New DS Aqua-Gem

 
nickdearing88
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Posts: 47
Joined: Thu. Nov. 23, 2017 3:11 pm
Location: NW PA
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: DS AquaGem 1100
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak bulk pea/nut
Other Heating: LP Boiler

Post by nickdearing88 » Mon. Oct. 22, 2018 10:43 am

Hi everyone.

I started my second coal fire on 10/19 in the evening, pea coal again. I spent a lot of time in the basement, observing and documenting, but not touching the fire. After making it through the next day with a high about 60F and little to no demand for heat, things got easier; the DHW demands help. The next few days have been cooler, with 40'sF highs and 30'sF lows. The firebox easily holds 80 lbs of pea to the bottom of the loading door, but I can fit about 100 lbs if I bank it from back to front. It's been going 18 hours easily, without tending. I'm very glad I bought some pea coal this year because I don't think I could have slowed down the boiler enough with nut, but haven't tested nut yet.

I've been playing around with the MPD after getting the new CO detectors installed. What a way to save coal and slow the boiler down even more! I have a lot of draft but both DS and my coal dealer suggested I start with an MPD before looking into a barro. Because of the low demand, and my over-sufficient draft, I've been using the MPD nearly fully closed with OAT 40's or below and about 45 deg angle OAT upper 40's/50's. I'm also on a hill with little obstruction from trees, etc and it's usually fairly windy. No out-fire, low draft, or CO issues so far. *Before anyone starts a fight about dampers, I've read all 24 pages of the differences, risks, and pros/cons for each. I'm just stating what was suggested by the manufacturer and what I'm testing. Personally I believe both have their place, but I've only used a barro with an oil boiler and only a MPD with solid fuels over the years. I will most likely end up with a combo down the road.*

I've also been playing with the Sampson regulator. My boiler has two air inlet flaps about 3"x 4" oval. The Sampson reg is connected to the front most inlet. The rear inlet has a restriction on the inside of the ashpan cabinet, reducing it to about half-dollar size. I keep a paperclip on the rear (reduced) inlet flap, and with only that, I've been maintaining a perfectly low, idle fire, that doesn't overshoot my max water temp of ~190F! I did notice there is about a 1/4" square area for air to enter at the shaker handle, but this is still so little air -- it seems amazing to me, I might not need the paperclip. I have the Sampson reg set to about 80C/176F and it begins to open about 160F and shuts about 170F. With the MPD shut, this seems to create a very nice, slow ramp up and down of the fire, and resulting in little over/under shooting of my target water temps. Amazing to me.....!

I've been shaking/reloading about every 12 hours but have been pushing it to 18 hours, adjusting my schedule around work. Someone is almost always home at my house, so it helps to have others to help keep their eye on things, without having to worry. I shake gingerly because the DS grates lack the center bar, like the Hitzer stoves; I don't want to dump the live pea coals. I would rather shake more often, because it seems to improve efficiency and keeps ash under control. I was worried there wasn't enough ash, but I have glowing, burning coal on the grates after shakedown -- it's just burning so much more slowly than I'm used to. Last night I poked from the top to make sure there wasn't gaps. The coal bed was solid and didn't take much new coal, about 25 lbs. This morning, the fire was in great shape, and little ash again before a nice bright glow. Either I'm impressed by a proper appliance designed to burn anthracite, or the pea coal vs nut coal!

Here are some pictures of the install. I'll get a coal fire picture after I shake and reload later today.

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Rob R.
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Location: Chazy, NY
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Post by Rob R. » Mon. Oct. 22, 2018 12:22 pm

Nice looking boiler. Sounds like you are getting the hang of it.

I have a few other comments that will probably seem critical, but I simply want you to be aware of two potential safety issues.

1. The pressure relief valve should have a pipe extending down towards the floor, and it should terminate about 1-2' from the floor.

2. Make sure you have a functional dump zone, and that the pex tubing is well supported. The reason is that in the event the boiler gets a lot warmer than intended, the pex connected to the boiler will become very limp, and if things get hot enough, the pex can fail. It is a good idea to have the first few feet of piping around the boiler made of black iron or copper. That goes for the dump zone piping as well.

