Cookin' With Coal

 
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lsayre
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Post by lsayre » Mon. Jun. 15, 2020 8:14 am

The glass windowed firedoor is an option.

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Hoytman
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Coal Size/Type: nut coal
Other Heating: electric, wood, oil

Post by Hoytman » Mon. Jun. 15, 2020 10:29 am

Would be easy enough in the Heco to put some bricks in the front to load more coal...just like I've done in my Hitzer 354, although, you're right, it isn't the best design for loading more coal. I think however, the idea is that modern day folks want to see the fire, and I would agree. I think most want to see the fire, but it could have been designed with that in mind and still been able to load more coal.

I here you with the 30 year longevity of the stove. Sort of surprised me as well. Then again, parts are more readily available...but if they're made heavy enough you won't need any parts. Right? Seems America has slipped away from offering superbly high quality items over marketing and future quick resale of a newer product.

One thing I don't like, as with the Country Charm cook stove from Schwartz Manufacturing that utilizes a Hitzer 55 type design for the heart of the stove, is the porcelain cook tops. To me, they it seems they simply will not hold up. My reasoning for that is look at every modern wood stove that offers a porcelain coating over the steel/cast and if it's more than 5 years old nearly everyone single one I have seen the porcelain begins to chip. Some of the Vermont Castings porcelain stoves I've seen have been horrifically chipped to the point of large patches of porcelain being gone. Perhaps that's because many are very rough on their stoves, or perhaps it's just not a good idea to begin with. That makes one think: What's the point of paying such a high cost for such a beautiful stove if the look won't last? They are just taking your money. I do have a theory on why this happens though, 2 points.

1. If you spend any time at all on youtube watching manufacturer wood stove videos nearly all of them want a you to start a quick and super hot fire as fast as possible. I think that is very hard on the stove, as well as any porcelain coatings, as it doesn't allow the stove to warm slowly and therefore expand at a much slower rate. They also like the quick hot fires because of less pollution on start up.

2. Hot/cold cycling of the stove. I don't think this helps the porcelain any at all. The constant cycling means constant expansion and contraction and I'm sure the porcelain doesn't like that and doesn't expand and contract like the steel/iron does, so eventually it pops off or chips.

So, that's why I'm not a fan of the porcelain topped stoves. Steel and cast iron have long ago proved their worth, ability to be virtually maintenance free, and their longevity.

Anytime you're moving pots and pans around on a stove top there's always a chance of scratching or chipping from setting a pot down too hard. Now, maybe it's more durable in that regard that I think it is, but I still think over time it's going to be horribly chipped and look terrible. Sort of defeats the purpose for me.

I am, however, excited to see a modern coal cook stove. Perhaps it is a sign of the times with a few folks and may indicate a brighter future for our choices, albeit not anytime soon. I doubt it, but it's possible I suppose.
Last edited by Hoytman on Tue. Jun. 16, 2020 10:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

 
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Sunny Boy
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Coal Size/Type: Nuts !
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Post by Sunny Boy » Mon. Jun. 15, 2020 12:03 pm

Yup, seeing the fire is wonderful. But again, another trade off for something else.

After a few times of only being able to go a week or two and then have the heat volume drop off as the firebed fills up with clinkers, they'll be cursing into that window when they are on their hands and knees trying to clear the firebed so they can get as much heat out of it as the first few days after cleaning it out and rebuilding the firebed. Then, like we often see they'll be on here asking why their supposed "coal stove" keeps clogging up with ash. And someone will be posting trying to explain to them why they don't have a real coal stove and what the differences are.

Like I said, design it the way the old timers did to do well with coal and it'll also do well with wood. The modern stove makers, in trying to reach a wider market say their stoves can also burn coal, seem to totally ignore real coal stove designs from the height of the coal era. Yes the enamel will get chipped. We see that on modern gas stoves with enameled parts. Even the enameled finish stoves of the 1920's and later used a plain cast iron cooktop. A simple change in the grate designs to triangular ones that can be rotated with a removable shaker handle, would make a major difference in ease of daily use.

