Using Coal for the First Time

This forum is for common products and questions such as chimney installations, CO detectors, coal bin designs and a variety of other general topics that do not fit into the other forums.
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Creole
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Location: Louisiana

Post Sun. Nov. 12, 2006 2:41 am

Greetings from the Bayous,

We have an old home along the bayou and we have been heating with oak and cypress for decades.

I am getting too old to cut wood anymore and a yankee friend of mine suggested coal. Price may be spendy on shipping but it is what it is.

My stove is an old 32" x 16" x 16" , 1920 model Atlanta box stove with 2 burners on top. Double insulated 6" pipe through the wall and a damper.

Our winters are mild but the humidity makes up for the temperature. After the big hurricane last year we were out of electricty for quite some time so I definetly want to stay with a hand fired operation.

I have never worked with coal.

What size coal should I use?

How do I light it?

How much heat will it generate per pound + or -

how do I store the coal? Can I get it in bags?

Do I need to vent anything any differently than when we were buring wood?

Merci beau Coup
(thank you)

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coaledsweat
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260M
Coal Size/Type: Pea
Location: Guilford, Connecticut

Post Sun. Nov. 12, 2006 8:24 am

Unless the stove was intended to burn coal (it has shaker grate) it will be difficult at best to burn Anthracite. I think bituminous may work in some instances fairly well. I'm sure someone here can answer that as there have been a few threads about it if I'm not mistaken.
Good luck.

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Richard S.
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Posts: 12712
Joined: Fri. Oct. 01, 2004 8:35 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite
Location: NEPA

Post Sun. Nov. 12, 2006 8:46 am

Be aware that if the grates are not made for coal you can destroy them practically overnight, additionally coal needs air from the bottom. If the stove is specifically made for burning wood it won't work.
Creole wrote:
What size coal should I use?
Whatever won't fall through the grates. :P Pea or Chestnut.
How do I light it?
With wood, you can easily light it with a decent wood fire.
How much heat will it generate per pound + or -
Approximately 24 to 28 million BTU's per ton. 1 ton of anthracite is equal to about 1.2 to 1.5 cords of wood.
how do I store the coal? Can I get it in bags?
You can store it anyway you want, even on the ground. Moisture is not a big concern unless you have constant freezing temperature where it will get frozen together. They do have it in bags but depending on where you are at they can cost about double for bulk. Bags may be your only choice, the shipping is probably going to be outrageous.
"The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."

- Albert Einstein

Creole
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Location: Louisiana

Post Sun. Nov. 12, 2006 9:01 am

Thank you both for the information so far.

Is the grate's purpose to hold the chunks of coal off the belly of the stove so air can get under it?

We have access to numerous machinsts (ship yards) that can make just about anything.
What does a shaker grate look like? L x W x size of spaces x thickness of steel?

I would still need to know what size coal for a hand held operation and how do you start it? We use starter bricks made from pine shavings. they are extremely flamable and can ignite even damp cypress wood.
Would this work?


Creole
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Location: Louisiana

Post Sun. Nov. 12, 2006 9:07 am

Thank you Administrator.

If you all could tell me what a grate looks like and how it is built I believe I would be ready to try this.

Question:

What is the difference between the chunkier coal like 2"- 1-5/8" and the smaller sizes?

Does it burn differently?

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Richard S.
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite
Location: NEPA

Post Sun. Nov. 12, 2006 11:04 am

The samller sizes are used in stokers that have forced air. I'm not going to say you can't burn it in hand fired stove but most stoves won't accomodate it even if you could because it would fall through the grates.

If you do a search for LsFarms's posts he built his own stove, he has some pictures somewhere. Another member Berlin is going to post a PDF for a Bituminous stove in the how to section, you may want to look for that because the bituminous is cheaper and may even be able to get it few states away....

Only reason I say a few states is because I remeber seeing Lousianna listed as the lowest coal producing state in the nation if I remeber correctly and you'll want a high quality product if you're going to burn it at a home.
"The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."