 
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McGiever
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Posts: 8080
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Location: Junction of PA-OH-WV
Stoker Coal Boiler: AXEMAN-ANDERSON 130 "1959"
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: BUCKET A DAY water heater
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Warm Morning 414A
Coal Size/Type: RICE,PEA,NUT,STOVE /ANTHRACITE and EGG / BIT
Other Heating: Ground Source Heat Pump and some Solar

Post by McGiever » Mon. Oct. 22, 2018 1:12 pm

X2 on what *RobR* said.

Boilers can get hotter than what we planned them to get on occasion.

 
nickdearing88
Member
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu. Nov. 23, 2017 3:11 pm
Location: NW PA
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: DS AquaGem 1100
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak bulk pea/nut
Other Heating: LP Boiler

Post by nickdearing88 » Mon. Oct. 22, 2018 7:13 pm

Thanks, I'm looking forward to playing and learning this winter!

1) Is now done, it wasn't in the picture.

2) I have an high-limit aquastat (@ 190F) on the primary loop that connects to a circulator relay, attached to some fin-tube baseboard, that also gravity feeds during a power outage. The whole system and circs are on a battery backup/inverter system also.

I have a background in hydronics so I was pretty comfortable with the plumbing and control end. The solid fuel boiler and Samson regulator are new to me.
Rob R. wrote:
Mon. Oct. 22, 2018 12:22 pm
Nice looking boiler. Sounds like you are getting the hang of it.

I have a few other comments that will probably seem critical, but I simply want you to be aware of two potential safety issues.

1. The pressure relief valve should have a pipe extending down towards the floor, and it should terminate about 1-2' from the floor.

2. Make sure you have a functional dump zone, and that the pex tubing is well supported. The reason is that in the event the boiler gets a lot warmer than intended, the pex connected to the boiler will become very limp, and if things get hot enough, the pex can fail. It is a good idea to have the first few feet of piping around the boiler made of black iron or copper. That goes for the dump zone piping as well.


 
nickdearing88
Member
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu. Nov. 23, 2017 3:11 pm
Location: NW PA
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: DS AquaGem 1100
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak bulk pea/nut
Other Heating: LP Boiler

Post by nickdearing88 » Mon. Oct. 22, 2018 7:15 pm

Yes, and I'll likely add a buffer tank in the future if I burn more wood. It's 27 gallon capacity has made it pretty easy to control with coal....so far. I expected this, with my first solid fuel boiler, and I've been keeping a close eye on water temps. Especially during this low demand weather and while increasing the fire during shaking/reloading!
McGiever wrote:
Mon. Oct. 22, 2018 1:12 pm
X2 on what *RobR* said.

Boilers can get hotter than what we planned them to get on occasion.

 
Rob R.
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Posts: 13567
Joined: Fri. Dec. 28, 2007 4:26 pm
Location: Chazy, NY
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Post by Rob R. » Mon. Oct. 22, 2018 7:19 pm

Glad to hear you have the PRV downpipe and controls in order.

Stay away from wood unless you can work the boiler hard...otherwise it will be creosote city.

 
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bcdex
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Hand Fed Coal Boiler: DS 100 Coal/Wood bolier

Post by bcdex » Sun. Nov. 11, 2018 8:56 pm

Nick, no fire brick needed.
Dex

 
nickdearing88
Member
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu. Nov. 23, 2017 3:11 pm
Location: NW PA
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: DS AquaGem 1100
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak bulk pea/nut
Other Heating: LP Boiler

Post by nickdearing88 » Mon. Nov. 19, 2018 12:37 pm

I promised a coal burning picture but forgot about it! This was taken while loading up a new fire the other day.

