An Intro and Looking for Input

A Coal stoker furnace or stove controls most operations including automatically feeding the coal. They are quite similar to any conventional oil and gas units and easily operated for extended periods of time. They commonly use rice coal but may use larger sizes like buckwheat. They can be used as primary heat, supplementary heat or have a dual set up with your existing oil/gas furnace.
JeepinPete
Member
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri. Mar. 04, 2011 6:29 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: Highboy
Location: Quakertown PA

Post Fri. Nov. 11, 2011 9:50 am

The first two are the in process boiler installs. The oil boiler has been up and running, but the domestic coil started leaking. I pulled that out last night, the gasket was like a rock. I need to find some gasket material to make up a new one tomorrow.

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The nest three are of the living room. The one section of wall has been stripped of the old plaster. That took use maybe two hours :shock: There wasn't much keeping it attached. I was a bit shocked to find that the stone have no mortar holding them together. The builders used clay, probably dug out of the back yard. Seems kind of hack, but it is still standing after a 150 years, so I guess they knew more than I do :lol: I will be pointing the walls using a lime putty mortar. I've done plenty of masonry work in the past using conventional cement mortar, but never lime putty before. Should be interesting.

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The next two show the hacking I had to do to run the Pex-Al-Pex to the upstairs bedrooms. The wife loves this look :lol: . Note the mess of wiring in the first picture. When I opened the wall, six wires were twisted together, no wire nut, no tape, no electrical box. I pulled that apart and connected them together in smaller groups as a temporary fix. I'll be splitting that mess into three circuits, with proper junction boxes, etc.

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Finally, two pictures of my son's bedroom. All of the Pex runs from below come up into his closet. Two line are for his room, two are for the room opposite his, and two go to the third floor.

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JeepinPete
Member
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri. Mar. 04, 2011 6:29 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: Highboy
Location: Quakertown PA

Post Fri. Nov. 11, 2011 10:09 am

I haven't seen much on working with these things online, so I want to relay some of my experiences. Might be useful to someone in the future.

First off, they are heavy. A 6' section is about all a single man will want to move around. I am using used units, both Weil Mclain and Burnham. To split sections, simply remove the bolts holding them together, and drive a wedge of some sort between the sections. Doesn't take much for them to pop apart. To put them back together is a different story.

When you are using used parts like I am, the odds are the nipples that go between sections are not going to be where you need them to be. To get them out, buy yourself a slide hammer bearing puller. Harbor Freight has a $40 unit that is well made, and one of the arbors fits perfectly. The slide hammer is not going to get it out by itself though. First you need to hammer them in a bit. A small ball pean hammer does the trick. Hitting them with a hammer breaks the rust and putty bond. Them the slide hammer pops them out after a half dozen blows or so.

To clean the bores for the nipples, I am using a small cup wire wheel. It has a snug fits in the bores. Spin with the drill for a few second, and they could out nice and clean. Use plumbers sealant on the nipples and tap them back in. The first section I messed with has a leak, since this has all been a trial and error process. The subsequent panels are not leaking so far.

Weil Mclain makes a special tool to get the sections together, which I do not have. There is enough room to fit five sets of vice grip pliers. To be honest, this is not a great solution. In one or two cases, I have not been able to draw the sections completely together. I may have to make an imitation tool out of a set of bolt cutters.

When you are working with these things, set them on boards of some kind. Use one board as a pry bar to lift them into a vertical position.

JeepinPete
Member
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri. Mar. 04, 2011 6:29 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: Highboy
Location: Quakertown PA

Post Tue. Nov. 29, 2011 12:18 pm

I managed to find the proper tool for the baseboards on CL. No question that is the way to go.

If you need parts for the WM CI baseboards, audubonsupply.com carries them, and knows what you are talking about. I have a couple leaks, one small and one large, between the sections. A set of nipples are on their way to my door.

Baseboards are done on the first floor. Second floor will not be completed until after the winter. I plan on tearing the ceiling down in the living room, which will give me easy access for the plumbing. So those two rooms will wait until then. Still need to procure more CI baseboards to finish the other 2nd floor bedroom. I will be tackling the third floor next.

