I Have a Idea for a Autofeed Coal Bin

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syncmaster
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Post Fri. May. 02, 2008 4:29 pm

I don't have a coal boiler yet but one thing that I am very concerned about is having to feed the hopper everyother day I have a drawing of a idea that I had and would like some input from you guys.

I want to build a 4x4x8 bin in the backyard and put a 4" PVC pipe on a angle through the foundation ending
inside the coal hopper of a vf3000 boiler.

The questions are:
Will the rice coal flow down the pvc pipe without using a auger?
will the rice coal stop flowing when the level in the hopper reaches the opening of the PVC?
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autofeed3.jpg
Last edited by syncmaster on Fri. May. 02, 2008 5:33 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Richard S.
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Post Fri. May. 02, 2008 4:43 pm

You'll need about a 45 degree angle, might work at less , check it with some coal. Damp coal will require more of pitch.

You'll also want to use a single piece, any obstruction such as joint can possibly stop it . A single piece of coal frozen on the chute can mean the difference between it flowing and coming to a complete halt when you get around the angle that it will stop at.

Aluminum, stainless steel or terra cotta can also be used.
syncmaster wrote:will the rice coal stop flowing when the level in the hopper reaches the opening of the PVC?
I don't know what you mean, but you can figure that anything at a 45 degree angle from the opening is not going to go into the pipe.

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Freddy
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Post Fri. May. 02, 2008 5:38 pm

syncmaster wrote:
"will the rice coal stop flowing when the level in the hopper reaches the opening of the PVC?"

I think whats he's asking is.... when the level of coal in the hopper drops from use, will coal flow to refill the hopper, then stop without overflowing?

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Richard S.
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Post Fri. May. 02, 2008 6:20 pm

It will stop dead. You need quite a bit pressure to move it sideways. Probably work even if the pipe was vertical. Just make sure the pipe extends into the hopper far enough.


mike
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Post Fri. May. 02, 2008 7:02 pm

I think it would work too. The only bug is going to be when you fill the outside hopper. If the coal coming in that hopper is coming out of, say a hi lift, it might have just enough umph behind it to over fill the stokers hopper.

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Freddy
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Post Fri. May. 02, 2008 8:09 pm

I think a "shut off gate" wouldn't be abad idea. Then you could shut it off while filling the outdoor bin, or to let the indoor empty for cleaning or whatever. I wonder if 6" PVC would be better?

syncmaster
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Post Sat. May. 03, 2008 8:56 am

Yes a way to shut off the flow would be nice.
I am thinking about using a section of 6" SS chimney pipe.
do they make them in 4ft sections?

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gambler
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Post Sat. May. 03, 2008 12:05 pm

Damp or wet coal will not flow down a 4" pvc pipe unless it is at an extreme angle. Even dry rice coal will have a tendency to clog up in a 4" pipe. I put my coal into my basement bin by using a chute and the first thing that I tried was 4" pvc and with wet coal it did not work. I then tried 6" and not much more success. The rice coal seemed to want to pack into the pipe and stop flow. I ended up building a chute that is 12" wide and with the extra width it seems the rice coal is able to spread out and flow. You can give the 4" pvc a try but I think that even if the rive coal is dry and it does flow down the pvc and fill the hopper on the boiler (it will stop flowing when hopper is full) the next time the coal is required to flow down the pipe it will be jammed up and not flow.


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Richard S.
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Post Sat. May. 03, 2008 5:44 pm

gambler wrote:Damp or wet coal will not flow down a 4" pvc pipe unless it is at an extreme angle..
45 degrees is plenty for aluminum so I'm basing my recommendation on that. However aluminum is more slippery, Terra cotta pipe is probably better than PVC, size of coal is imporatant too. Nut will go down any surface at 45 even if it was sandpaper. ;) Even the cleanliness makes a difference. :lol: Really.