I've attached the still version and a link to my Google Photos with the live action shot. This is mainly pea with a little nut mixed in.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/BheHSLwGRQYi29gT9

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MVIMG_20181115_185123.jpg
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bcdex
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Hand Fed Coal Boiler: DS 100 Coal/Wood bolier

Post by bcdex » Sun. Dec. 02, 2018 12:36 pm

Nick, When your fire looks like this do you shut everything down or wait till the flames stop?
On my DS 1100, when it looks like your picture I shut down the spinner on the door all the way so there is nothing open but the two air intakes on the bottom with chain. I get over 12 hr. burn doing it this way.
I found out that if I put a paper clip on the back air intake, on the chain, that one will let just enough air in to keep the coal burning at a idle till it calls for more air then it opens up again. Now I place the clip at the bottom of the flap. If I don't use a paperclip, sometimes my fire goes out because the boiler is so air tight and I love it that way.

 
nickdearing88
Member
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu. Nov. 23, 2017 3:11 pm
Location: NW PA
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: DS AquaGem 1100
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak bulk pea/nut
Other Heating: LP Boiler

Post by nickdearing88 » Wed. Dec. 05, 2018 7:17 pm

bcdex wrote:
Sun. Dec. 02, 2018 12:36 pm
Nick, When your fire looks like this do you shut everything down or wait till the flames stop?
On my DS 1100, when it looks like your picture I shut down the spinner on the door all the way so there is nothing open but the two air intakes on the bottom with chain. I get over 12 hr. burn doing it this way.
I found out that if I put a paper clip on the back air intake, on the chain, that one will let just enough air in to keep the coal burning at a idle till it calls for more air then it opens up again. Now I place the clip at the bottom of the flap. If I don't use a paperclip, sometimes my fire goes out because the boiler is so air tight and I love it that way.
@bcdex I try to "rev" it up as little as possible when servicing and starting a new fire. I just gave it some air for a better picture. My goal this first season is to see both how efficiently I burn and how low I can modulate the fire. So far, I can idle the boiler with pea coal and MPD to about 15,000 BTU/H input -- that's pretty amazing to me for a hand-fired, natural draft boiler rated at 100,000 BTU/H.

I've been always leaving the door spinner open about 1/16" to prevent puff backs during re-loads. I open it more when adding fresh coal and close it a bit after 30 minutes. So far, this has eliminated the puff-back issue. The secondary air inlet at the top is always closed while burning coal, but I do use it for wood.

I also use a paperclip on the smaller, rear air inlet door. There is also a small opening I discovered near the shaker handle, about 3/8" square. I've been experimenting with removing the paperclip to see if I can go even lower with the fire.

There have been a few mishaps this first season, but overall, it's been a pleasant learning experience.

 
scottybk
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Post by scottybk » Mon. Jan. 28, 2019 8:31 pm

Nick, glad to hear you're happy w/ the Aqua Gem. I'm seriously considering a model 3200 (the next size up from yours), which will be located in a 3 story 1500 square foot outbuilding about 40 feet from my house, and will heat the outbuilding and also be piped with Thermopex (underground) to heat the 2000 square foot house, all w/ baseboard hot water. I got a quote today for about $4200 for the boiler itself, and an extra 350 for the draft blower, $300 extra for the HW coil, and $300 for the boiler jacket. Delivery is also $300.

I'm probably going to get the draft fan option and maybe add the HW coil down the road. I don't care much about the insulation jacket since the "waste" heat from the boiler will help heat the 2nd and 3rd floors of the outbuilding.

I thought $4150 for the 3200 model boiler is a damn good price, a new Keystoker with the same BTU output is almost double the cost, and I've been running small woodstove-type hand fired stoves as my only heat source for almost 10 years so I don't mind tending a stove, but others here think I'm nuts for not getting an automatic stoker. I just feel more comfortable with a hand fired and a lot less parts to break and wear out etc.

What water temp are you averaging in your boiler? Have you had it overfire and use the dump zone yet?

 
Jlinde37
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Joined: Sat. Jan. 06, 2018 9:40 am
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Jensen 20a
Coal Size/Type: Nut
Other Heating: Wood

Post by Jlinde37 » Mon. Sep. 09, 2019 5:27 pm

Not trying to hijack this thread but I recently purchased a 2 year old ds3200 for 900$ just wondered how you like yours? My current boiler is an old jensen multi fuel and I was never able to get heat transfer to the water when using coal.
Thanks, Josh

 
Evelyn Harper
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