sets of stairs to navigate. I'll probably bring planks, a hand truck, and a plastic garbage can and just do the labor. Looks like a brick- walled room used as a coal bin- I saw a small window that surely was where they put the chute in. This might be enough to take me through the winter. I have an old 275 oil tank cut in half that will hold a lot of it, and will need to make a place in a shed out back for the rest.

Dan

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Freddy
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Post Wed. Nov. 05, 2008 10:43 pm

Go for it! I'd get a bunch of 5 gallon buckets & promise a group of teenagers free beer...ahhhh, I mean a cheeseburger fest.
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Fred

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HDFXR1991
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Post Thu. Nov. 06, 2008 1:17 am

Dann757

Go get that coal and don't look back! That type of coal is what got me hooked on coal burning. My Grandparents had a 25 gal. barrel full of that type of coal from there farm they sold in 71. I did a test burn in the old coal stove here in there house I bought from my Mother after my Grandmothers passing in 03. The great burn I got from it is what got me hooked. I have found a few old farmers around my area that still have some of this old coal. I jump on it and haul it home. Can't beat it! It is either free of just a buck or two a feed bag full. Some of the finds are a ton or two.
I have since changed the stove in 05 to a Hitzer 82. Still very pleased in the old coal. All most like it better than the new. 8-)

Bob
Other Stoves I own for keeping the re-enacting tent warm.
No. 40 Marvel 131 (Laundry Stove).
Orbon Soft Coal Stove.

djackman
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Post Thu. Nov. 06, 2008 1:22 am

Dann757 wrote:There was a piece of what looked like charcoal in it too. ( Did they ever mix charcoal in with coal?)

Ignorant questions: Coal doesn't go bad does it? This wouldn't be coke would it?
black, hard, shiny = anthracite

I've been burning thru a several tons from a basement in an old house that's been there since the early 1950's. Kind of a shame, boiler is next to the coal room perfect setup for a stoker. It burns no different than "new" coal from a bag.

There have been a few pieces that look like charcoal; very rough edges, crumbles easily. Not sure what they are but they burn. I've heard old timers say there was "lots of crap in coal back then". The pile I've been mining seems to agree - at least a large coffee can of nuts, bolts, broken bottles, etc I've pulled out of it so far.

The mouse carcasses are just more BTU's.
3 years w/ wood stove -> 1 year w/ coal stove -> coal boiler installed 10/3/08.... it's evolution baby!

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SemperFi
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Post Thu. Nov. 06, 2008 7:31 am

I would grab it as soon as possable. As far as if the coal is still good from sitting around, it could sit there for millions of years and still be good. Some folks are under the belief that coal starts to loose its volitals once out of the mine. It takes heat to achive volital loss, like the heat in a coal fire :o ;) :) :D
If you can keep your head while those around you are losing theirs, you may have misjudged the situation.

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CoalHeat
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Post Thu. Nov. 06, 2008 7:34 am

If the coal has be sitting in a cellar bin for 40 years it's OK. Only when the coalpile is out in the elements for 40 years does it begin to deteriorate. If you don't want that cellar coal let me know, I'd be glad to take a run out for it. :D
Heating a circa 1832 farmhouse with a Harman Magnafire Mark I & a 1959 EFM 350 (heating DHW).
100% Oil Free!
"It's what we learn after we think we know it all that counts."

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Hybrid Guy
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Post Thu. Nov. 06, 2008 10:45 am

Dann757 wrote:Hey thanks! I was really looking for some encouragement!
There's a lot of BTU's locked up in that pile, will get pictures and post a link here- this is an old building on a private school campus. Not too far away ,but there's 2 sets of stairs to navigate. I'll probably bring planks, a hand truck, and a plastic garbage can and just do the labor. Looks like a brick- walled room used as a coal bin- I saw a small window that surely was where they put the chute in. This might be enough to take me through the winter. I have an old 275 oil tank cut in half that will hold a lot of it, and will need to make a place in a shed out back for the rest.

Dan
I just moved a small pile (~1000 lbs) of coal I had sitting on a tarp in my yard, to my cellar. I asked a neighboring dairy farmer if he had some empty 100 lb feed bags I could have, horse farms might have them too. The feed mills don't take the bags back anymore. They're made of a woven plastic material, but are very strong. I filled each with about 60-70 lbs., tied them shut with some baler twine, and carried them on my back (like Santa Claus). Just a suggestion to save your back. A garbagr can sounds awkward and difficult to handle to me.
Good luck and congrats on your find. Sounds like you found a "gold mine".

Dann757
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Post Thu. Nov. 06, 2008 2:36 pm

Guys,
Really grateful for all the input! The maintenance guy at the school got 3 other workers, and spackle buckets was the way to go. Up the cellar stairs and down an outside set of stairs to my truck. I filled both halves of an old 275 gallon oil tank,
a green landscaper's barrel, a steel garbage can, and just made a makeshift coal bin in a shed here! There is some crap and ash in the coal; I aint lookin a gift horse in the mouth! 3 loads today, the one in the picture is the biggest one and a little overloaded for my 1/2 ton truck. It's raining and unseasonably warm here in NJ today, I hit the brakes on a sharp turn with this last load and skidded 20ft on wet leaves and pavement. Lucked out and stayed on the road.
More questions to come-- great to be part of this forum!!!

regards,
Dan
Last edited by Dann757 on Sat. Apr. 01, 2017 1:06 am, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: <removed dead image link>

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