Three Days and I'm Out

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.
Mountainman37
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Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 55 U.L.
Location: Central New Hampshire

Post Sat. Jan. 10, 2009 9:07 am

I am very pleased to find this forum; it was recommended to me by Hitzer as I've been in contact with them for help in firing my stove. I am new to the forum and new to coal burning. I've read a lot here that helped me get past getting a coal fire started. Now I have no problem getting a coal fire started in my Hitzer 55, I just can't get past the third day.

I burn nut size anthracite and have a nice looking fire, blue ladies and all every time I open the ash door for tending, which is every 12 hours. The stove has an thermostatic air feed damper that maintains a stove surface temp of 475-500 which puts out nice heat. Every 12 hours I open the ash door and after about 10 to 15 minutes, have reached a surface temp of 600 to 650, have plenty of blue dancing ladies and I shake both sides evenly, just until a few red embers fall and I've some orange glow in the ash pan.

Then I stoke one side back up to the top of the firebrick, leave ash door open until that coal catches....about 15 min or so and then stoke the other side with fresh coal, ending up with a level bed at the top of the firebrick. Another 15 min or so and the second batch of new coal has caught and the ash door is closed, leaving the thermosatic damper to control the fire at 475 for the next 12 hours and the same tending process is repeated.

But........By day 3 I have dark corners and the fire takes considerably longer to respond, to freshen up when the ash door is opened. That tells me I have a problem. Not enough air getting thru the bed. But shaking a weak fire does, infact, put it out. I found that out! I need to learn how NOT to get to this point where I have insufficient air coming up thru the bed. Cause if I can't freshen the fire and get it to pick up, I am doomed to start over.

I've been reading much in the sections written by the one match guys and I'm overwhelmed with the poking, raking, slicing that I know nothing about. I sure do envy the one match guys and would like to become one of them.

You folks are a great source of information and I look forward to learning how to keep a coal fire going for the season...or I'd even settle for extended runs of a week or more!

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Devil505
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Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000
Location: SE Massachusetts

Post Sat. Jan. 10, 2009 9:14 am

It sounds like you're filling it up completely so my guess is improper shaking down & not getting rid of enough ash.
There are many threads on shaking down but try this Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire

Do you have a barometric damper installed? (what venting system do you use?...ie chimney, etc))
Last edited by Devil505 on Sat. Apr. 01, 2017 1:25 am, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: fixed link
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Shaking & Poking The TLC2000 Video

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LsFarm
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland
Location: Michigan

Post Sat. Jan. 10, 2009 9:23 am

Hello MountainMan, welcome, The problem is accumulating ash on the grates.. Try shaking more agressively. Getting just a few red embers apparently is not enough for your coal and grate design.

I don't know if you can remove the ash pan after shaking and look through the ashpan door opening at the bottom of the grates. If you can, you probably will see some parts that have red coal above the grate, but also see some areas where the ash above the grate is dark and cold. What I recommend is making a poker that you can work through the gaps in the grates from the bottom, and stir and break up the accumulated ash. Often just a poke or two and the ash will fall through the grate like a waterfall.

Once you figure out either a more aggressive shaking action or use a poker to clean out the corners where the ash accumulates,, you will have a hot fire for as long as you want, many people keep their fire all winter long.

Hope this helps.
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?

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Cato
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Stove/Furnace Make: Harman Magnafire
Stove/Furnace Model: Harman I
Location: Bridgton, Maine

Post Sat. Jan. 10, 2009 2:20 pm

lsfarm has it right! When I shake my Harman Mark I down I look to see if any areas of the bed look 'ashy' and if so I use a poker and drive it down in the corners and twist until the ash breaks up and then I shake some more. When I see hot coals come down (moderate) then I use the metal hook (that I gleaned from this site) and clean the ash from the grates from the bottom. There is usually a good amount of ash that can be removed this way from the bottom and by the time I've finished (min or so) the bed is roaring and ready to receive a new load of coal. Works every time! :D
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coal berner
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Stoker Coal Boiler: 1986 Electric Furnace Man 520 DF
Stove/Furnace Make: Electric Furnace Man
Stove/Furnace Model: DF520
Location: Pottsville PA. Schuylkill County PA. The Hart Of Anthracite Coal Country.

Post Sat. Jan. 10, 2009 2:29 pm

Cato wrote:lsfarm has it right! When I shake my Harman Mark I down I look to see if any areas of the bed look 'ashy' and if so I use a poker and drive it down in the corners and twist until the ash breaks up and then I shake some more. When I see hot coals come down (moderate) then I use the metal hook (that I gleaned from this site) and clean the ash from the grates from the bottom. There is usually a good amount of ash that can be removed this way from the bottom and by the time I've finished (min or so) the bed is roaring and ready to receive a new load of coal. Works every time! :D

Nice looking setup but where is your baro You are putting alot of heat up threw that nice chimney with out one
J.C.

