Anthracite or Bituminous? Help!

eebant
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Post Mon. Feb. 25, 2008 11:17 pm

I have an older Vermont Casting coal stove that I can't, for the life of me, get the coal to stay lit. Friends who have used coal stoves have come over determined to get this one lit and have thus far, failed. The stove came with the house so I don't have the original manual, just one downloaded from the web which is for a newer model.

I'm using anthracite coal and it's just not working. Yes, I have bought "fresh" coal too. In the newer manual, it states that the stoves are manufactured to burn bituminous coal and that the dealer can upgrade that to burn anthracite. Aside from having a dealer (a good 30 miles away) come over to check it out, what do I look for to determine which coal to use? What change did they make to upgrade it to use bituminous?

Thanks so much!

Jeanne


eebant
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Post Mon. Feb. 25, 2008 11:18 pm

Okay, make that upgrade to use anthracite. Sorry about that!

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LsFarm
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Post Tue. Feb. 26, 2008 12:21 am

Hello, welcome to the forum,

What are you doing, what is your proceedure to start a coal fire?? Are you getting the coal to start, and it won't stay burning? Have you read some of the threads on here about how to burn anthracite??

the most likely thing you are doing is not providing enough air to the coal bed from UNDER the coal.. ALL the air to an anthracite fire must come through the fire from underneath.. from the ashpan area only.. Close all air vents letting air in above the fire.. and open and leave open any manual dampers in the chimney.

Is the chimney clean, were you burning wood for awhile before trying to burn coal?? You must have a good reliable draft trom a clean chimney to burn coal..

When you establish a coal fire, make the coal bed as deep as possible, you control the heat from a coal fire by controling the intake air. Not by the quantity of fuel like with a wood fire.

Hope this makes sense and helps..
greg L

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Berlin
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Post Tue. Feb. 26, 2008 3:02 am

there is a little plate under the stove that allows more air for burning anthracite when removed, I haven't seen a vigilant in a while so I can't with great accuracy tell you where to look, but if I remember correctly, where the air inlet is there is sometimes a restrictor plate held on with a screw that prevents enough air from coming in to burn anth. coal. that's the only difference.

eebant
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Post Tue. Feb. 26, 2008 8:47 am

Thank you for the responses. I'm letting as much air as possible in with the draft wide open (on this model, it's either completely open or completely closed. There's no middle of the road.), the thermostat flap open, and also the smaller air hole vent on the side open. There isn't a separate ash pan door.

The chimney was cleaned a few weeks ago and it has excellent draft.

The coal will light and I'll get that good snap, crackle, and pop with it, plus that wonderful dancing blue flame, it just won't stay lit. Adding another layer on top of the coal just seems to smother it.

I've read just about every posting on the internet about how to light a coal fire and tried them all. Nothing has worked.
I'll take a few pictures of it later on when it lightens up some and post them here. Maybe there's something obvious that you'll be able to see that I'm missing.

Jeanne

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coaledsweat
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Post Tue. Feb. 26, 2008 9:21 am

Does this stove have a shaker grate? If not, it will not burn anthracite.
If it has a shaker grate, be sure there is no air coming into the unit above the shaker grate. All the air to the fire MUST come from below.

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tvb
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Post Tue. Feb. 26, 2008 9:26 am

also the smaller air hole vent on the side open
That's your problem - the secondary air vent needs to be closed.

The main air vent for anthracite is on the back towards the lower left. You'll need to remove the shaker grates to access it; it removes with a screw or two.

Also, there are three sliding metal sliding plates on the bottom of the stove. They are cleanout covers, You'll want clean behind them as flyash can really accumulate in there. And finally reach into the thermostat flap entrance to remove any old coal or debris that may have accumulated in there. Once a month or so I stick the vacuum hose in there.

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LsFarm
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Post Tue. Feb. 26, 2008 9:31 am

Take a close look at the air routing from the air inlet vents, both manual and the automatic one... I've never heard of an 'all or nothing' air vent..

The fact that it doesn't have a separate ashpan door means that it is a compromised design... but it should be able to be made to work, providing it IS a coal burning stove. Check for the shaker grate that coaledsweat mentioned.

So trace the airways from the vent inlets to where it will get to the fire.. If there is anyway for the air to get above the fire, close it. ANY above the fire air will starve the fire... Coal just will NOT burn with it's air supply from above... wood will, but coal.. the fire will just go out.

Greg L


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Devil505
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Post Tue. Feb. 26, 2008 9:35 am

Coaledsweat has a good point....Are you sure that particular stove is set up to burn coal? (ie shaker grates, ash pan & primary air inlet below the coal bed?)

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coaledsweat
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Post Tue. Feb. 26, 2008 9:40 am

Without the shaker, you can only burn wood and bituminous coal.

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LsFarm
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Post Tue. Feb. 26, 2008 10:17 am

Thanks tvb, is this stove the same model as your current one?? Thanks for helping with this person's burning problems. Can you take and post any photos to help?

Greg L

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tvb
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Post Tue. Feb. 26, 2008 10:35 am

It is the same model from what I can tell. Because it was sold as a multi-fuel stove, it has some accomodations for wood burning which really can screw up the burning of coal - namely that secondary air vent on the side. It brings air in above the fire and as you write, coal won't burn with that. I'll take a couple photos to show that air inlet.

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tvb
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Post Tue. Feb. 26, 2008 10:51 am

air inlet.jpg
Assuming I uploaded the photo correctly, the secondary air inlet must be closed to burn coal. That's the blue flap on the side of the stove. She mentioned having it open. It's used only when burning wood. There have been times where I couldn't figure out why my fire was dying only to discover that I accidently knocked that open a bit.

The coal air inlet is the little flapper thing on the back. It's connected to a bimetallic thermostat that should automatically adjust the amount of air going in according to temp. In my situation, it broke so I simply adjust it by hand according to my needs. The silver messy looking thing is an outside air vent going to the window next to the stove that I rigged up with dryer vent. I find it does a better job for me than using ambient air in the room.

eebant
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Post Tue. Feb. 26, 2008 11:56 am

Wow, again, thank you for all the responses. I'm going to forget things here and will probably have to post a few times.

Yes, it does have grates and a shaker. I did check the thermostat alleyway and it was clean.

I don't think this stove was compromised. It just looks to be VC's original Vigilant Parlor Stove.

I replaced the top gasket so no air gets in from the top. I realized that needed replacing after the first time I tried to light it! I didn't replace the door gasket yet as I didn't think that was the most important. This stove has a front screen (removable like a fireplace screen) to use with the doors open. I've tried it a few times with the hopes to get the coals burning after they were going out. It didn't help.

The air control must be the problem. That picture above is it! Since it was on the lower side, I thought it would draw air in through the bottom and have left it open. I have it closed now and will try it again. I'll let you know how it goes

Thank you all so much!

Jeanne

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Rob R.
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Post Wed. Feb. 27, 2008 8:20 am

Trying to burn coal with the front doors open isn't going to help. Instead of pulling air through the coal bed, you pull it through the doors and up the chimney.

You are on the right track with the gaskets, get the stove sealed up the best you can. Every leak you correct will help get a good draft through the coal.

What are you using to start your coal fire? Wood? Charcoal? It is important to get a good hot fire going before you try and add coal. I prefer to use newspaper and some small kindling because it helps warm my chimney and start a good draft.

There are lots of threads on how to start a coal fire in the hand-fed stove section of this forum. There are also some decent guides on other websites, a quick good search brought this one up:
**Broken Link(s) Removed**


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