I love the CI baseboard. The heat is very similar to a wood stove. It just cooks through you.

Got the oil boiler fixed up over the holidays. Made a new gasket for the DHW coil. Pulled the burner out to replace the nozzle and strainer. Found a few other issues there, and found a gap between the refractory and the boiler tank. Plugged that up, which noticeably improved the draft. Also took care of the slight smoke smell I was getting when the boiler fired up (which was the reason for the new nozzle in the first place).

Who knows, maybe I will get the EFM up and burning before spring :cry:

JeepinPete
Member
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri. Mar. 04, 2011 6:29 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: Highboy
Location: Quakertown PA

Post Fri. Dec. 16, 2011 2:52 pm

I like talking to myself :lol:

Found an error in my heat loss calcs. It appears that the 2nd floor bedroom walls are far better insulated than expected. I have a 12' length of baseboard in my kid's bedroom, and it is cooking them. I have the flow restricted to almost nothing, and that room is still 2-3* higher than the rest of the house. So I will be pulling that out and replacing it with a 6' length. With the updated calcs, I now have enough CI baseboard to finish the house. :D

The EFM is 90% plumbed in. I will finish assembling it over the holidays, and hopefully get a coal room built next to it. Coal heat by 1/1/2012 is the goal.

User avatar
freetown fred
Member
Posts: 21423
Joined: Thu. Dec. 31, 2009 12:33 pm
Hand Fed Coal Stove: HITZER 50-93
Coal Size/Type: BLASCHAK Nut
Location: Freetown,NY 13803

Post Fri. Dec. 16, 2011 4:19 pm

JP, I don't trust people that don't talk to themselfs. You're doing an outstanding job there my friend. ;) I'm gonna hold ya to that start up date :D
"A people that values it's privileges above it's principals, soon loses both"--Dwight D Eisenhower

JeepinPete
Member
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri. Mar. 04, 2011 6:29 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: Highboy
Location: Quakertown PA

Post Wed. Feb. 01, 2012 1:40 pm

Well, the 1/1/12 goal came and went. But necessity tends to move things along. We ran out of oil on Monday, so that kind of forced my hand :shock: The EFM is fired and heating the house as I type this :D Still got some work to do to it, like wire in the timer and install the baro damper. Right now I have the hi temp cutoff turned down to 140* or so and the thermostat turned up so that it doesn't shut down. My wife is checking the draft gauge throughout the day with instructions to shut it down if the draft gets to .01. Last night it was ~45* out, and the chimney was pulling .06. Got the feed set at 3 teeth, air around 4. I am really diggin how quiet this thing is, unlike the oil boiler.

Using a barrel for the coal hopper, and bagged Blackshak locally obtained. I will probably run that way until the end of the season. I still need to build the coal room. I am also toying with building an outdoor coal shed and getting a truckload. The idea of not having to worry about it for a few years is really appealing.

JeepinPete
Member
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri. Mar. 04, 2011 6:29 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: Highboy
Location: Quakertown PA

Post Wed. Feb. 01, 2012 1:44 pm

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User avatar
Rob R.
Site Moderator
Posts: 11360
Joined: Fri. Dec. 28, 2007 4:26 pm
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 Wed. Feb. 01, 2012 2:05 pm

1. Congrats on your hard work and finally producing some blue flames.

2. I don't see any oil in the pan...about 3/8" of the drive gear should be in gear oil. Double check the oil level in the gearbox while you're at it.

3. Looks like you have the adjustable crank setup, and I suspect you are actually running at 4 teeth...which explains why the fire looks so nice with the air set at 4. :)

4. Congrats again...now get busy on installing that draft control and timer. 8-)


User avatar
LsFarm
Member
Posts: 7385
Joined: Sun. Nov. 20, 2005 8:02 pm
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 Wed. Feb. 01, 2012 2:32 pm

Great job, nice work.. soon you'll be wondering why you didn't hook up the EFM first, then the oil boiler.

