The Van Wert VA600 Project

Stoker Coal Boilers automatically feed the coal and have controls and pumps just like any conventions boiler. They are intended to be used as a primary heat and often have domestic hot water coils as an added bonus. They can be set up independently or in dual sytem with your existing oil/gas boiler. They can accommodate both hot water base board or steam plumbing.
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StokerDon
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Posts: 3254
Joined: Mon. Nov. 11, 2013 11:17 am
Stoker Coal Boiler: BairMatic BMC-500 with Van Wert VA400 Stoker, Gentleman Janitor GJ-671/EFM S-15 stoker, Van Wert VA-600
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Harman SF3500
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Noth'in but COAL! Well, Maybe a little tiny bit of wood
Location: PA, Southern York County!

Post Fri. Jul. 07, 2017 10:03 pm

Rob R. wrote:Maybe on a cold start with no draft, but certainly not at operating temperature.
lsayre wrote:Is that normal?
The gas path on a Van Wert is very different than most boilers. It goes right passed the fire door, so, yes, I believe this is normal. Even with a good draft the hottest gasses are going right passed the fire door. That's probably why the fire door is bolted on rather than hinged. There is no opening or baffle in the back of the boiler fire box, the opening is at the front.

-Don
There are few problems in life that cannot be solved by lighting something on fire.

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StokerDon
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Posts: 3254
Joined: Mon. Nov. 11, 2013 11:17 am
Stoker Coal Boiler: BairMatic BMC-500 with Van Wert VA400 Stoker, Gentleman Janitor GJ-671/EFM S-15 stoker, Van Wert VA-600
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Harman SF3500
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Noth'in but COAL! Well, Maybe a little tiny bit of wood
Location: PA, Southern York County!

Post Fri. Jul. 07, 2017 10:22 pm

We are back on coal fired DHW again!
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We had a strange failure. I don't know when this happened, could have been a week ago, who knows? This afternoon, I was relaxing trying to recover after working on this thing for a week strait. I happened to notice that I never heard it kick on for a timer cycle.

I went down stairs, flicked the switch on the side of the timer, nothing happened. The switch shorts the T T terminals on the timer running the stoker if the temp is below the HI limit. I pulled the cover off of the timer and the contactor part of the relay had come off in pieces!
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Lucky for me I had an old aquastat that I had robbed some parts from and it has the same relay in it.
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Stuck the good contactor on the relay, turned the power back on, good as new!
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-Don
There are few problems in life that cannot be solved by lighting something on fire.

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hotblast1357
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Posts: 2685
Joined: Mon. Mar. 10, 2014 10:06 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1984 Eshland S260 coal gun
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh anthracite pea
Other Heating: oil furnace
Location: Peasleeville, NY

Post Sat. Jul. 08, 2017 5:38 am

Very nice don! Looking sharp, will be interesting to see how much coal this one sips.

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lsayre
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Posts: 12232
Joined: Wed. Nov. 23, 2005 9:17 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (13.5 KW)
Location: N/E Ohio, between Medina and Wadsworth

Post Sat. Jul. 08, 2017 6:15 am

Which VA600 did you install? The first one you came across, or the second one?
-Larry

Democracy rests upon the principle that collective wisdom arises from a pool of individual ignorance. A Republic rests squarely upon objective law, and fundamentally upon those laws which restrict the scope and actions of government.

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Rob R.
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Posts: 11354
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 Sat. Jul. 08, 2017 6:26 am

StokerDon wrote:
Rob R. wrote:Maybe on a cold start with no draft, but certainly not at operating temperature.
lsayre wrote:Is that normal?
The gas path on a Van Wert is very different than most boilers. It goes right passed the fire door, so, yes, I believe this is normal. Even with a good draft the hottest gasses are going right passed the fire door. That's probably why the fire door is bolted on rather than hinged. There is no opening or baffle in the back of the boiler fire box, the opening is at the front.

-Don
Pretty sure it says right in the manual that it should suck a match flame through that hole in the door when it is running. Check your draft, the firebox should be negative when the stoker is running.

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StokerDon
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Posts: 3254
Joined: Mon. Nov. 11, 2013 11:17 am
Stoker Coal Boiler: BairMatic BMC-500 with Van Wert VA400 Stoker, Gentleman Janitor GJ-671/EFM S-15 stoker, Van Wert VA-600
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Harman SF3500
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Noth'in but COAL! Well, Maybe a little tiny bit of wood
Location: PA, Southern York County!