- Albert Einstein

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LsFarm
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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 Sun. Nov. 12, 2006 10:02 pm

Hello Creole, can you post a photo or two of your stove?? We might be able to help you better.

As for making a grate, it really must be made of cast iron that is meant to be in a firebox. I've tried to make regular steel last in a firebox and it just won't .

A coal stove must have pretty much what you described, a grate with gaps to let air through from below, and keep the coal from falling through into the ashpan below. You need an ashpan, and you must be able to control the air from below with some kind of valve to open and close the air supply to the fire.

I'd go to all the websites you can for coal stoves and boilers, take a look at the design of the stoves.

Show us a photo of your stove an maybe we can help you figure out if it can burn coal or not.

Hope this helps.

Greg L 'LsFarm'

.
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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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 Sun. Nov. 12, 2006 10:35 pm

Here are a few photos of my boiler, showing the grate and firebrick in the firebox. My boiler was designed to burn both wood and coal, Now I wish I had had better information and designed it for coal only.

I tried to show the grate so you could see the size of the slots. They are 1" wide by 7" long. these slots are too wide for nut size coal. a lot of small coal falls into the ash pan unburnt. so I'd recommend smaller holes in the grate.

The first photo shows the ash pan below the grate and firebox.

Hope this helps

Greg L
Attachments
grate1.jpg
grate.jpg
2005_0410Woodstove70008.JPG
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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Berlin
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Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal
Location: Buffalo/Adirondacks, NY

Post Mon. Nov. 13, 2006 1:13 am

actually if I was from louisiana, i'd take a hard look at east texas lignite, very easy to burn and maintian a fire, much easier than anthricite or bituminous, only downside is lower BTU's per pound, around 7,000btu's/lb vs 13-15,000 for anthricite and bituminous. for lignite you could expect to pay around $7-$25/ ton at the mine.
Burning western Pennsylvania Bituminous in WNY using model 77 stoker furnace. BITUMINOUS equiptment: 2 hand fired stoves of my own design, Many Combustioneer Model 77 stokers, stokermatic furnace, Many Will-Burt stokers, & and Two Iron firemen.

Creole
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Location: Louisiana

Post Mon. Nov. 13, 2006 8:22 am

Greg @ Lsfarm,

Thank you for the reply.
After looking over many pictures of stoves, I can see that this old Atlanta stove is NOT meant for coal at all.

The belly has a slope and there is no way to put in any kind of ash box under this.

A friend of mine had an old ship's stove from Maine. He was a boat captain. I saw the differences in it and there is no way this box stove can be fitted to do that.

I was just trying to see if I could get out of splitting wood, but it looks like we're stuck with that. God knows we have enough downed trees since last year's hurricane.

Anyway, the freight for the coal was going to be equal to the cost of the coal. If I need to I'll just go back to propane.

Thank you all for the information. This saved me from making a big mistake.

Besides, I am not sure how Shrimp Gumbo would taste cooked on a coal stove!

Merci mon amis.

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LsFarm
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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 Mon. Nov. 13, 2006 8:40 am

Yum! Shrimp gumbo!! Sounds good made on any stove.

Take a look in the 'how-to' forum here and look at the PDF files that Berlin posted. His stove is simple, and made out of readily available plate steel, rerod and angle steel.

I've asked Berlin dozens of questions about his stove, how and whys and how-comes. Berlin has made more than one stove in his search for a good design to burn soft coal.

His suggestion about East Texas Lignite coal is a good one. Coal in any form will be easier to burn and use than cutting and splitting wood. I have virtually unlimited wood on my property, and am burning coal because of the ease of useing coal.

Your welding buddies could make up a 'Berlin Soft-coal Stove' in about a day or two if they have access to a metal shop. My metal shop could make the stove in about a day if they worked on it exclusively.

I'd search on the East Texas Lignite coal first, find out if it is easily available to you, Then decide on making a stove.

MMmmm. Gumbo.....

Take care, 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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