Home Made OWB to Coal Burner Newbie

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Post By: NEOhio » Mon. Feb. 16, 2015 11:42 am

Brand new to coal. I was hoping to get some basic help to understand what it takes to burn coal. In NE Ohio it cold as hell and I'm out of wood with little hope of getting more right now. We just got a small truckload of hard coal, about 1" pieces. I realize that the coal size and type makes a difference, as well as many other factors. Here is what my boiler is:

Home made OWB enclosed in an outdoor shed.
Fire box: 3' w x 3' h x 4' deep.
1/4 walls
8" outlet, 90° elbow, 3' horizontal run to thimble, cleanout tee, then 8' vertical run, and a cap on top
4 1/2" water jacket on three sides, and the top, I believe
Door has combustion fan controlled by aqua stat in water jacket, maintains water at 160-180°
Fan outlet is about 10" off the floor
no grating and no outlet dampers

We tried just putting coal onto a wide I-beam with slots cut in the bottom, about 10" off of the floor. Water won't go over 110°. I realize there is a lot more to figure out. And i'm sure most of you will say just go buy a different stove, but that is not an option this year.

I guess what I am trying to do is create a decent, although ad-hoc, coal bed, box, or chamber. I would imagine I need to install at least a MPD?

My first idea would be to take the 12" wide I-beam, put a bunch of 1/2" slots in it, put legs on it to get it up above fan, slope it towards the rear slightly, build 3-5" sideboards on it, and enclose the bottom legs to trap the air and force it through the bed of coals. Obviously grate shaking will be a manual process for now.

Any thoughts. Thanks.

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Post By: Snotzalot » Mon. Feb. 16, 2015 12:12 pm

What type of coal are you trying to bit Bit or Anthracite? Bit will almost burn like wood, the anthracite needs air coming up through grates under the coal. Also you need to start the fire with wood, once a nice bed of wood is burning you add the coal in layers, one layer at a time.

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Post By: windyhill4.2 » Mon. Feb. 16, 2015 12:27 pm

I would guess bit coal is the most logical choice for the stove you have.I am not familiar with burning bit,there are many on here that are knowledgeable about bit .I really do not see how you can burn anthracite in that stove,not without MAJOR mods to the stove itself. The only decent way would be to stick a coal stoker in the firebox,not sure how much money that would take.

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Post By: NEOhio » Mon. Feb. 16, 2015 12:44 pm

Anthracite. That's what I am going to try to do, make a coal bed apparatus to force air under the coal.

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Post By: coaledsweat » Mon. Feb. 16, 2015 3:12 pm

If you really want to do this you need to do your homework or you will be throwing away a lot of time and money. Study the design of anthracite appliances and use those ideas to apply to your project. First thing you need is shaker grates. They need to be reliable and jam free. There are repair kits for currently manufactured appliances, maybe you can find something to make it work. Next is all the air must go through those grates. A deep firebox is a must. You can't build a small coal fire, it just won't burn.
Personally, I recommend you sell your OWB and buy an appliance designed for anthracite. Reinventing something can more often than not, be an exercise in futility.

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Post By: franpipeman » Mon. Feb. 16, 2015 4:00 pm

believe coaledsweat, heating season would done before you get stabilized with a rube goldberg device( mouse trap game ), spending money on wood and then do your retrofit is the best I could recommend especially where the weather is today . For the coal there are tremendous machines already designed in and place. the futility idea coupled with $$$ is a serious one to consider. I think all who are commenting are very frugal also ( a virtue)

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