Post Sat. Jul. 08, 2017 10:42 am

The chimney has a draft, so with the fire door closed I'm sure it would slightly suck a flame into the peep hole. My point is, this boiler does not work like a Keystoker, Yellow Flame, EFM, Losch or BairMaitic. If you open the fire door when there is a full fire going you get a whole lot of heat and some exhaust out of it.

Think of it this way, most coal boilers the fire box has a door on the front and the exhaust goes out through a set of baffles in the back at the opposite end of the fire door. If you open the fire door, air is drawn into the fire box through the opening.

The Van Wert fire box does not have any openings in the back or the sides. All the exhaust goes through a vertical slot at the front of the fire box near the fire door passing between the 2 front boiler walls where the fire door is located. If you open the fire door at full fire exhaust will be drawn into the inner boiler wall fire door opening because that is the easiest way for it to get out. This will cause a lot of heat and some exhaust to come out of the fire door.

I love to watch the coal stoker flames so I have had the fire door open on other boilers. With this one it was very obvious to me that a lot more heat comes out of the fire door than any other boiler I have seen.

-Don
There are few problems in life that cannot be solved by lighting something on fire.

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StokerDon
Site Moderator
Posts: 3254
Joined: Mon. Nov. 11, 2013 11:17 am
Stoker Coal Boiler: BairMatic BMC-500 with Van Wert VA400 Stoker, Gentleman Janitor GJ-671/EFM S-15 stoker, Van Wert VA-600
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Harman SF3500
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Noth'in but COAL! Well, Maybe a little tiny bit of wood
Location: PA, Southern York County!

Post Sat. Jul. 08, 2017 10:52 am

lsayre wrote:Which VA600 did you install? The first one you came across, or the second one?
This is the first one. The second one is patiently waiting for me to come up with a plan for it.
Another VA-600 Project

-Don
There are few problems in life that cannot be solved by lighting something on fire.

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Rob R.
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Posts: 11354
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 Sat. Jul. 08, 2017 12:10 pm

Don, I am on the same page now. My EFM is the same way. The old round door boilers would run all day with the door open, but that big square door on mine will let flue gasses escape when it is open.

Boiler looks great. How did the boiler sealer do?

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StokerDon
Site Moderator
Posts: 3254
Joined: Mon. Nov. 11, 2013 11:17 am
Stoker Coal Boiler: BairMatic BMC-500 with Van Wert VA400 Stoker, Gentleman Janitor GJ-671/EFM S-15 stoker, Van Wert VA-600
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Harman SF3500
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Noth'in but COAL! Well, Maybe a little tiny bit of wood
Location: PA, Southern York County!

Post Sat. Jul. 08, 2017 12:41 pm

Thanks Rob!

I saw a drip last night, but nothing since then. I just returned the system to normal, 14 PSI, HI = 155, LO = 130, series loop valved off, bypass valved on, pump controlled by aquastat. I ran 28 PSI through a series loop with the pump forced on at 180 degrees for about 24 hours.

Once the boiler cools down to normal I will have a good look at it. As you know, cooler boiler temps are when leaks show up.

-Don
There are few problems in life that cannot be solved by lighting something on fire.

User avatar
StokerDon
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Posts: 3254
Joined: Mon. Nov. 11, 2013 11:17 am
Stoker Coal Boiler: BairMatic BMC-500 with Van Wert VA400 Stoker, Gentleman Janitor GJ-671/EFM S-15 stoker, Van Wert VA-600
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Harman SF3500
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Noth'in but COAL! Well, Maybe a little tiny bit of wood
Location: PA, Southern York County!

Post Sun. Jul. 09, 2017 9:25 pm

The meter is running!

3310.4
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2 days worth of ash. We are just gonna leave it til next week.
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The leak is all sealed up. That Hercules Boiler Liquid sealer has saved my be-hind 3 times now.
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The feed pipe angle is different than the BairMatic was so the blocks that hold the barrel need to be stacked 2 high. We'll see how long this barrel full lasts.
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Some shots of the stoker. It's hard to see the stoker on this with the covers and being in the back.
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I made one improvement today, a fire view door!!!
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Current settings are:

Feed rate = 10 pounds per hour
Air = 4.5
LO limit = 130
HI limit = 170
DIFF = 10

I bumped the HI limit up to 170 because it was skipping a lot of timer cycles. With all this insulation on the boiler the temp stays up between 150 and 170.