Then, like the early stoves, add an accessory front panel and firebrick kit for the firebox so that the full depth of the firebox can be used, and lift-up lids over the firebox to refuel through when the door is blocked off. Then you'll have a refuel every 24 hour range instead of a 12 hour one.

Those simple changes would not add a lot to the production cost.

The other thing I don't care for is, like some of the ranges in that video, all those large handles sticking out in front. It's like whoever thought those up would never have to actually use it. Kinda the same like auto engineers who never have to work on the cars they design. :roll:

Paul

 
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Post by Hoytman » Mon. Jun. 15, 2020 1:36 pm

Sort of like the load door swinging open and the oven door opening downward into the way of a short woman. I don’t know of any women that don’t complain about modern stove ovens opening downward into their way of removing something from the oven. It’s hard on their backs. Heck, it’s hard on mine too. Just have the doors open to the sides....all of them. One to the left and one to the right. It would make things so much easier.

 
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Sunny Boy
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Post by Sunny Boy » Mon. Jun. 15, 2020 3:21 pm

Thing is, there are literally thousands of examples how to make a good, working coal range, and it wouldn't take a lot of expense to change the modern ones to work as well as those antiques.

Even many of the not-so-great antique coal ranges are better at coal than the new ones. But the modern range designers act like they never saw one.

Paul

 
Hoytman
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Post by Hoytman » Mon. Jun. 15, 2020 4:40 pm

Sunny Boy wrote:
Mon. Jun. 15, 2020 3:21 pm
Thing is, there are literally thousands of examples how to make a good, working coal range, and it wouldn't take a lot of expense to change the modern ones to work as well as those antiques.

Even many of the not-so-great antique coal ranges are better at coal than the new ones. But the modern range designers act like they never saw one.

Paul
They probably haven't. I'm nearing the half century mark (joy joy) and I've never actually seen one.

 
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Sunny Boy
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Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Anthracite Industrial, domestic hot water heater
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwood range 208, # 6 base heater, 2 Modern Oak 118.
Coal Size/Type: Nuts !
Other Heating: Oil &electric plenum furnace

Post by Sunny Boy » Mon. Jun. 15, 2020 5:27 pm

That's like saying I design cars for GM but I've never seen a Model T Ford. They only made about 15 million of them. :lol:

So, if modern stove makers never saw antique ranges, why are so many the same basic layout as the antique wood ranges ? :eh:

Paul

 
Hoytman
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Location: swOH near a little town where the homes are mobile and the cars aren’t
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 354
Coal Size/Type: nut coal
Other Heating: electric, wood, oil

Post by Hoytman » Mon. Jun. 15, 2020 6:29 pm

Sunny Boy wrote:
Mon. Jun. 15, 2020 5:27 pm
That's like saying I design cars for GM but I've never seen a Model T Ford. They only made about 15 million of them. :lol:

So, if modern stove makers never saw antique ranges, why are so many the same basic layout as the antique wood ranges ? :eh:

Paul
Coal cook stoves certainly aren’t as prevalent as cars are all over the country.

That Heco coal/wood cook stove was spear headed by Obadiah’s...in Montana. Hardly anthracite country and likely they don’t have much experience with the antique coal stoves. I’m guessing, of course. If a group of people would have any working knowledge of those antique coal stoves you would think it would be the Amish from anthracite areas, but even they haven’t caught on all the way with the old designs. Those folks are well aware of designs of 100 year old kerosene stoves because Schwartz Manufacturing in Indiana (Amish) builds parts for them and one of their workers said it took them awhile to figure out how they originally made the parts.

Are all those antiques the same basic design? Looks like they are. It’s the little things that go improved that likely sets one stove above another in design.

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Sunny Boy
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Coal Size/Type: Nuts !
Other Heating: Oil &electric plenum furnace

Post by Sunny Boy » Mon. Jun. 15, 2020 8:32 pm

When I saw my Glenwood range in a wood stove shop 15 years ago, and they said it was set up for coal, it only took me about 5 minutes on the internet to see a lot of info about them and even get an idea of value and how they worked to go back and make an offer on the price. And there are many of my generation and older still around that used them, if not still have them in use. My wife's family just being one example.