Heating house & water with a 1986 electric furnace man DF520 using buckwheat Anthracite coal

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Cato
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Stove/Furnace Make: Harman Magnafire
Stove/Furnace Model: Harman I
Location: Bridgton, Maine

Post Sat. Jan. 10, 2009 6:03 pm

coal berner:

Thanks-- but Harman does not recommend one unless needed. My stack temp under all conditions stays around 150-200 degrees and the stove from 400-550. I'am not losing much heat up the chimney and my 'burns' are a good 12 hrs. Not going through alot of coal and the temp in the room (kitchen) stays around 80 and the living room (two rooms away) at around 70! Couldn't ask for better results from my Harman Mark I -- but thanks for the suggestion of the baro. I had a baro in my Warm Morning coal stove that I used in the living room chimney 25yrs ago. That stove needed one because it was not an airtight. I can control the output (heat & burn) on my Harman very accurately with the airintake on the ash door.

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gerard
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Stove/Furnace Make: yukon dual fuel
Stove/Furnace Model: husky
Location: syracuse, ny

Post Sat. Jan. 10, 2009 6:14 pm

I echo the other posts - shake more aggressively - I like to open the ash door and shake until I see an orange glow reflecting into the ash from the coals above - that tells me I have exposed coals and good air flow. I also use a poker once in awhile (every few days) if I have a hard time seeing the glow. I'll just poke it into the pile from the top and stirs the coals a bit, then shake them down. Helps break up any bridging. I also burn nut and have only lost the fire once since november and that was during a warm spell when I had to choke it down too much to prevent the house from overheating. Stay with it - you'll get it figured out!

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coalvet
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Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane Model 404, Harman MK I
Coal Size/Type: Nut
Other Heating: NG Boiler
Location: Rhode Island

Post Sat. Jan. 10, 2009 6:15 pm

I agree on the need for a baro or not, my Crane doesn't need one and I see no need for one on a small airtight stove!

Rich
Been cooking coal with the Crane for over 30 yrs.

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Duengeon master
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Posts: 1944
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Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harmon Mark III
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite pea and nut mix. Bituminous lump
Location: Penndel, Pa.

Post Sat. Jan. 10, 2009 7:08 pm

Don't shake too aggressively, you could go blind :doh: I know, I wear glasses. :flush:
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PC 12-47E
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Hand Fed Coal Stove: Estate Heatrola, Jotul 507
Location: Mid Coast, Maine

Post Sat. Jan. 10, 2009 8:13 pm

coal berner wrote:Nice looking setup but where is your baro You are putting alot of heat up threw that nice chimney with out one


Coal Berner has very good info!!! The "baro", Draft Control, makes a very big change in the fire duration and the amount of heat kept in the stove.

After my baro install and dwyer mark II manometer set at .06 WC. the stove heat collector is 60*F higher and the exhaust stack is about 50*F cooler. This is lots more heat for very few $$$.

Maybe I will just leave the refrigerator door open because I hate to save $$$$.

RS
Glenwood "Modern Oak #116"
Fuller & Warren "Art Stewart #14" Baseburner
Jotul "507"
Gibraltar "CFS" brass doors

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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 Sat. Jan. 10, 2009 11:18 pm

When you clean out the stove to relight, are you finding clinkers in the ash? If so, you are probably pushing the stove pretty hard. Aside from getting a larger stove, you will need to break up the clinkers or fish them out of the stove in order to get the ash to shake down properly.

Mountainman37
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Posts: 39
Joined: Sat. Jan. 10, 2009 8:44 am
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 55 U.L.
Location: Central New Hampshire

Post Sun. Jan. 11, 2009 8:35 am

Thank you for the tips, everyone!

As a newbie, I only have my two books on "burning coal" and both warn against too much "playing" with a fire. The books warned that too much or too little shaking and the fire goes out. They further warn against any poking of the fire...without going into any detail, ofcourse, leaving one to ponder....

Devil505
I can't get to that thread, my browser tells me the page has expired. I tried from your live link and tried typing it in the browser and still can't get there. Is there another way?
No, I do not have a baro. I run my manual damper half closed when in "steady state" with surface temp at 450F while the thermostatic draft control regulates air flow up thru the bed.
I have a capped masonry chimney with wonderful draw. I live on a mountain and there is seldom a still day. The chimney draws well.

LsFarm
OK, Greg, I hear you about glow! I will go for more glow and did so this morning when I shook the new fire down. This is day 2 for this fire. I'll keep an eye on things each 12 hour increment and start looking from below as you suggest.

