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Coal fire maintenance

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by zeke7237, Dec 9, 2005.

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  1. zeke7237

    zeke7237 New Member

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    I just bought a Harman TLC-2000 coal/wood stove, and have been burning nut coal in it for a couple weeks now. I like it, and coal certainly pumps out lots of heat.

    One issue I'm having is getting the thing shaken down evenly .. after a few fills the ash bed is uneven enough to cause hotspots in the coal bed, which makes the problem worse and worse until the fire is down to a small area and I have to dump and restart.

    Anyone on here burning coal in a Harman that could give me some hints on shakedown technique to avoid the hotspots?

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  2. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    From my experience, these hotspots are inevitable in any coal stove. I have experience with a Russo, a Gibraltar and a Consolidated Dutchwest and all experience these dead spots created by ash buildup to some extent.

    What i do when a dead spot accumulates is use the poker to continually probe at the area until i know all the ash has fallen into the pan. Be certain the fire is going well when you attempt this, because you will agitate an almost dead fire to ice cold by poking it like this. Usually about once a week, or every three days, depending on how hot the fire has been running, I'll open it up and let what's left of the coal really get moving. Then i'll shake down as normal, but before I load the fresh coal i'll take the poker and poke and prod until i can either see the grates where the ash buildup is, or i see only coal and no ash. Then i'll spread out the HOT coals on the entire grate and add some fresh coal to the top. I emphasize quick, because if you take too long to add fresh coal, the coals you just spread out on the grate will get upset with you and go out.

    You can use thse ash buildups to your advantage when the temp is warm. They'll allow you to only burn half a bed of coal at a time, greatly reducing the heat output. But right now, don't be afraid to get in there with the poker and clean up the mess.
  3. tang

    tang New Member

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    I have the Harman tlc-2000 and have noticed some of the same problems. I think Corie has some good ideas;one thing to remember is not to shake too much. You don't want much burning coals if any falling through the grate into the ash bucket. What I do is like Corie, use a poker around the edges but don't disburb the burning coal too much. I then open the ash door and get the remaining coal burning hot and then reload..The design of the grate system on this stove lends itself to ash buildup around the perimeter of the fire box. A bigger problem I seem to have is half burned coal pieces getting stuck in the grate, preventing any shaking. This only happens with a smaller coal bed though.. Have you burned any wood in your stove yet? I've been using both, wood when it not as cold then coal when I know temps will drop..I plan on using all coal once winter gets going..that might be today in CT, with a foot of snow predicted. Good luck..
  4. davemich

    davemich New Member

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    Not a Harmon but a Hitzer...as I posted to a thread earlier in the week...I tend to shake my grates till I can see a red glow in my ash pan from the red coals above on the grate. I do not shake it so much that only red coals are on the grate and thereby causing potential damage to the grate but enough where i can look up underneath and see some red coals on the grate. I have never poked around with a poker but I may try it since on my stove, the dead spot is always near my glass door or towards the front of the stove. Good luck...we just get 10 inches here in Michigan from the storm coming your way!!
  5. zeke7237

    zeke7237 New Member

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    Thanks for all the tips .. I had already been using to poker to try and get the ashes to fall in the problem areas, just needed to be a little more aggressive :)

    Been burning for 5 days continuously now, I think I've got it down.

    On a slightly different topic .. do you coal-burning people damper your stack at all? Even at the lowest draft setting, this stove seems to run very hot. In the last place (Regency wood insert) I was able to control the burn to a much lower level than with the Harman, and I'm thinking I have too much draft on my hands.

    john d
  6. BS-N

    BS-N New Member

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    I have the TLC-2000 also. Double-Wall SS through the roof, no additional dampers. Once the fire is burning good in my set up, I usually dampen to almost the third notch from the left. It burns just right and even. I burn pea coal by the way. (I was adviced that this size coal tends to get stuck in the shaker grates less.)
    I poke at the edges also to get the ash down. My other problems... Anyone have the rear 3 firebricks tilt forward after days of dumping coal in the top? Also, would be nice to have a wider ash pan.
  7. davemich

    davemich New Member

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    John, I have the same issue with my Hitzer. I have the damper open a smidgeon and it still cooks fairly hot. I beleive that is due to a perfect bed of coal that is in the stove at that time...just the right amount of ash and red coals. I only have 1 control of the burn in my stove and that is the damper located on the ash door so the only thing I can do is let the fire accumulate a little more ash by not shaking as much as I normally would do.
  8. CoalHog

