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Found a Chevette, now I need a Wood Boiler!

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by WRPage, Jun 30, 2008.

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  1. WRPage

    WRPage New Member

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    Here's my first post after much reading on this very helpful site...

    I just solved one of my fossil fuel crisis' with the purchase of a sweet 1980 Chevy Chevette. 36k original miles, one owner, no winter driving ever, 4 on the floor, marketed at 43 MPG when new...I'm up to 30 so far with some tune-up work pending. This solves the problem with my vehicle fuel consumption...now I need to solve the problem with my heating system!

    I've answered a lot of questions already from other posts but would like to confirm a few things and ask some more questions. Thanks in advance for your help and patience as I try and figure all this out! If you need help with your Chevette, just let me know!

    I would like to install an Add-On Wood Boiler to my existing Oil-Fired, FHW System. The existing unit is in the basement and exhausts into 1 of 2 flus in my tile lined, brick chimney. The other flu supports a nice 1980 Garrison wood stove located in our first floor living room. I have located a slightly used Thermo-Control 500, Boiler Model for a price I can afford but don't think I can use it without additional expense for a new chimney or giving up the woodstove in the living room which we don't really want to do. Here are my questions.

    Is there any way to use one of the existing flus for the boiler with the other appliance?

    Is my chimney type even adequate to use with the wood boiler? (assuming it's (chimney) in good shape, of course)

    If I need a new chimney to gain a flu, is there a type I could somehow run out of my basement and up the side of the house? If so, about how much would that cost?

    Is it clearly advantageous to have a water storage system or is that just a nice to have?

    It seems like without the water storage, the wood fuel energy would be wasted unless the baseboard loop was calling for heat...I think this is the purpose of water storage...keep heating the water even if the baseboard loop isn't circulatimg...is this right?

    OK...that's enough to get em going. - Check out the Vette!

    Hope someone will want to help out!

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  2. sinnian

    sinnian Minister of Fire

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    Some of my best adolescent memories happened in a 1980 Chevette!

    You need a dedicated flue for your wood burner, I am not sure if it needs to be lined with stainless steel or not. You can power vent your oil boiler, total price would be determined by height of your house. I would figure in about a grand.

    You are correct about the water storage. However, a lot of people add the storage later with their savings from the previous year.

    Nice find on the Chevette!
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Water storage is not as important with a conventional boiler like that - a 4-way mixing valve can also be installed which will help even out the heat delivery to the house - this is something I suggest with most wood boilers (or hydronic systems in general).

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/4_Way_Mixing_Valve/

    Certainly you can run a new chimney up the side of the house- that is HT chimney, metal chimney.

    The materials are pretty expensive- if you are DIY you might get by with $1200-1500 for an out and up.

    Brands include Selkirk, Metal-fab, Airjet, Hart and Cooley, Excel and many more. Check your local stove shop, plumbing supply or even big box home store.

    If the Garrison chimney comes all the way down and you can get rid of that stove, you might be able to use it for the TC. It probably does need a new SS liner dropped down for additional safety.
  4. WRPage

    WRPage New Member

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    Thanks Sinnian!

    I've owned the car 3 weeks...in that short time I've decided that that EVERYONE in America who was old enough to remember them has (had) a previous relationship with...or in a Chevette! Enjoy those memories! (by the way...I found the car in Wiscasset!)

    I figured I needed a dedicated flue. Can someone else help me with the "is what I have for a chimney adequate for use with a wood boiler?"

    OK so the idea of power venting the oil boiler is so I can use that flue for the wood boiler?...assuming the flue is adequate, of course - right?

    Do power vent pipes need to go to the height of the existing chimney?...I though they just stubbed out of the wall. I'm trying to figure out why the cost relates to the height of the house.

    It seems silly not to have some water storage...are there requirements for what you can use for a tank? Whattabout those food grade juice totes or something similar? Probably not good with hot water... I read someone else was using 275 gallon oil tanks...would 1 of those be good or if I'm gonna do it, should I just do 2-3?


    Thanks again---anyone else got advice for me?
  5. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I'd put the storage on the back burner for starters - very few people have it with conventional boilers....just with the gasifiers, since they are designed to burn hot and fast.

    Also, it is important to take into account the existing system - water capacity of the other boiler as well as the piping and radiation. I think you have to solve the chimney situation first.

    Pressurized storage needs to have an ASME approved or equiv pressure vessel. I would never suggest that folks go rigging up various tanks not designed for high pressure - but if you want to read more dig around the forum....some posts on non-pressurized storage, etc. are around.
  6. ugenetoo

    ugenetoo New Member

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    i would think that any boiler type,gasifier or not, would benefit from storage. they all run more effeciently at full bore dont they?
  7. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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    Hope you keep the Chev in the garage come wintuh. Maine roads would love to chomp on that one. There are various clearance issues with side ( power ) venting. Mostly related to fumes being exhausted into windows or vents above. I would have a local certified sweep check out your existing chimneys and get a price to line one for your new boiler.
  8. WRPage

    WRPage New Member

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    All that sounds very logical, practical, and like good advice Craig...thanks a lot!