Looking forward to seeing more pics and reading a progress report.

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?

JeepinPete
Member
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri. Mar. 04, 2011 6:29 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: Highboy
Location: Quakertown PA

Post Wed. Feb. 01, 2012 3:00 pm

Timer will go on tonight. Baro too if I feel industrious.

Talked to my wife this afternoon. Draft is holding steady at .04. 60* at home outside, so I am pretty happy about that. I have plans to run it year round for DHW...

User avatar
steamup
Member
Posts: 1209
Joined: Fri. Oct. 03, 2008 12:13 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman-Anderson AA-130, Keystoker K-6
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: HS Tarm 502 Wood/Coal/Oil
Coal Size/Type: pea, buck, rice
Location: Napoli, NY

Post Wed. Feb. 01, 2012 3:14 pm

Sorry,

My internet is playing games with me. Wrong post.
Steamup

"You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can't possibly live long enough to make them all yourself."
Sam Levenson
"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler."
Albert Einstein

JeepinPete
Member
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri. Mar. 04, 2011 6:29 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: Highboy
Location: Quakertown PA

Post Thu. Feb. 02, 2012 10:13 am

Got the timer wired in last night. Upped the high limit to 180* and let it operate like it should. Woke up to a warm house this morning. :D

I do wonder about the ash I am getting. It is not powdery at all. It is keeping the shape of the coal. Is this how it is supposed to be? It also looks like I am getting a decent amount of unburned coal. Obviously I have more adjustments to make, but I am not really certain what adjustments to make...

User avatar
Rob R.
Site Moderator
Posts: 11360
Joined: Fri. Dec. 28, 2007 4:26 pm
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 Thu. Feb. 02, 2012 10:39 am

JeepinPete wrote:I do wonder about the ash I am getting. It is not powdery at all. It is keeping the shape of the coal. Is this how it is supposed to be?
Yes. Ash from a stoker will be chunky and look more like granola than a powder.
JeepinPete wrote:Obviously I have more adjustments to make, but I am not really certain what adjustments to make...
Put a sufficient load on the boiler to make the stoker run for at least 30 minutes continuously...at that point you should have a 1.5-2" ring of ashes around the fire. If the ash ring is smaller than that, increase the air by about .25 and repeat the exercise later in the day. If the ash ring is larger than 1.5-2", reduce the air.

A small amount of unburned coal in the ashes is normal, and is a sign of good combustion efficiency. If you try and adjust the air to eliminate all unburned coal from the ash, you will send more BTU's up the chimney than you saved from the ashes.

Here is a thread with some good information, happy reading: Looking for Some Imput on How My Ash Looks?

Edit: Fixed typo, thanks Mike.
Last edited by Rob R. on Thu. Feb. 02, 2012 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

JeepinPete
Member
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri. Mar. 04, 2011 6:29 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: Highboy
Location: Quakertown PA

Post Thu. Feb. 02, 2012 12:01 pm

Thanks Rob, that is exactly what my ash looks like.

JeepinPete
Member
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri. Mar. 04, 2011 6:29 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: Highboy
Location: Quakertown PA

Post Wed. Mar. 07, 2012 1:07 pm

No new news to report on the EFM. Its doing what it should :D I did buy a larger plastic drum with a sealable lid. Also found that if I had the air turned up a bit too much, it would blow gas out the auger pipe. I've got the time dialed back to 1 minute ever hour, and my draft has yet to go below .02". Carrying bags of coal down into the basement is no fun, mainly due to my basement. Have to hunch over pretty good to get through the doorway, and I've scalped myself a couple times now :mad: Half the base is less than 5' headroom, so that adds to the fun. I need to figure out a way to use bulk coal rather than the bags for next winter. Also have to install the rest of the baseboards before then too. But even with heat in just the three rooms so far, the house is much more comfortable than it has been since we moved in 6 years ago.

And to add to my work load, we stripped the walls and ceiling in the living room a few weeks back...

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