As far as the shut off gate goes you can do that but even a bunch of crumpled up newspapers should work after initial shot of coal is piled against them. Might be an issue getting them in there if bin is full.

syncmaster , what I would do if I was going to build this is not make it final until I had it working. The other thing not mentioned is if this is outside the wet coal will freeze. I'd suggest getting your coal delivered in the spring or early summer and make sure the bin is ventilated so it can dry out. Rice inside a structure will take a while to dry out.

syncmaster
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Post Sun. May. 04, 2008 7:09 am

Thanks for all your suggestions,
Gambler: are you saying you did this and ended up with a 12" chute?
was that a 12"square or 12"round?
did you do it so in exteneded into the coal boiler hopper so it automaticly flowed in the boiler hopper as the coal was used up?

I also thought that there will be times when it won't flow down and I was thinking about bolting a vibrating sander to the chute and installing a photo eye shooting a light across the boiler hopper.
when the feed is working the photo-cell will be buried in coal and won't see the light, but when the feed is not flowing and filling the boiler hopper the photo-cell will not be covered in coal and will see the light, that will energize the vibrating sander, which will shake the chute and coax the rice coal to flow. when the rice coal flows again it will fill the boiler hopper and that will shutoff the vibrating sander.
I think this system will work fine when the upper coal bin is full but as the coal is used you will see a hole forming in the coal of the upper coal bin. and over time you will eventually have to use a shovel to coax the coal over in the upper bin to fill the hole.
( this is still alot better than shoveling coal into a bucket and pouring it into to boiler hopper)
The noise from the vibrating sander is a good warning to you that the autofeed system need some attention.
when the upper bin is first filled you will probly never hear the vibrating sander running.
as the upper bin coal hole starts form, the vibrating sander will turn on more often, indicating it is time to attend the upper bin with a shovel to fill the coal hole.

I apprecate the input from you guys.... now I know 4" is to small a chute and order the rice coal to fill the upper bin in the summer so it is dryer.
please keep the suggestion coming.

the one thing that keeps me going on this, is the thought of paying $4.00 a gallon for heating oil and making the far east terrorist countries RICH. Making the enemy rich really urks me!
If we can figure out how to make it more convenient to heat with an american fuel (coal) in american made stoves/boilers and keep the money in america..... then we will be doing a really great thing.
Keep working those brains!!!

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gambler
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Post Sun. May. 04, 2008 9:42 am

syncmaster wrote:Thanks for all your suggestions,
Gambler: are you saying you did this and ended up with a 12" chute?
was that a 12"square or 12"round?
did you do it so in exteneded into the coal boiler hopper so it automaticly flowed in the boiler hopper as the coal was used up?
I use this chute to fill my coal bin that is in my basement. The chute is 12" wide by 4" high and mine is not a permanent install so the top is open. Around here there are no actual coal delivery trucks so I get mine delivered in a dump truck and I have it dumped onto a poly tarp that is on the ground. When I put my chute in place it extends out from the basement wall and I have a plastic tote with an 8" hole in the bottom that I attached legs to that is place over the extended chute. I use a 5 gal bucket as a shovel and dump the bucket of coal into the plastic tote this way more than one person can shovel and dump quickly into the tote and prevent spilling of the coal around a 12" chute. I built my chute out of wood and lined it with metal flashing and when it is in place it is on a 41 degree angle. As I had said I tried the 4" pipe at first but all it did was get clogged up. Last fall when I put my coal into my bin it had rained for a couple of days and was raining hard on the day I was putting it in and even the sopping wet rice coal flowed down the 12x4 chute with out any problems.

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e.alleg
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Post Sat. May. 10, 2008 11:31 pm

That is a great idea! Instead of a pipe I would use tin ductwork, like a 8"x16" size will do. Reinforce it with 2x4's or something so it doesn't collapse but you will have built basically a huge hopper.

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Richard S.
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Post Sun. May. 11, 2008 5:21 am

Sheet metal other than aluminum or stainless will not last that long, it will corrode fairly quickly. The corrosion will also make it become non slippery so the coal won't flow after a while.

One other thing I've seen a homeowner use that worked fairly well was thin plastic sheeting like vinyl siding except it didn't have the ridges.

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