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Coal vs. wood burning stoves...not totally OT..

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  • Coal vs. wood burning stoves...not totally OT..

    Does anyone here know what diferentiates a coal burning stove from a wood burner? I'm wondering if the difference is minor whether I could modify my wood burning Jotul No.8 to burn coal as well. See, not totally OT as the end result may require metal fabrication.

  • #2
    I've heard that a coal burner needs the air to come from beneath the coal grate, whilst a wood burner needs it just above the fire, at the sides.

    Ian
    All of the gear, no idea...

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    • #3
      On my Morso multi fuel wood burner when using coal or smokeless fuel some air has to inlet to the bottom of fire with the proviso that you do not admit too much as apparently there is a possibility you could end up melting the grate!

      So as long as you could get some air under the grate it shoud burn coal fine, I have also seen coal used in wood burners without bottom draft. This is ok as long as you also use a fair amount of wood which helps airate the caol.

      peter
      I have tools I don't know how to use!!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by x39
        Does anyone here know what diferentiates a coal burning stove from a wood burner? )
        coal stoves have a grate that you can shake down the clinkers.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the informative responses. I've already modified the stove to feature a front bottom draft, the addition of a grate of some type shouldn't be too much trouble. I like the idea of using coal as a supplement to my wood burning. The convenience of being able to purchase it as one may need it is attractive, as opposed to having to purchase a whole cord of wood at a time.

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          • #6
            As have been stated to the grates and air from below. Depending on the size and shape of the grates and the openings. you will have to mess with the fire more, you will have to clean the fire sides of the fire box to remove the insulating soot more, Your neighbors and or wife will complain about the the smoke. The ash is considered hazardous waste now most places. Makes it harder for the small time user. But is is good for rosebushes.

            You may be shocked by the cost and lack of availability, If stored out side and not under cover. It decomposes, and becomes unburnable after a period of time.
            And when it does burn the Kentucky top soil they were delivering it was 10 wheelbarrows (250 pounds each) in 6 wheelbarrows of ash and clinker out some days.
            Soft coal is dirtier burning and handling, hard coal is cleaner in all respects. The bagged fireplace coal falls somewhere in between.

            I can say that if you are in or near a area with an air quality board or EPA office and a somebody drops a dime on you. You won't like the ticket they give. Or the fine.

            As a veteran of of the coal fired power plant wars. In Detroit with the city, the board of education, the air pollution control, EPA, etc. It was a real comedy of error's. At one point I was collecting a million dollars a week in fines for operating the schools two Kewanee locomotive fire box boilers. Using the dirt they called coal.
            The only thing that keep me in the clear is I was an agent(employee) and not the owner of the equipment. There can be a lot of hidden draw backs to the use of coal
            good luck!
            Glen
            Been there, probably broke it, doing that!
            I am not a lawyer, and never played one on TV!
            All the usual and standard disclaimers apply. Do not try this at home, use only as directed, No warranties express or implied, for the intended use or the suggested uses, Wear safety glasses, closed course, professionals only

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            • #7
              Originally posted by PTSideshow
              As I can say that if you are in or near a area with an air quality board or EPA office and a somebody drops a dime on you. You won't like the ticket they give.
              Shouldn't be too much of a problem, I live 55 miles from the nearest stop light and all my neighbors mind their own business (as do I). Thanks for the tips!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by x39
                Does anyone here know what diferentiates a coal burning stove from a wood burner?

                i can't offer any technical differences, but where i live, the main difference is that wood is free.

                andy b.
                The danger is not that computers will come to think like men - but that men will come to think like computers. - some guy on another forum not dedicated to machining

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                • #9
                  x39,

                  One other VERY IMPORTANT point to a cleaner burning stove is how the coal is fed into the fire! Coal contains many volatiles that make for a "dirty" burning fire as they vaporize. And yes, air must be fed from the bottom.

                  To burn these volatiles, the coal must also be fed from the bottom. This way, the heat from the fire above will "coke" the coal as it gets pushed up from the bottom and the volatiles will be consumed by the flames. If one feeds the coal from the top then the fire will vaporize the volatiles (but not burn them) and they will cause a very black smoke and will condense in the flue. This condensate is called coal tar and is the dirtiest material known to man!

                  I built a coal burning stove for one of my cow camps on the ranch. I used an auger and motor from an old stoker coal furnace that I bought at an auction for $2.00 and went from there. The stove is not much bigger than the typical wood burning stove but has a coal reservoir in the back that holds a couple of buckets of "stoker" coal. When the stove first starts, it burns black but in a few minutes it clears up as it begins to make its own coke. One does not need a fan to force air if vents are provided below the grate - the fire itself will generate enough draft that it will sound and behave like a blow-torch if not controlled!

                  As for the grate? Since the air is fed from the bottom, bars of cold rolled steel will work just fine as the incoming air will keep it from melting. This grate can be made like "fingers" so it can be shaken to let the clinkers and ash fall to an ash pan for easy disposal.

                  Our cow camps are located a little above 10,000 feet in elevation and the nights become very cold the second week of August. That stove is very welcome and I'll always have fond memories of smelling a hint of that "coal smoke" as we rode towards the camp after a hard days work.

                  .
                  Last edited by Mike Burdick; 07-30-2009, 12:15 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by andy_b
                    i can't offer any technical differences, but where i live, the main difference is that wood is free.

                    andy b.
                    Well, I guess it's "free" around here too, until you factor in the time required to process it.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mike Burdick
                      One other VERY IMPORTANT point to a cleaner burning stove is how the coal is fed into the fire!
                      Thanks for the good information. Some good points to consider.

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                      • #12
                        coal concerns

                        Unless you live in downtown Pittsburgh, I doubt seriously that a smoke policeman will notice your little stove's output. I used to burn coal all the time in a big US Army cannon heater. Just dump it on the fire and shake it up ten minutes later. The only drawback is that stovepipe will rust out in one season because the soot forms acid in the stack. Wood doesn't do this. If you have a masonry flue, not a problem. With coal you don't have to fire as often and the stove will get as hot as you can stand it. There are many different grades of coal. Just make sure it's something that will burn all right, not pea coal or blacksmith coal. Big lumps are fine. Pocahontas is great, but expensive.

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