Cato
You echo others in saying don't be afraid to poke...so I'm going to be learning to poke...and sucessfully we hope!

Duengeonmaster
You are on the other side of shaking...be careful of too aggressive and you bring up a very important safety tip...wear glasses! I totally agree, having worked in industry where safety glasses were a constant. I always wear safety glasses when I go to open the stove door!
As for shaking...on one of my "third days" I had a fire that would not respond so I knew I had not enough air coming up. The fire was barely 400F after the ash door was open for 30 min so I had little to lose, I figured, and shook. and shook...lots of ash came down, of course, and the fire settled in the middle a lot...still a very dull orange and grey all around the edges. the shaking did not save it, it went out.

Markviii
Nope, no clinkers....my ash is all bits and pieces. I assume clinkers are "chunks" sort of welded together and I've nothing like that.

Again, thanks to all of you! I'm in day 2 so the fire is strong and healthy. This morning, I started my routine at 475F surface temperature. I open the ash door, leaving the thermostatically controlled air damper alone. In a mere ten minutes I was at 650F and shook down. Got plenty of orange glow and more than a few embers falling thru.

Then I stoked just the right side....the fire actually has a soft "roar" to it. The flames were dancing like crazy...it was a vibrant fire to say the least. Left the ash door open. Wait 10 min. Temp dropped from 650 to 600 and started back up. So I stoked the left side, now that the fire is going well in the new coal on the right side. I added about 3" to 4" of coal to get back to the top of my firebrick. The total bed depth is 8" to 10" I believe....the size of the firebrick lining.

Temp crept up to 700F so I closed the ash door, left my direct vent damper open (to avoid blow backs) and opened the manual damper to full open to dump some heat. Temp dropped below 700 and when it got to 625F I closed my direct vent damper which is an "efficiency" thing. It makes the flue gases from the burning bed go down and under a baffle in order to get out, supposedly burning off all available combustibles before going under the baffle and up the chimney.

With the thermostatic damper back in control the temp continued down to my run point which is 475f and I closed my manual damper back to 45 degrees. This is day 2

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PC 12-47E
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Hand Fed Coal Stove: Estate Heatrola, Jotul 507
Location: Mid Coast, Maine

Post Sun. Jan. 11, 2009 8:58 am

PC 12-47E wrote:
coal berner wrote:Nice looking setup but where is your baro You are putting alot of heat up threw that nice chimney with out one


Coal Berner has very good info!!! The "baro", Draft Control, makes a very big change in the fire duration and the amount of heat kept in the stove.

After my baro install and dwyer mark II manometer set at .06 WC. the stove heat collector is 60*F higher and the exhaust stack is about 50*F cooler. This is lots more heat for very few $$$.

Maybe I will just leave the refrigerator door open because I hate to save $$$$.

RS

coalvet wrote:I agree on the need for a baro or not, my Crane doesn't need one and I see no need for one on a small airtight stove!
Rich

Without a draft control and measuring your draft ,you have no idea how much LOST HEAT is going up the chimney.
Glenwood "Modern Oak #116"
Fuller & Warren "Art Stewart #14" Baseburner
Jotul "507"
Gibraltar "CFS" brass doors

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Devil505
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Joined: Tue. Jul. 03, 2007 10:44 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000
Location: SE Massachusetts

Post Sun. Jan. 11, 2009 9:19 am

Mountainman37 wrote:As a newbie, I only have my two books on "burning coal" and both warn against too much "playing" with a fire. The books warned that too much or too little shaking and the fire goes out. They further warn against any poking of the fire.


Don't listen to the books! :P :lol: You need to poke for air pockets so you'll have room for fresh coal in your stove. Try it!
(have I ever steered your wrong? :lol: ) Maybe in a perfect world with perfect coal you don't need to poke, but I've been burning coal for almost 20 years in 3 different stoves & different coals & I've needed to poke every one of them

Mountainman37 wrote:I can't get to that thread, my browser tells me the page has expired


Try it now Shaking Down/Reloading A Mature Fire
War is a game that is played with a smile. If you can't smile, grin. If you can't grin, keep out of the way till you can.
Winston Churchill
Shaking & Poking The TLC2000 Video

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baldeagle
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Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer 354
Stove/Furnace Model: Hitzer 503
Location: SW Penna.

Post Sun. Jan. 11, 2009 3:12 pm

Mountainman -- agree with all the others, My Hitzer 354 needs fairly aggressive shaking with local nut coal and if I really heat it up I do get clinkers ---- you need to follow the advice(s) to pull out the ash pan and pursue the dark areas. I bent an old poker to get an angle down into any areas of ash buildup, if it does shake out after poking at it I go at the bottom as others have mentioned. best to you, baldeagle

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