    I read the mixing valve story and that clarifies things there too, sounds like a no brainer.

    Guess I was missing the "under pressure" thing...no need for the storage with the valve anyway.

    I am a professional DIY'er...I'm thinking a new chimney is the way to go...the placement of my current boiler at the base of the existing chimney is on an elevated slab due to ledge under our house. This means low clearance to the ceiling, up and down all the time for filling etc. A new chimney on the opposite side of the basement with full height ceiling and plumbing back to the oil boiler to tie in sounds like a better idea...would you agree? Clearance from the top of the wood boiler to the bottom of the ceiling on top of the elevated slab would only be about 3.5-4 feet...that's probably too little anyway...?

    Here's my big question...my foundation is very low in the ground so I've only got about 1 foot above grade before I get to my siding...how the heck would I run a HT (assume this means high temperature?) chimney out in that scenario? Could I dig out a hole similar to a window well and then blow through the concrete there? Do these chimneys go right through the rim/band joists and siding or concrete?

    I'll say this...this is a very challenging project...harder than the Chevette by a longshot!
  9. WRPage

    WRPage New Member

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    Willman...I've got bad news...that poor Shove-ette is doomed.

    That gray, solid substance in the form of a rectangle behind her car IS my garage and won't be protecting anything just yet...too many projects. In addition, the overly complex spreadsheet I used to justify the purchase in the first place says I'll need to drive it in the winter or the payback will come too late. I'm going to look into another undercoat before snow but don't know if they even do that anymore. I've got very mixed feelings about driving it in the salt as I come from an antique Ford family and to drive a car like that in the salt is a horrible sin...even if it is a Chevy! (if it was a Pinto...I probably couldn't do it!)

    So I may have to vent it higher than the lowest window...which on that end of the house is 1st story only...I'd better get a pro sweep down here. Is a good sweep qualified to answer every single question I might have about what I'm trying to do here?

    Thanks - Bill
  10. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, I think the best way would be to dig out a well and line it with PT wood or something like that to hold the dirt back.....you might have to do some rigging to stop snow from filling the thing.

    All things being equal, it would be nice to locate it near your existing boiler.....but the 3.5 feet above it is probably fine anyway.

    Storage is always good....but again it depends on a lot of things. Do you know the water capacity of the thermo-control?
  11. WRPage

    WRPage New Member

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    I'd have to rig something up...I'd probably just use rock with a stone floor for the chimney hole. What is the advantage of locating it near the existing boiler...I'd be about 30 feet away with a new chimney.

    I can't find the water capacity of the thing but it's not much...it's just the coils on 2 walls and ceiling of the thing. Their website tells me the coils equate to 11.5-feet of heating surface area...if that tells you anything.

    It's cool you guys are so active/responsive on a site about heat in the off-season - thanks!
  12. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    OK, time for me to be honest.....I don't like those boilers with the coils like that! The same company now makes fully water jacketed models. There are a lot of down-sides to such a boiler....including easier overheat, bad heat transfer, etc.

    Personally, I would keep looking.........

    Advantages of locating near the existing are mostly less plumbing - copper is expensive these days. Also less heat loss from the piping, but that can be fixed by insulation. There are some various diagrams around on the ways to plumb these things - you can often download another brands manual...or the ones from the TC web site.

    But, again, I would keep looking. If you are going to use older technology, I would suggest a higher water volume unit with wet legs, etc...which means water around most or all sides of the boiler vessel.
  13. WRPage

    WRPage New Member

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    Craig - Thanks for being honest...it's a lost art! I hear what you're saying...

    Chances are good someone else is going to buy the thing before I'm ready to pull the trigger anyway based on all the leg work I need to do to figure it out - I'm not the type to "buy now and figure out later". I was looking at units on the net for 4-5 grand last week then I saw this one and had to check it out...I love a good deal but at the same time, like to do it as right as I can afford. I'll keep working on the project and see where it takes me.

    If you were going to spend no more than 5k and knowing my situation...what would you do? I've got a terrific chance to pay something off in record time but I need to pull the trigger soon...like before winter or I'll miss it.

    Similar to the Chevette purchase, I don't want to look back 2, 3, 4 years from now and say..."I should-a pulled the trigger on a wood boiler in 2008!"
  14. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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  15. knucklehead

    knucklehead New Member

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    That boiler is owned by a friend of mine. It is an orange Solo but it is the short one with the small firebox, which makes me think it was primarily intended for coal. I can get more info if anyone is interested.
  16. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    A reminder for all open system boilers, especially open storage with a steel tank. Don't forget to treat the water for pH balance and O2 scavenger. Both spell rust big time if out of range.
  17. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    MB solo 30 and 40 had short fireboxes (15" or so) but were still wood burners - quite decent at that.