And yes, the internal layout is very universal. If you count Wilson's Glenwood, which is a true range and not just one of the earlier, simpler "cook stoves", it's been the basic design going back over 140 years. And like the Ford model T, they built many millions of them.

Most of the modern design ranges (and the Amish are not the only ones building them ) I've seen have copied that same firebox off to the side and exhaust path across under the cooktop and down around the oven sides up to the exit collar layout. But not the better cast iron coal grates, which as we know is the heart of any good coal stove. It's as if they only looked at the outside of antique ranges and never bothered to look at what makes them work so well.

Paul

 
Hoytman
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Post by Hoytman » Tue. Jun. 16, 2020 12:30 am

Sunny Boy wrote:
Mon. Jun. 15, 2020 8:32 pm
It's as if they only looked at the outside of antique ranges and never bothered to look at what makes them work so well.

Paul
That’s what I was trying to say. It does appear they only looked at the outside of the stoves only.

Other than pictures on this forum I haven’t seen a good coal cook stove in person, neither did my dad or either of my grandparents, one of which lived in coal country in eastern KY from 23 to 59. I doubt my family then could have afforded a nice Glenwood stove or the others that were more common farther East. I know they had a cheap wood cook stove and likely burned bituminous in it some in small amounts, I guess. Hard to say. Never heard Pap mention anything about coal cook stoves, or much about wood cook stoves of his youth. Warm Morning heat stoves were really common in that part of the country during the 40’s forward and many are still in use. I’m pretty sure any cook stove they had was likely wood and I’m not even sure if my grandpa knew anything of anthracite though he may have. He started in the mines at age 7 and ended up trucking coal with his own truck. I know I didn’t Know anything about anthracite until I joined the forum and if I did know of it from school I had forgotten it. It might be possible some modern stove designers haven’t looked at good, old, time tested cook stove designs designed for anthracite. I can’t really say. You would know better than I would.

 
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Sunny Boy
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Coal Size/Type: Nuts !
Other Heating: Oil &electric plenum furnace

Post by Sunny Boy » Tue. Jun. 16, 2020 9:11 am

One big difference, Bill ...... your not investing thousands into building stoves so you have no reason to look.

Back to the car analogy. If you were going to invest thousands into setting up to build a car, would you just copy it by only looking at the outside and parts of the exhaust system of other cars that have worked successfully for over 100 years ? Because that's what it seems like most modern stove builders who are claiming their wood stoves can also burn coal have done.

If you look at a lot of the antique stoves you'll see that the old timers figured it out and did just the opposite. They built stoves that were very good with coal and sold them to also burn wood. Even the later combo stoves were better with coal than most coal-claimed stove today.

Paul

 
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Post by Hoytman » Tue. Jun. 16, 2020 10:21 am

I don't think a manufacturer like Heco is trying to emulate any stove, they are trying to fill a need. The heart of the stove design appears to be similar to modern coal/wood stoves like Hitzer, DSM...with regard to firebox design.

I'm not disagreeing what the old timers did ( they even did it without modern technology and machinery as well... they were obviously superior thinkers ), nor arguing their coal stove were/are superior. Reading how much more superior they are on this forum, for me, would seem vastly different than actually experiencing how much more different they are...that assumes all of you guys that own and use them. The rest of us can only imagine that experience. So, how would a stove designer today know the benefits of such design? I'm not sure they would know. Sort of like people under 40 in the cities likely have no idea what it's like to drive a car without power brakes or power steering.

I'm a little confused because in ways it sounds like we're saying the same thing, just differently.

To me, the only way you're going to get a modern stove built to the standard of the older coal cook stoves (aside from being cost prohibitive by design because the castings would likely jack the prices through the roof) you're talking about, it's going to have to come out of the anthracite region in the east, or at least someone who is infatuated with old stoves, figuring out what made them tick, has went to school for design and engineering, and then wants to apply his knowledge to his interests. I am certain there's a name for a field of study in combustion of coal and/or wood, but I have no way of knowing if they study cook stove or the best "antique" coal design stoves. I think with each generation a lot of the history and what works gets lost in the shuffle or more modern ways of thinking and marketing...that being a driving factor...resale as well. Most thinking today is not to build something to last more than 30 years. They want to make money off of people more than once. Hard to do that building things to pass down to your 3rd great grandchildren. Few people want what many forum members want.