I still have videos to up load, I will try to get them up this week. I shot a grate one through the fire view door that shows how the fire comes back from the dead.

Here's a link to the play list.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J02UuB161aU&index=5&list=PLFU8SaWNbzx-riP8MZ8iWJ4g1_hcLDsHI

-Don
There are few problems in life that cannot be solved by lighting something on fire.

User avatar
StokerDon
Site Moderator
Posts: 3254
Joined: Mon. Nov. 11, 2013 11:17 am
Stoker Coal Boiler: BairMatic BMC-500 with Van Wert VA400 Stoker, Gentleman Janitor GJ-671/EFM S-15 stoker, Van Wert VA-600
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Harman SF3500
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Noth'in but COAL! Well, Maybe a little tiny bit of wood
Location: PA, Southern York County!

Post Mon. Jul. 10, 2017 7:46 pm

OUTFIRE!!!

Well, this is the same type of stoker with exactly the same settings hooked to the same chimney as the BairMatic. I learned today that the boiler itself plays a roll in how the stoker runs.

This boiler puts a lot less heat into the chimney than the BairMatic did and I think that is a big part of the problem. After I re-lit it, the flue temp only got up to 350 degrees right before it shut down on the HI limit.
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The chimney draft only goes up to -.025. It was 90 degrees today though.
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I didn't check the timer before lighting up the VA-600. Turns out that it was set for 1 minute every hour. I don't think the VA-600 likes that. I bumped it up to 2.5 minutes every hour. If that doesn't work we will try 2 minutes every 30. I also bumped the HI limit up to 180 and lowered the air to 4.

Current settings are:

Feed rate = 10 pounds per hour
Air = 4.0
LO limit = 130
HI limit = 180
DIFF = 10
Timer = 2.5 minutes every hour

I got the 2 fire view door videos up loaded.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZHBT-mmNl8&index=18&list=PLFU8SaWNbzx-riP8MZ8iWJ4g1_hcLDsHI

Check out what happens at about 1:25 on the second video. The flame seems to come down from the top of the fire box to meet the coal.

-Don
There are few problems in life that cannot be solved by lighting something on fire.

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Rob R.
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Posts: 11354
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 Tue. Jul. 11, 2017 5:10 am

When in doubt, start with what the manufacture recommends.
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I think you would be able to run the low limit at 160 and be happy with the results, but that is something to try once the boiler is staying lit.

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StokerDon
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Posts: 3254
Joined: Mon. Nov. 11, 2013 11:17 am
Stoker Coal Boiler: BairMatic BMC-500 with Van Wert VA400 Stoker, Gentleman Janitor GJ-671/EFM S-15 stoker, Van Wert VA-600
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Harman SF3500
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Noth'in but COAL! Well, Maybe a little tiny bit of wood
Location: PA, Southern York County!

Post Tue. Jul. 11, 2017 8:37 pm

Thanks for the advice Rob!

I got up this morning, heard the stoker kick on for a DHW call, went downstairs to see how it was doing. The fire was out, again.

This evening when I got home from work I re-lit it, set the timer for 1.5 minutes every 30, LO limit = 160, and HI limit = 190. With all the PEX in my system I'm not very comfortable with temps over 180 so I compromised. We'll see how this goes.

Current settings are:

Feed rate = 10 pounds per hour
Air = 4.0
LO limit = 160
HI limit = 190
DIFF = 10
Timer = 1.5 minutes every half hour

-Don
There are few problems in life that cannot be solved by lighting something on fire.

User avatar
Rob R.
Site Moderator
Posts: 11354
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 Tue. Jul. 11, 2017 9:19 pm

I have pex that has seen 200 on occasion for years. I do not think it is a problem, but I view 200 as the MAX. You may find that the boiler temperature coasts over the high limit a little, so I think you made a good choice by leaving a little room.

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hotblast1357
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Posts: 2685
Joined: Mon. Mar. 10, 2014 10:06 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1984 Eshland S260 coal gun
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh anthracite pea
Other Heating: oil furnace
Location: Peasleeville, NY

Post Tue. Jul. 11, 2017 9:51 pm

My New Yorker coasted at 195-200 all the time, BHS pex at badger insulated pipe is rated for 80 PSI at 200 degrees. Like rob said though, don't Cruze over it. But I would say 200 Is fine. Dump zone 205.

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