    CoalHog New Member

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    Northern Alberta Canada
    Hi guys,
    Been burning the Harman TLC 2000 for two years now. Have not had any of the problems you fellows have been mentioning. Once the fire is going we shake it morning and night. when loading the stove I will load from left to center and then the next time right to center. This was I can get a good load each time with out worry of having that nasty BANG of coal gas. This way you always have a fire source and the bed burns nice back and forth over and over and over again. We burn Nut coal and never have an issue with it getting caught in the grates. Once in a great while a clinker develops and that gets semi stuck but it is soon crushed into the pan. How much coal are you loading?? I will fill it to the top of the brick and let it burn down to the top of the steel bars in-front of the glass. As far as air control at night I close the air to the width of my index finger and just let it burn. In the morning we start all over again. We love the stove and will never go back to straight wood ever again. ;-)
  9. davemich

    davemich New Member

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    Coalhog, just curious. How much pea coal a day are you burning? I burn nut an d I'm going thru about a bag, bag and a half per day. I'm wondering if I can burn pea coal in my insert. It is a top loading hopper style insert.
  10. BS-N

    BS-N New Member

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    The coal bang... that can be a pain in the arse. I did it a few times. Right in the beggining, I found out the need to open the lid and let air in once in a while if I load a thick depth of coal at one shot. (Until I get a blue flame on top.) I did it once this year. I almost lost the fire, had put a layer on, and had the ash door cracked. No problem...but I got side tracked a little too long. AS I was on my way to open the lid and help ignite any gases, it caught and the door blew open with ash flying everywhere. Anyone else have fun with this?

    I fill 5 gal buckets with the pea coal from the coal bin and set them outside the front door on the covered porch. I use maybe one and a half of these buckets a day when it is really cold.
  11. tang

    tang New Member

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    I haven't had the coal BANG happen yet..Hopefully never!! Is it caused by the coal gases igniting at once? I have been burning mostly nut size coal but tried pea for a couple burns, the pea seemed to burn much slower and not as hot. I think the smaller size cuts down on the airflow through the coal bed. I've read that some people use a mix of sizes. Anyone try that? How bout stove size coal? the harman is rated for all 3 sizes. As a note, I have an inline barometric damper with a direct connect to an outside masonry chimney, I think the damper really helps evern out the burn, [less air flucations with draft]. Glad to see some Coal burning discussions.. What do you guysgals think some of the main benefits of burning coal are? I like the even output temp and clean burn. I can keep the stove top at a constant 450degrees for 10hrs easy. Try doing that with wood..
  12. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    Yeah we had a whole bunch of pea coal bangs last year. Doesn't seem to be a problem now that we're using chestnut.


    Hey BS-N, where are you from? We've got like 400 lbs of pea coal left over from last year that we're not going to use. Would you want it?
  13. BS-N

    BS-N New Member

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    Hey, thanks for the offer. I am just north of Analomink with an East Strbg address.

    If I had a truck I'd probably say yes...but it may not be worth the effort and gas otherwise. 400lb is $40 worth bagged.
  14. zeke7237

    zeke7237 New Member

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    wow .. $4 a bag ? I had to give $4.75 (for a 40# bag of nut) here in VA, but then again there was only one supplier I could find. I'm curious how much the price varies from region to region (and year to year for those burning for a while)

    jd
  15. Verynycegirl

    Verynycegirl New Member

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    I'm in Massachusetts (just south of Boston) and there is a place just up the road from me that sells 50lb bags of chestnut coal for 5.00 a bag. I have not looked into other sources since this place is less than 5 mins from my house. Does the price change with the size of the coal??