    Worth looking further into.
  18. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I can't say I am 100% familiar with everything out there on the market......

    But, as I said, I would buy something with a relatively large water volume. I would also look for some type of "enhanced" combustion, although for that price you cannot get a true gasifier.

    In terms of a tried and true, you can look at something like that:
    http://www.energyking.com/wood-coal-hot-water_furnace.htm

    Royall makes a similar one.

    or even the new Thermo-Control with full water jacket - not the coils.

    You should look at your heat load and either under-size or properly size the wood boiler - oversizing will create an efficiency and creosote problem.

    Another possibility is to take a "stab" and see if some makers of more expensive boilers have any used, returns or scratch+dents. Something like that smaller Seton:
    http://www.rohor.com/page4.html

    If you email to a few makers like Seton, Tarm, New Horizons (EKO)...who knows? You might get lucky.

    Also, send a quick PM (here) to stoveguy13 - he works at Preston Trading, a dealer that has sold hot water stuff for decades....might get lucky with used or something sitting in the warehouse - he can also help with Royall, Energy King, etc. (new).

    Of course, look at used stuff also. Good luck
  19. mpilihp

    mpilihp Feeling the Heat

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    I am in the process of hooking up a wood boiler to my oil boiler system. To free up our single flue chimney for the wood boiler I installed a power vent. If you know a licensed heat tech or a plumber he can purchase one for you at a steap discount. I got mine and instlled it myself for about $550 with the durock and additional flue pipe. Was fairly easy to install and is very quite. We'll see how long it lasts but hopefully the oil boiler wont run much so the vent wont have to either!
    http://i103.photobucket.com/albums/m132/mjenphil/Sub360 Muffler/mufflerassmandparts.jpg


    [​IMG]

    http://i103.photobucket.com/albums/m132/mjenphil/PowerVent/06-29-08_1840.jpg

    http://i103.photobucket.com/albums/m132/mjenphil/PowerVent/P6290002.jpg

    http://i103.photobucket.com/albums/m132/mjenphil/PowerVent/P6290003.jpg

    http://i103.photobucket.com/albums/m132/mjenphil/PowerVent/P6290004.jpg

    ~ Phil
  20. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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  21. WRPage

    WRPage New Member

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    Time for night 2 of trying to eliminate the fuel oil crisis at the Page residence. I'm suffering from information overload at this point and hope I make it through the night!

    I decided today that I may want to spend more than originally planned to do it right the first time. I'm not a gambler but based on what I see going on in the world, the high oil prices are here to stay and I want to be proactive NOW, not regretful later.

    Spent some time at work talking to a friend who has done a lot of research on all types of "alternative" (to oil) heat to head off his crisis. He's ordered a Keystoker K6 Coal-Fired boiler. Listening to him talk about coal and his Keystoker leads me to believe I should consider coal too. The benefits seem to be high...he laid them out like this...

    cheap fuel, not dirty to handle/dusty any longer (he said it was coated with something so no dust...is this true?), efficient, NEVER goes bad, can be stored anywhere forever, less labor than wood, hopper fed, bolier power ventible,(which is good for me as I have a flue shortage!), "foreign" to many people (including myself) therefore less desirable and less likley to spike with oil

    He's sourced a tractor load of the stuff and will be paying 238/ton delivered. he said we could go in on deliveries together. If he doesn't sell any to me, he'll have fuel for 3 years, a new boiler, and will have paid it all back in about 1 year. (he has a 4000sf house)

    What are the negatives? Not easily sourced in Southern Maine? Dirty? Price fluctuation?

    Would appreciate some feedback on this idea from those who know...Thanks - Bill
  22. sinnian

    sinnian Minister of Fire

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    Idk, not carbon neutral?

    That's about the only knock I can think of. BUT remember, they are not "foreign" in other parts of the country. AND if oil stays up and continues to go up, do you think the oil fired power plants will continue to use oil? And if not, then what?
  23. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Hard coal is unlikely to be used for utilities - they can get soft coal for about 1/3 the price per BTU.

    Coal stokers are quite reliable and efficient. It will give you an option at about 1/2 or less the current price of oil. If oil goes down, you can burn oil, if it goes up, you can burn coal.

    Wood is a life style, so unless you are sitting around thinking about how cool it will be to stack wood......coal is a good option.
  24. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    I would go 100% coal if I didn't have access to endless amounts of nearly free wood. I mix coal with wood now but only about 300 lbs/year. I can buy bituminous for around $50/ton within 50 miles of here. It definetly would be my second choice.
  25. WRPage

    WRPage New Member

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    Sitting around doing anything is not a lifestyle I'm familar with...at all. The idea that it doesn't go bad intrigues me...I'm likming coal

    Does anyone know if anthracite is truly "clean"...in the basement I mean...or will my basement become a dust filled mess? I read somewhere the coal is wet before bagging...what happens when it dries...back to messy? My friend said it was coated and stayed clean...anyone know for sure?

    Making Progress and still no headache!
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