Anyway, I'm left a little confused by some of the discussion and you clearly have more working knowledge than me, so no use in me trying to figure out what has confused me.

 
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Sunny Boy
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Coal Size/Type: Nuts !
Other Heating: Oil &electric plenum furnace

Post by Sunny Boy » Tue. Jun. 16, 2020 12:15 pm

This is not the only place on the internet for in-depth info on coal stoves. There is far more on the internet about antique stoves than you might realize. Just go to You Tube and put "coal stove" in the search box. Then get comfortable because it will take you a long time to go through all the info just on that one site. Do the same with Google or any other search engine and you'll get lots of info.

Even the website for using wood ranges, old or new, links to this Cookin' With Coal thread. And I've reciprocated by linking to theirs. More sharing of knowledge.

There are plenty of places to learn about antique coal stoves for those willing to look. The info is out there, and has been for a long time. Only took me a few minutes 15 years ago to find out a lot about coal ranges when many of these modern ranges were not even being built. All that's needed is the will to want to learn the differences.

No, the price of modern ranges does not have to change much to work well with coal. As I said the main difference is the grates. And wood or coal they have to make grates, so it only involves some low-cost production changes, and not redesigning the whole stove.

With modern stoves they cast flat cast iron grates that don't fully rotate to breakup and dump clinkers. They shake, but they don't clear ash and clinkers well without a lot of additional help of riddling and knifing, which is very difficult to do with all the many models of modern ranges I looked into.

To cast the same size grate bars in triangular grates would not add much cost. I know because I've had triangular grates recast and I've also checked out the cost of replacement flat grates for modern stoves. And having worked with foundries, casting in larger quantities gets the cost per unit down, making the change to triangular grates cost even less. Plus, there are already dozens of sizes of triangular grates available to use as patterns, very possibly saving the expense of making patterns, thus more saving of costs to change.

Both types of grates have to have pivot points, so no added expense there.

Both types need a shaker handle. Making a simple handle that can rotate the grates is minimal expense. There are dozens of that type of shaker handles on EBay for under $25.00. There's your pattern ready to go.

Cut a steel plate to block off the door and hold firebrick. Add a lift handle hole to the cast iron top plate pattern so you don't need to use a pocket knife like the guy in the video. Repro lift handles have been available for a long time and they are not expensive. Many on EBay are a combo shaker/lift handle, again saving money to make a pattern. Then the firebox can be loaded to double the capacity through the top plate.

In production I doubt those changes would add much more than $100.00 to the cost, yet you'd have a range that is far easier to use with coal...... and it still do a good job with wood.

Paul

 
Hoytman
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Coal Size/Type: nut coal
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Post by Hoytman » Tue. Jun. 16, 2020 2:25 pm

Understand all that. So, why is no one listening? The only thing that makes sense is they've not experienced the benefits of those stoves or one would think they would make those changes.

Yeah...that pocket knife deal was crasy, huh. I thought; what the heck...why not just design it the old way. LOL!

I know it's not the only place for info, but I frequent here, so it sort of becomes the only place...if that makes sense. I think I gravitated here because of people's experiences, sharing, and more up-to-date info from people, plus mutual back-and-forth communication. I think their are a lot of people like me, who get time, log-in here, just to relax and talk with people who have something in common. I search the internet, but only when I need to, and at times when I need a person's input...which is often. People use their computers differently. Maybe I am the odd ball.

 
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Post by gardener » Thu. Jun. 18, 2020 1:43 pm

I saw this '60s Coleman camping oven for sale.
Is this somehow different than a stove top oven?
I don't recall as many vents on a stove top oven, actually the only venting I recall was the loose seams.
Do any of you use stove top ovens when cooking with your coal stoves?
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