    Tracy
  16. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    Listen, I don't want money for it. We just want it OUT of the big rubbermaid buckets that we would usually keep our coal in. Because it's taking up all the room, we have to go out EVERY night and get chestnut.
  17. CoalHog

    CoalHog New Member

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    Hi all,
    I am burning nut coal to. Pea I found to be to small for my liking. I have tried it all and found nut worked the best for me. We go through about a 1 to 1 1/2 5 gallon pails a day.
    The first time I had the bang I put to much in and there was no flame left. I opened the ash door and waited for it to go. After a coupleminute's she let go and I then
    calmly got up and closed the ash door and then calmly walk the the washroom. Scared the C_ _ _ out of me. :bug: That is why I load right to center and then left to center and have not done it since. It actually lifted the top load door.

    I like the even temps to. 450-500 stove top temps for hours on end when she is cold suit me just fine. I rather enjoy 75 - 80 degree temps when it is -35 and the wind is howling. :coolsmile:
  18. nrmahoney@cox.net

    nrmahoney@cox.net Member

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    verynycgirl,
    What is the name of the place where you get your coal?
    I live in RI and I think I am paying more than $5.00 for 50Lb bags.
  19. nrmahoney@cox.net

    nrmahoney@cox.net Member

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    I have a question about adding coal to an already burning pile.
    What I do is open the ash door untill I get a nice hot bed burning, then add the desired amount
    of new coal and leave ash the door open until this new coal is burning nicely.
    Is this what you all do?
    I am afraid if I dont open up the draft full the new coal will smother the fire?
    is this correct?

    JM
  20. davemich

    davemich New Member

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    JM...thats exactly what I do as well. I only add during the shaking process tho...btw, I pay about $5/40 lb bag here in Michigan for Blaschack coal.
  21. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    yeah, that's the way I usually load up the coal as well. Although you don't have to ash pan open to get a good draft. Especially in the cold, at least as far as my stove goes, I can just open the bottom air control to 6 turns and open the bypass gate and stovepipe damper.

    But that's my stove, everyone's is different. The only thing is, you gotta remember that you left the ash pan door open.

    On two specific occasions it slipped my mind and I came back upstairs to a very warm stove
  22. nrmahoney@cox.net

    nrmahoney@cox.net Member

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    One other question I have is about my automatic Damper controll.
    My old pot belly stove was completly manual and I am wondering about the operation
    of this stoves damper.
    The stove is an Efel Harmony. I have it set per the instructions ( set open 1mm at lowest setting when cold).
    Once the stove gets hot the damper is completly closed at all settings. This doesn't seem right.
    Especially since the instructions mention hat the grate needs airflow to prevent damage.
    Does anyone else have an auto damper that is fully closed dutring normal operation?

    JM
  23. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    open 1 mm when fully cold?

    That doesn't sound right.

    On a cold stove, with the air control fully open, the damper should be open at least 50%. Assuming your damper works similar to that on a vermont castings vigilant. The principle is that, cold stove, damper can open pretty far. But on a hot stove, even if you have the air control all the way open, the stove would get too hot and close the damper itself.

    Disregard that if your stove seems to operate on a completely different principle. But in my experience that's how most of the auto damper coal stoves work.
  24. nrmahoney@cox.net

    nrmahoney@cox.net Member

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    Actually what I meant was initial adjustment is made with the unit cold and the damper set to minimum.
    the adjustment screw is set so that there is a 1mm opening.

    When i do this, it opens fine when i turn the adjustment to full, but as soon as the unit gets hot it closes
    completle at all settings.

    JM
  25. Martin Strand III

    Martin Strand III New Member

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    Coal Buffs:

    Treat your Harman TLC 2000 with a coal load, or most other coal burners, as a Private Dancer - too much hands on shaking and, certainly, any poking - and you can most certainly expect problems, not the least are "hot spots".

    If you want to "mess with your stove" a lot, get a small wood burning metal stove, or better yet, a pellet stove.

    Aye,
    Marty

    Grandma always said: "If it has testicles or wheels, it's gonna' be trouble."
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